South Africa | August 11

The Runaway


I am Sibono [sih-BOH-noh]. I live in a town on a hilltop in northeastern South Africa. [Locate South Africa on a map.]

My mother and I attended church every Sunday. Then one day Mother told me that we were going to a church on Saturday. I liked church, but I didn’t want to miss my playtime with my friends on Saturday. So after breakfast on Saturday morning, I slipped out of the house and ran to my friend’s house to play.

Mother called for me, but I didn’t answer. Eventually she went to church alone. My friends and I played soccer all morning. We don’t have a real ball, so we make one by stuffing an old sock with plastic bags. It works pretty well. And when it wears out we just find another old sock and stuff it with plastic bags.

We played until we got tired, and then we played with the toy cars we had made out of bits of wire. We made pretend roads in the dust and ran our cars through pretend towns and over pretend mountains. I had lunch with my friend, and then we played some more.

About sunset I saw my mom coming, and I ran to her. I had forgotten all about church until she told me to come into the house with her. “We were supposed to go to church together,” she said. “Why did you run off to play?”

“My friends wanted me to,” I answered quietly.

Mother told me the story she had learned in church that day. It was about Joshua, who led the people of Israel into the Promised Land. She told how God parted the waters of the Jordan River to let them pass. I was amazed at this story, and I promised to go to church with her the next week.

Sibono’s New Church

On Sabbath, instead of running off to play, I went to church with my mother. The children don’t have their own classroom, so we meet under a shady tree. They sang lots of songs, and then the teacher told us a Bible story.

After church Mother and I ate our small lunch under the big tree. Then while the adults had a Bible study, we children sang more songs and had more stories. It was fun!

When my friends asked me why I hadn’t come out to play on Saturday, I told them that I had gone to church. “You should come too,” I said. “We sing great songs and hear exciting stories about God.” Two of my friends went with me the next Sabbath, but after that they decided to stay home and play soccer. I felt bad that they didn’t want to come to church with me.

Sibono Shares God’s Love

Sometimes when I return from church my friends are outside playing. I call them to my yard and tell them the Bible stories I heard that day in church. They like hearing the Bible stories. But when I invite them to come to church, they don’t want to give up their playtime. So I just keep telling them Bible stories, even if there’s only one boy who comes to hear them.

Some of my friends’ parents don’t trust a church that meets in the community hall. The community hall is not such a nice place to worship, but I know that God is there.

Our pastor encourages us to bring a special offering to help build a church of our own. The church will have a special room for the children to worship in. We’ve been saving money for the church for a long time, but still we don’t have nearly enough.

This quarter part of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help our church members build a new church. I think that when we get our new church with our children’s worship center, my friends will come. Please save your money this quarter so that we can have a big Thirteenth Sabbath Offering. It means so much to us.

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