Reluctant Seminary Student
To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, July 22.
fter giving his heart to Jesus as a teen, Stanislav became very active in his home church in Serbia. He preached many sermons, but the thought never entered his mind to become a pastor.
Then the church pastor suggested that he go to a month-long retreat called, “One Month for Jesus.”
Stanislav didn’t want to go. The event was for young people, and he was close to 40 years old. He shook his bald head. But the pastor wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“It will be interesting,” the pastor said.
“No, I don’t want to go,” Stanislav said.
“If you don’t want to go for yourself, go for the church,” the pastor said.
So, Stanislav went.
To his chagrin, only one person was older than him at the retreat. He struggled to fit in with the young people. But a pastor took an interest in him.
“You should go to our Adventist seminary in Belgrade,” the pastor said.
“No, I’m old,” Stanislav said. “Besides, I haven’t gone to school in years. I’ve forgotten how to write.”
But the pastor was very persuasive. He was so passionate in his appeal that he and Stanislav even wept together.
“OK,” Stanislav finally said. “But if I go to the seminary, I’ll lose my job. I don’t have the money to pay for tuition, and I have no savings.”
“God will take care of that,” the pastor said.
Stanislav promised to pray and fast — and he did.
Immediately, things started to happen. As Stanislav backed up his car at the retreat, another car hit him. He thought, “You know, maybe this is a sign to go to the seminary.”
Then he played a game of soccer with the young people. As he went for the ball, he ran into a tree. Blood splattered everywhere. He thought, “Maybe this is a second sign.”
As he was resting later outdoors, something fell into his eye, causing it to swell shut. He thought, “This is definitely a sign. I just need to get a little better, and then I will go.”
Then he went deaf in one ear.
He prayed, “OK, God. This is Your will. I should go. I won’t even wait for the retreat to end.”
At that moment, Stanislav sensed a voice ask, “Would I do this to you?”
He thought, “That’s a good point. Even if it were God’s will for me to go, He probably wouldn’t do it this way.”
He stayed at the retreat. Afterward, he went to the seminary. But he wasn’t convinced that he was pastoral material. He thought, “Probably, I will fail the admission test.”
But he passed it.
Then he thought, “Fine, but I’m sure that I will fail the in-person interview when they question me about my life and motives.” He prayed, “God, please take this cup away from me. But Your will, not mine, be done.”
Stanislav passed the interview and was admitted into the seminary.
Stanislav didn’t have enough money to cover the tuition. He hadn’t received good marks in high school, and he was sure that no one would contribute to his financial needs.
But to his surprise, money flowed into his account as he earned straight A’s. He didn’t know where the money was coming from, but it always covered his expenses.
Exams were particularly scary. During his first year, Stanislav was particularly worried about a theology exam. He simply didn’t have time to prepare for it after he was asked to do his own work on campus and the work of several students who had left earlier. Stanislav only managed to study a third of the theology materials.
He prayed, “God, You know I didn’t do this on purpose. I’ve done the best that I could do. I need help.”
When he sat down to take the exam, he found that all the questions were based on the materials that he had studied! He easily passed the exam.
That day was a turning point for Stanislav. He realized that he needed to stay at the seminary and study.
Stanislav went on to became one of the first seminary students to receive a full scholarship. When the once-reluctant seminary student spoke with Adventist Mission, he was just weeks away from his graduation.
“From being a bad student, I’m now getting straight A’s, which is pretty good,” the 41-year-old says. “God is working. I couldn’t have done it without Him.”
Thank you for your Thirteenth Sabbath Offerings three years ago that helped open a new church in the greater metro area of Belgrade, Serbia, where Stanislav attended the seminary.