Isaiah* tensed at the sound of his parents’ angry voices. They were arguing again. Mother wanted Isaiah to attend church with her on Sabbath, and Father wanted him to help on the farm that day.
To keep peace in the family, Isaiah usually attended church with his father on Sunday. This worried his mother so much that she decided to send him to the Adventist boarding school at Cosendai [koh-SEN-dai], not far from their home. Isaiah was only 11 and didn’t know what to think about being away from home. When his mother explained that he would live with his sister and her husband on the school campus, Isaiah felt relieved. He wouldn’t be all alone.
At Cosendai Isaiah discovered that nearly everyone, including his sister and brother-in-law, attended church on Saturday. Isaiah was torn between attending worship services with his family and the threat that his actions would displease his father. Sometimes he pretended to go to church but returned to his sister’s house to watch television. His sister wasn’t happy with this, but she felt it was best not to force Isaiah to go to church.
Then Isaiah’s older cousin Thierry [THEE-ree] came to live with Isaiah’s sister and brother-in-law. Isaiah admired Thierry and wanted to be like him. One day Isaiah saw his cousin leave home with his Bible. “Where are you going?” Isaiah asked.
“To Bible class,” Thierry answered. “I’m getting ready to be baptized.” Isaiah ran after his cousin and walked with him to the church. If Thierry enjoyed studying the Bible, Isaiah wanted to study, too. He might even enjoy it! “I’m going with you!” he said.
The pastor welcomed the young people to the class. Isaiah listened carefully to the discussion and realized that he had been wasting a lot of time watching television when he could have been learning about God. At the end of the study the pastor asked Isaiah to pray. Isaiah’s mouth went dry, and he swallowed hard. He had never prayed in public before. The words stumbled uncomfortably from his mouth. When he finished, Isaiah felt a strange happiness inside him. He’d tasted something good, and he wanted more of it. In fact, he wanted to prepare for baptism, too.
Then Isaiah thought of his father. What would he say when he learned that Isaiah wanted to become an Adventist? But his resolve strengthened; he knew he had to take a stand for what he had learned was the truth in Jesus, no matter what. Isaiah would continue attending the baptismal classes with his cousin.
Isaiah continued taking Bible studies with Thierry, and the day approached when he and his cousin would be baptized together. As they walked back home together, Isaiah felt such a joy in his heart. Even his father’s objections wouldn’t deter him! But when he stepped into his sister’s home he found his father sitting in the front room.
“Is it true that you are going to join the Adventist Church?” Isaiah’s father asked.
Isaiah shifted uncomfortably. “Yes,” he answered quietly.
Father’s chair scraped on the floor as he stood. He gathered his things and left without a word.
On Sabbath the congregation celebrated the large baptism. Isaiah smiled, thinking that a few months earlier he wouldn’t have dreamed of this day.
Isaiah has not seen his father since he was baptized. His mother and sister struggle to keep Isaiah, now 15 years old, in school. Recently Isaiah received $10 from his father, a sign of hope that he and his father can mend their relationship. “I want to visit my father again,” Isaiah says. “I want him to know that I respect him, even though I have chosen to follow God in the Adventist Church.
“I want my father to know that I’ve changed a lot since coming to this school. No one needs to force me to go to church on Sabbath. Now I go three times a week. I want to follow God all the way,” he adds with a smile. “Studying at Cosendai has brought me to know my Savior. I praise God for what He has done for me at this school.”
This quarter part of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help build a medical laboratory classroom block at the Cosendai Adventist University, which will help strengthen the new university’s nursing and medical technician program. Thank you for helping the university to grow stronger and the young people of Cameroon to receive a God-centered education. ⎭
*Isaiah’s name is Esaie [eh-sah-ee], the French version of Isaiah. It has been changed for ease