[Ask a teen or young adult woman to present this first-person report.]
I live in a town in northeastern South Africa. I’ve attended church and Sunday School all my life, but when a large tent appeared on a vacant lot in town, my life changed forever.
“Lo, He Is Coming”
Posters announced the tent meetings with the words “Lo, He is coming again!” Who is coming again? I wondered. Some people said that the people sponsoring the meetings were Satanists, so I was afraid to attend.
Then I heard a woman say, “Tonight the speaker will tell about Jesus’ second coming.” That caught my attention. Jesus already came as a baby, I thought. Why would He come again? I’d never heard anything like this before. Are these Christian meetings? I asked myself.
Curiosity overcame my fear, and that evening I crept close to the tent. I wanted to know what this speaker was talking about, but I was afraid to go inside. If what the speaker says is too scary, I reasoned, I can always leave.
“Good evening,” a man greeted me, giving me a Bible. I took it and sat down in a plastic chair inside the tent. These men don’t seem scary, I thought. As I waited, I flipped through the Bible I had been given. I had a New Testament at home, but I’d never owned an entire Bible.
Discovering Bible Truth
The speaker stood to begin. He showed slides to illustrate his sermon and display Bible texts he quoted. He quoted so many Bible texts that I began to wonder if what I had heard about these meetings could be lies. Satanists wouldn’t quote from the Bible, I thought. Each Bible text supported what the speaker was saying. I became convinced that he was telling the truth.
At the end of that meeting I realized that I had found something precious. In my church we seldom used our Bibles, but this speaker used the Bible for every point. I wanted to know more.
God’s Word brought me back to the meetings every night for the rest of the series. I learned so much about God, and I realized that I had never really known Him before. Near the end of the meetings I told the speaker, “I’ve learned so much about Jesus during these meetings. I feel that I barely knew Him before. How can I give my life to God? How can I join your church?”
The pastor invited me to join a special class that was forming for those who wanted to learn more about the Bible and Adventist beliefs. Eagerly I joined the class and prepared for baptism.
Standing for My Faith
My parents knew that I had been attending the tent meetings, but they hadn’t said anything to me about it. They assumed that when the meetings ended, I would forget about these Adventists. So when they learned I was planning to study the Bible and become an Adventist, they were not happy.
In fact, it seemed lots of people were unhappy to learn that 30 people had asked to become Seventh-day Adventists during the meetings. Pastors and church leaders in the town tried to discourage us from joining the Adventist Church. They even held public meetings to discourage us from becoming Adventists. Some people gave in to the pressure to remain in their former churches. But I was determined; I wanted to follow God. And when the excitement died down, even more people asked to become Adventists.
In the end, 40 people were baptized and became the first members of the Adventist congregation in my town. Two Global Mission pioneers who remained in the town after the evangelistic meetings taught us how to share our faith with others. We went door to door and talked and prayed with people.
Growing a Church
Today our church membership has doubled to 80 people plus visitors and lots of children. We meet in a rented hall, but we have no room for the children to meet in. They must meet outside under a tree.
We are praying and working hard to build a church in our town. But we live in a poor area where unemployment is high and wages are low. Many people are farmers, raising crops just to feed their families. The challenge seemed impossible. So imagine our joy when we learned that part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help us build a simple church! We want to include a worship room for our children, too. There they can learn to grow in faith, share their faith, and become leaders in our church. Thank you for helping us share God’s love in northeastern South Africa.