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Viona Boro, 16, holding her ukulele on a beach on Ebeye Island. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

Praying for 5 Years to See if God Is Real

A little girl in the Marshall Islands pleads with God for a good singing voice.

By Andrew McChesney,

Viona Boro first realized that she wanted to sing in the third grade.

Viona lived with her grandparents on Ronglap, a patch of land covered with coconut trees and breadfruit trees in the Marshall Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

She loved listening to her grandfather sing about Jesus in the Marshallese and English languages. Grandfather would sit under a breadfruit tree beside their home and, playing his ukulele, sing “Jesus Loves Me,” and “God Is So Good.” Sometimes at night, Viona would lie on the ground outside and look up at millions of glittering stars as Grandfather sang, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

Viona sang, too, but she sang very quietly. She didn’t like her voice, and she was embarrassed that other people might hear her.

She didn’t know much about God, but she had heard Grandfather sing that God answers prayers. So, she decided to find out if God was real by asking for a good singing voice.

She didn’t know how to pray, so she simply spoke to God in bed at night. 

“What can I do to help my voice become good?” she asked.

The next night, she asked God again, “What can I do to help my voice become good?”

Parable in Real Life

She prayed this prayer many times as she finished third grade at the local public school, and nothing happened. She persisted in the four and fifth grades, “What can I do to help my voice become good?” Still nothing happened.

Viona grew angry, and she wondered whether God was real. But she refused to stop praying.

Viona didn’t know it, but she was behaving just the woman in one of Jesus’ parables in the Bible. Jesus told of a widow who asked an unjust judge for help. The judge refused to help her. The widow went to him a second time, and again he refused to help. The woman kept asking for help until the judge exclaimed, “Because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!” (Luke 18: 5; NIV).

Jesus said that people should be just like this widow: “They should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18: 1).

That’s exactly what Viona did. She prayed and did not give up.

“I got mad when He didn’t answer,” she said in an interview. “But I didn’t give up until He answered my prayer.”

Five years passed. Viona kept praying, “What can I do to help my voice become good?”

When she was in the eighth grade, she was invited to join a church choir. She and other choir members spent hours rehearsing songs for the church service.

“I practiced and practiced and practiced all the time,” she said.

Answer to Prayer

Then one day she noticed suddenly that her voice had changed. Her voice was beautiful.

“I was like, ‘Woah! Where did that come from?’” she said. “I said to myself, ‘This is a miracle, and God is real!’”

She remembered her prayers, and she thanked God.

When she finished eighth grade, she moved to the U.S. state of Oklahoma to live with relatives and attend ninth grade at a public school. For 10th grade, she moved back to the Marshall Islands and into the home of her parents on Ebeye Island. She enrolled in the Ebeye Seventh-day Adventist School.

During a school week of prayer in 2016, Viona decided to give her heart to God and be baptized. She is the first Seventh-day Adventist in her family.

Viona is now 16 and in the 12th grade. She loves to sing and play the ukulele for school worship, and she also sings to her grandfather over the telephone. The first time that she sang, Grandfather exclaimed, “Wow, you sing well!”

Viona told him that her beautiful voice was an answer to prayer. She tells everyone that God is real and answers prayer.

“I thank God that He answered my prayer,” she said.

Viona Boro singing “God Is So Good” in the Marshallese language, a song that her grandfather used to sing to her. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

Part of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering in second quarter 2018 will help Ebeye Seventh-day Adventist School carry out urgent repairs to its classrooms. Thank you for your mission offering that will help students like Viona learn about Jesus.