Madagascar | July 28

The Infidel

Antoine

My father is a deeply religious man. He raised my brothers and me to believe that Christians are infidels and that we must avoid them. We must never touch their holy book, the Bible, much less read it.

When I completed primary school, my father couldn’t find a secondary school in our area that taught the classes I wanted to study. The only school available was a Seventh-day Adventist boarding school in another town. The school had an excellent reputation, so my father reluctantly allowed me to enroll. But he warned me, “If they talk about their God, don’t listen.” I nodded and promised myself to ignore anyone who tried to talk to me about God or the Bible.

Curiosity Leads to Faith

I worked hard to please my family with good grades. But I soon realized that the Bible was central to the school’s existence. I couldn’t avoid hearing about the Bible and God. Every day classes began with morning worship and a Bible text. Bible class was a required course for every student. And that meant I needed to use the Bible. Reluctantly I obtained the forbidden book.

My teachers were different from others I had studied under. They were kind and cared about my progress in class. The students were different, too. How can these people with such deep faith be infidels? I wondered. And how can the Bible be so bad if these people live by its principles?

I started listening in class and in morning worship. I listened to my Bible teacher and to my fellow students. I was surprised to find that what they had to say made sense. One day I picked up the Bible and began reading it for myself. The more I read, the more I wanted to know. I asked questions and asked for Bible studies.

Test of Faith

I knew that my father would be angry if he learned of my growing interest in Jesus, so I didn’t tell my family. But when I decided to be baptized I knew I would have to tell my parents. I was afraid to tell my father, so I told my mother. I hoped she would understand. And she did.

When I returned home during school break, neither of my parents said anything about my new faith. I knew my father expected me to work in the fields while I was home. I worked hard every day, and on Friday I worked twice as hard so I would not have to work on Sabbath. Then on Sabbath morning I went to the Adventist church in my town.

Father didn’t even know I had not worked on Sabbath. But when someone told him that I had gone to church on Sabbath, he doubled the work I was supposed to do on the following Friday and still expected me to work on Sabbath. It was impossible to finish Friday’s and Sabbath’s work before the Sabbath began.

On Sabbath morning my father called me to work in the fields. Humbly I explained that I would work twice as long on Sunday, but I wanted to worship God on Sabbath. As respectfully as possible I explained God’s commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy.

Father did not want a theological discussion; he wanted obedience. “If you disobey me and go to church, then let those Adventists be your father. Let them buy your food and pay your school fees!”

I knew how hard it was for my father to disown me. I had been his favorite son.

Choosing to Obey

“I have always obeyed you,” I said. “But I am searching for wisdom, and God is wise. I must obey God in this thing. Let me worship God as He asks, and I will continue to work for you and be your son, too.” But my father refused.

So after church I returned home and gathered my things. I traveled to the Adventist school and told the principal what had happened. The school helped me with food and lodging so I could continue my studies.

I love my family, but God is my Father now, and my church family takes care of me. I have no regrets.

I thank God for the Adventist school where I first learned to love and follow God. The school is crowded and needs to expand to accommodate the students. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help build a new classroom block at my school so that more students such as I can study and learn to follow God. Thank you for your support through the weekly mission offerings and through your generous Thirteenth Sabbath Offering.

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