From his childhood Stephen’s keen mind raised many questions about God. When he heard the Creation story, he noted that God rested on the seventh day. But he knew that his church worshipped on Sunday. How can Sunday be the first day and the seventh day of the week? he wondered. No one had an answer that satisfied him.
In high school he attended several different churches searching for the true religion. But each church seemed to be missing something. And the question of the Sabbath still bothered him. While reading his Bible, he came across the Ten Commandments, which further focused his thoughts on the puzzle of Sabbath and Sunday. He asked a Christian leader about the Sabbath-Sunday puzzle, but instead of getting an answer, Stephen was warned to avoid the people who worship on Saturday.
Stephen had heard some things about people who worship on Saturday. Some people believed that Sabbathkeepers worshipped the devil, ate human flesh, and drank blood. Stephen sighed. Would he ever find an answer that satisfied him?
Then one day when Stephen went to the school finance office, the accountant gave him a magazine about the Sabbath. He took it to his room eager to read it. But another boy snatched it from Stephen before he could read it.
Stephen returned home for the summer and found some books that his brother had brought home. One was The Great Controversy. Stephen read it with interest, looking up the Bible texts to be sure that what the book said was true. He was stunned by the book and convinced that it held truth. He shared what he was learning with his friends. One boy wanted to know more about the Sabbath.
Stephen asked around to find someone who kept the Sabbath. He met an Adventist man who answered the questions that Stephen had been asking for several years. As they studied together, Stephen realized that this man spoke the truth. The man invited Stephen to attend church with him, and Stephen agreed. But the nearest church was a three-hour walk away.
Stephen remembered the rumors he’d heard about Sabbathkeepers being devil worshippers. Still he was determined to see for himself if these people worshipped God as the Bible taught or if they were really devil worshippers.
Early on Sabbath morning he met his new friend, and together they walked the three hours to church. As the two approached the church, Stephen let his friend go inside first while Stephen watched to see if they entered backward, or took off their clothing. But the worshippers entered reverently and seemed quite normal. Still, Stephen kept a watchful eye for anything that seemed unusual.
Stephen listened carefully as the members discussed the Bible lesson. He looked up the Bible texts and discovered that these people truly taught God’s Word.
After church Stephen was invited to join the members for lunch. He looked carefully at the food on the table. He saw no human flesh or blood. In fact, he saw no meat. After lunch he attended another Bible study, a feast for his hungry spirit. On the way home he decided to worship with the Adventists again.
Stephen was convinced that the Adventist Church taught the truth found in the Bible, and he decided to be baptized. His parents objected to his new faith, and religious differences strained their relationship. Eventually Stephen left home and moved to another town where he found work that allowed him to keep the Sabbath. He met a new church family there and began sharing his faith with others. Several families came to Christ because of Stephen’s witness.
Stephen studied agriculture in a local school, and in spite of Sabbath issues he earned his degree. But he yearned to study God’s Word in depth. He learned about the Adventist University of Eastern Africa and journeyed to western Kenya to enroll. He had no sponsor and no scholarship. He had to work long hours to pay his school fees. But he remained focused and will soon complete his degree. He wants to return to his family’s home to share the gospel. “There are so few Adventists in my region that it’s almost an unentered area,” Stephen says. “It’s been a long journey to the truth, but I thank God for this school that puts God first.”
Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help provide students and staff housing on the university campus as well as a classroom block for the elementary school so that even more young people can train to serve God and humanity in eastern Africa.