[Ask a junior or teen girl to present this first-person report.]
My name is Sisipho [see-SEE-foh]. I was starting a new school, Riverside Adventist School in Cape Town, South Africa. I was nervous, not knowing what to expect.
I had attended a public school in another city where big kids bullied younger ones and sometimes stole their lunches. Sometimes it seemed that the teachers didn’t notice or didn’t care. I hated it. I wondered whether my new school would be the same. Would there be bullies? Would kids tease me because I was new? Would I be able to keep up with my schoolwork? I sighed and pushed open the classroom door.
A Day of Surprises
The teacher looked up from her desk and smiled. “Class, we have a new student joining us,” she said. She introduced me, and I tried to smile. To my surprise, the students smiled back! I found my desk and placed my things inside.
Then the teacher said it was time for worship. Everyone got up and started toward the door. What’s happening? I wondered. Where’s everyone going? The teacher nodded toward me, and I followed everyone outside, across the parking lot, and into a church. I wasn’t sure why we were there or what to do next. I was relieved when one of the girls motioned for me to sit with her. We sang, we prayed, and we listened to a teacher share a Bible story. It was good!
The morning flew by, and soon it was lunchtime. Again I hesitated, wondering if I would eat alone.
“Come, eat with us, Sisipho,” one of the girls said. I grabbed my lunch and followed them out of the classroom. This school was going to be great!
A New Walk With God
The days flew by. I was really enjoying my new school. I was especially glad to know that if I had a problem or needed help in a class, someone would help me.
I had never studied the Bible before, so everything was new to me, but my new friends helped me when I needed help. And the more I heard about God and His people, the more I wanted to know. I started reading my Bible and praying every day. Before too long I decided that I wanted to follow Jesus.
My mother saw the changes in my life and told me how glad she was that I was studying at Riverside. I’m glad, too.
Sharing Joy and Sorrow
Then my mother had twins, a boy and a girl. I loved them so much and enjoyed helping my mom take care of them. Then when they were 3 months old, they both became really sick. They had fevers and had trouble breathing. My parents rushed the babies to the hospital, and I prayed like crazy.
I had trouble focusing at school, and my teacher noticed. When I told her the twins were sick, the whole class stopped and prayed for them. The prayers lifted my fears and I was able to concentrate again. After two weeks in the hospital, the twins came home.
During my school holiday I went to visit my grandmother several hours away. One day Grandmother received a telephone call. She turned to me and told me that my baby brother had died. I was shaken and couldn’t believe that it could have happened. I ran to the phone and called my father.
“It’s true,” he said. “Your brother is dead.”
I cried for days. I couldn’t eat and didn’t want to talk. “Why did this happen?” I cried out to God.
When I returned home, my mother told me that God didn’t make my brother die, that He was just as sad as we were. But God would help something good come from the baby’s death if we trust Him. I believed her, but my heart still hurt, and I still had questions.
When I returned to school, my classmates comforted me and prayed for me. I’m sure their prayers helped strengthen my faith. I’m so grateful to be in a school like Riverside, where we can share our joys and our sorrows. I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have loving Christian friends to pray with me and comfort me.
Helping Make a Difference
Riverside Adventist School has made a huge difference in my life. But the school needs lots of help. We need to build a new classroom block, but most of the parents can’t afford to help with the cost. I’m glad that part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help make this school better. Thank you for sharing our burden for showing families God’s love one class at a time.