Ivan lives in a town in northwestern Bulgaria. [Locate Bulgaria on a map.] One weekend Ivan stayed with his aunt. On Sabbath she invited Ivan to attend church with her. Ivan had never been to church before.
Ivan and his aunt entered an old café that served as a church. They found seats, and soon the people began singing. Ivan didn’t know the songs, but he liked them.
The pastor talked about something called the Sabbath. Ivan had never heard about the Sabbath before, so he listened carefully. The pastor explained that God rested on the Sabbath and blessed it. “We need to rest one day a week, too,” he said. This was a new idea to Ivan, and he tucked the information into his mind.
The next day when Ivan’s parents returned home, Ivan eagerly told them that he had been to church and learned that God needed to rest on Sabbath, and people need to rest then, too.
“Good for you,” his mother said. “I’m glad you went to church and learned about God.”
Sabbath came again, and Ivan remembered that this was the day that God was resting. He wanted to rest too. A few minutes later his aunt arrived and invited Ivan to go to church with her. Ivan grabbed his jacket and hurried to church with his aunt.
“But Ivan’s aunt didn’t take him to the old café where they had gone the week before. Instead they went to a nearby house. “Why are we here?” Ivan asked.
This is where the children meet,” Ivan’s aunt said. “There’s no room for them in the church. Ivan entered and found a roomful of children. He’d never been in children’s Sabbath School before, but a boy welcomed him and offered him a chair. Ivan liked the happy songs the children sang. He liked the Bible story a teacher told. Ivan thought that Sabbath School was lots more fun than regular school. Helping God rest is a good thing! he thought.
When Sabbath School ended, Ivan and his aunt walked to the old café where the church meets. The pastor’s sermon was even better than the week before. Ivan asked his aunt if he could attend every week. She smiled and nodded happily.
Ivan kept coming to church, and soon he realized that God doesn’t get tired and need to rest on Sabbath. “God made the Sabbath so He could spend the day with us,” he told his mother. “He doesn’t need the rest; we do!”
Ivan loves Sabbath School and church. He invites his parents and brothers to church, but they usually don’t come. He invites his friends from school to come to Sabbath School and rest and worship God.
Ivan invited a girl named Teddy, and she has been coming to church for two years. She has invited her brothers and sisters and a cousin to come, and they do. And so the congregation keeps growing. Ivan keeps inviting his family. He’s sure that one day they’ll come to worship.
Ivan’s church received part of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering three years ago to build a church. He and his aunt often walk by the building site to watch the progress being made on the church. He looks forward to the day the congregation can move into the new building. The children will have their own worship room in the church. “Every week we pray that soon our church will be finished and we can invite our friends and family to worship with us,” Ivan says. “Thank you for helping God answer our prayers by giving a big offering.”
Let’s pray with Ivan that the church will soon be completed. In the meantime, our mission offerings help people around the world learn that God loves them and wants to spend time with them on Sabbath and every day of the week.