Iani’s [ee-AH-nee] feet pounded against the packed dirt as she ran. Her lungs burned for air, but she kept running toward home, her mother, and safety.
Iani was 15. Her mother and younger brother and sister were ill. Mother couldn’t work, so Iani had taken a job in a factory working for less than minimum wage to help buy food. At first the manager had seemed friendly. But then he had tried to molest her. She had broken from his grasp and fled.
Suddenly she saw the man’s car coming toward her. She stopped, terrified, and picked up several stones to throw at him if he tried to get near her. Then her mother got out of the man’s car and hurried toward Iani before the man could say anything. “Your boss came to the house and said you’d run away. What happened?”
Iani told her mother the man had tried to molest her, but she had fled. Mother took Iani to file a police report, but the police did nothing. Iani’s family moved to escape the man and the memories that haunted her.
Iani sank into despair and experienced violent outbursts of anger. She had once attended church, but she no longer knew how to call on God. Counseling helped her to deal with the traumas she had suffered and the people in her life who had betrayed her—her absent father, her abusive stepfather, a jealous teacher, and the boss who had tried to molest her. Little by little she dealt with the bitterness that filled her heart.
Then one Saturday afternoon some members of the local Adventist church visited Iani’s family. They sang, read the Bible, and talked. Iani’s mother had been an Adventist and had taken the children to church when Iani was younger. But their frequent moves and lack of money for clothes and bus fare had made church attendance difficult. Eventually Iani’s mother had stopped trying to attend church, and the family’s faith fell by the wayside.
Now, hearing the joy in these teenagers’ voices as they sang and shared God’s Word, Iani’s mother wanted to return to God. Iani had nothing but the worn jeans she was wearing. But her mother insisted that they would visit the church, so Iani borrowed a dress and helped her brother and sister get ready to go.
Some members of the church invited Iani to join them on a mission trip that they called Mission Caleb. Iani had never heard of Mission Caleb, so some girls explained that it was a short-term mission project. Groups from throughout Brazil spent three weeks working in an assigned town. There they worked in the community and helped the local church members coordinate evangelistic meetings and visit former members.
Someone offered to pay Iani’s expenses. She decided that she could meet some new people and see a new place. She agreed to go.
The church members traveled to a distant town in northern Brazil. They were given some training, and Iani was assigned to give Bible studies. Iani didn’t know much about the Bible, so she had to study the lesson every day before presenting the topic to the people she was visiting. It was intense, but she felt fulfilled.
Every day Iani studied the Bible with people, and every night the youth listened to an evangelist speak on a different Bible topic. Iani could feel her fear and anger melt away, replaced by hope for the future and love for God. She learned how to forgive the people who had hurt her, and by the end of the mission trip, Iani felt like a completely different person. She decided to be baptized.
Iani returned home with a new vision for her future. She wanted to study at Central Brazil Academy, the Adventist boarding school an hour from her home. Her family had no money, so Iani worked as a literature evangelist to receive a partial scholarship to study. Church members helped pay her remaining tuition, and others donated school supplies.
At Central Brazil Academy Iani rediscovered the joy she had once felt in studying. Her teachers and friends taught her to place her trust entirely in Jesus. “The time I’ve spent at Central Brazil Academy has been the best of my life,” Iani says.
“God has turned my life around. He has given my family and me hope and a future. I feel His presence every day and want to serve Him all my life. I thank this school for making such a difference in my life.”
Central Brazil Academy has been God’s hand in changing many students’ lives forever. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help build a church for the students, staff, and believers in the community around Central Brazil Academy. Your offering will help the school continue to make eternal differences in countless lives.