To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, November 11.
ather was upset when Theophane joined the Seventh-day Adventist church in the West African country of Guinea. Father was a leader in another Christian denomination, and he felt ashamed that his son, a high school student, had chosen a different faith.
“You have a week to change your mind,” he said. “If you don’t go to church on Sundays, it would be better for us to part ways.”
Theophane felt sad. He loved Father very much. But he also had experienced the power of Jesus after an uncle had invited him to go to the Adventist church. He had suffered demonic attacks that only ceased when Adventists had prayed for him. Then, in reading the Bible, he had learned that Christians should worship on the seventh-day Sabbath, not on Sunday, the first day of the week. Theophane didn’t want to go back to his old life. If he couldn’t stay at home, he would leave. He moved in with a friend who lived in the neighborhood.
Theophane’s grandfather decided to intervene. As the eldest person in the family, he was highly respected. Theophane had been named after him.
“You are confused,” Grandfather said. “I will arrange a meeting with a priest. He will help you understand the truth.”
Grandfather and Father took Theophane to the home of a priest. He wasn’t just any priest. He was a leading theologian, and he taught religion at a university.
“What caused you to leave the church?” the priest asked Theophane.
Theophane opened his Bible to Exodus 20.
“I would like us to study the Ten Commandments,” he said.
He read the first commandment, which says, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3, NKJV). Then he read the second commandment, which prohibits the worship of carved images.
Turning to the priest, he asked him to explain the first two commandments.
The priest defended carved images in the church. He said the Israelites were saved by looking at a bronze serpent raised by Moses in the wilderness and Christians today can be saved by looking at icons.
Theophane moved on to the fourth commandment, which says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). The priest countered that the law was changed. Theophane responded with the words of Jesus, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).
Then the priest accused Theophane of not obeying the fifth commandment. “Do you love your father?” he said. “You aren’t doing what he tells you to do. God says, ‘Honor your father and mother.”
Theophane replied, “But Jesus said, ‘He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me’” (Matthew 10:37).
The priest looked at Father. “It’s over for your son,” he said. “Don’t let him ever live at home because he will contaminate other people.”
Leaving the priest’s house, Father was furious. He threatened to burn Theophane’s birth certificate and sever all ties with him. He cursed the uncle who had invited Theophane to the Adventist Church.
Theophane defended his uncle. “He never taught me anything bad,” he said. “He just showed me the way.”
Father complained directly to the uncle, and the uncle reminded him about the demonic attacks. “Theophane was in deep trouble,” he said. “You took him to many physicians and gave him medicine. You did your best, but nothing helped. The boy didn’t follow me. He followed the Word of God.”
Eight months passed. Theophane’s life changed drastically. Not only did he remain free from demonic attacks, but he also grew into a kind, generous young man. Neighbors who had once sought to keep their children away from him and his bad influence now wanted their children to be like him. Father was amazed at the remarkable change, and he called the uncle to thank him.
“Thank you for what you have done for my son,” he said. “The boy who we knew before is not the same person today.”
Today, Theophane lives back at home, and he keeps the seventh-day Sabbath freely. He is praying that Father and Grandfather will know the Jesus who changed his life.
“My prayer now is for God to change their hearts so they can join me in my new faith and we can worship together,” he says.
Thank you for your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering three years ago that helped a Seventh-day Adventist school expand with new classrooms in Conakry, Guinea.