Itelvina [ee-tehl-VEE-nah] traced the Bible verse with her finger as she read it again. It clearly said that God had set aside the seventh day as a holy day. But she didn’t know anyone who worshipped on the seventh day and didn’t know how to keep it holy. What could she do?
Itelvina lives in a small town in central Brazil.
One day while taking a sewing class, Itelvina told her teacher what she had discovered in the Bible about keeping the seventh day holy.
“I’ve heard of a church that worships on Saturday,” the teacher said. It’s the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I don’t know of any Adventists around here though.” Itelvina was glad to learn that there was a church that worships on Sabbath, but she was sorry there wasn’t one nearby. She continued to study the Bible alone.
One day Itelvina answered a knock on her door and found an unfamiliar woman standing on her doorstep. “I’m Maria,” the woman said. “I’m visiting my family in town. I heard that you are studying your Bible, and I wondered if you’d like to study the Bible together.”
“Why, yes, I would,” Itelvina replied. She was even more excited when she learned that Maria was an Adventist. Maria gave her Bible study guides to complete, and the two studied them together. When Maria returned home, the Bible studies continued coming, and Itelvina would save her questions for when Maria came to town.
One day another woman knocked on Itelvina’s door. “My family has just moved here,” the woman said. “We are looking for people who want to study the Bible.” Itelvina was thrilled to learn that this woman also was an Adventist. She accepted the woman’s invitation to worship with her family on Sabbaths. It was Itelvina’s first chance to attend an Adventist worship service. Before long the members of the little group became like family. Some months later Itelvina was baptized.
Then she moved to another town to be closer to her family. But the town had no Adventist church. She missed the fellowship she’d enjoyed with her Adventist friends. When she learned about an Adventist church an hour away, she took the bus to worship with fellow believers. During the week she visited people in her own town and invited them to attend church with her. But for most the church was too far away.
“Let’s start a church in my town,” she said to the pastor of the church she attended. “I’ve been talking to people and inviting them to church. They’d come here, but it’s just too far for them to travel.” The pastor notified the local conference office in the area.
Two Global Mission pioneers agreed to work in Itelvina’s town. She worked with them to invite people to meetings and study the Bible with them. The resulting evangelistic meetings were well attended.
One of those who attended the meetings was Ruberval. He had first learned about Adventists from his employer. He had studied the Bible with his employer, but when he finished the work his employer had hired him for, Ruberval moved on and abandoned Bible studies.
Ruberval knew about the Sabbath but didn’t keep it. He noticed that when he worked on Sabbath he often ran into problems that kept him from completing his work. But on Monday, he would return and could quickly resolve the problems. He was convicted that the Sabbath truly was God’s holy day, but still he didn’t surrender to God.
One day as he was working on an electrical tower, the tower collapsed, tossing Ruberval to the ground. “Lord, help me!” Ruberval prayed as he fell. In the hospital he had time to think about his life. He realized he was not living as he should.
Ruberval remembered an Adventist in town and called him. He told the man that he wanted to give his life to God. Adventist church members from Itelvina’s group rallied around Ruberval and gave him hope as he made his way back to spiritual and physical health.
He attended the Adventist evangelistic meetings and eventually followed the Lord in baptism. The new believers formed a congregation and began meeting in a member’s garage.
Most of the Adventists in the little town are retired or work as laborers, small shopkeepers, and fishers. They have few financial resources, but they want to build a simple church in which they can meet and bring their friends to learn about Jesus. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help make their dream of a church a reality. Thank you for helping to make it happen.