MarshaLl islands, Lebanon & austria

I was only a teenager when I sat in church one Sabbath morning staring cold truth in the face. The pastor’s message hit home, and I finally understood that if I didn’t share Jesus with others, my own spiritual life would languish. That wasn’t an option for me, so I started making ministry a serious matter of prayer. “Lord,” I prayed, “I feel so ungifted and useless. Please show me something that I can do for You.”

God answered that prayer and wonderfully blessed me. By the time I was 31, I was involved in numerous church activities, including conducting an orchestra that I had organized four years before. Even my personal life was flourishing. Yet, despite these blessings, I was deeply depressed. I had the constant feeling that I was wasting my life and that something essential was missing.

Later that year, I joined a small group meeting with some of my church friends. We read the book Christian Service together, and one of them suggested that we start visiting the elderly at the local nursing home. My mouth answered “Yes!” but my mind was thinking, Oh, no! I don’t like this stuff! I’m pathologically shy; I normally don’t like talking to people, never mind preaching to complete strangers!

The next Sabbath afternoon, I was standing in front of the nursing home door. Ironically, I’d been assigned to read from the Bible and say a few words. I remember thinking, This is the first and last time I will go through this door. But thank God I was wrong!

I loved sharing Jesus with my students at the Delap Seventh-day Adventist School in Majuro, Marshall Islands.
Some of my students in Lebanon who were visiting an Adventist church for the first time.
Our nursing home ministry team.
I made great friends with the other missionaries in the Marshall Islands.
My wife and I both fell in love with mission service.

While I talked about Jesus that day, I noticed my listeners were fascinated by the topic of His love. Despite my poor speaking skills, I felt the power of the Holy Spirit as I never had before. I felt energized and motivated.

Now very different thoughts were whirling around in my mind. That’s what’s missing! I need to serve outside the church, too. And I need to do more of it!

Adventist Volunteer Service facilitates volunteer missionary service of church members around the world. Volunteers ages 18 to 80 may serve as pastors, teachers, medical professionals, computer technicians, orphanage workers, farmers, and more. To learn more, please visit

A few weeks later our group was visiting two nursing homes, two orphanages, and one hospital every week! I was happier than ever. But something was still missing.

It was then that a crazy, new thought entered my mind. If only 2 hours of outreach each week could make such an improvement in my spiritual life, what could 24 hours do? What if I did it 7 days a week? What if I became a missionary?

“Noooo, this is madness!” I told myself. “I’m too old for that; I have a career to develop; a retirement plan to grow. It’s time to have a family, a dog, and a nice car.”

I fought the Holy Spirit’s leading for the next year. Many of my friends confirmed my doubts by telling me that I would probably be ruining my life if I went. But I finally decided to take the risk and applied to be a volunteer Bible teacher in the Marshall Islands for one year.

That first mission experience completely transformed my heart and my relationship with God. When the year was up, I knew I wanted to be a missionary for the rest of my life.

I married a missionary named Rafaela and spent two years teaching Bible in Lebanon. Today, we’re serving as volunteer missionaries in Austria.

I never felt as fulfilled in my other jobs as I do working for the Lord. Living to help others find rest has helped me find rest too, and my depression is gone.

I love my job, and I love God’s mission. Rafaela and I have no plans to go “back” but only forward, until that mission is accomplished!

Dalton Rocha
Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Dalton Rocha has served as a volunteer missionary in the Marshall Islands, Lebanon, and Austria.