I was raised in a family that professed to be Christian, but religion meant little to me, and I stopped attending church. I married, and we had several children. I found my happiness in my family and my work as a teacher.
Then one day my eldest daughter became very ill with a form of malaria that wouldn’t respond to normal treatment. We took her to the hospital, but she didn’t improve. Finally the doctor told us that he thought someone had put a curse on her. He suggested that we take her to a fetish priest. A curse can make a person ill or even cause death. If there was a curse on my daughter, she would not get better until the curse was removed.
I told my wife, but she didn’t want to go to a fetish priest, asking instead to go to an African Christian church that specialized in healings and visions. This church claimed that it could determine if a curse had been put on a person. I took my daughter to this church, and the practitioner said that he saw in vision that my daughter was indeed under a curse. He told me what to do to remove it. I followed his instructions, and he performed the ceremony. Soon after we arrived home my daughter began to feel better.
During this time one of my sons and I were also feeling sick. I needed to see a doctor, but didn’t have money to pay him. I wondered if this church could help me feel better.
I told my supervisor about my problem, and he offered to pray for me. He gave me a Bible and showed me the verse that says God takes care of the sparrows, and we are much more important than they (Matthew 10:29-31). I had never read the Bible, even when we attended church, but this verse impressed me, and I decided to memorize it.
My supervisor offered to ask his pastor to come to my house and pray for me. I agreed, and in time we began to study the Bible together. I went to his church, but the loud music bothered me—I couldn’t find God in a bunch of noise. But I wanted to know more about God, so I continued studying the Bible.
I visited another church. I liked it better, and began attending. I developed a thirst to understand the Bible more deeply. Often the pastor and I studied until late into the night. I had many questions. While I was studying I discovered in Exodus 20 the Sabbath commandment.
I asked the pastor about this, but he didn’t seem to know what to say. Finally he suggested we study this question with the whole church. So on Sunday afternoon members of the church gathered, and we discussed the Sabbath together. I read the verses I had found, and shared other verses referring to the Sabbath. Although most of the members could not read or write, they followed the discussion closely. Sometimes our discussion became quite heated. We didn’t resolve the question that day, but agreed to continue studying.
One day when I was turning the dial of my shortwave radio, I discovered Adventist World Radio. I decided to write them for answers to my Sabbath questions. I received several brochures on the Sabbath and some lessons from the Voice of Prophecy Bible course. I filled out the lessons immediately and sent them back.
My Voice of Prophecy Bible teacher answered my Sabbath questions and wrote careful answers to my questions on educating children, health, and other spiritual subjects. As I studied the Bible lessons, I shared what I was learning with the church members. Then I wrote and asked for someone to come to study with us. A layman came to our village to help us.
Some members of the Protestant church I was attending joined me to form a Bible study group. Although others opposed us, we continued studying. We began meeting on Sabbath morning under the trees!
At first my wife, who had joined the Protestant church, was fearful that my actions would destroy the church. But she eventually saw that the Sabbath commandment was still valid, and she joined our little Bible study group. We considered ourselves Adventists, even though no one in our group had formally joined the Adventist Church. Some members of our group who had motorbikes rode the 30 miles (50 kilometers) to worship in the nearest Adventist church. They recorded the church service and shared it with the members who could not come.
Sadly, before our group could complete our studies and be baptized, I was transferred to Ouidah [WE-dah], the voodoo capital of Benin and Togo. I wondered why God would put me in this sinful city where there was no Adventist church at a time when I was just learning about Him. I could no longer ride my motorbike to church, so my family had our worship service at home. But I was lonely, especially when some of my new neighbors began harassing us because we worshipped on Sabbath.
I cherished the times when the Adventist pastor could visit us. I would save all my Bible questions for him to answer when he came. One day the pastor told me that some of the members of my former Bible study group were going to be baptized in the Adventist church 30 miles from my former village. My wife and I decided we wanted to be baptized with them.
After my baptism I couldn’t keep what I had learned to myself. I shared the Bible truths with my coworkers and neighbors. Please pray with me that I can share Christ’s light in Ouidah, the devil’s city.