Parties or God
To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, May 14.
essie couldn’t understand why the Seventh-day Adventist church always seemed closed when she walked past on Sunday, looking for a new place to worship.
Frustrated, she finally stopped and spoke to teenage girl standing in the yard of a house beside the church in central Botswana.
“When does this church open?” she asked. “Is it always locked?”
“It’s an Adventist church,” the girl said. “But I don’t know if you could worship there. Being Adventist is difficult.”
“What do you mean?” Bessie said.
The girl explained that the worshipers didn’t go to parties or wear jewelry.
“And they like going to church on Saturday,” she added.
In Botswana, Saturday is the day when young people go to parties.
Bessie couldn’t imagine quitting parties and throwing away her earrings. “I couldn’t worship in this church!” she said.
Bessie had grown up in a non-Christian family and knew little about God. She decided, however, during an extended break between high school graduation and the start of university classes that she wanted to become a Christian. She visited a number of churches, and that was when she noticed that the Adventist church was always closed on Sundays.
That fall, Bessie moved to Botswana’s capital, Gaborone, to study at the university. Soon she noticed that her roommate, Solofelang, went to church every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, but she didn’t pay much attention. Instead, she went to parties on Saturdays and looked for a church to join on Sundays. But the churches didn’t seem to use the Bible, and she felt that she hadn’t learned anything.
After several months, Bessie asked her roommate, “What is this church that you go to three times a week?”
“It’s a Seventh-day Adventist church,” Solofelang said. “It worships on Saturday.”
Bessie looked at her roommate closely and realized that she didn’t wear jewelry. Then she remembered the conversation with the girl in her hometown and thought, “I couldn’t worship there!”
After a while, though, she grew weary of visiting churches on Sunday and wondered whether the Adventist Church might be different. She decided to visit one time — only not on a Saturday.
On Wednesday, Bessie went with Solofelang to a university classroom where Adventist students gathered for their worship services. She was impressed with the pastor’s presentation about marriage. Bessie was eager to get married one day.
Learning that marriage would be discussed again, Bessie returned with her roommate on Friday evening. On Sabbath morning, she went with Solofelang to church and, after lunch, attended a Bible study. Since that day, she never stopped going to church on Sabbath.
Bessie’s life began to change. She found it easy to give up jewelry and Saturday parties. She learned that she could talk to God through prayer. People were shocked to see Bessie was a new person, and they asked many questions. She gladly told them about her faith.
Bessie was baptized before the end of the school year. Her roommate wept with joy as she emerged from the water.
Today, Bessie is the 35-year-old mother of three and a teacher at Eastern Gate Academy, an Adventist boarding high school in northern Botswana. Her husband is the school’s business manager.
She has seen changes in the lives of her students — just like the transformation that she witnessed in her own life.
“Sometimes parents bring us rebellious children,” she said. “But when the students leave, they are different altogether. Parents tell us, ‘Thank you very much! Our child has changed.’”
Eastern Gate Academy shares a campus with Eastern Gate Primary School, a Thirteenth Sabbath-funded project that opened in January 2017. Bessie, whose 6-year-old daughter, Joanna, studies at the school, said, “I pray that the school will bring more children to God.”