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Slawomir Pacek, 46, pictured in his home near Gdynia, Poland, recalling his 29 years of military service. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

Finding God in Poland’s Military

My plans collapsed, but God had something better.

By Slawomir Pacek, as told to Andrew McChesney

When the Polish military phased out MiG-21s for newer jets, I had the opportunity to leave my job as a mechanic for a new career.

I chose to work as an air traffic controller and took intensive classes for six months. But when I graduated, an eye doctor disqualified me, saying my vision wasn’t good enough.

Sadness overwhelmed me, and I prayed, “Why, God?”

I ended up doing odd jobs around the military base. The work left me with plenty of down time, and I spent hours reading the Bible. A desire to know God grew within me.

At home, my wife, Aneta, joined me in reading the Bible. We noticed that several passages didn’t agree with what we had learned in our church. We read that the dead sleep in the ground, not in heaven or hell, and that the seventh day is the Sabbath.

One Saturday, Aneta and I decided to visit an Adventist church. We resolved to walk out immediately if we heard anything that disagreed with the Bible. We have never left.

A pastor gave us Bible studies, and I knew it was only a matter of time until I left the military. I could not keep the Sabbath and serve at the same time. But no Sabbath trouble arose. It was easy to trade Sabbath work shifts with other soldiers.

After several years, an opportunity came to be promoted to the position of leader of a mobile radar unit. I spoke openly with my commander about my faith and how I had been keeping the Sabbath.

The commander was surprised. “Why didn’t you tell me that you were trading shifts with your friends?” he asked. “As long as I’m in charge, you will be free every Saturday.”

Word about my faith spread, and soldiers came to me with spiritual questions. But the impact of my faith only became clear when I prepared to retire after 29 years in the military.

A commander called me to his office for a private talk.

“I’ve started to read the Bible,” he said. “I have some questions for you.”

Looking back, I understand why God shut the door to the job of air traffic controller. If I had taken it, I would not have had time to study the Bible. I would not have been able to trade shifts to take off the Sabbath. I would not have been able to share my faith with so many soldiers.

Not everything went according to my plans, but God’s plans are the best.

Polish military veteran Slawomir Pacek says God’s plans are the best. In English and Polish. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)