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Otilia Antonio Passiiel, 18, works with an nongovernmental organization to encourage other girls to stay in school. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

Sunday Pastor Attacks Sabbath-Keeping Daughter

When he whipped her, she prayed silently, “Father, Jesus, forgive him because he doesn’t know what he is doing.”

By Andrew McChesney,

The teenager found all her clothes dumped in front of her home when she returned from church on Sabbath. Her father, a Sunday church pastor, had cleaned out her room and locked the door.

This was not the first time that Otilia Antonio Passiiel had found herself locked out of her home in Nampula, Mozambique’s third-largest city with a population of about half a million.

Otilia had joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church while living with an older sister south of the city in the Zambezia province. Adventist classmates had shared the Bible truth about the seventh-day Sabbath with Otilia, and she had gotten baptized. When her parents, both pastors, found out, they were furious and forbade her from leaving their church. When her sister saw the unfolding conflict, she told Otilia to return to her parents in Nampula.

“Once I arrived home, the conflict only grew bigger,” said Otilia, a soft-spoken teenager with a gentle smile and a stature of barely 5 feet (1.52 meters). “Every Sabbath when I went to church, I knew that I would almost certainly be beaten when I returned home. I also knew that I wouldn’t get lunch or supper.”

Some Sabbaths, Father collected all her clothes and threw them out of the house and locked the door while she was at church. She had to wait until Father fell asleep at night for a younger sister to open the door.

On other Sabbaths, Father announced, “You can’t go to church,” and locked her in the house.

Sabbath Beatings

Otilia worshipped in church on the Sabbaths when Father went to work. Most often, fireworks waited for her when she returned home. Father slapped her, punched her, and beat her on the arms, head, and back. Otilia never spoke back. Instead she remembered Jesus’ prayer as He was being crucified, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” Luke 23:34, NKJV).

So, when Father whipped her, she prayed silently, “Father, Jesus, forgive him because he doesn’t know what he is doing.”

When he grabbed her in a rage and slammed her head into the wall, she prayed, “Father, Jesus, forgive him because he doesn’t know what he is doing.”

The beatings resumed on Sunday morning. Father told Otilia to get dressed and go with him to church. When she refused, he beat her again.

As the blows rained down, she prayed, “Father, Jesus, forgive him because he doesn’t know what he is doing.”

“This was my only thought when my father beat me and did other unkind things,” she said. “If my parents knew that I was following the right path, they wouldn’t mistreat me.”

Father stopped paying Otilia’s school fees and buying her clothes. She managed to get through 12th grade with a stipend from a nongovernmental organization that encourages Mozambique girls to stay in school.

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Otilia Antonio Passiiel sees power in prayer and obedience to God. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

Don’t Give Up

Otilia reached a point where she was ready to stay at home on Sabbath. But church members encouraged her and prayed for her.

“Don’t give up,” said one. “The Bible has predicted that this will happen to those who follow Jesus.”

Otilia read Matthew 10:35-37, where Jesus said, “For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those in his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.”

She also read Psalms 27:10, which says, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.”

“Keep praying and one day everything will be alright,” another church member said. “God is still in control, and He will take care of you.”

The support encouraged Otilia, and she kept worshipping on Sabbath.

Father finally stopped beating Otilia when she graduated from high school in 2017. He disowned her, but he allows her to stay at home.

“You are dead to me,” he said. “You are no longer part of my family.”

Otilia is praying for her parents and especially her father.

Once when she asked for money, he replied, “Go ask this God whom you believe.”

Another time he said, “Have you ever seen God provide money or food from heaven for you? It is your parents who provide all your needs. Don’t be deceived.”

He also told her, “You decided to leave my church and go to another church, but I tell you, churches only exist to look for money.”

“This is how my father thinks,” she said. “I have concluded that even though he is a pastor, he does not believe in the Lord.”

Today, Otilia is 18 and working with the nongovernmental organization to encourage other girls to stay in school. She hopes to go to the university. When she meets girls struggling at home, she shares her favorite Bible promise, John 16:33, where Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Part of the fourth quarter 2018 Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will provide a home to children who lost parents to HIV/AIDS in Otilia’s hometown, Nampula. Thank you for supporting projects such as this orphanage with your mission offerings.