Why do you want to be a Seventh-day Adventist?” Roshawnda’s [ro-SHAWN-dah] aunt asked her.
“I finally understand who God is, and I want to have Him in my life,” Roshawnda replied bravely. “He’s important in my life, and I must follow Him—on His terms, not mine.”
Eighteen-year-old Roshawnda hasn’t always had the courage to share her beliefs so plainly. For years her shyness kept her from telling people what she believed. When she was just 4 years old, her mother died unexpectedly. Her father wasn’t able to care for Roshawnda and her older brothers, and they moved from one relative to another. Finally her grandparents took the children in, and Roshawnda and her brothers settled into a new life, but Roshawnda missed her mother terribly.
Roshawnda’s brothers didn’t want to attend the local public school. Grandfather asked around and learned about Holbrook Indian School, a Christian boarding school operated by Seventh-day Adventists for Native American children.
When Grandfather told the boys about Holbrook, they were excited. But Roshawnda had to wait a year to attend school. That school year seemed to last forever.
At last Roshawnda joined her brothers at her new school. She began making friends. “Everyone at the school became my new family,” Roshawnda says. She enjoyed school and loved learning many new things, including who Jesus is and that He died for everyone.
The school years passed quickly, and Roshawnda enjoyed the activities in school and church. When she was in the sixth grade, she and several of her classmates were baptized. But God still wasn’t real to her.
At the beginning of her freshman year Roshawnda was asked if she would like to join a group of children from the school who share God’s love with other Native American children scattered across North America. But Roshawnda’s shyness left her feeling uncomfortable talking to people she didn’t know, especially to a group of people. And she couldn’t imagine praying in public! “No thanks,” Roshawnda told the leader.
The next year two of Roshawnda’s friends urged her to join the outreach program. “You’ve got to join our group,” they said. “It’s so much fun!
Still resistant, Roshawnda told her friends she would think about it. She prayed about it and reluctantly decided to join the group—for just one year. But as Roshawnda became involved, she quickly became as excited as her friends had been. “I like learning about the other Native American tribes, and I’m learning to enjoy meeting new people,” said Roshawnda.
Roshawnda and her fellow students from Holbrook Indian School travel around the United States and Canada, visiting various Native American regions and teaching children through stories, crafts, songs, and skits about Jesus. Many of these children are just like I was when I came to Holbrook, thought Roshawnda. They don’t know Jesus. I’m so glad that I can help them learn about what God has done for us!
Roshawnda’s ministry experiences have helped her become more confident in responding to her family’s questions about her beliefs. “I’ve learned that I don’t have to be shy or afraid to tell others about Jesus,” she says. “It’s good to share what Jesus has done for us, for others need to hear about it.”
Roshawnda sees that she has a mission field within her own family as well. “I love being with my family,” she adds. “But it hurts me to see how alcohol and drug abuse has affected some members of my family. Because I’ve learned how to tell others about God through this program, it’s easier to tell my own family about Him. I want them to see that God doesn’t make us follow Him; He wants us to choose to follow Him.”
After graduation Roshawnda plans to work as a Bible worker among her people. God wants all of His children to hear about His love, and He invites us to be His voice to all the people of the world.
This quarter part of our Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help support work among the Navajo in northern Arizona. Thank you for giving so that God’s long-neglected people can hear His message of love. ⎭
Roshawnda shares her faith with her Navajo community in northern Arizona.