From Los Angeles to Rome
To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, May 20.
elanie was a party girl after she graduated from a university in Los Angeles. She loved to travel and have fun.
Melanie was in Rome when she got a phone call that her younger brother Randy had died at the age of 20. He was the youngest of five in the family, and he and Melanie were very close. His body was found floating in a swimming pool at 5 a.m. Medical examiners suspected a heart attack. There was no evidence of foul play.
Heartbroken, Melanie returned home to Los Angeles to seek answers. Why did Randy die? She wondered about death itself and what happens to people after they die. She questioned the meaning of life.
Melanie stepped up her party life, seeking to run away from her pain.
Then one of her sisters, who was interested in becoming an actor, invited her to take acting classes. “It’s a good way to blow off steam and confront your pain,” she said.
Melanie took acting classes and began to act.
Falling in love with an Italian man, she moved with him to Italy. Two and a half years later, they broke up, and Melanie returned to her party life while pursuing an acting career in Rome.
But she felt increasingly empty in her party life. She woke up feeling sad every morning. The meaning of life seemed to elude her. She wondered if spiritual forces were at work in the world. She wondered who was ruling the world. Seeing much evil in the world, she researched the occult.
One day, she stumbled across a YouTube sermon about Daniel and biblical prophecy. She was intrigued and opened her Bible to see if the presenter was speaking the truth. She researched the history of Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and the Roman Empire. Everything matched what she had heard in the sermon.
“This is all true,” she whispered to herself.
She fell on her knees, weeping. She felt like she didn’t belong in this world but in another world. She gave her life to Jesus.
“I’m not fulfilled anymore with partying, drugs, and drinking,” she prayed. “I cannot live anymore like this. I’d rather die. You’re going to have to change something about my life and me. I cannot take this anymore.”
She continued watching the YouTube presenter, who she learned was a Seventh-day Adventist. She compared his sermons with the Bible. She read the Bible faithfully. She began to keep the seventh-day Sabbath at home.
After two years, she felt impressed that she should worship in church on Sabbaths. An online search found an Adventist church near her home. She went to church on Sabbath. She told the first person whom she saw there, an elderly man, that she wanted to be baptized.
“Hi,” she said. “I need to get baptized.”
The elderly man was surprised.
“What are you talking about?” he said.
She explained that she had been reading the Bible for two years and was following its teachings.
“I am ready to be baptized,” she said.
Life didn’t change overnight for Melanie after her baptism. She still partied and tried to fit her new life into her old one. But the things that she used to like to do became boring. The things that she once thought were boring became interesting. She was experiencing the process of sanctification. The Holy Spirit was growing inside her.
“He has a lot to do, but He is working me,” Melanie says.
Today, Melanie knows that death is the result of sin (Romans 6:23). She knows that when people die, they sleep in the grave until Jesus’ second coming (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). She says she has found the meaning of life; it is to share her love for Jesus and her hope in His soon return. Daniel 12:3 says, “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (NKJV).
Melanie leaves church tracts and health magazines on bus seats and in restaurants in Rome. She places sharing cards about the church and Adventist radio in gyms. She is looking forward to seeing Jesus — and being reunited with her youngest brother, Randy.
“My blessed hope is that I will see Randy again,” she says.
Thank you for your Sabbath School mission offering that helps spread the good news about Jesus’ soon return in Italy and across the Inter-European Division, which will receive this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering.