Christof and his parents and two brothers once lived in a crowded city. But they wanted to live in the countryside, so they moved to a tiny village in a mountain valley in central Portugal.
The boys help their parents plant and harvest the food in their large garden. They take care of their chickens so they can have fresh eggs to eat. There are no children in the nearby village, but the brothers don’t mind. They have each other. They study their lessons at home with their mother.
One day Christof saw an elderly neighbor herding his goats near Christof’s family farm. The boy waved a greeting and ran to the man. “Hi,” he said. “Those are really nice goats you have.” Christof paused a moment. “I’ve been thinking of getting some goats. Do you have any suggestions? Do they cost a lot to raise? Do they need lots of care?”
Antonio, the old man, laughed. “So many questions!” he said. “Walk with me, and I’ll tell you about goats.” And he did. Antonio explained that goats eat nearly anything—including garden crops! He showed Christof how to milk a goat, and he let him taste some goat cheese.
Christof thanked Antonio for his advice and said goodbye. That evening the boy asked his parents, “Please may I use my allowance to buy some goats?”
Christof’s parents talked about it and decided that Christof could buy some goats. Antonio helped the boy buy good goats and told him more about how to care for them. The old man and young boy often talked about their goats, and their friendship grew along with the goats.
One day Christof asked Antonio, “Do you believe in God?”
“Yes,” the old man said. “I do believe in God. But there’s no church in our village.” As the old man and young boy talked, Christof realized that Antonio couldn’t read. The boy offered to bring his Bible and read to Antonio. The old man smiled with pleasure. From that day on, whenever Christof visited Antonio, he took his Bible to read.
“What church do you attend?” the old man asked.
“We’re Seventh-day Adventists,” the boy answered. “We worship God on the Sabbath.”
“Oh,” Antonio said surprised. “My grandmother told me about the Sabbath when I was a boy.”
Christof and Antonio talked about the Sabbath for a while, and the boy invited his friend to go to the nearest Adventist church with his family. But Antonio felt that the church was too far and the road too rough for an old man such as him. So Antonio invited Christof’s family to come to his house on Sundays to worship and read the Bible together.
Word spread through the tiny village that Christof was reading the Bible to Antonio. Marie-Elise, one of Antonio’s neighbors, asked Christof to read the Bible to her as well. In fact, most of the old villagers wanted the boy to read the Bible to them.
Christof and his brothers began riding their bikes into the village to spend time with the aging villagers. The villagers loved the visits, for the boys were the only children within miles. The boys offered to help work in people’s gardens, care for their animals, and do other chores the villagers couldn’t manage well anymore. Christof and his brothers became the grandchildren of the village.
Christof’s family held a weeklong series of Bible studies for the villagers. And everyone—everyone—in the village attended. Then they organized weekly Bible study meetings in a villager’s home.
People in neighboring villages heard about the meetings, and they wanted to hear the message too. Today three villages have small groups that meet regularly to study the Bible and learn of God’s love. Some villagers have even begun worshipping on the Sabbath.
In the mountains of central Portugal people have begun accepting God’s message of love, a message that started with a young boy, an old man, and some goats.