Maria listened quietly to the sermon in the little Adventist church. She wanted to catch every word. As the service ended, Maria slipped out the door and started toward home. Immediately her heart began to feel the heaviness that had become her constant companion.
Her parents had been angry when they had learned that Maria had been attending the Adventist church. But Maria had continued worshipping God in the little church in spite of her parents’ disapproval. Then this morning her father had shouted at her. “You are bringing shame and disgrace on us! If you go to that church again, I will kill you! Do you hear me?”
Maria’s heart sank at the thought that her father had actually meant the words he was saying. “Please, oh, please, dear God, help my father to understand,” she prayed as she walked toward home. “And please help me to be brave.”
Maria looked ahead to where her family’s little hut stood high above the ground on tall poles. Where was her father now, she wondered. As she approached the hut, something made her pause. Perhaps her guardian angel touched her on the shoulder or spoke in her ear. She quietly slipped around to the back door and climbed the ladder.
Maria reached the top of the ladder and stopped. She stood perfectly still and stared into the darkness inside the little house. It couldn’t be! She thought. She strained harder and realized it was true! Her father was crouching behind the front door with his machete [mah-CHEH-tee], his long, sharp knife clutched in his hand!
Maria hesitated a moment, and then like a flash she sprang forward and locked her arms around her father’s neck. “Oh, Father, I love you!” Maria sobbed.
Father’s machete fell to the floor, and he turned to embrace his little girl. “Maria, my Maria,” he said.
“Oh, Father, I do love you! But I love God, too, and Father, I must obey Him,” Maria said through her tears as she clung to her father.
For a long moment her father gazed at her. “I have never known such courage and faith,” he said.
Maria’s life was spared by God’s hand. But the best part of the story is that Maria’s father gave his heart to Jesus and began worshipping God with Maria every Sabbath.
Your mission offerings help spread the message of God’s love around the world to modern cities and tiny mountain villages alike. Thank you for giving your offering every week so that others can hear God’s message of love and hope, just as Maria did.