When I was a child, I faithfully followed my family’s religion. I knelt by my father and bowed my head to the ground, the way my father did. I uttered the words of the prayers though I didn’t understand their meaning.
In primary school we had a religion class once a week. Because most of the students were from Christian homes, the class focused on Christianity. For the first time I learned about Christians. I learned that Christians talk to God in a different way than I had learned at home. It was as if their God was standing nearby and could hear their words, as a friend would hear them. I liked to think of God as a friend who could help me when I needed Him, so I began praying short, simple Christian prayers silently in my heart. As God answered these prayers, my faith in Him grew. But I didn’t dare tell anyone.
When I completed primary school, one of my teachers visited my father. “Your son is very bright,” the teacher said. “I suggest that you enroll him in the Adventist secondary school in the city. It has a fine reputation, and your son will receive an education that will fit him for the future.”
My father enrolled me at the Adventist school. “Don’t read any Christian books or listen to what they say about their God,” he warned.
Because the school was far from my home, I stayed in the school dormitory. I quickly made new friends and enjoyed my studies. Once more I found that Christians were not people to be feared.
The Adventist school put lots more emphasis on religion than my primary school had. We had religion classes and chapel services every day as well as weekly church services. Sometimes students spoke for these worship services. I was impressed that they would speak to a large group of people, even though sometimes I disagreed with what they said.
The more I learned about the Bible, the more intrigued I became. I noticed differences between the Bible and my religion’s teachings. Almost everyone in church had a Bible and could follow along with the verses the speaker read. In my religion, few owned the holy writings. We listened as the teacher read parts of the Holy Book. I wondered why we hadn’t been encouraged to read our holy book for ourselves.
I began reading the Bible on my own, and I listened carefully in religion classes and worship services. I remembered my father’s warnings to beware of Christians, but over time I thought that maybe Christianity was really the truth.
During my second year at the school I knew that I wanted to accept Jesus as my Savior and Lord and become an Adventist Christian. But I was scared. My family would be very angry. I struggled with the decision, but finally I concluded that the same God who had led me to this school would defend me in my decision to follow Christ. I asked to prepare for baptism. But I didn’t tell my parents.
But when I returned home for vacation, my mother said, “Son, you’re speaking differently. What has happened to you at school? Have you become a Christian?”
When I admitted that I had become a believer, Mother was really angry. “If you continue to go against our religion, we cannot be your parents. Find another mother and father!”
My father, however, was calmer. “Let him be,” he said. “When he finishes high school, we will win him back to our faith.”
I was relieved. I wanted to respect my parents, but I also wanted to be faithful to God.
Just before final exams, I was hospitalized with malaria, a potentially serious illness, and I had to be hospitalized. I recovered in time to take my exams, but I hadn’t been able to study. I begged God to help me, to show my family that Christ is, indeed, my Savior and Helper. I felt God’s presence during the exams, and when the results were posted, my scores were high.
As my journey with God continues, I have more and more stories to tell my family and others about God’s power. It is not easy to talk to them about God, but I ask God to show me opportunities to share His love. I’m so grateful to the teachers and students at the Adventist school where I study. They have helped me find Jesus. I want to share God’s love with others, the way it was shared with me.