Joshua lives in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone. [Locate Sierra Leone on the west coast of Africa.] Like all children in school, Joshua has lots of tests. But some tests aren’t taken with paper and pencil. They’re tests of our faith.
The government of Sierra Leone does not have money to build new schools, so schools are crowded. To ease the problem, most schools have two shifts, with some students attending classes in the morning, and others attending in the afternoon. To make up for the shorter school day, schools often hold classes six days a week. This makes a problem for Adventist children.
When Joshua’s school began holding classes on Sabbath, Joshua’s father explained the Bible Sabbath to the head teacher and asked permission for Joshua to miss classes on Sabbath. The head teacher agreed, but he warned Father that national exams were coming, and they could fall on Saturday.
At the end of certain grades, students take national exams. To help students prepare for the national exams, students take “mock” exams first. Although the mock exams don’t count toward a student’s grade, they are very important. If a student doesn’t take them, he or she must repeat that whole year of school.
When the mock exam schedule was posted, Joshua saw they came on Sabbath—just three days away. Joshua hurried home from school to tell his parents about the exam schedule. The family prayed that the principal would allow Joshua to take his exams on another day. The next morning Father went to speak with the school principal about the exam schedule. He gave the man some tracts that explain the Sabbath. The principal read the tracts and was surprised to learn that the Bible Sabbath is Saturday, not Sunday. He agreed to let Joshua take his exams on another day.
The next day the principal told Joshua that he could take his exams on Monday. Joshua thanked the teacher and told his parents that evening.
On Monday the teacher put Joshua into an empty classroom and gave him his first test. “I will return in 30 minutes to give you the next exam,” the teacher said. Then he locked the door and left Joshua alone to complete the test. Except for short breaks to stretch and eat lunch, Joshua took tests all that day. When he finished, the teacher muttered, “Next time, just take the exam with the other students.”
Joshua asked the teacher, “If the exams were scheduled for Sunday, would you come to administer them?” The teacher said he would not. Then Joshua said politely, “And I will not take the tests on the Sabbath.”
That afternoon Joshua returned home tired, but he knew that he had done well.
Later the school scheduled special classes on Saturdays to help students prepare for the real national exams. The principal warned Joshua that if he skipped the classes and the practice exams, he would not do as well on the actual exams at the end of the school year. Joshua understood that if the school thought he would not do well on the exams, they could refuse to allow him to take the tests.
“I have decided to be the best student I can be so that the school will allow me to take these exams,” Joshua told his teacher. “I pray that the exams will not be held on Sabbath.”
When Joshua’s classmates ask why he doesn’t attend classes on Sabbath, he invites them to church to hear the truth for themselves. Some of them have come. And four of Joshua’s classmates have joined Pathfinders.”
Joshua urges children to study hard, be honest in school, and stand up for what they know is right. Then God will make a way for them. In the meantime, children who stand firm in their faith are light candles in the darkness, showing God’s light all around them.
We can help them light the darkness by sharing our mission offerings so that others will see God’s love and want to follow Him.