My name is Sabathine [sah-bah-TEEN]. It means that I was born on the Sabbath. I didn’t always like my name, but I do now.
I grew up in a small village. Our little congregation met in a room in a member’s home. We had just five children from babies to teenagers, and there was no class just for us. A woman tried to teach the children a Bible lesson, but she didn’t know how.
My school friends went to other churches that worshipped on Sundays. I learned that these churches had classes for children. When my friends invited me to go with them, I wanted to go. But my parents didn’t want me to go. However, they allowed me to go to the Christmas Eve program to see the children act out the story of Jesus’ birth.
A New Family
Then my mother died. Our pastor knew that it would be difficult for my father to care for my younger sister and me, so he suggested that Father send us to an Adventist orphanage, where we could get a good education and have a stable home.
Family is very important in Madagascar, so my father asked our extended family to let us go to the orphanage. They didn’t like the idea and wanted to raise us in their homes. But they weren’t Adventist, and my father wanted us in an Adventist environment. He decided to send us to the orphanage. My sister, Sabine, was just 6 years old when we left home.
At first I didn’t like the orphanage. I didn’t want to attend worship every day and dreaded going to church on Sabbath. But then I realized that the church has Sabbath School classes for all ages of children. I was surprised to find myself enjoying the Sabbath School Bible class. It was interesting, and the teacher made the Bible stories come alive. I even liked the sermons. Most important, I felt loved there.
I began thinking about whether I wanted to follow God and become an Adventist. I knew my parents had wanted us to obey God. I thought of my name, Sabathine, and its meaning, “Sabbath.” I thought of the love I was experiencing in my new home and at our new church that God had provided for us.
I asked the pastor to help me show my family and the world that I wanted to follow His plan for me, just as my parents had wanted when they named me Sabathine.
Some of my mother’s family still ask me why I went to the orphanage rather than live with them. I tell them that it’s part of God’s plan for us, that God is working out His plan in our lives.
I’m so glad that God has given my sister and me a good place to learn to follow Jesus. This quarter your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help other children like me have a chance at a better life and learn to follow God. Thank you.