I was born in Estonia, a small country that was part of the Soviet Union during Communist times. In this atheistic environment my father was an Adventist pastor.
My parents were honest with us children about the dangers we could face as Christians. We knew that our father had once been locked in a mental institution because of his faith. I learned to remain quietly on the sidelines, not wanting to bring attention to myself.
My siblings and I attended public schools, for there were no Adventist schools. As I grew up, my faith and my courage grew as well, until I was ready to stand for my faith and was baptized into the Adventist Church.
Communism fell, and slowly our freedoms increased. After high school I studied linguistics, the science of languages. I completed my degree and was offered a job with a linguistics research group. With the promise of a good income, I relaxed. Gone were the days of wondering what the next meal would be and if I’d have a coat for winter. I would be able to take care of myself.
The next year I was offered a job as a lecturer. I was dizzy with success. My supervisor urged me to pursue my Ph.D. But soon I realized that something was missing. Life began to feel . . . insignificant. I realized that years from now what I was doing would not matter.
When I told my supervisor and colleagues that I wanted to take a year off and study theology, they couldn’t believe me. They thought I was crazy. “You have your name on the door of an office in a major university,” they said. “Why would you want to leave that?”
I could understand their concern. Even my parents questioned my decision. “Will you return to the university and work on your Ph.D. after you’ve studied theology for a year?” they asked. I nodded. Even I wasn’t sure why I was leaving such a great position to study theology. I told people that I wanted to experience a different culture and new people, but in truth a voice in my head was urging me to step in this direction. Perhaps after a year of studies the voice would leave me alone, and I could return to my linguistics studies.
I left the university and enrolled in theology courses at Newbold College, the Adventist college in England. I enrolled in several religion courses that interested me, and I found great joy in studying religion. I found spiritual mentors and professors who challenged my worldview. Before the year ended, I knew that I wanted to complete a theology degree. I realized this course of study was far more than an intellectual diversion. It was becoming a life-changing experience.
At the end of my first year at Newbold I returned home. I talked with my family and visited the university. I saw my name on the office door, but it brought me no joy. I saw no future in this place. I knew that God wanted me to continue studying at Newbold. I told the university staff I was not coming back. I accepted the path that God had shown me.
Back at Newbold I joined a student outreach group and a church ministries team, helping to coordinate all the ministries on campus. One day I realized that my insignificance had been replaced with a sense of being part of something far bigger than I was. I realize that God has given my life significance. By worldly standards, my life may seem small, but in reality I am stretched and blessed in new ways here. My life is not financially secure, but it is fulfilling. God is taking me places I never thought I’d dare go, and I am fulfilled even as I look into an unknown future.
I will graduate soon. As I look into the future, I know that God has made an incredible change in my life. He has taken me, a quiet girl from nowhere, and called me to His work. He has plans for me, and I am excited to see where He will lead me.
God has special plans for each of us. Many young people in the Trans-European Division find God’s plans while studying at Newbold College in England. It’s a small school with a big job. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help refurbish the women’s dormitory at the college, making it possible for even more young people to study there and find His path to a significant life in Him.