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Trapped in Alcoholism

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, June 3.

By Andrew McChesney


abriel liked to drink. He drank more and more, and his wife, Luisa, worried that he was becoming an alcoholic. She prayed for him to stop drinking. She wanted to protect him from himself and to protect their young son, Jorge.

Then a series of unusual events took place in their lives on the Portuguese island of Madeira. The island is located an hour-and-a-half by plane south of Portugal and off Africa’s west coast.

Jorge was 4, and he needed to go to preschool. But after a few days at the public preschool, he didn’t want to go anymore.

“WAHHHH!” Jorge wailed when he was dropped off.

Luisa didn’t know what to do. Gabriel didn’t know what to do. He had a drink.

A few days later, the family of three traveled to Funchal, the biggest city on the island, to carry out some errands. As the family went about their business, Luisa noticed an attractive school surrounded by a fence with a metal gate. “Look,” she said to Gabriel. “Let’s see if they will accept Jorge.”

The three walked through the open gate. The moment when Jorge stepped onto the school grounds, he exclaimed, “I like this school!”

Then he saw other children playing on the playground. “I don’t want to go to the other school,” he said.

He looked up at Mother and Father with great determination on his tiny face. Stamping his feet on the ground, he yelled, “I don’t want to go to the other school!”

So it was that Jorge was enrolled in the Seventh-day Adventist school. He loved it from the first day, and he never cried to go home.

Luisa was relieved. Gabriel was relieved. He had a drink.

Luisa kept praying for Gabriel to stop drinking.

Some time passed, and a teacher invited Luisa to attend a Wednesday prayer meeting on the second floor of the school. Luisa went with Jorge and loved it! She felt like she was experiencing heaven on earth. She and Jorge returned the next Wednesday and the next.

Then Gabriel started to go with them to the prayer meetings. As he went, a desire filled him to stop drinking. He wanted peace. He longed to leave behind his past. But he felt trapped.

One day, church members invited Gabriel and his family on a picnic. For the first time in his life, Gabriel ate a healthy meal without alcohol. He had never eaten such a meal before. He liked the food, and he felt like this might be a good way to live.

Gabriel and Luisa joined a small group for Bible studies. To Gabriel’s surprise, as he studied the Bible, he lost his thirst for alcohol. He was surrounded by people who didn’t drink. It was so unlike being at work, where he was surrounded by people who drank. His heart was touched when he read in the Bible, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19, NKJV). As he spent more time with people who didn’t drink, he lost all desire to drink.

Luisa was so happy that he had stopped drinking! God had answered her prayers.

Gabriel and Luisa gave their hearts to Jesus and were baptized. When Jorge was 12, he also gave his heart to Jesus and was baptized. Today, Gabriel is a church elder, and Luisa is a deaconess who helps in the children’s department.

To this day, Gabriel and Luisa don’t understand why Jorge cried at the public preschool and was happy at the Adventist school. But one thing is clear. Because Jorge went to the Adventist school, the family’s life has changed completely.

“I wish I had known about the church earlier,” Gabriel says. “It has proved to be a big blessing to my family and me.”

Education is a major way that the Seventh-day Adventist Church shares the good news about Jesus’ soon coming in Portugal. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help expand Adventist education by opening an elementary school in Setubal, Portugal. Thank you for planning a generous offering.