Planting Seeds of Joy
To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, February 25.
hen John was a small boy, Father told him that God only has one church in Uganda.
“All other churches are fake,” Father said.
When John went to church on Sunday, the priest warned him never to listen to sermons from any other churches.
“All other churches are fake,” he said.
John believed Father. John believed the priest. But then he started to read the Bible after hearing a sermon by a Seventh-day Adventist preacher on the radio. The Bible showed that John and his family were keeping holy the wrong day of the week. John had been taught that Sunday, the first day of the week, was the Sabbath. But the Bible said that the seventh day of the week, Saturday, was the true Sabbath.
John decided that it was more important to obey God than even Father and the priest, so he started to keep the seventh-day Sabbath.
Father and Mother were angry when they saw that John, now a teen, was keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. They became even more angry when he decided to leave their church and become a Seventh-day Adventist.
“You are old enough to decide for yourself,” Father said. “Leave my house!”
Tears flowed down Mother’s wrinkled cheeks. But she wasn’t sad that Father was kicking John out of the house. She was upset that John had decided to become a Seventh-day Adventist.
“I would rather go to your funeral than see you join that church,” she said.
John felt very sad. He loved his parents very much. He liked living at home with them and his seven brothers. What could he do?
He went to the home of a church elder. With a heavy heart, he told the elder what his parents had said. The elder did not say a word when John finished. Instead, he silently picked up a Bible from the table and opened it to Matthew 6:33. He handed the Bible to John to read.
John read the words of Jesus, who said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (NKJV).
John’s heavy heart was lightened. The Bible was promising that if John made Jesus first in his life, then Jesus would provide everything that he needed. God was making a covenant with him that day. God was telling him to seek His Kingdom and righteousness, and all other things would be added to him. John understood that he was making the right decision by choosing to obey God and keep the seventh-day Sabbath.
Even though John was still a boy, he needed to work in order to eat. He found someone who was willing to let him borrow some land, and he planted a vegetable garden. He sold the vegetables that he grew to earn money. As he worked, he told everyone who would listen about his love for God.
Five years passed, and John sensed that God was calling him to become a pastor. But how? He had only finished eighth grade and never gone to high school.
The pastor at John’s church decided to help. He knew the principal of a nearby Adventist high school.
“Train this young man,” John’s pastor said to the principal. “He will make a good pastor one day.”
After graduating from high school, John moved to another part of Uganda to work as a Global Mission pioneer. A Global Mission pioneer is a missionary who shares Jesus with people who have never heard about God in his or her own country. In nine months, John planted three new churches.
Then church leaders offered John a scholarship to study to become a pastor at Bugema University, the Adventist university in Uganda.
Today, John is a pastor and the manager of an Adventist World Radio station in Uganda.
He feels sad when he remembers how his father and mother treated him. But he is happy that he decided to follow God. He is happy that God has kept His promise in Matthew 6:33, which says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
The persecution at home helped him grow closer to God. In addition, three of his seven brothers have become Adventists and are waiting with him for Jesus’ soon coming.
This quarter’s Thirteen Sabbath Offering will help other young people, like John, to become witnesses for Christ. Part of the offering will help open a youth agricultural training center in Nchwanga, Uganda. Thank you for planning a generous offering.