Today’s story comes from the highlands of Madagascar, an island nation off the eastern coast of South Africa. [Locate Madagascar on a map.]
The Children’s Meetings
Charline hung her head as her grandfather scolded her. “You cannot go to those meetings after school,” he said. “You have chores to do; there’s no time for meetings. Do you understand?”
Ten-year-old Charline nodded her head, but she didn’t look into her grandfather’s eyes. She loved her grandparents and didn’t want to disobey them. But she didn’t want to miss the children’s meetings sponsored by the Adventist church, either. She loved the joyful songs and the stories about Jesus. After school the next day she and a friend hurried to the meeting. When the meeting ended, Charline ran home to do her chores.
Charline’s grandparents tried to reason with her. “You’re too young to be going to meetings alone,” her grandmother said. But Charline kept attending the meetings. Even when she was punished, she went to the meetings. She tried hard to do her chores quickly so her grandparents wouldn’t be angry.
One evening the Adventist pastor visited the family. He thanked them for letting Charline attend the children’s meetings, and he invited them to attend the meetings for adults. After the pastor left, Charline’s grandparents didn’t say any more about the meetings.
When the children’s meetings ended, the teachers invited the children to Sabbath School on Sabbath morning. Charline wondered if her grandparents would let her go.
“Please, Grandmother,” Charline said, “may I go to Sabbath School with my friend? She says that it is like the meetings I’ve been attending.”
To Charline’s surprise, her grandparents agreed to let her attend the Adventist church. The family had no church of their own, and they were glad that Charline was learning good values in Sabbath School.
In time Charline’s grandparents went with her to the Adventist church. They studied the Bible with the pastor and gave their hearts to Jesus.
Charline was so happy that her grandparents had decided to follow Jesus. But other family members were not at all happy about it. They wouldn’t talk to them and didn’t invite them to any of the traditional feasts in honor of their ancestors.
A New Home for Charline
Charline’s grandparents were getting old, and it became hard for them to provide her with a good education. They didn’t want her to live with aunts and uncles who didn’t believe as they did. Grandmother talked to the pastor about her concern, and he told her about an Adventist children’s home not far away. “Charline can live in a Christian home and study at an Adventist school,” he said.
“I don’t want to leave you and Grandfather!” Charline cried when her grandparents told her of their decision to send her to the children’s home. But in her heart she knew that her grandparents were right. They wanted only the best for her.
At first Charline was lonely in her new home. But she quickly made friends and realized that God had provided her with a whole new family. “The older children teach the younger ones how to wash their clothes and clean their rooms. They help the younger children with their homework, just like one big family,” Charline says. “Now I have 25 brothers and sisters! Imagine that!”
Hope and a Future
Charline looks forward to school holidays when she can visit her grandmother. “My grandfather died,” Charline says, “and Grandmother is so lonely without him. I miss him too, but I know that one day Jesus will come to take us to heaven, and we’ll spend forever together again. Thinking of that gives Grandmother and me hope and courage.
Boys and girls, let’s pray for the thousands of children like Charline who live in orphanages and children’s homes because their families can’t care for them. And let’s give our mission offerings so that more people can learn that Jesus loves them.