To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, July 30.
long a rolling river in central Brazil is a town called Itapaci, which means “Beautiful Rock.”
There is good reason to call Itapaci a beautiful rock. The town is located in a tropical region known for rich deposits of minerals. Miners seek crystals such as mica, which is used to give shimmer and sparkle to cosmetics. Miners also scout for gold.
With beautiful crystals and glittering gold, the town rightfully could be called “the Beautiful Rock of Brazil.”
But not everything seemed beautiful to Jaqueliny, one of the town’s 18,500 residents. Personal problems were piling up in her life, and she didn’t know where to turn. Then a friend, Maria Rita, invited Jaqueliny to go to a women’s group at the Seventh-day Adventist church.
Jaqueliny liked the women’s group, and she began to attend every Tuesday. She learned that the church had other meetings as well, and as soon she was going to all its regular gatherings, four days a week. This was something new for her.
Even though Jaqueliny had been raised in a Christian family, she didn’t really know God. As a small girl, she had been baptized into her family’s church, and later she participated in her first communion there. She went to her church every Sunday, but her heart felt empty. She did not sense God’s presence in her life. She rarely read the Bible or meditated over its sacred passages.
Her friend Maria Rita, who was raised in an Adventist home, was delighted that Jaqueliny was eager to go to church four days a week.
The two women began to have heart-to-heart conversations about God. Maria Rita asked Jaqueliny what she thought about the Sabbath and the state of the dead. Jaqueliny had never read what the Bible says about the Sabbath or the state of the dead, and she was curious to know more. She began to read the Bible on her own, looking for truth as revealed by God. She meditated on the Bible’s sacred passages.
When Maria Rita offered to study the Bible with her, she gladly accepted. She was fascinated to see that God outlined principles for good health in the Bible. While the Bible-centered message of the Adventist Church touched her heart, she was especially impressed to learn that it had a health message. She had graduated with a university degree in nutrition, and when she saw that the Adventist Church places a strong emphasis on diet and a healthy lifestyle, she sensed that God was leading her to the church.
The Bible studies weren’t always easy. Sometimes Jaqueliny wasn’t quite ready to accept a new truth. But as she studied, a desire grew in her heart to give her life completely to Jesus.
She finished the Bible studies with Maria Rita, and they started a new study on the book of Revelation. In Revelation, she read about a place more beautiful than Itapaci, “the Beautiful Rock of Brazil.” She read about the New Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2, NKJV). She read that the foundations of the city’s walls were adorned with all kinds of precious stones, including jasper, sapphire, and emerald (Revelation 21:19). She read that the city was “pure gold, like clear glass” and its streets were “pure gold, like transparent glass” (Revelation 21:18, 21). She read Jesus’ promise to give a beautiful white stone to each person who lives in the New Jerusalem. Jesus says, “To him who overcomes … I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it” (Revelation 2:17). Jaqueliny was ready to move.
Today, Jaqueliny is a shining witness in her town, “the Beautiful Rock of Brazil.” She prays that God will use her to prepare her husband, their daughter, and many others to meet Jesus and move to the New Jerusalem, “the Beautiful Rock of the Universe.”
“I thank God for placing wonderful people in my life, and I know that everything works together for good because He has a plan for my life and for yours,” she said. “I thank Jesus for all that I am and all that I have. I thank Him for loving me so much even though I don’t deserve it. I want to keep growing in Christ, and I want to bring many people to Him.” ⎭
Thank you for planning a generous Thirteenth Sabbath Offering on September 24 that will help establish four new churches in Brazil so that other people, like Jaqueliny, will be able to attend church meetings and learn more about Jesus and His soon coming.