[Ask a teen or young-adult woman to present this first-person report.]
I’m a student in Tanzania. I study hard and get good grades. In primary school my teachers didn’t mind when I didn’t attend school functions on Sabbath. But as the all-important national exams neared, things changed. Our scores on these exams would determine our futures. If we did well, we could be admitted to one of the best high schools and expect to go on to university one day.
The schools have a big stake in how well students do on these exams too. Schools are rated according to the scores their students make on the exams. So teachers hold extra classes on Saturdays to help prepare students for these national exams.
There’s a lot of pressure on everyone. But for Adventists, the pressure is even greater. There were just 10 Adventists in my school of more than 400 students, and sadly, some Adventist students chose to attend the cram classes on Sabbath, making it harder for those of us who refused to attend.
The assistant principal of the school was an Adventist. She was a dedicated and well-respected teacher who stood up for the Adventist students when we didn’t attend Saturday activities.
But one day the principal announced that he did not want any students to miss Saturday classes. We knew that his decree was focused on the Adventist students. We were not to ask him or anyone else to excuse us. So our friend the assistant principal was no longer able to intercede for us.
“I don’t want any of you to beg for the day off,” he told us. And then he looked straight at me and said, “And Prisca, I expect you to be here.” Then he walked out of the room.
I sat stunned. I knew that the principal would be looking for me the next day, and would make trouble for me if I stayed away from school. But I was determined to stand by my convictions.
When my friends asked what I would do about the special classes that began the next day, I answered that I would be in church worshipping God.
That evening I talked to my parents about the principal’s announcement. I was concerned that if I skipped the exam preparations, I might not do as well on the national exams. My father reminded me that God had never been defeated and that He would work out the situation. Then Dad prayed, asking God to help me to stay strong in my faith.
I felt better.
On Sabbath I went to church. But it was hard to keep my mind from drifting back to what was happening at school.
On Sunday I called some classmates to find out what had happened, but I was not able to get in touch with anyone. So I prepared for school on Monday as usual.
Before I even reached the school on Monday morning, one of my classmates ran out to greet me. “Prisca, you must have magical powers!” she said. I looked at her, puzzled, until she continued. “We came to school on Saturday morning, as the principal told us to. But the principal had a family emergency, and he canceled classes!”
“I’m sorry the principal had an emer-gency,” I said. “And I have no special power. It’s God who has power. My family and I prayed that God would help me stay faithful to Him and trust Him to work the situation out. Prayers are precious to God, and He listens when we talk to Him.”
My friend, who had never been interested when I tried to talk to her about God, was thoughtful for a moment. Then she asked, “How can I have faith like yours?”
“Faith comes from spending time with God, getting to know Him,” I said. “Read God’s Word and talk to Him,” I answered.
My friend asked me to pray with her. Later she accepted my invitation to attend church with me. She continued attending church and learning how to develop a relationship with Christ. A year later she accepted Jesus as her Savior and asked to be baptized.
I’m so glad that I stayed committed to keeping the Sabbath, no matter what.
Our mission offerings help train young people to stand for their convictions. Adventist schools train young people for leadership and lead others to Christ.
This quarter part of our Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help complete a hospital in Mwanza, Tanzania, a large city on the southern slopes of Lake Victoria. Thank you for giving so others may know Jesus.