Emmanuel lay in bed, his head swathed in bandages. He couldn’t remember the accident that had put him in the hospital, but the pain was real. What did I do to deserve this? he wondered.
Emmanuel was in his final year of high school. He had been doing well in school and looking forward to graduation. But while his classmates were taking extra classes to prepare for the national exams, Emmanuel was stuck in the hospital. The exams stood like a towering giant between Emmanuel and his dream of going to college. If he didn’t score high enough on the national exams, he would not graduate.
Emmanuel was released from the hospital in time to take the national exams, but he was not able to score high enough to graduate from high school. He wouldn’t be allowed to take his last year over in the same school, so he began searching for another school that would accept him. Of one thing he was certain: He would not quit, not when he was so close to finishing.
One day Emmanuel met Clement, an Adventist boy his age who was also looking for a school to enroll in for his final year. The two boys visited the local Adventist secondary school to talk to the principal. The man told the boys that the school didn’t have room for more students, but he invited the boys to fill out application forms and promised to let them know if an opening became available.
The boys filled out the applications and thanked the principal. Sometime later, Emmanuel’s cell phone rang. It was the school principal calling to tell him that two openings had become available, and both boys could enroll if they were still interested. Emmanuel thanked the principal and gave Clement the good news.
Clement lived far from the school, so Emmanuel invited his new friend to live with him in his apartment. His parents’ church had provided the apartment when Emmanuel needed to move to town to study.
School started, and the boys studied together. Clement helped Emmanuel with Bible class and shared other Bible truths with him, including the Sabbath commandment, and invited Emmanuel to attend the Adventist church. Emmanuel eagerly soaked in the truths he had never heard before.
One day an Adventist pastor stopped by to visit the boys. He offered to study the Bible with both boys, and Emmanuel agreed. During that school year Emmanuel surrendered his life to Christ and asked to be baptized.
When word got out that Emmanuel was going to join the Adventist Church, he was told he would have to leave the apartment he had been living in. His grandfather offered him a place to live during the remainder of the school year.
When school ended, Emmanuel took the national examinations again. Then he returned to his parents’ home to await the results. He knew that he would face a lot of questions from his family. Often his brothers mocked him, saying, “Why did you make such a foolish choice? If you had stayed in the family church, you could have become someone important, but now you have no future.”
Emmanuel needed spiritual guidance and went to talk to the Adventist pastor. The pastor encouraged the boy and suggested that he move to a nearby town where he could work to earn his tuition to attend Lukanga Adventist University. To Emmanuel’s surprise, his father supported his decision and even gave him money to travel to the school.
Emmanuel traveled to Lukanga Adventist University, where he joined the work program for students who have no scholarship or other financial support. As he worked, he thought about God’s will for his future. He had planned to study business, but soon realized that God has a different plan for his life. God has called him to become a minister.
Emmanuel is no longer angry that the accident during high school delayed his plans. He has met Jesus and found a new future. “My brothers say I’m a fool,” Emmanuel says. “And I am—a fool for Jesus. I pray that someday my family will see the wisdom of my decision to follow God’s leading and will follow in my footsteps.
Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help build a classroom block at Lukanga Adventist University so that more students can study in a Christian environment and meet the Savior, just as Emmanuel has.