To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, October 7.
ore than anything, Jacques wanted to pass university entrance exams in the West African country of Cameroon. But the second half of the exams fell on the Sabbath.
“I’m a Seventh-day Adventist,” Jacques told the teachers who administered the exams on Friday and Saturday at a testing center just outside Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé. “I can’t take my exams on the Sabbath.”
“Just come and take the exams,” said one teacher.
“You have to take them,” said another.
“No,” Jacques said. “I want you to know that if you don’t see me tomorrow, it’s because I am in church.”
Some teachers saw it as a challenge. Mockingly, they called him a priest. “You will fail if you don’t come, priest,” a teacher said.
Jacques returned home. He had given his heart to Jesus in baptism a year earlier, and he was determined to honor the Lord of the Sabbath. He decided to fast and pray during the Sabbath hours. On Sabbath, he went to church instead of the testing center. After sundown, he returned to the center. No one was there. The exams had been given, and the teachers had left. Jacques returned home.
Early Sunday, he went back to the testing center. No one was there. He waited all day for someone to come. Early Monday, he went to the testing center again. No one was there. He sat down and waited.
After a while, teachers arrived and began to hand out exam results. At midday, the director of the testing center asked the teachers how things were going.
“Everything is fine except for the priest here,” a teacher said, pointing to Jacques.
The teacher explained that Jacques had refused to take his exams on Sabbath.
“Let him take the exams now,” the director said. “It’s OK.”
Two teachers needed to administer the last two exams. The first, who taught English, brought out a textbook that Jacques had never seen before and told him to read from it. As Jacques stumbled over the words, the teacher mocked him, saying, “That’s wrong! You know nothing. How will you pass?”
“Ask me something else,” Jacques said. “Please ask me anything else.”
“There will be no more questions,” the teacher said. “You will not pass.”
As Jacques kept pleading, he walked to the door to leave the room. Then he stopped at the door. It was like someone was blocking him or holding him back. He couldn’t go out. Without looking at Jacques, the teacher suddenly blurted out, “Don’t worry.” Then he was able to move, and he left.
The next teacher was supposed to quiz Jacques on government, history, and geography. Instead, he said, “My gentleman of the Sabbath, what is the Sabbath?”
Jacques took the question as an exam question, and he resolved that he would answer it well.
“The Sabbath is in the Ten Commandments,” he said, reaching for a Bible in his bag.
The teacher stopped him. “Leave the Bible alone,” he said.
He said Jacques had been brainwashed and government, history, and geography were much more important than religion. Jacques replied that he had studied the three subjects for a whole year and had learned nothing that was as important as religion.
“Religion is a matter of conscience and can influence my whole life,” he said.
At that moment, another teacher entered the room. The first teacher told Jacques to leave. The exam was over.
Later that day, as Jacques walked back to the testing center for the exam results, a car stopped in front of him. The teacher who had given the English exam poked his head out the car window.
“Rejoice!” he said.
Jacques wondered if the teacher was mocking him again.
At the testing center, Jacques waited with the other students as a teacher called out the names of those who had passed the exams. Then he heard his name. He had passed! He was shocked. He raised his arms in the air and exclaimed, “God, thank You!”
Jacques sought out the English teacher to thank him. “You didn’t believe me when I told you to rejoice,” the teacher said. “We wanted to fail you.”
“Why didn’t you fail me,” Jacques asked.
The teacher turned to another teacher nearby.
“I wanted to fail him, but I couldn’t,” he said. “I can’t understand why I couldn’t fail him.”
Jacques was amazed. He couldn’t understand what had happened. All he knew was that God had heard his prayers. God had honored him for honoring the Sabbath.
Jacques is now 56 years old, but he has never forgotten that day. “I have no doubt that I saw God,” he says.
Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help expand Seventh-day Adventist education in Cameroon with the opening of a bilingual school where children will be able to learn about Jesus in French and English. Thank you for planning a generous offering.