Snaji's New Song
“Papa, it’s OK to wear your old clothes. Jesus will accept you, even in your old clothes. If your heart is clean, who cares about your clothes?”
Our story today comes from north-eastern Congo. [Locate the Congo on a map.]
Papa, please come with us to church,” Ruth pleaded with her father.
“Not today,” Papa said.
It was Sabbath, and Ruth was helping her younger sisters and brother prepare for church. Her mother was ill and couldn’t walk to church with the children. So Ruth made sure they got to Sabbath School.
Papa had never gone to church with the children. Ruth knew that after the children left for church, her father would go to the local bar and drink with his friends.
One Sabbath Papa followed the children out the door. Papa planned to go to the bar, but Ruth and her sister grabbed his hands and pulled him toward the church. To their surprise, Papa didn’t argue or pull away from them.
But then Papa saw some of his friends drinking nearby. He pulled away from the children and walked toward his friends. The children followed him. When they caught up with him, they again took his hands and pleaded, “We have to go to church! You can’t stay and drink.” So Papa went with the children to church.
When they arrived at church, Ruth sat with her papa. She knew that he would be tempted to go drink with his friends, and she was determined to make him stay.
When church ended, Papa and the children walked home together. Ruth asked her father what the sermon was about, and Papa remembered. “It was about Cain and Abel,” he said. Ruth asked who Cain and Abel were. Papa said Cain and Abel were brothers. One was faithful, and one was not.
Just then Papa saw some of his friends and wanted to go drink with them. Ruth realized what he was thinking and said, “Papa! Don’t be like Cain! Be faithful! Come home with us.” Papa turned back toward home with his children.
The Battle for God
Papa went to church with his children after that, but often he was tempted to go drinking with his friends. Ruth would take his hand and pull him toward church.
One Sabbath Papa picked up his long knife and started toward the family’s field to work. Nadine, a friend of Ruth’s, saw him and told him, “You shouldn’t work in the field on Sabbath.” Papa hesitated, and then he turned again toward the field. Nadine told him how disappointed she was that he was working on the Sabbath. “But if you insist on going to work, I can take your offering to God for you.”
Papa stopped again. He gave Nadine 100 francs (about 10 cents in the United States) to take to church. Again he started toward the field. But then he stopped and watched Nadine walk up the hill toward the church.
Papa turned around and walked home. He put the machete back in its place and took a bath. Then he went to church.
A New Heart for Papa
A few months later the church held evangelistic meetings. The whole family went, including Papa. After several meetings, Papa told Ruth, “You’re right, my daughter. It’s time that I give my life to Jesus.” And he did.
Papa wanted to be baptized when the pastor held a special service. But he hesitated, for he didn’t have any new clothes. Ruth told him, “Papa, it’s OK to wear your old clothes. Jesus will accept you, even in your old clothes. If your heart is clean, who cares about your clothes?”
Papa nodded. And not long afterward Ruth and her whole family witnessed Papa’s baptism. They were so happy. At last they were united in Jesus.
On the day of his baptism, Papa told the church, “I’ve done a lot of bad things before. But I thank God for my children, for they brought me to know Jesus.”
Ruth and her whole family prayed for Papa. They talked to him, and they took him to church. If someone you love doesn’t know Jesus, remember Ruth’s persistent pleas to her papa—“We’re praying for you. Please come and worship God with us.” You can do the same.