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2018 Mission Stories

2018 Qtr 1 Mission Stories

by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Truck driver Safan Karamath likes goose bumps.

The small bumps form on his arms when he listens to a sermon. They rise during prayer and when he talks about his new love for Jesus.

“I really feel God’s presence here,” Karamath said, extending a bare arm during an interview at the University of the Southern Caribbean, a Seventh-day Adventist educational institute on the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. Small bumps dotted his brown skin.

“This always happens to me when we speak about God,” he said. “I take it as a sign that I am not alone.”

Karamath has felt alone for many of his 53 years.

An only child, his mother died when he was young. He was raised by an alcoholic father in a Muslim community in Trinidad.

“Father was always drunk, so I had to run from him when he came home,” Karamath said. “I relied on myself alone.”

Karamath regularly attended services at the local mosque with the other children. After marriage, he and his wife converted to Hinduism and raised eight children, all of whom were christened in the Roman Catholic Church.

But Karamath still felt alone. As he sought a better way, he gave up marijuana. Several years later, he quit smoking and, sometime after that, stopped drinking alcohol.

Then the goose bumps started. Karamath started attending evangelistic meetings after being invited through a children’s Bible class that the university offers to neighborhood children. Karamath’s children attend the weekly class, which is taught by university teachers.

“The gospel was proclaimed in such a vivid manner, and after 50 years I met the Lord for the first time,” Karamath said.

Karamath and three of his children, ages 12, 14, and 16, were baptized.

Asked whether he would feel like God had left him if the goose bumps stopped, he exclaimed: “No! Never!”

He said he simply sees the goose bumps as a sign that he isn’t alone.

“God is with me,” he said.

A portion of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will go toward a church for the University of the South Caribbean, allowing the university to expand outreach programs such as the weekly children’s Bible class that led Safan Karamath (left) and three of his children to baptism.

by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Arpita Bhosale, a 14-year-old student at a Seventh-day Adventist school in western India, lost her Hindu father when a truck rear-ended his ox cart.

The force of the impact caused her father, Roasaheb Bhosale, to fly forward, over the two oxen and onto the road, where he was struck by another vehicle.

The shock of his death caused her mother, who is deaf and mute, to go into labor prematurely. Arpita Bhosale was born a month early.

“But God was able to use my father’s death to lead my mother to Jesus,” Bhosale said in an interview at the Alate Seventh-day Adventist School, located about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Kohlapur, a bustling city of more than one million people.

Bhosale spent the first few months of her life in the hospital with her mother, Akkatai. Both she and her mother were sickly. The grave situation worried her mother’s brother, Satish, who visited the hospital daily.

One Saturday when Satish arrived to encourage his sister, he saw a stranger going from bed to bed, praying with the patients. Satish curiously approached the man and learned that he was an Adventist pastor.

“My uncle was Hindu,” Bhosale said. “But he was desperate to help my mother, so he asked the pastor to pray for her.”

The pastor prayed for both the woman and her baby. Satish used sign language to interpret the pastor’s words to his sister.

As the pastor visited the mother and baby regularly, the pair started to recover. Amazed, Satish quizzed the pastor about his faith, Bhosale said. After several months of Bible study, both Satish and his sister were baptized. The mother dedicated her daughter to the Lord and, from the time when the child began to talk, taught her to pray at 7 p.m. daily.

“Every day at 7 p.m. I fold my hands and pray no matter where I am,” said Bhosale, now a seventh-grade dormitory student at the Alate Adventist School, which received funds to build a new classroom building from the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering in third quarter 2017. “I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember.”

Bhosale herself was baptized at 13.

“I decided to be baptized because I’ve seen how Jesus has blessed my family through the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” Bhosale said. “I want to follow Jesus because of my mother’s life story. I’ve seen everything that Jesus has done for her.”

Arpita Bhosale is a 14-year-old student at an Adventist school in western India.

by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Adults may speak about the difficulties of adjusting their lives for the biblical Sabbath after being baptized. But what about an 11-year-old boy?

Baptism brought an end to Saturday-morning cartoons for Ronnel Nurse, who lives in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It also meant telling his beloved grandmother that he could no longer run errands to the grocery store or do other chores.

Nurse, now a 25-year-old IT consultant for Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of National Security, requested baptism during a week of prayer program at Maracas Seventh-day Adventist Primary School on the campus of the University of the Southern Caribbean. His single mother, a nominal Adventist, had enrolled him in the school. But his knowledge about God had come from his grandmother, a devoted Christian who took him to her church every Sunday.

“In those week-of-prayer sessions, I found a thirst, or an emptiness, that I never really knew existed until then,” Nurse said. “When the speaker made the call for baptism, I had a visceral nudge that told me I should step forward. So I did.”

Shortly after his baptism, his grandmother fell ill. She spent most nights in the hospital. Nurse visited her, encouraged her, and let her know that he was praying for her healing. On Sabbaths, he read Bible stories that illustrated God’s miraculous work for His people. He believed Jesus would take care of his grandmother.

“So it came as a complete shock one day when I came home from school and my aunt called to tell me that granny had passed away,” he said.

Nurse was 12, and he felt that God had let him down. But as he reflected on his grandmother’s godly life, he realized that the gospel did not culminate with Jesus’ death but with His resurrection and that all who sleep in Jesus also will be raised one day. He made Romans 8:18 his own. The verse reads, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (NKJV).

Nurse, pictured left, who went on to graduate with a degree in computer science from the University of the Southern Caribbean, said he still misses his grandmother.

“But my faith is strong after being in this university and in this church,” he said.

A portion of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering in first quarter 2018 will go toward a new church for the University of the Southern Caribbean, which has never owned a church building and worships in an auditorium.

by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Vladimir Moskolenko nudged his wife, Galina, awake in the sleepy Ukrainian town of Buzke. He had an unusual dream to share.

“I was standing with concrete blocks in my hands,” he said. “They were so heavy. Then suddenly an enormous, beautiful, shining angel stood before me. He smiled at me. And he put his hands on mine, carrying the concrete, and raised them up.”

Galina Moskolenko sat up. She had been praying for U.S.$5,000 to pay for concrete blocks to be used to transform an abandoned building into a Seventh-day Adventist church in their town of 1,400 people.

“Listen, some kind of financial help is on its way,” Moskolenko said. “I don’t know where it will come from, but it will come.”

Two days later, a church member called and said, “Three friends are visiting me from Poland.”

“Here comes our money,” Moskolenko told her husband.

On Sabbath, the Polish visitors listened to Moskolenko’s sermon. After sundown, she told them about the debt.

A bank transfer of $5,000 arrived several days later.

The gleaming Buzke church, which opened in 2016 after 11 years of construction, was built on prayer and miracles, Moskolenko said. An Adventist couple from Australia provided $2,000 for a new roof. The Euro-Asia Division and the local conference provided mission funds. U.S. and Czech church members also contributed.

God and His angels intervened repeatedly, said Moskolenko, 54. She told of a bureaucratic showdown after local authorities rejected a request to knock a hole in a wall to create a second window. “I prayed about it and thought: God, please help us knock a hole in the wall” she said.

Then something interesting happened.

“We started to repair the one existing window, and a crack formed in the wall,” she said. “The whole wall was going to collapse.

“Our construction workers quickly brought in a tractor with something to support the wall. But as they worked to prop up the wall, it collapsed as if an angel had said, ‘There you go!’ ” Moskolenko said, flicking a finger in the air.

That, she said, is what happens when you do your best and trust in God: He accomplishes the impossible.

Galina Moskolenko (at left) is a church leader in Buzke, Ukraine.

by Chanmin Chung

Ahmet felt a strange impression to look for a Seventh-day Adventist church in a major Middle Eastern city where Adventists are not allowed to witness in public or distribute literature door-to-door.

Ahmet, who was visiting his ill father, had never met an Adventist, visited an Adventist church, or heard of Adventist beliefs.

“The impression came again and again,” said Ahmet, a former Muslim who had converted to Christianity four years earlier.

Following the impression, he set off in search of the church. Little did he know that only 30 Adventists are known to live in the city of 10 million people. (Adventist Mission is not identifying the city or Ahmet by his real name to safeguard the Adventist work in the region.)

Finally, Ahmet found the Adventist church, stepped into the entrance area, and knocked on the inner door. He was met with silence.

“Nobody was there except Ellen White books,” Ahmet said.

Local church members had placed a bookrack with free literature inside the church entrance, an area that is not considered a public space legally and therefore is available for witnessing. Ahmet felt convicted to pick up The Victory of Love, a book containing several chapters of The Great Controversy by Adventist Church cofounder Ellen White.

Returning to his father’s home, Ahmet wondered whether the Spirit of the Lord had led him to the church. When he finished reading the book three days later, he concluded that White’s words were in harmony with the Bible. He found church contact information on the last page of the book and asked for more information. Soon he received a copy of White’s book Patriarchs and Prophets. After that he read The Great Controversy, The Acts of the Apostles, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, and his favorite, The Desire of Ages. After reading those books, Ahmet decided to become an Adventist, and today wants everyone to know about Ellen White.

“I will tell everyone: Ellen White is a prophet of God,” he said.

Even more, Ahmet said he wants to share the clearer picture of God’s love that he has learned in these books. He is reaching out to people from his country who have never heard the gospel.

Ahmet’s story has encouraged local church leaders to maintain their efforts to share White’s writings. “We need to do all we can to share the treasure we have,” said Rick McEdward, president of the Middle East and North Africa Union.

Chanmin Chung is communication coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Union.

by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Knock, knock. Elisha Athota, a construction worker, opened the front door of his house in Vanukuru in central India. Outside stood a man and a woman Elisha had never seen before.

“We want to ask you something very important,” the man said. “We want you to marry our daughter. Her name is Solomi.”

Elisha was surprised. He wanted to get married, but he never expected to find a wife this way. Elisha spoke with the two strangers for a few minutes. Then he shook his head. “I cannot marry your daughter,” he said.

Elisha explained to the parents that he was a Seventh-day Adventist and only wanted to marry a woman who kept his faith. The parents assured him that their daughter would become an Adventist. Elisha and Solomi (pictured below) liked each other, and after a while the two were married.

“But after the marriage, she broke the promise that her parents had made,” Elisha said in an interview at the headquarters of the Adventist Church’s South Andhra Section, with Solomi seated at his side.

Solomi said she had been unconvinced that Saturday was the biblical Sabbath, so she kept attending her Sunday church.

Her husband sank into discouragement. He didn’t know what to do. Seeing his sadness, Solomi began to pray that God would reveal to her whether Saturday or Sunday was the true Sabbath.

Around that time, an Adventist pastor showed up at her church. The pastor was visiting various churches in the area, passing out religious literature.

The pastor gave Solomi some literature and encouraged her to visit his church the next Sabbath. When she came, he began Bible studies that explained the difference between Saturday and Sunday.

Five months after the wedding, Solomi embraced the Sabbath. Today, she and her husband are full-time Bible workers. Elisha said he realizes now the importance of following the advice of Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (NKJV).

“If your potential spouse doesn’t agree to keep the Sabbath, don’t take the risk of getting married,” he said. “Marry someone of your own faith.”

But if a mistake is made or something goes wrong, don’t lose hope, he said. “I really regretted my marriage decision at first, but now I am very happy,” he said.

Solomi said she also was filled with joy. “We are most happy about one thing: We are now able to teach the Sabbath truth to many people,” she said.

by Yolanda Martinez Santos

Erica’s husband didn’t seem pleased when he found his wife and me studying the Bible in their home in the U.S. state of California.

The husband, a member of another religious denomination, walked in on our second Bible study together. He is a large man, and I felt scared.

“My name is Yolanda Martinez Santos, and I am with the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” I said, extending a hand.

I had first knocked on Erica’s door two weeks earlier as a student with SOULS West, an evangelism school operated in Arizona by the Adventist Church’s Pacific Union. A young literature evangelist with the Youth Rush summer program had knocked on my door, leading me to the Adventist Church in 2013, and now I was going door to door, offering literature at the request of a local church.

Despite his surprise, Erica’s husband did not ask me to leave. But Erica later told me that he was unhappy. Erica and I prayed that her husband would allow us to study the Bible—and that he would join us.

To our astonishment, her husband joined our next meeting. He also announced that he would study with us every week.

No long after that, Erica invited her brother to our Bible study, and he eagerly accepted. Then Erica’s 13-year-old son asked if he could study, too.

As the Bible studies continued, Erica began sharing what she was learning with her sister, who lives in another city. Her sister wanted to know more, so she reached out to local Adventists and started studying the Bible with them. Her sister’s husband and mother-in-law joined them.

That’s not all. Erica introduced me to her parents, who told me that Erica had become a different person. They said they wanted what she had. “What you are missing is Jesus,” I said.

Her parents started to study the Bible with us.

It’s hard to believe that the knock of a Bible worker on just one door has now led to nine baptisms: Erica, her son, her brother, her mother, her father, her sister, her brother-in-law, and her sister’s mother-in-law. Even Erica’s neighbor was baptized.

As for Erica’s husband he now attends a local Adventist church regularly.

Erica later told me that when I knocked on her door that first time, she had been praying for a month that God would prove His existence and reveal the right church to her.

“If you had never knocked on my door, none of this would have happened” Erica said. “God You have answered my call!”

Yolanda Martinez Santos is a Bible worker in California.

by Terri Saelee

Several students neared decisions for baptism at the end of my third year of teaching English at a camp of 50,000 refugees in Thailand.

But the Seventh-day Adventist pastor told me that the students were hesitating. They were afraid of becoming Christians and seeing the missionaries leave before they understood Christianity enough to live real Christian lives.

When the pastor shared this with me, I didn’t know what to do. I had been planning to return home to the U.S. state of Nebraska after three years as a student missionary. My mother was looking forward to seeing me. But my main goal was the salvation of souls. So I began to pray, “Lord, what shall I do?”

Then I read during my morning devotions: “The cause of God is to hold the first place in our plans and affections” (Counsels on Stewardship, p. 220)

I thought, This passage is pointing right at me. I wanted to finish college, have a profession, and start a family. But it was as if God was saying, “Terri, here is the guidance that you have been waiting for. God needs to be first in your plans and affections.”

I decided that my first responsibility was to my family. But my family already knew God. So, I decided to call my mother and heed her advice.

I traveled 35 kilometers (22 miles) to find the nearest post office with a public telephone. I called collect because I didn’t have any money. I knew it was expensive.

I asked my mother, “What would you think if I decided to stay another year or indefinitely?”

Her response was immediate. “Terri,” she said, “I will never tell you to come home. If I told you to come home and even one soul failed to hear the gospel, I would regret it for eternity. But if by staying you can help even one soul to know God and to be in the kingdom, it would be worth it even if I never saw you again.”

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I sat in the post office. I praised God for a mother who loved so much. My mother wanted to see me, but she already had made the sacrifice in her heart. The salvation of souls was so important to her that she would give up seeing me again.

Terri Saelee is director of the North American Division’s Adventist Refugee and Immigrant Ministries, which got jump-started with a Thirteenth Sabbath Offering in 2011. Under her leadership, more than 140 new churches comprised of refugees have opened across North America.

by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Mervan Jaikaran, a machinery operator at a wood factory in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, was unconscious for four days and hospitalized for three months after a devastating car accident at the age of seven.

Jaikaran had been walking along the side of the road when the car struck him and dragged him for 50 yards (45 meters), ripping off the side of his face and inflicting deep back injuries.

“Mommy says I was dead and brought back to life,” said Jaikaran, now 52, whose face is badly scarred on the left side. “I say, ‘Mommy, I was dead in sin, but Jesus brought me back to life.’ ”

Jaikaran, one of nine siblings, was raised by a single Seventh-day Adventist mother after his father deserted the family. At the age of 11, he quit school, unable to study because of brain damage sustained in the accident. He started smoking and drinking at 14 and eventually expanded to marijuana and cocaine. He married at 28 and became the father of four.

But Jaikaran kept using drugs, and his wife finally left with the children.

Jaikaran said he desperately wanted to change. One day, he cried out: “Jesus, I want to change. But I don’t want my wife’s help. I don’t want my Mommy’s help. I want Your help.”

Hours later, he received a call from the director of an Adventist-operated drug rehabilitation center called Love Until Ready Center. He subsequently learned that his sister had contacted an Adventist pastor for help, and the pastor had called the rehab center.

Jaikaran eagerly checked himself in for treatment. He was 46.

Progress was slow, but he claimed biblical promises daily. His three favorites were: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV); “I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5, NKJV); and “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, NKJV).

He also prayed for the Lord to bind together his family and bind the family closer to the Lord.

At the end of the rehab program, Jaikaran’s estranged wife came to pick him up and drive him to his mother’s house. But when his wife saw he was a new man, she unexpectedly took him home. Both ended up getting baptized.

These days Jaikaran tells everyone he meets about his love for Jesus. He prays daily, “Lord, give me some more so I can talk about you.”

“I believe that the Lord brought me into this world so I can be a witness for Him,” he said. “Nothing is about me. It is all about Him.”

by Nelson Ernst

A group of Seventh-day Adventist young people set out on a Sabbath afternoon to distribute GLOW tracts in a community in the U.S. state of Hawaii. The young people prayed together and started knocking on people’s doors. When the first door opened, a young man said: “Hello! We are from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and we have a gift for you.”

“For me?” the surprised house owner said.

“Yes, for you,” the visitor said, extending a couple of small tracts.

When the house owner accepted the GLOW tracts, the young man offered to pray for her.

“Do you have any special prayer requests that we could raise to the Lord?” The scenario repeated itself at house after house.

“Hello! We are from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and we have a gift for you. How may we pray for you?”

The doorbell went unanswered at some houses. At a few, the owners asked the visitors to leave.

Then two young people approached a house surrounded by a fence. Finding the gate, they fumbled to open it when an alarming sound met their ears.

“Grrrrr . . . woof! Grrrrr . . . woof!”

Peering over the fence they saw an angry dog glaring back at them.

“What do we do now?” one asked.

Neither wanted to risk trying to get past the dog to ring the doorbell.

A young man took a GLOW tract and held it over the fence. The dog watched closely.

Then the young man dropped the GLOW tract. It fell onto the ground.

The dog ran up to it and sniffed it. Then it did a surprising thing. The dog picked the tract up with its mouth. Turning around, the dog trotted to the front porch of the house and deposited it in front of the door.

Adventist Church cofounder Ellen G. White tells us: “God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands. The workers will be surprised by the simple means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness” (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 300).

If an angel can make a donkey talk, why cannot he also turn an angry dog into a literature evangelist in Hawaii?

And if a dog can share Adventist literature, why can’t you?

Nelson Ernst is cofounder and director of GLOW, a literature distribution ministry that started in California and has spread across the world.

by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Her mother drenched her with water before Sabbath School.

Her father followed her as she walked—and then ran—to church.

Every time she heard the chain rattle on her father’s locked gun box, she feared he was coming for her.

“I was very, very scared,” said Margaret Wilfred, recounting the years after she was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “I was a nervous wreck. To this day it still affects me.”

But Wilfred, 61, a retired Adventist grade-school teacher in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, has no regrets. “I am enjoying my walk with God,” she said. “I am getting all the peace I can have now.”

Wilfred was raised by Sunday-keeping parents near the campus of the Adventist-owned University of the Southern Caribbean in Maracas Valley. From childhood she loved the music that wafted from the campus church on Sabbath. Student singing bands sometimes visited the valley on Sabbath mornings. It was music that attracted Wilfred to an Adventist evangelistic series when she was 19, and she was baptized after the meetings.

“That is when the mental torture started,” she said.

Her parents were furious. Her father threatened her and locked her out of the house. The rattle of the chain on the gun box terrified her. She feared being beaten or worse. Once her father followed her halfway to church.

“I ran all the way because I was scared of what he might do,” she said.

Her mother threw water over her after she had dressed for church.

“Life wasn’t happy for me at all,” she said.

But Wilfred never considered abandoning her faith. She clung to Psalm 34:7, which says, “The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them” (NKJV). Another favorite is Psalm 27:10, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.”

Eventually, tensions eased at home. Wilfred received a state scholarship to further her education, and she enrolled at the Adventist university. Later she accepted a job at its Maracas Seventh-day Adventist Primary School, where she taught first and second grade for 35 years.

“I know that I am the apple of God’s eye,” she said. “He will see me through anything.”

A portion of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering in first quarter 2018 will go toward a new church for the University of the Southern Caribbean, which has never owned a church building and worships in an auditorium.

by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Starlene Peters, bruised and wearing crumpled clothes after a night of partying followed by a drunken car crash, walked into the Seventh-day Adventist church on Sabbath morning.

A former Adventist, she wasn’t sure how church members, long ignored, would respond to her presence. But a friend had died in the car accident hours earlier, and she needed to find God.

“I saw that accident as a wake-up call,” said Peters, 32, now a full-time missionary. “I realized how fragile life was.”

Peters was raised by an Adventist grandmother in Port of Spain, capital of the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. From a young age, she was required to attend church every Sabbath. She held various church positions after her baptism, but she said her service was not genuine. “For most of my childhood, I didn’t feel any connection with God,” Peters said.

At 18, she left home and the church to embark on a life of partying.

Then, the car accident occurred. Peters and two friends were driving home after a Friday night of partying, and the driver, who was intoxicated, wrecked the vehicle. Peters and the driver escaped with scratches, but their friend, a 26-year-old woman, was killed.

Peters was whisked away from the accident scene to the hospital for a checkup. Then police questioned her at the police station. After that, Peters headed straight for church.

Peters had nothing to wear but her partying attire: a short dress, earrings, and makeup. She didn’t know what to expect. She hadn’t worshiped at the church in seven years.

The pastor was preparing to start the sermon when Peters walked in the door. All eyes turned on her. Then the church members abruptly broke into song.

“They stopped the service and started a sing-a-thon because they were so happy that I was in church after so many years,” Peters said.

It was a welcome worthy of the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable from Luke 15:11-32.

At that moment, Peters decided to give her life to Jesus and start over.

“I made a deal with God: all or nothing,” she said. “I got rebaptized, and that is where my life began.”

Read more about Starlene Peters (left) next week.

by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Starlene Peters felt convicted to sign up for a two-week mission trip to South America as she listened to a veteran U.S. missionary speak at a youth conference in her native country of Trinidad and Tobago.

But the desire confused her. She just had returned to the Seventh-day Adventist Church after seven years of wild partying, and she did not feel qualified to serve as a missionary.

“To me, I was not missionary material,” said Peters, who was 25 at the time. “So I decided to pray.”

She asked God for a sign: that random people at the youth conference would tell her to become a missionary. No one knew her; so, she thought no one would approach her.

“But several people that same day came up to me and told me, ‘Have you ever thought about being a missionary?’ ” she said.

Peters rationalized that people were thinking about mission service after the U.S. missionary’s presentation; so, she asked God for a second sign: that her father would tell her to become a missionary. “My father is not a church-going person, and I am his only daughter,” Peters said. “So to me, the chances were slim to none. I thought I had gotten God into a corner.”

The next day, her father called her and said, “Maybe you should go where God leads you.” He said he was pleased with the recent changes in her life.

Peters prayed angrily that night. She didn’t want to risk her job for the mission trip to Guyana. She asked for a third sign: that God provide the U.S.$450 needed for the trip.

The next day, the last day of the conference, a stranger handed Peters a white envelope and walked off. “When I looked inside, it was a check for $450, the exact amount I needed for the trip,” she said.

Peters ended up staying in Guyana for one and a half years, teaching at a mission school. Since then, Peters has been going on short- and longterm mission trips nonstop, pausing only to raise funds for the next trip. In 2014, Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson presented her with an award for her work with the church’s One Year in Mission program.

Peters, now 32, said it is never too late—or too soon—to share Jesus.

“Before my first mission trip, I had just come back to church; so, I didn’t feel Christian enough to go on a mission trip,” she said. “Now I do all trips all the time. God provides for all my needs.”

Read more about Stajrlene Peters (pictured with Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson) in last week’s story.

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2018 Qtr 2 Mission Stories

by Benjie Leach

Sabbath afternoon began as planned.

About 30 band students from Campion Academy, where I worked as a chaplain, distributed copies of Ellen G. White’s book Steps to Christ in a town located at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, in the U.S. state of Colorado.

After that, we returned to the local Seventh-day Adventist church, where the students earlier had performed and changed clothing for a hike in nearby Rocky Mountain National Park.

But when our bus stopped at a scenic lookout spot near the mountaintop, I immediately wanted to turn around and leave. Dozens of people dressed in long robes greeted our eyes. At first glance, I thought they belonged to some sort of pushy Eastern religion, and I didn’t want to argue with them.

But the band members pleaded for five minutes to witness to these people. I reluctantly agreed.

After a few minutes, a student came over to me and said, “This is not an Eastern religion. This is a Hawaiian wedding.”

I was surprised. “Why is a Hawaiian wedding being held in Colorado?” I asked.

It turned out that the groom was originally from Hawaii. But, the student said, the bride and groom had a problem: the minister was 45 minutes late.

“Aren’t you a minister?” the student asked.

I assured him that the minister would arrive. But the minister didn’t show up. We saw the bride crying near a car, and I approached her. The woman tearfully explained that the minister had been involved in an accident and could not come to the wedding.

The bride had won my sympathy now. “All right,” I said. “I guess I can have your wedding.”

She looked surprised. “What makes you think that you can have my wedding?” she said.

“I am a minister,” I said.

“You don’t look like a minister.”

“Lady, I wouldn’t lie to you,” I said, pulling out my wallet to show her my ministerial license.

Her eyes grew big. “You really are a minister! Can you do our wedding?” she asked.

Now I wasn’t so sure. I said to her, “I want to see your wedding license.”

I carefully examined the piece of paper. It was in order.

“I guess I’ll have your wedding,” I said. “So what are your names?”

The band members saw what was happening, and they became excited. Several band members played music for the couple before the ceremony began.

Benjie Leach is a volunteer home health chaplain in Fort Worth, Texas.

by Benjie Leach

The bride’s father escorted his daughter, now smiling, to the front of the crowd. The groom played a guitar and sang “The Hawaiian Wedding Song.”

The Lord gave me a few things to say, and I pronounced the couple husband and wife.

Afterward, the groom’s mother said something to me that still sends chills up and down my spine.

“I don’t think this was an accident,” she said. “I think this was meant to happen. Look at your shirt.”

I looked down at my clothing. I was wearing jeans, tennis shoes, and a powder-blue shirt. Stitched over the shirt’s pocket was the word, “Hawaii,” and a colorful rainbow. I had bought the shirt while vacationing with my wife in Hawaii several years earlier.

When they put the lei around my neck, it was as if my participation in the wedding had been meant to happen.

We gave the newlyweds a wedding gift: a copy of Steps to Christ. The couple had never heard of Seventh-day Adventists.

If the story had ended there, I would have been happy. But it didn’t.

Two years later, I was living in Texas and received an early Sabbathmorning phone call from a veteran literature evangelist in Colorado.

“Do you remember that couple you married in Rocky Mountain National Park?” he said.

The couple had read Steps to Christ and reached out to the Adventist Church for more information. “So, we sent them more literature,” he said. “Then they wanted Bible studies, and I’ve been studying the Bible with them for the last six months. You’ll be happy to know that today they are being baptized into the Greeley Seventh-day Adventist Church.”

Two more years passed. Campion Academy invited me to return to give a week of prayer. As I stood up to give the Sabbath sermon, I saw the literature evangelist walk in with the married couple and their toddler.

After the church service, they told me the rest of the story.

After being baptized, the couple had invited their friends to evangelistic meetings in the Greeley church, and three of them had been baptized. In addition, the groom’s mother had been baptized and was working at an Adventist hospital in Hawaii.

I hadn’t wanted to stop that day to argue with the people in white robes. But the Lord was able to use a few academy students and a guy wearing a Hawaiian shirt to witness.

Benjie Leach is a volunteer home health chaplain in Fort Worth, Texas.

by Vanessa Rocha

Seventh-day Adventist leaders assigned me to lead evangelistic meetings at an Adventist university during a 2016 outreach effort that resulted in an unprecedented 110,000 baptisms in Rwanda.

The pastor approached me after 173 young people were baptized at the end of my meetings.

“Now that we are friends, I can tell you this,” he said. “When I was told I was going to have an American preacher come to my site, I was very excited. I was expecting a big, strong, tall, white man. But when they presented you, a small woman, as our speaker, I was very disappointed. So, I didn’t expect much. But my dear sister preacher, I’m so sorry for my little faith. You have done a work that none of us has been able to do at this school.”

Truthfully, I don’t have much to offer. But when you have a willing heart, God will do extraordinary things. What made the mission to Rwanda so successful? The answer is simple: Total Member Involvement—having every church member do his or her part in sharing Jesus.

In Rwanda, I saw that local church members made it their personal duty to reach out to their communities. They put aside the idea that evangelism is the pastors’ job alone. Church members had no special training; they simply used their God-given talents to reach those Christ came to save. They realized that Jesus is coming soon and that we as Seventh-day Adventists have a higher calling. They said, “Here am I, Lord, send me.”

I met many Rwandans, young and old, who said, “Vanessa, I have been in the church for so many years and never have I seen the church do something like this. But now I realize I don’t have to wait on the church. It simply starts with one person. It starts with me.”

Young people came to me and said, “I’m not a preacher. I’m not a singer. But I have many friends and a lot of influence. My life will be the sermon. Because of everything I’ve learned during this evangelistic series, I will start giving Bible studies.”

The sincerity of these church members changed Rwanda in much the same way that Jesus and His 12 disciples changed the world in three years. How much more could we do if we took hold of this mission of Total Member Involvement in our local churches? How much sooner would we see Jesus?

Vanessa Rocha, 23, is a Bible worker and musician in southern California.

by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

A coworker asked Seventh-day Adventist business executive David Kim about his favorite weekend activities, while making small talk at a funeral. “I go to church and spend time with family,” David replied.

The coworker said he also liked to spend time with family, causing David to realize that he didn’t want to discuss faith.

The two men chatted about family. Then David said, “We have talked about family for a while, now how about faith?”

The coworker said quickly, “I am an atheist.”

“Why are you an atheist?” David asked.

The resulting conversation drew in other funeral guests and planted a seed that David hopes will lead to a Bible study.

David says it’s simple to bring God into a casual conversation. Here are some ways that he responds to everyday questions:

  • How was the weekend? I had a great weekend! On Saturday we went to church, and on Sunday we went to the supermarket.
  • How did you meet your wife? We met at church in Chicago.
  • Do you still play the cello? Not like I used to, but I do teach my son, and I also have begun working with a Christian singer who has put together some interesting recording projects on the books of Daniel and Revelation.
  • What do you do for fun? I spend most of my free time on activities related to my family and faith.
  • How do you manage your ambition versus your desire for work-life balance? This can be a real challenge, but one of the most helpful things for me—and I don’t know how you feel about these things—is my prayer life.
  • Do you have any advice for how to be successful at work? One of the things I find most helpful is spending time every morning in prayer and reading the Bible. It helps me to start every day focused on the big picture. David likens himself to a fly fisherman.

“Fly fishermen are always casting,” he said. “I try to put bait out there and allow the hungry fish to respond.”

Coworkers have asked for more information about God through such conversations, and David conducts two to four Bible studies a week. Two coworkers have been baptized.

David Kim is a Seventh-day Adventist business executive and the founder of the Nicodemus Society, an organization that shares the Adventist message with the wealthy, worldly, and well-educated.

by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Irena Metzova doesn’t know why she narrowly missed boarding a passenger jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. But the sparing of her life allowed her to share the Sabbath on national television.

Irena had planned to fly from New York to her native Czech Republic after a summer of working as a volunteer cook for a group of student literature evangelists, including her college-age son. But the airline, KLM, suspended flights amid an industrial strike and rebooked her on a Swissair flight at the last minute. She alerted her sister in the Czech Republic about the change of plans, and the sister agreed to meet her at the Prague airport the next day.

In the morning, the sister woke up to the news that a Swissair DC-10 jet had crashed about two hours after takeoff from New York. It was her sister’s plane.

In tears, she called Irena’s husband. “I lost my sister. You lost your wife,” she said.

But Irena hadn’t taken the flight. When Irena approached the Swissair desk to check in for Flight 111 at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, the Swissair representative said something that changed everything.

“Mrs. Metzova, you are Czech,” the airline representative said. “We can put you on a direct flight from here to the Czech Republic on Czech Airlines. How would you like that?”

Irena liked the idea of not having to change planes in Geneva, and the airline representative printed her a new boarding pass.

“You have 15 minutes to catch the plane,” the airline representative said. “Run!”

At 10:30 p.m. on September 2, 1998, the Swissair plane crashed off Canada’s coast, killing all 229 people onboard, including a Seventh-day Adventist college student planning to study for a year in France. An in-flight fire was blamed for the tragedy.

As the world mourned, Irena’s sister learned about the change in the itinerary.

Irena, now 68, can’t explain what happened. But several years after the tragedy, she was given the opportunity to speak about her faith on Czech national television. On the television program, Answered Prayers, Irena told about God’s goodness amid repressions in Communist-era Czechoslovakia.

She read the fourth commandment about the Sabbath.

Many people heard about the biblical seventh-day Sabbath for the first time, said her son, Kamil Metz, international coordinator for the Giving Light to Our World (GLOW) tracts ministry.

“After the program aired, other Adventists told us that their relatives had called them and said, ‘We never knew that the Sabbath was in the Bible,’ ” he said.

All because Irena somehow missed a flight.

by Brittany Fletcher

A young man came up to me as I was taking out the trash on New Year’s Eve at my home in the U.S. state of Kentucky.

“I have a survey here that might help the community,” he said. “Would you take it?”

The friendly stranger turned out to be a Generation of Youth for Christ (GYC) volunteer attending the Seventh-day Adventist youth organization’s annual convention in Louisville. Little did I know that I would be going door- to-door at the next GYC convention a year later.

Outside my home, I looked at the survey that the GYC volunteer had handed me. I circled my interest in Bible studies and visitation. Then I heard nothing for five months.

In May, my mother told me that someone had come to the house for Bible studies. The man visited six times. I missed him every time because of my university classes. In June, the man, a Bible worker named Romone, came when I was at home, and we arranged to study the Bible at a local cafe every Friday.

I knew nothing about Adventism. I was active in another denomination, where I taught the children and went on mission trips. But I was not getting the connection with Jesus that I desired. I prayed constantly to grow closer to Him.

My prayers were answered with Romone.

Soon I texted Romone that I wanted to meet twice a week. I accepted everything that I learned. As my diet and lifestyle changed, my life began to improve. I love Romans 12:2, which says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (NKJV).

This heavenly mind-set broadened my mind-set. Now when I study, I am not hoping for a good grade but I am learning for God. I want the knowledge to provide healing to people as a speech therapist one day.

At Romone’s church, I learned about the GYC convention in Houston, Texas, in December 2016.1 joined the Adventist Church shortly before the convention began.

Going door-to-door with GYC volunteers was exciting. Several people signed up for Bible studies. I saw the same passion that I had had a year earlier in one young man. I am praying that the story will come full circle with him, just as it did with me. I know the power of one survey.

Brittany Fletcher, 22, is taking graduate classes in speech therapy in Louisville, Kentucky.

by Christopher Holland

I stopped going to the Roman Catholic Church when I was 16. The primary reason was that my parents, who taught marriage enrichment classes at the church, were going through a divorce. The priest, who had eaten at our house many times, never visited when my parents parted ways.

I decided that if this was what God and His church were all about, then this wasn’t for me.

Four years passed. I moved from the Chicago area to northern Indiana, where I worked the late shift at a gas station. It was there that I met my future wife, Debbie, who worked up the street at a nursing home.

Debbie and I talked whenever she bought gas. She understood my interest in spiritual matters. My questions reawakened her own interest in her Seventh- day Adventist upbringing.

One night, we visited the Pioneer Memorial Church at nearby Andrews University. We had heard that something interesting was happening, and we walked in on the NET ’95 satellite evangelistic series led by Mark Finley.

After the meetings ended, I began to study the Bible. I nearly joined another Protestant church, but Debbie stopped me with a Bible study on the secret rapture.

Debbie asked me whether I sincerely believed that Christians would be quietly whisked away to heaven. When I shrugged, she gave me a powerful Bible study about how every eye will see Jesus at His second coming. It was a Holy Spirit moment.

I was baptized in September 1995, and Debbie was rebaptized a month later. We were married the next spring.

I began to sense a real burden to share the gospel. But how?

The answer came when Andrews University hired me to run the Gazebo restaurant on campus. A perk of the job was a free class every semester. I signed up for a religion class and became convicted that God was calling me to be a minister.

My first series took place in the Chicago area where I had grown up. It was like the Lord gave me the opportunity to make good. Several years later, Mark Finley, the evangelist whose NET ’95 meetings introduced me to the Adventist message, teamed up with me to lead evangelistic meetings at 34 sites in the Chicago area. More than 500 people were baptized.

Today I am broadcasting across Canada as director and speaker for It Is Written Canada. If you had told me my future when I was 17, I would have blown the froth off my beer and laughed. God leads in an amazing way.

by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Dan Frein, a utilities company manager in the U.S. state of Michigan, stopped attending the Protestant church of his youth for about 20 years. His wife, raised in a Seventh-day Adventist home, also wasn’t an active church member.

But the day came that Dan wanted to return to church, so he walked into his former church on a Sunday morning. What he saw and heard surprised him. This was not the church that he had left. He found that the church now endorsed homosexuality and other nonbiblical practices that it had preached against two decades earlier.

Disappointed, Dan told his wife that he longed to find a church that followed the Bible. His wife remembered the Adventist church in the nearby town of Muskegon, where her parents were members.

The couple began to attend worship services with her parents. At the same time, Dan read every Ellen White book that he could find.

On a Tuesday night after prayer meeting, he stopped the pastor in the parking lot.

“I want to let you know that I am ready,” he said.

“Ready for what?” asked the pastor.

“I am ready to be baptized,” Dan said. “I’ve been reading Ellen White’s books. I am ready, and I am on board.”

The pastor went through baptismal studies and found that Dan did know and agree with the church’s teachings. Dan was baptized, his wife was rebaptized, and their son also was baptized.

“I praise the Lord that Dan came in despite our lack of personal outreach,” said the pastor, Kameron DeVasher. “I know that personal ministries work and evangelism are absolutely not dead, but I have a feeling that there are a lot more Dans out there, just waiting to be gathered in.”

He said Dan’s experience also speaks of the importance of Ellen White’s books. “I think that there is power in the Spirit of Prophecy, so we should feel no shame in sharing those books,” he said.

As for Dan, he has led multiple evangelistic campaigns at the church, served as a deacon, and participated in prison ministries. Members describe him as “a house on fire.”

“This is a person who has been in the church less than five years, and he is preaching the Word and winning souls,” Pastor DeVasher said. “He reminds us that the work of the local church is first and foremost evangelism, winning souls, and discipleship, and every member should have a part in that work.”

Pastor Kameron DeVasher

by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

A 2:00 a.m. bar brawl in the U.S. state of Alaska turned violent when 28-year- old Tony Pouesi struck a man with a single punch.

The man fell and hit his head on the ground. He died the next day.

Tony was charged with felony manslaughter, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

“I was devastated,” Tony said. “I was scared. My whole life flashed before my eyes.”

From his jail cell, Tony remembered his upbringing in faraway Shelton, a small town in Washington state. His family never had read the Bible or attended church. He had used alcohol and illegal drugs as a teen and quit high school before completing 11th grade. As an adult, he had moved to Alaska to work as a commercial fisherman.

In jail, Tony began to pray desperately.

“I said, ‘If there is a God, I want to know that He is real,’ ” Tony, now 30, said in an interview. “I was crying on my knees for hours a day for help.”

Tony borrowed a Bible from the jail library and, to his astonishment, felt an overwhelming sense of peace and joy as he read it. He found special hope in Deuteronomy 31:6, one of the first Bible verses that he memorized. It reads, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (NKJV).

“As I prayed and read the Bible, God did miracles in my life,” Tony said.

After some time, Tony’s publicly appointed lawyer announced that she had good news: the potential prison sentence had been reduced to two to four years. Then the sentence was cut to one to three years on a reduced charge of negligent homicide.

One day, Tony found a small card on a bookshelf in the jail library: an invitation for Discover Bible lessons from the Voice of Prophecy, a Seventh-day Adventist ministry. He sent away for the lessons and eagerly studied them.

“What’s amazing is that I drank, I did drugs, and I didn’t graduate from high school, but I understood the Bible,” he said. “That’s amazing, right? You don’t have to be a scholar to understand the Bible.”

Shortly after completing the Bible studies, Tony’s case came up in court. There, Tony said, God worked a miracle. The judge handed down a three-year suspended sentence. Tony was free.

“God delivered me from jail,” Tony said. “The whole time I was in there was nine months.”

Read more about Tony Pouesi, left, next week.

by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Tony Pouesi, imprisoned for nine months after the death of a man in a bar fight, began a closer walk with God following his surprise release from jail in the U.S. state of Alaska.

With nowhere to go, he moved into a Seventh-day Adventist home for former inmates, the Greater Works Christian Living Center, in Anchorage. He began to have morning devotions. He attended prayer meetings on Wednesday and Friday evenings. He kept the Sabbath.

“It was the first time that I got to experience a real Christian family,” he said.

A desire swelled in his heart to share his newfound love for Jesus, and he decided to establish Alaska Street Ministry. Five days a week, he distributes GLOW tracts, Bible promise books, food, and clothing. He prays with strangers and talks about Jesus.

Tony has found that wearing a custom-made hat or shirt stamped with the words, “Trust Jesus,” is an excellent conversation starter.

“It is a great tool for witnessing,” he said. “A lot of people come up to me and just start talking about God. If they are responsive, I tell them how God changed my life.”

Tony’s biggest burden, however, is his own family. He called his single mother in Shelton, Washington, shortly after being freed from jail.

“There is only one thing in this world that I will ask of you,” he told her. “I want you to do these Discover Bible studies.”

As a result of the Voice of Prophecy studies, his mother has quit smoking and lost 30 pounds (14 kilograms). She keeps the Sabbath.

“I knew that she would never be the same after the Bible studies,” Tony said. “This is the power of God.”

Tony is now looking for new ways to share Jesus. One Sabbath as he left church, he encountered a man carrying a large white cross. The man explained that he had been carrying the cross around the world for six years and, after hearing Tony’s story, presented it to him.

It took Tony some time to gather the courage to drag the cross around the city block. But when he did, the reaction was astounding.

“People were honking their horns, and waving, and saying, ‘Praise the Lord! ’ ” Tony said. “It was awesome.”

Tony isn’t convinced that the cross is the best way to witness. But he is confident that his “Trust Jesus” clothing is effective. He is looking to support his street ministry by selling the hats and shirts online.

“God gave me this fire to spread the gospel, and I still have that fire,” he said.

by an Adventist wife in the U.S.

My husband and I always wanted to be Seventh-day Adventist missionaries. We both served as student missionaries in different parts of the world, and we returned overseas as volunteers after marriage.

It was an amazing 10 years. We served in three countries and planted many seeds that God could water later.

But I grew increasingly bothered with my husband. At first, it was small things like always having to adjust his shirt collar. He would make a meal but couldn’t remember where to return the ingredients in the cupboard. We would agree on a schedule, but then he would cancel it at the last moment in favor of something that had caught his attention.

I expressed my frustration to my mother by phone. She called me hypercritical and urged me to be a better wife.

My mother changed her mind when we returned from the mission field and lived with her for a while. She saw that my husband would surprise us by washing the dishes, but then we couldn’t find where he had put them in the cupboards.

My mother apologized to me, saying, “I’m sorry, honey, because I thought it was just you. But you still need to forgive and respect him.”

My husband’s heart is always so good. He wants to be helpful. However, when we live with him day in and day out, his efforts are not always helpful but tiring because he creates extra work for the rest of us.

It got to the point that I lost all respect for him. I couldn’t trust his word. Not knowing where to turn, I sought the advice of a respected Seventh-day Adventist counselor. As I described my husband’s behavior, the counselor stopped me.

“Do you think that it’s possible that your husband has ADHD?” he said.

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a disorder related to the executive functions of the brain and is characterized by difficulty paying attention, impulsive behavior, and hyperactivity.

So, 18 years after getting married, I finally understood why my husband acts the way he does. I had to let go of my expectations and realize that God wanted to work on my heart.

I love my husband. We may never be overseas missionaries again, and that’s fine with me. Ellen White says, “Our work for Christ is to begin with the family, in the home. . . . There is no missionary field more important than this” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 429).

I have found my mission field.

by Kamil Metz

Helen Johnston abruptly realized as she walked down a street in Battle Creek, in the U.S. state of Michigan, that she had not prayed. So the student literature evangelist paused to seek God’s guidance. It was summer 2015, and she was raising money for school.

As Helen (pictured below) headed to the next door, she heard a voice say, “A man will open the door, and he needs The Great Controversy”

Moments later, the house door opened. A man stood there.

Helen, following the practice of seeking to make friends first, offered a health book. Then she pulled out a copy of Ellen G. White’s The Great Controversy.

The man was intrigued by the book. He wanted his own copy, but he couldn’t afford it.

Helen felt certain that God wanted him to have the book, so she offered it for free. The man shook his head. Helen asked whether he had any spare change lying around the house. The man came back with a handful of coins, but it still was not enough. He gave Helen the money but still refused to take the book.

Disappointed, Helen turned to leave. She took a few steps and tripped. The coins scattered on the ground.

Helen quickly asked the man to hold the book. After collecting the coins, she began to walk away.

The man called out after her. “Your book,” he said. “You forgot your book.”

Helen looked back and smiled. “It’s yours to keep,” she said.

He returned her smile. “You win,” he said.

An hour later, Helen found herself going door-to-door in a more affluent neighborhood. As she introduced herself and was about to say her name, the woman at the door interrupted her. “It’s Helen, right?” she said.

Helen was startled. She had never seen the woman before.

“I am a Seventh-day Adventist,” the woman said. “This morning as I was reading my Bible I was impressed by God that Helen would come to my door.

I also was impressed that I needed to write a check for $20 because Helen would meet a man who needs The Great Controversy but would not have the money to buy it.”

The woman pulled out a signed check made out to the sum of $20. She only needed to add the name of the recipient. “Who do I make this check out to?” she said.

Kamil Metz is the international coordinator for the GLOW tracts ministry.

by Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Danny Whatley was on top of the world—and not just because he worked as a bush pilot in the U.S. state of Alaska.

Danny owned a thriving tour company that offered private hunting trips to the world’s movers and shakers. Clients included Citibank’s president and the Rockefeller family.

“I wanted to be in the elite,” Danny said. “I did not want to be a regular person. I loved those people.”

But then he received a copy of The Great Controversy. Danny had dated a former Seventh-day Adventist and through her started playing basketball and volleyball at the Adventist church in his hometown, Palmer. A church member gave him the book.

Danny took the book with him on his next bush trip and read how the seventh-day Sabbath was changed to Sunday. He never had heard of author Ellen G. White, but he instantly felt convicted that this was truth.

Back in Palmer, Danny was preparing for the hunting season when church members invited him to an evangelistic series. The opening presentation about the Daniel 2 prophecy captivated him.

“I was hooked right away,” he said. “People who say evangelism doesn’t work have never been on the receiving end of an evangelism series.”

The next night, Danny brought his father.

When the preacher, Vern Snow, spoke about baptism one night, a battle broke out in Danny’s mind. He didn’t want to lose clients because of the Sabbath.

“The battle went on for the whole meeting,” Danny said. “At the end, I had to make a decision. I went to Vern and said, ‘I want to be baptized.’ ”

At that moment, he surrendered everything, including his business, to Jesus.

“I was a hunting guy who could do it all on my own, and now I realized that I could not do it all on my own,” he said.

At the baptism, the pastor declared, “Here is a trophy hunter who is now a hunter of souls.”

Danny’s father and stepmother were baptized the following Sabbath. Other people also have joined the church through Danny’s influence.

At work, Danny told clients that they could no longer hunt on Saturdays. Instead, he said, they could enjoy the day in nature at no cost. With trips costing $1,500 a day, clients happily embraced the new pricing plan.

Two years later, Danny sold his flourishing business. He also lost his desire to be in the elite.

“I had wanted to travel like them,” said Danny, today a successful serial entrepreneur. “But now I go on mission trips, which are much better.”

2018 Qtr 3 Mission Stories

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Li Fengyan’s cellphone rang sharply.

“Mom, I am miserable,” said the voice on the other end. It was Fengyan’s daughter-in-law, Yang-yang. She was crying hysterically. “My life is so hard. I don’t know what to do.”

Worried, Fengyan brought Yang-yang to her home, and the two began to talk. Yang-yang spoke of hearing voices that commanded her to act violently. “I want to beat people. I want to kill people,” Yang-yang said. “Hide your knives. If I just see a knife, I will kill someone.”

Fengyan called her pastor at the Tokyo Chinese Seventh-day Adventist Church. Pastor Yu Chuanfu was leading the evening prayer meeting, but he came to her home and prayed and read the Bible with Yang-yang.

Yang-yang liked the prayers and the Bible, and she began to read the Bible regularly as she stayed with her mother-in-law for a while. She also read books by Ellen G. White. The voices ceased, and she started to smile. She started to attend Sabbath services at the Tokyo Chinese church.

Yang-yang’s husband was amazed at the change in his wife. He started going to church with her and his mother. A year later, they were baptized.

Then Yang-yang’s own mother fell ill, and doctors didn’t know what to do. Yang-yang asked church members to pray. She told her mother to throw away the family’s Buddhist idol and trust God instead. As the church members prayed, her mother made a miraculous recovery.

“Before the prayers, her mother did not believe in Jesus,” Fengyan said. “But after the prayers, she believes in God.”

The mother got rid of the idol and, several months later, she and her husband were baptized. And that’s not all. Yang-yang and Fengyan have been telling relatives back in China about God, and several have started attending Adventist churches there.

Fengyan, 53, credits God and the Tokyo Chinese church for the transformation of her family. “Every Sabbath we have a place to worship,” she said.

Eight people have been baptized into the Tokyo Chinese church because of her influence.

The Tokyo Chinese church, the only Chinesespeaking Adventist church in Japan, opened with about five members in 2012 through the support of a Thirteenth Sabbath Offering. Today, the church is overflowing with 50 members and is planning to double the size of its sanctuary.

“Pray for us as we grow,” Pastor Yu said.

Watch Li Fengyan, left, sing in the church at: bitly/want-to-kill

By Batdelger Battsetseg

My first visit to church was in the ninth grade. The reason is rather embarrassing. I went because my best friend decided to sleep with her boyfriend.

But first my friend, Otko, asked for my advice outside our high school in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. I was just 16, but I was sure that she was making a bad decision. I told her not to do it. Then, just to make sure, I asked my older sister what she thought. My sister, who attended a Seventh- day Adventist church, went straight to Otko and told her to wait until she got married.

Otko was furious that I had revealed her secret. She said bad things about me to my classmates, and they started to ignore me. In a single week, I lost my best friend and all my friends at school.

I felt so lonely. I asked my sister if I could go with her to church. The people at church welcomed me. They were warm and friendly, and they taught me about God. After a few months, my classmates slowly began to talk to me again. They noticed that I was going to church, and they asked, “What are you doing? Why are you going to church?” I told them that I was becoming a Christian.

But I wasn’t so open with my parents. My parents are Buddhists, as are most people in Mongolia, and they were angry about my interest in Christianity. I kept attending church every Sabbath, but I hid that from my parents. Eventually I told the truth and discovered that my parents had known all along. They accepted my decision to get baptized.

A year and a half after Otko stopped being my friend, she came to my house one evening to acknowledge that I had been right. She sadly told me that she had gotten pregnant and had had an abortion. “But,” she said, “You are a heavenly person. I don’t want to lose you as a friend. I’m willing to even die for you.”

Otko didn’t know it, but her words are also in the Bible. In John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (NKJV).

Otko and I are good friends to this day, but my best Friend gave His life for me.

Batdelger Battsetseg, 32, left, is the fifth-grade teacher at Tusgal School, the only Adventist school in Mongolia. This quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help build a boarding academy for the school’s 9th- to 12th- grade students, freeing up classroom space for more elementary school students.

By Sang Sook Park

Since I was a little girl, I wanted to adopt a child. The desire remained strong after I got married and raised a son, but I feared I wasn’t qualified.

Finally, I filled out the paperwork. “Send me a child whom I can handle,” I prayed. “Give me this sign that the adopted child is from You: Make the first child I meet the one whom You want me to adopt.”

This was my prayer for two and a half months. Then the orphanage sent a two-year-old girl, Bomin. But when she arrived, she just glared at me. I wanted to win her heart, so I gave her food and a doll. But she flung down the doll, and she wouldn’t allow me to touch her. I sent Bomin back to the orphanage.

“I’m too scared to adopt,” I told my husband.

But I sensed God saying, “What happened to all your prayers and request for a sign that the first child would be chosen by Me?” I wept and told God, “I’m too scared to live with this child.”

But then I changed my prayer. “If I’m supposed to take this child, give me confidence and the assurance that You will raise her,” I prayed. “If I’m not supposed to adopt her, remove this heavy burden that I have to adopt a child.”

I prayed this for five days. On the fifth day, I read 2 Samuel 24:14 during my devotions and realized that this was the answer. In this verse, King David says, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great.”

I remembered that God always had led me and I knew He would continue to care for my family with great mercy. I decided to fall into the hand of the Lord.

“Let’s go get the child,” I told my husband.

Tears streamed down my cheeks as we drove to the orphanage. I could still see those glaring eyes. Then I thought, Wait, I’m going to meet this precious daughter of mine. I prayed, “God, help us love her.”

We waited a short time at the orphanage, and then Bomin entered the room. She quietly walked over to me and put her tiny hands into mine. It felt as if the Lord were holding my hands. I prayed, “I will lead this hand to heaven.” And we went home.

Sang Sook Park, 58, left, runs an adoption agency called Morning Calm Family, which has placed 238 children in 160 Adventist families in South Korea over the past decade. She has adopted four children

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Yamaji Hiroshi, a 25-year-old pastor’s son, was deeply in love. There was a problem: his girlfriend, Sakiko, wasn’t a Seventh-day Adventist.

Hiroshi met Sakiko at an Adventist nursing school outside Japan’s capital, Tokyo. After that, they worked together at the Adventist Medical Center on the Japanese island of Okinawa. It was there that they started dating.

Hiroshi tried to convince Sakiko to become an Adventist. He invited her to church every Sabbath. He asked the pastor to give her Bible studies. He praised the truthfulness of the Bible and the virtue of becoming a Christian.

“But she was not willing to become a Christian,” Hiroshi said. “She emphatically told me, ‘I will never become a Christian!’ ”

Hiroshi gave up. He realized that he could not convince Sakiko to accept Christ and that maybe they should break up. “But I still liked her,” he said.

A passage sprang to mind from Ellen White’s Messages to Young People, a book that he had read thoroughly as a teenager at an Adventist high school. The passage says, “If men and women are in the habit of praying twice a day before they contemplate marriage, they should pray four times a day when such a step is anticipated” (page 460).

Hiroshi packed his Bible and an Ellen White book and retreated up a nearby mountain for three days of prayer and fasting. “I asked God, ‘What should I do?’ ” he said. “I read and kept a daily prayer journal.”

After the fast, Hiroshi accepted a job at a nursing home far away on the Japanese mainland. He reckoned that the distance would destroy or strengthen the relationship, and he prayed that the outcome would align with God’s will. The distance was difficult for him.

“I couldn’t be with her, take her to church, or give her Bible studies,” he said. “I couldn’t do anything but pray. I prayed a lot.”

It was then that God intervened, he said. In just a few weeks, Sakiko announced that she wanted to be baptized. Her heart had been converted fully, he said. Sakiko was baptized, and the couple later got married.

Hiroshi, now 56, has never forgotten Sakiko’s conversion story, and it has become the basis for his work as a leader of the Adventist Church in Japan. His positions include Adventist Mission director, health ministries director, and assistant to the president for evangelism.

“As a pastor, I give Bible studies, I preach, and I love people, but that is all I can do,” says Hiroshi (pictured left), the father of five. “To change people’s hearts to accept Jesus is God’s work. That’s God’s business.”

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

South Koreans are among the most diligent Seventh-day Adventist gospel workers. Visit the Middle East, and you will find faithful Koreans in Turkey and Lebanon. Koreans live in Africa and South America. Even remote places in Bangladesh and India have an active Korean presence.

But despite this mission spirit, some young people in South Korea are struggling. The problem is connected with a cultural generation gap and career challenges in a country where Saturday is a workday. But derision from other Christians also hurts. While more than a quarter of South Korea’s population of 51 million is Christian, Adventists represent a tiny minority. The Adventist Church is dismissed as a cult, and members are mockingly referred to as “sdas,” a play on the church’s acronym, SDA.

Six Adventist university students decided that they had seen enough. They created a Facebook group and an online radio station aimed at nurturing young fellow Adventists. “Our focus is to reach young people who feel that they don’t belong to mainstream Adventism,” said project cofounder Hansu Hyun, 27, a graphic design student at church-owned Sahmyook University in South Korea’s capital, Seoul.

Young Adventists have taken notice. The Facebook group, opened in 2014, has about 900 followers, a significant number for the Adventist Church in South Korea. It offers colorful memes with vegetarian recipes and testimonies. For the testimonies, administrators interview young adults or sometimes a national actor who is Adventist, and the testimony is spread across five or more memes. A big hit was made with memes about Adventist war hero Desmond Doss during the theatrical release of Hacksaw Ridge.

“We have found that informal content like this is easy for young people to embrace,” said project cofounder Taegyun Bong, 25, a theology major at Sahmyook University. “Young Adventists who have left the church have told us that they are finding healing through our ministry.”

The radio station, linked to the Facebook group, has the cheeky name RadioSda in a nod to the slur toward Adventists, and it offers a two-hour weekly broadcast. Topics have included church youth leaders talking about how they spend Sabbath afternoons and a law school student discussing

Sabbath challenges. Some 700 to 2,000 people tune in every week.

“Our whole project can be described in one word: willingness,” said cofounder Hyunho Kim, 27, an English literature student. “It’s easy to become passive in our Christian life, but we are young people who are willing to act to have an impact on the Adventist community.”

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

The dream scared Helen Yen, a retired housewife in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei. In the dream, she would go someplace and then realize that she couldn’t find her way back home. The nightmare tormented her nightly.

The daylight hours were more pleasant. Helen spent time with her husband, adult children, and granddaughter. She began attending free menopause classes at Taiwan Adventist Hospital.

In the classes, Helen heard that the nearby Sung Shan Seventh-day Adventist Church was seeking volunteers for a new community outreach program. The church planned to offer Tuesday classes on Alzheimer’s disease, a major challenge in the local community, as well as cooking classes and Bible studies on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

“I had always wanted to volunteer in the community,” Helen said in an interview at the church. “I had never heard of Adventists before. But I just came to this church, and the pastor invited me to help in the kitchen.” Helen went to the church at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesdays to bake bread to sell at the Alzheimer’s classes. The bread, also offered to the church’s 180 members, helps supplement outreach funding from the Taiwan Conference.

Helen said volunteering gave her a new sense of fulfillment and joy. She began to visit the church every weekday and soon was attending Bible classes led by the pastor’s wife, Brenda Huang, who oversees the outreach. Helen, a Sunday churchgoer, heard about the seventh-day Sabbath.

“I felt something strange in my heart,” Helen said. “I couldn’t go on with the way I was living after discovering this new information.”

She started to worship at the Adventist church every Sabbath. “Before, I thought, I’m very blessed because I have a husband, children, and a granddaughter” she said. “Then, I realized that there is something more to life.” Nearly two years after Helen started volunteering, she is preparing to join the church through baptism. “She is our first fruit,” said the church’s pastor, Raymond Ko. In all, 300 people have visited the church’s Sabbath services as a result of the outreach program, he said.

Helen had had the reoccurring nightmare about not being able to find her way back home for a year. “But after I came to this church, I stopped having this dream,” she said. “I realized that the Seventh-day Adventist truth is the way home—to heaven.”

Your Sabbath School mission offerings help support community outreach programs such as the one that led Helen Yen, left, to baptism.

By Takahashi Toru

The day was long and disappointing as I went door to door to sell Seventh-day Adventist books in the southern Japanese city of Shizuoka. No one wanted to buy a book.

Near the day’s end, I suddenly found myself on a strange, dark street. Uneasily, I walked over to the nearest house. Pornographic magazines were strewn around the yard. Piles of the magazines were stacked up near the front door. The magazines were everywhere.

I backed away. Fear seized me, and I wanted to run. Then I panicked.

“Hello, my name is Takahashi Toru!” I yelled at the house. “I’m from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and I have some books that will change your life!”

The words came from a speech that we are trained to give by Youth Rush, a student literature evangelism program. When I panicked, I began to blurt out the speech.

The front door opened, and a severely obese man stepped out. Still following my speech, I asked, “Would you like a health book?”

I expected the man to say, “No,” and I was prepared to run.

But the man, his voice rumbling in a deep bass, said, “Yes, I’d like a health book.”

I nervously held out a small missionary book. The man took it and opened it with interest.

“Yes, I want to get this,” he said, pulling out some money.

After the sale, I fled. I was scared, and I wanted to get far away. As I ran, I prayed for the man and thanked God for His protection.

Then I stopped in my tracks. I had an epiphany. My heart was just as filthy as that man’s yard. Still, Jesus had walked into my heart and offered hope. Jesus said, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you” (Ezekiel 36:26, NKJV).

As I stood on the street, gratitude overwhelmed me. I felt so thankful that Jesus had dared to enter my heart. With that newfound appreciation, I marched over to the nearest house and immediately sold a book.

Takahashi Toru, left, a 21-year-old media-journalism student, received his Youth Rush training at Tokyo’s Setagaya Church, which trains Adventist young people from across Japan to share the gospel message. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help the church expand its work.

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Byongju Lee looked with puzzlement at the poem that someone had texted him. He didn’t recognize the phone number. Many people might have deleted the message as a wrong number, but not Lee. He texted back, “Who is this?”

His cell phone rang. “Who is this?” a woman’s voice asked. “You texted me first,” Lee replied. It turned out that the caller had wanted to text the poem to a friend but had misdialed the number by a single digit.

Many people might have hung up at that point, but not Lee. He asked one more question, “Are you a poet?”

“No, I’m an elementary school teacher. I write poems as a hobby.”

“Oh really?” Lee said. He thought he recognized her accent and asked one more question. “Do you live in Busan?” he said, referring to South Korea’s second-largest city.

“No, I live in Jinju,” the woman said.

“I actually graduated from high school in Jinju,” Lee said.

The woman asked which one and eagerly shared that she had studied up the street from his school. Then the woman asked, “What do you do?”

“I’m a church pastor,” Lee said.

“Which denomination?”

The question made Lee think that the woman wasn’t a Buddhist, the second-largest faith group, comprising 15 percent of the population. Christians account for 27 percent of the population of 51 million.

“I’m a Seventh-day Adventist pastor,” Lee said.

“I see,” the woman said. “Do you know Noah’s Ark?”

Lee was surprised. Noah’s Ark is a local Adventist offshoot.

The woman explained that she had worshiped briefly with a Noah’s Ark group two decades earlier. She had left the group convinced of one thing—that the biblical Sabbath is not on Sunday.

That evening, Lee sent the woman a follow-up text message. “It was great to meet you today!” he wrote. A year later, she was baptized.

Evangelism is easy, Lee said. “If I had ignored the text message, maybe she wouldn’t have become a church member,” he explained. “But I tried to form a relationship by asking just one more question.”

Byongju Lee, 51, left, is the Sabbath School and Personal Ministries director for the Adventist Church’s Korean Union Conference in Seoul, South Korea.

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Chang dreamed of money and wealth in China.

He thought his backpack-producing factory would make him rich, so he felt perplexed when the business fell on hard times. An online friend offered some unusual advice: “Go to church.”

Chang was too busy for church until after his factory went bankrupt, but he was not impressed with what he saw on his first visit. Then someone told him that if he went to church, God would bless him. “I wanted God to bless me with more money, so I went back a second time,” he said.

Around that time, Chang was hired to work as a restaurant cook in another city. Upon his arrival, he immediately began to look online for a church. “I wanted to find a church so I could earn more money,” he said.

He found the addresses of two churches—a large Sunday church and a small Seventh-day Adventist house-church. “I don’t know why, but I decided to go to the small church,” he said.

One day, a church member spoke with Chang about the Sabbath. “If you keep the Sabbath, you will get more blessings,” he said.

Chang wanted more money, so he asked the church to pray for him to keep the Sabbath. The next day, he told his manager that he wanted Sabbath off or he’d quit. “Don’t quit,” the manager said. “Keep your Sabbath.”

When the restaurant owner heard about the arrangement, he angrily ordered Chang to work on Sabbath. Chang promptly quit. Remarkably, all the restaurant’s employees also quit in a show of solidarity.

Almost immediately, church members proposed that Chang take health courses at an Adventist sanatorium. Chang liked the idea. With a nutritionist certificate, he could land a high-paying job. But he also had a growing desire to know God. He prayed for Bible training. The next day, two people from different churches called him separately to recommend that he attend an upcoming Bible training in another city. The training changed his heart. He lost his desire for money and became a Bible worker.

Chang, 34, said his life can be summed up by Isaiah 55:8, which says, “ ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord” (NKJV).

“I don’t feel rich now, but I don’t feel poor, either,” he said. “A preacher once told me that she lacks nothing. I said, ‘Really, you have so much money that you lack nothing?’ Now I can understand what she meant. I lack nothing.”

Your Sabbath School mission offerings help support Global Mission pioneers such as Chang.

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Kiyong Kwon, owner of a private accounting business, is known in South Korea for leading more people to Christ than perhaps any Seventh-day Adventist pastor. But he almost didn’t.

The story started in late 2000 when Kwon began to study Bible prophecy. He realized with new urgency that each prophecy in Daniel had been fulfilled except Jesus’ second coming. He wondered what Noah would do if he were alive today. Perhaps Noah, regardless of his career, would dedicate his life to a single mission: to proclaim Jesus’ return. Kwon grew convinced that he should devote his life to proclaiming Jesus’ return by becoming a church planter.

One morning as he prayed, he felt God say, “Just go!” The command scared him. He began giving excuses: “I don’t have any experience. I am not a pastor. I’m already 40. I’m afraid I’ll fail.”

“But every morning God’s calling was so clear that it was painful for me,” Kwon said.

So, he prayed, “If You really want me to go, show me what to do from beginning to end. Then I’ll go.”

Kwon thought this was a reasonable prayer, but he didn’t receive an answer. He prayed for seven days straight. On the seventh day, after praying, he opened Church Compass, the magazine of the Adventist Church’s Korean Union Conference. He saw a quotation from the book Life Sketches of Ellen G. White that shocked him. It read: “God will have men who will venture anything and everything to save souls. Those who will not move until they can see every step of the way clearly before them, will not be of advantage at this time to forward the truth of God. There must be workers now who will push ahead in the dark as well as in the light, and who will hold up bravely under discouragements and disappointed hopes, and yet work on with faith, with tears and patient hope, sowing beside all waters, trusting the Lord to bring the increase. God calls for men of nerve, of hope, faith, and endurance, to work to the point” (pages 213, 214).

“That was my answer from God!” he said. “I was not supposed to pray to know what to do from the beginning to the end. I had to push ahead.” Kwon gave up and planted a church. “Surprisingly,” he said, “I didn’t have to do anything. When God works, there are miracles.”

Kiyong Kwon, 56, left, has planted three churches in South Korea. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help plant the first Adventist church in Sejong, South Korea. Read more about Kwon in next week’s lesson.

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Kiyong Kwon had 20 church members when he planted his first church in South Korea, and he was delighted to see a young stranger show up for the first Sabbath service.

“Why did you come to this small church?” Kwon asked.

“I just don’t have any luck,” the guest replied. “But someone told me that if I went to a new church, it would bring me luck.”

Kwon offered Bible studies, and the young man was baptized.

But Kwon wanted even more members. One day, he prayed from morning to evening, “Please give me people. Give me souls to fill this church.” The next day, a neighbor stopped Kwon. “Yesterday, I felt like going to church,” she said. “Please take me to your church.”

The day after that, Kwon got a phone call. “My sister is an Adventist who has wanted me to go to church for 10 years, but I have never gone,” the caller said. “But now I feel like going.”

Kwon studied the Bible with both women, and both were baptized. More than 40 people were baptized that first year. A year later, when the 98th person was baptized, Kwon prayed for 100 baptisms. He then remembered a woman whom he hadn’t seen in three years. He found her running a children’s art school, and he visited her with flowers. “You should be that 100th person to be baptized at my church,” he told her.

When the woman agreed, Kiyong informed her that she needed Bible studies first and to expect him at her home the next evening. “Make sure your husband is there, too,” he said.

After Kwon left, the woman called her husband, a devout Buddhist and a business owner, who recently had decided to learn English. He had purchased several English-language books, including a Bible, and had been struggling to read the Bible at his office. In desperation, he prayed, “If You are the real God, send someone to teach me the Bible.”

At that moment, his wife called and announced, “Elder Kwon will come to our house tomorrow to teach us the Bible.”

“Her husband was shocked beyond words,” Kwon said.

The next day, Kwon found the married couple and their adult children eagerly waiting to study the Bible. The whole family was baptized.

Kiyong Kwon, 56, left, has planted three churches in South Korea. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help plant the first Adventist church in Sejong, South Korea. Read more about Kwon in last week’s and next week’s lessons.

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Kiyong Kwon, a business owner in South Korea, decided that he and other church members needed to go house to house to share the gospel and fill a church that he had planted. “House-to-house work is difficult,” Kwon said. “Most people are not home during the day. Those who are usually don’t want to talk. But I obeyed Ellen White’s advice.”

That advice is found in Ellen G. White’s book Christian Service, page 113, and reads, “Of equal importance with special public efforts is house-to-house work in the homes of the people. In large cities there are certain classes that cannot be reached by public meetings. These must be searched out as the shepherd searches for his lost sheep.”

So, every Thursday, Kwon and other church members went from house to house. They didn’t carry religious literature or offer Bible studies. Instead, they asked, “How can we help you and your family?”

One day, Kwon pressed many doorbells without any response. But the front door swung open at one house, and a woman said, “Come in.”

Kwon entered the house but expressed shock at the instant invitation. “Do you know who I am?” he said. “Why did you let me in?”

“I know that you are evangelizing,” she said.

“But most people reject me,” he persisted. “Why are you welcoming me?” The woman explained that she had dreamed that night that a tall stranger would visit. In the dream, the tall man had opened her front door and told her, “Come out! Hurry!”

“When you pressed the door bell,” she said, “I saw you on the intercom TV screen, and you looked tall. So, I let you in.”

Kwon, growing more surprised by the minute, asked whether he could be of help. “My daughter is depressed,” the woman said. “Please help her.”

“Bring your daughter to the living room,” Kwon said.

“No, my daughter refuses to come out of her room.”

“It will be different this time,” Kwon said. “Just tell her to come out.” Surprisingly, the daughter came to the living room, and Kwon prayed and read the Bible with her.

He returned the next Thursday and read the Bible with her again. The daughter started attending church and was baptized.

“This has been my experience repeatedly,” Kwon said. “It is God who does the mission.”

Kiyong Kwon, 56, left, has planted three churches in South Korea. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help plant the first Adventist church in Sejong, South Korea. Read more about Kwon in last week’s and next week’s lessons.

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Kiyong Kwon, a business owner and church planter, chose an affluent suburb of South Korea’s capital, Seoul, to open his second church. His first church, opened in a rural area four years earlier, was filled to overflowing, and he wanted a new challenge. “When God first called me, I said, ‘I can’t,’ ” Kwon said. “But after I witnessed God’s power, I became bolder.”

He reasoned that impoverished people can accept God more easily than the wealthy. He wondered how to share the gospel with those who have everything and decided that even the wealthy need good health. So, he opened the Bundang NEW START church and a vegetarian restaurant in an office building in the suburb of Bundang. “I decided God’s health message is the way to share the last-day gospel,” he said. The new church began organizing health seminars, cooking classes, and Bible studies.

Among the first attendees was a pharmacist who seemed to enjoy the weeklong health seminar. After the seminar finished, participants interested in more information were invited to attend Bible studies on Daniel and Revelation. But the pharmacist didn’t come. Kwon made some inquiries and learned that the pharmacist had taken a week of vacation to attend the health seminar. She didn’t have free time for Bible studies. So, Kwon made audio recordings of the Bible studies and sent them to her.

“The woman was really shocked by what she heard, but she didn’t want to leave her Sunday church,” Kwon said.

The pharmacist’s mind began to change as she continued to listen to the Bible studies. She thought about keeping the Sabbath and worshiping at the church. As she pondered what to do, she began to suffer a bad headache. She worried that she might have brain cancer, but doctors couldn’t find anything wrong. Still, the pain persisted.

Finally, her 24-year-old daughter said, “Do you know why you have the headache? It’s because you know what’s right but you aren’t doing it. I’ll go to the Sabbath church with you.”

The pharmacist and her daughter showed up at church the next Sabbath, and they are faithful members today.

“From these kinds of experiences, I realize that this is God’s business,” Kwon said. “Hearts are not changed because of anything that people do.”

Kiyong Kwon, 56, left, has planted three churches in South Korea. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help plant the first Adventist church in Sejong, South Korea. Read more about Kwon in last week’s lesson.

2018 Qtr 4 Mission Stories

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Seventh-day Adventist students who wish to become nurses no longer face a Sabbath conflict with the opening of the church’s first nursing school in Bangladesh.

The three-story facility that houses the Bangladesh Adventist Nursing Institute was funded in part by a Thirteenth Sabbath Offering and stands on the campus of the Bangladesh Adventist Seminary and College in Gowalbathan Kaliakoir, a town located a two-hour drive from the country’s capital, Dhaka.

“This place will send hundreds of missionaries alt over this vast and mighty country, and it will be a blessing from heaven,” Adventist Church president Ted N. C. Wilson said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the nursing school in late 2016. “May God bless this nursing college.”

The school, which has room for 100 students, opened for classes in 2017.

The new building—with 10 classrooms, four laboratories, a conference room, and other facilities—received US$150,000 of its $400,000 price tag from a Thirteenth Sabbath Offering given by church members worldwide in third quarter 2015, said Myrun Ju Lee, president of the Bangladesh Adventist Seminary and College. Another $100,000 came from the Adventist Church’s Southern Asia-Pacific Division, whose territory of 14 countries includes Bangladesh, and the rest came from individual donors in South Korea.

Saw Samuel, president of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, described the establishment of the nursing school as a remarkable accomplishment that would not have been possible without the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering.

“This is a milestone,” Samuel said. “This is the first Adventist health training institute in Bangladesh.”

The school also offers local Adventist students the opportunity to study nursing in their own country.

“It is really important for our school here in Bangladesh to be able to have a school of nursing because there is no place where an Adventist young person can go to school to take nursing without having to go to school on Sabbath,” said Kevin Costello, associate executive secretary at the division. “Now we will finally have a facility that will be open and available for them so they can

get a nursing degree and honor God on the Sabbath as well.”

Thank you for your mission offerings that helped make it possible to open the Bangladesh Adventist Nursing Institute.

By Elvis Dumitru

I am a pastor because my grandfather, a lifelong Orthodox believer, endorsed the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

As my grandfather was growing old, he spoke to my father in their home in Ratesti, a small village in Romania. “If you ever want to belong to the only true Christian church, you have to go to the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” said my grandfather, Gherase Dumitru.

Those words planted a seed that led my father, Aurelian, to seek out the Adventist Church and be baptized in Communist-era Romania. As a result, I grew up in an Adventist home, and my brother and I are both Adventist pastors.

But how did my grandfather know about Adventists?

The story goes back to the early 1960s in Ratesti, located about 85 miles (135 kilometers) north of Romania’s capital, Bucharest. Only eight or so Adventists lived in the village, and the authorities ordered their arrest amid a crackdown on religion. A driver was called to transport the Adventists to jail by horse and cart.

As the cart shook and swayed on a bumpy dirt road, the prisoners began to sing hymns in the back. The driver listened, surprised at the beautiful words about Jesus and His love. He thought, How can these Adventists sing with such joy when they are going to jail?

About a week later, the driver was called to take the village’s Orthodox priest to his church. The cart struck a pothole en route to the church, and the priest angrily unleashed a torrent of blasphemies.

The driver listened in shock. He thought, Why is the priest cursing his God for a pothole as he goes to church? And why did those Adventists sing such beautiful songs of praise to Jesus as they went to jail?

The two incidents left a deep impression on the driver, and he determined to learn more about the Adventists. After a while, he was baptized into the Adventist Church. The driver was a good friend of my grandfather’s.

Ratesti remains a small village today but has a strong Adventist presence, with about 40 church members.

We often think that people are not interested in what we are doing, but people are always watching. A cart of Adventist prisoners didn’t know that a driver was listening in awe to their songs of praise—and that their faithfulness would shape two generations of Adventists in my family.

Elvis Dumitru, 26, is the associate pastor of the Cuza Voda Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bucharest.

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Frank Cantrill, a retired Seventh-day Adventist pastor in Australia, was shocked when doctors diagnosed him with skin cancer. But an even bigger surprise came two weeks later when a gaping hole in his head healed in what stunned doctors called a miracle.

Frank was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma, a kind of skin cancer, on his head in 2014. “It was a shock to be told that if the new drugs didn’t work, I would not have too many chances,” said Frank, 72.

A pastor anointed him, and people began to pray for him. Frank underwent a series of operations, radiation treatments, and immunotherapies with his wife, Marlene, at his side.

Complications arose after an operation where doctors removed a large melanoma from the back of Frank’s head, leaving part of his skull exposed. Nurses dressed the wound, waiting for the skin to grow back over the skull, and later his wife took over.

The wound healed well at first, but then the skin just stopped growing.

One day, the color of the exposed skull changed from white to yellow. A plastic surgeon gave Frank the disturbing diagnosis that his skull had died. The surgeon called in a leading plastic surgeon for consultations, and the two decided to perform a major surgery with the assistance of a neurosurgeon. The complex operation would take 8 to 10 hours and require the doctors to replace Frank’s skull with an artificial one.

“The news was a shock to us,” Marlene said in an e-mail to friends.

A few days later, as Marlene was changing the dressing on Frank’s head, a chunk of discolored skull came off with the dressing and rested in her hand. “I nearly collapsed with shock!” Marlene said.

Underneath the chunk of skull that had come off, she could see that Frank’s flesh had been growing across the skull and had covered the gaping hole.

Over the next two days, Frank visited three medical specialists to find out what was happening. He learned that the human skull has three layers, and his flesh had been growing underneath the first layer, eventually forcing the top layer of the skull to pop off.

The medical specialists declared it a miracle. “They said, ‘Who is looking after you?’ ” Marlene said.

Frank and Marlene Cantrill pointed to God as the Great Physician. The operation was canceled, and Frank was sent back home.

“God knows what is happening, and He has perfect timing,” Marlene said. “All we can say is ‘Praise the Lord!’ ”

By Philip Baptiste

Amina is serving a five-year prison sentence in East-Central Africa after being arrested as she headed to India to blow up a large facility.

But persistent visits by a Seventh-day Adventist pastor resulted in her discarding her fundamentalist understanding of Islam and being baptized into the Adventist Church.

“I just praise God for the Adventist pastor who consistently prayed for me and visited me in my time of great need,” Amina said.

For her safety, Adventist Mission is not disclosing Amina’s full name or her location.

Amina was in solitary confinement, in an isolated cell, because of the nature of her crime when the pastor first came to visit. She had plotted the attack after being taught by fundamental Muslim leaders that she would attain righteousness and live in paradise if she eliminated evil.

Initially, Amina rebuffed the pastor, whose counseling visits were arranged by the prison warden. But when the pastor kept returning, she relented because the counseling sessions would be held outside her cell and she missed the sunshine.

Amina refused the pastor’s first request to pray for her. She told the pastor that he should pray for himself instead. The pastor prayed for her anyway, and he kept on praying.

After a few counseling sessions together, the pastor had to take care of business elsewhere for a few weeks. Amina began to miss the visits. When the pastor did not return as soon as she expected, she started reading a Bible that he had left in her cell.

A few months later, the Adventist church organized a camp meeting at the prison, and Amina was invited to attend. Amina agreed to go for the sake of socializing with the other inmates. To her surprise, when the pastor made an altar call, she went up to surrender her life to Jesus. Not long after, she was baptized.

Amina said she does not understand how, during the counseling sessions, she lost interest in her former faith. She believes that God used

her imprisonment to reveal His truth to her, and now she is anxious to reach her friends.

“When I get out of prison, I will spend all that I have to reach them,” she said.

Philip Baptiste is special assistant to the president of the East-Central Africa Division.

By Vyacheslav Koshkodan

At the age of 16, I was a rocker who listened to Nirvana and Metallica, had long hair, and wore torn clothing. I spent my nights at a dance hall, drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana in my small hometown in the former Soviet republic of Moldova.

Then a Seventh-day Adventist church member took an interest in me. He didn’t condemn me, but instead spoke about his love for Jesus. He often asked me, “Have you read the Bible?”

After a while, I began to wonder why this guy wanted me to read the Bible. One evening I took a Bible with me to the dance hall and began to read. It was like a fairy tale to me, and I didn’t take it seriously. But I kept reading, and something strange happened. My life began to change. Things that I once liked were no longer exciting to me. One night I looked around the dance floor and thought, What are you doing here? I went home and never returned.

At home, I continued reading the Bible. I asked the church member many questions, and I began to keep the Sabbath.

Soon I enrolled in the university to study medicine in Moldova’s capital, Chisinau. We had classes six days a week, Monday through Saturday, but I told the dean that I couldn’t study on Saturday. He replied that I should change my major.

At home, I fell on my knees and prayed, “God, if You want me to become a doctor, help me at school.” As I prayed, the idea came to me to speak directly to the teacher who taught the Saturday classes. I told him about my beliefs, and he gave permission for me to make up my school- work on another day.

When I graduated six years later, my classmates looked at me with respect. They said, “You came to classes only five days a week, but you have better marks than we do. How is that possible?”

I told them, “I am learning from God, and He is my teacher.” But really, God is more than my teacher. He has made me into a new person.

Today, I’m 33 and the father of three. In addition to being a physician, I’m a pastor and the health director for the Adventist Church in Moldova.

Anything is possible with Jesus. If Jesus could change me, He can change anyone.

Part of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering in fourth quarter 2017 helped turn a Soviet-era health resort into a Pathfinder camp and conference center in Moldova.

By Vladimir Borisov*

After attending a pastors’ conference in another country, friends asked me to take a box of 100 religious books back home. I wanted to help, but my country strictly controls the distribution of religious literature.

“I’ll take the box of books only if the bus driver agrees to assume responsibility for it,” I told my friends.

Bus drivers often agree to carry extra cargo in exchange for a cash payment, and my bus driver agreed to help for US$100. A friend and I boarded the bus and settled in for the long ride.

Arriving at the border at night, the driver approached me for information about the box. He wanted to know how to speak with the border guards. When I told him that the box contained Christian books, he pulled the $100 bill from his pocket and handed it back to me. “It’s easier for me to smuggle cocaine than Christian books across the border,” he said.

My friend and I had no choice. We knelt beside the bus and repacked the books into our suitcases. Then we prayed as we joined the line of passengers at the border crossing. The person ahead of us put his bags on the scanner belt and walked through customs. Then we put our suitcases on the belt. The border guard pressed the button to start the belt, but it didn’t move. He pushed the button again. He pounded the button and swore. Still, the belt didn’t move.

The border guard looked at us. “Fine, go,” he said, motioning for us to take our suitcases from the belt.

Minutes later, my friend and I walked to the second border post to enter my home country. We put our suitcases on the belt, and the guard pressed the button. Nothing happened. He began to swear, and he finally turned to us. “Just go,” he said.

Only after crossing the border did we dare look back. The guard had stopped the next person and was inspecting her bags manually. We thanked God as we sank into our bus seats.

On Sabbath, a church member had a strange story to tell. A voice had awakened her at night, saying, “Pray for your pastor.” She hadn’t known that I was traveling and thought that I was at home asleep. The voice came again, “Pray for your pastor.” Finally, she knelt and prayed for an hour.

I asked when she had heard the voice. It was the exact hour that my friend and I had crossed the border.

Although I cannot name my country, please pray for God’s work. Thank you for giving mission offerings to bring the message of salvation to many around the world.

*Note: Adventist Mission is not identifying the author by his real name or his whereabouts to safeguard his work.

By Lloyd Perrin

The church that I pastor in the U.S. state of Oregon has an official membership of 491 people. But only 38 percent of those members are active, a number that inches up to 44 percent if you include elderly members who are housebound because of physical or mental disabilities.

That means 56 percent of our members are inactive—a figure that I haven’t found to be unusual during my decades of pastoring churches in the United States. The problem is not limited to U.S. churches. Worldwide, nearly half of all people baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church over the past 50 years have ended up leaving. But the church has an obligation to shepherd the flock. The apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 5:2, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you” (NKJV).

So, we have started going through our membership records at the Milton Seventh-day Adventist Church in Milton-Freewater, Oregon. I will distribute a list of these missing members to each church officer. We will pray daily for each missing member by name and ask God to help us reconnect with them.

Surprises abounded when I gave a similar prayer challenge at my previous church in Spokane, Washington. About three weeks after we started to pray, I received a letter from a woman who had left the church 15 years earlier. The woman had quit church after failing to return a storybook from the church library. She had moved to another state and, she wrote, had been too lazy to find a way to return the book. But guilt had gnawed at her heart and then grown into a cancer that poisoned her relationship with God.

The woman wrote that she had suddenly remembered the book and felt convicted to reach out to the church. She apologized for taking the book and enclosed $50 to cover the book’s cost and 15 years of interest on its value.

I called up the woman immediately and learned that her sense of conviction had begun growing only when our church had started to pray 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) away. I put her in touch with her local Adventist pastor, and she became an active member of that church.

Soon we also will pray for missing Milton members. We need to find our missing sheep and invite them home.

Lloyd Perrin is senior pastor of the Milton Seventh-day Adventist Church in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, and the Blue Mountain Valley-Mission Church in Athena, Oregon.

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

When people first met the young boy, their first question was not “What’s your name?” but “What’s wrong with your legs?”

Jack Chen crawled along the ground in his rural home in central Taiwan until he was five. Through daily physical exercises, he managed to build enough muscle to stand upright when he entered first grade. But he walked awkwardly on the balls of his feet, prompting teasing and taunts of “Freak!” from the other children. Sometimes, the boys spat on him as they passed by.

Chen was born with a leg disease that puzzled doctors. But Chen and his parents had no doubt about the cause: Someone had done something wrong in the family, and now they were being punished.

“My family worships idols, and my parents believed that we were being punished for something that they or our ancestors had done,” Chen said.

When Chen was 12, a family friend suggested that Chen, who was lagging in public school, might have a better chance studying at a nearby Seventh-day Adventist school.

Chen heard about Jesus for the first time when he enrolled in the seventh grade. He read the Bible for the first time. He decided at the age of 13 to give his heart to Jesus.

The answer to his biggest question—why he was being punished for other people’s sins—came about a year later when he read of Jesus healing a man blind from birth. He read, “And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him’ ” (John 9:2, 3; NKJV).

Chen felt a heavy burden being lifted as he read those words. “I realized that this was not a punishment but a blessing,” he said. “If I didn’t have this disease, my family and I never would have had a chance to know God.”

Chen went on to graduate from Taiwan Adventist College and now serves as a pastor in the coastal town of Jiading. He walks with a slight limp in one leg but otherwise functions normally. He is married and has two young sons.

Jack Chen, 32, marvels at how he found Jesus—or how Jesus found him. “I wasn’t even a Christian, but I was looking for God, for someone who could save my life,” he said. “You have to open your mind first to look for God, and then God will tell you what to do next.”

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

A 30-year-old woman was admitted with a bad case of pneumonia to Blantyre Adventist Hospital in Malawi. When she didn’t improve with antibiotics, missionary physician Tiffany Priester ordered an HIV test. The results came back positive. She had full-blown AIDS.

Priester explained to the family that it usually takes three weeks to treat pneumonia and there was a 50 percent chance that she would make it. But then the woman began to suffer kidney problems, and her chances of survival plummeted to 10 percent. Priester told the family that there wasn’t much hope. “We believe in God,” a family member replied. “We believe in miracles. Let’s pray.”

Surrounded by the family, Priester prayed for a cure and put the patient on a ventilation machine. The woman’s kidneys shut down 24 hours later. All hope seemed lost. But then she began to recover. A few weeks later, she walked out of the hospital. “Medicine has its limits,” Priester said. “The hospital does what it can do, and the Lord does the rest.”

Priester, a U.S. cardiologist, worked for five years in Blantyre, the second- largest city in Malawi with a population of about one million. Blantyre Adventist Hospital—which employs six missionary doctors, two missionary dentists, and seven Malawian doctors—did not have a cardiologist for the decade before she arrived in 2011, a common problem in a country with only one medical doctor for every 88,000 people.

Priester’s reason for mission is John 13:35, where Jesus says, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (NKJV).

One day, a Malawian woman complained that she awoke with her heart pounding every night around midnight. Tests came back normal, and other doctors might have written off the case as the result of bad dreams. “But that day I think the Holy Spirit prompted me to ask more,” Priester said.

Priester learned that the patient had started having sleeping problems after meeting a self-professed prophet who had warned her that she would be raped at midnight. Priester asked the woman whether the man or God was stronger. “Put your trust in God,” she said.

“You are the first doctor to tell me that God is strong,” the woman replied.

This, said Priester, pictured left, is what it means to “love one another”—making an extra effort to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.

“Sometimes it’s the small things that set us apart,” she said.

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Seventh-day Adventist education is the path to people’s hearts in Bangladesh, church leaders said.

“Our church in Bangladesh is basically schools,” said Milton Das, communication director for the Bangladesh Union Mission. “Education is the strongest medium to reach the people of Bangladesh. Where there is a church, there is a school.”

That first mission station, which paved the way for Adventist education to blossom in the country, was founded in 1906 by Lal Gopal Mookeijee and his wife, U.S. schoolteacher Grace Kellogg, in then-East Bengal.

Today, Adventist schools are thriving centers of influence across this country of 162 million people, with some 10,000 students attending 174 village schools, 10 city schools, and nine boarding schools. About 60 to 70 percent of the students are non-Adventist, and the figure rises to 99 percent in city schools such as the Dhaka Adventist Pre-Seminary school, which teaches 1,535 students in the country’s capital.

Adventist education is in high demand, with parents from various faiths wanting their children to learn Christian values, Das said.

“There are many more children waiting to go to school,” said Das, who also oversees Bangladesh Children Sponsorship Services, a department of the Bangladesh Union Mission that covers the tuition costs of 3,000 underprivileged children a year through partnerships with the General Conference, Adventist supporting ministry Asian Aid, and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).

Das himself received 16 years of Adventist education after an Australian woman paid his monthly tuition costs through Asian Aid. He said 90 percent of local church leaders were sponsored as children.

Shova Rani Bayen, 76, a retired schoolteacher, told of how she saw Adventist education change the lives of the Santali people living near Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar. She said the people wore nothing more than scant cloths to cover their genitals and ate all living creatures—including

snails, rats, cats, and dogs—when she first arrived in the area with her husband, evangelist Narottom Bayen, in the early 1960s. The adults had no desire to live differently. “But then we opened a church school,” Bayen said. “Many of those children are now church workers, pastors, and evangelists.”

By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

Construction company chief Vladimir Vladovskyy knew it would take a miracle to build a Seventh-day Adventist church in the northern Russian seaport of Arkhangelsk.

He had no blueprint for the project. He had only a few summer months to build the church. And a senior city administrator, without giving a reason, had vowed never to sign the paperwork.

So, Vladovskyy secured a blueprint for the church’s foundation and started work.

“Summer is very short in Arkhangelsk, and we didn’t have time to deal with bureaucracy,” said Vladovskyy, a Ukrainian native who has built 22 Adventist churches and other church facilities in Russia, Ukraine, and Mongolia over two decades. “So, we started building.”

After laying the foundation, Vladovskyy received the blueprint for the second stage and put his construction crew to work on the walls. Then came the next blueprint and the roof.

Remarkably, no one from the city government tried to stop the construction. Vladovskyy, however, had not forgotten about the official paperwork. Vladovskyy gathered his crew every morning to pray for a miracle at the construction site.

A month passed. Two months. Three months. Arkhangelsk’s summer lasts for only three months, from June to August. The exterior of the church was completed before the first snow fell in September. The interior was finished in December.

Vladovskyy returned to the city administrator to ask for the documents. He didn’t know what to expect, but he felt at peace, knowing that he had prayed daily and that the weather had stayed warm long enough to finish the church.

The city administrator didn’t say a word. He simply signed every document.

“In the end, he signed everything,” Vladovskyy said. “I don’t know why. It was a miracle.”

Vladovskyy, a third-generation Adventist who restored old buildings for a state construction company during Soviet times, has encountered many miracles since he first teamed up with the Adventist Church by constructing the Euro-Asia Division’s headquarters in Moscow in 1995. Currently, he is building churches in Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk, and a third Russian city.

But no miracle has been quite as remarkable as the one in Arkhangelsk in 1999, he said in an interview in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev.

“We built a church without a blueprint and without permission,” he said.

By Daniel Gatan

My wife has stopped attending the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but I have not given up hope. Here’s why.

During repressive Communist times, a woman in my home country, Romania, learned about the Adventist Church and began to attend Sabbath services regularly. This infuriated her husband.

“Where are you going at the same time every Saturday?” he asked.

“Honey, I am going to the Adventist church,” she said.

“I already know that,” he snapped. “You can keep going, but on one condition: You cannot be baptized. I don’t want to hear that you’ve been baptized, or I’ll kill you.”

As the woman read the Bible and learned more about Jesus, she became convicted that she needed to take a public stand for Jesus through baptism.

Church members surrounded the newly baptized people after the Sabbath ceremony. They offered hugs and colorful flowers. Everyone was smiling except for one woman. She wasn’t sure how her husband would react.

That afternoon, she found her husband in the front yard when she returned home with flowers in her arms. He was sitting at a wooden table with a sharp knife sticking out of the top.

“Where are the flowers from?” he asked.

“I was baptized today,” she replied.

His face turned purple with rage.

“Did you not believe me when I told you that I would kill you if you were baptized?” he said, pulling the knife out of the tabletop. “Get ready to die,” he said and lunged at her.

His wife fled to the back of the house, where the couple had a garden. Her husband caught up to her in the cornstalks. As he raised the knife over his head, the woman begged for one last wish: to pray. The husband agreed and watched as his wife knelt. He loomed over her as she spoke to God, holding the knife high above his head.

Suddenly, the knife blade silently slid out of the handle and fell harmlessly to the ground. The man’s face turned pale. His whole body began to tremble, and he fell to the ground beside the blade. His wife jumped to her feet and helped him up. Wordlessly, they went into the house.

After some time, the husband was baptized. God changed his heart.

If God can change this man’s heart, I know He also can touch my wife’s heart. I can trust in God even when all hope seems lost.

Daniel Gatan, 68, is a retired construction worker from Plosca, Romania.

By Bob Stuart

The doctor looked me straight in the eye.

“You have inoperable prostate cancer,” he said. “You have 18 months to live.”

Back at home, my family and I sat down to compile a bucket list of things to accomplish in my last 18 months. One of my four sons said he wanted to go on a cross-country bike ride with me. Another son spoke of running a half marathon in Seattle. My daughter wanted to cut a music CD together.

Then I thought to myself, What do I want to do? The answer was easy. I wanted to do more to share the gospel. I decided to bring at least one person to church every month.

My first chance to extend an invitation came two days later when someone asked me, “Bob, how’s your cancer?”

I told her about my bucket list and my plan to invite people to church. “Would you be willing to help me fulfill my bucket list by coming to church next Sabbath?” I said.

The woman looked at me with compassion. She saw this as a last wish. “Of course, I’ll come,” she said.

I have 2,200 clients a year, so I have a golden opportunity when they inquire about my health. It’s so easy to invite them to church.

At least two people—a married couple—have been baptized, and their eldest daughter will be baptized in a few weeks. Today, the wife leads a children’s Sabbath School class and is bringing other people to church.

“I’ll keep your gift going,” she told me. “I’ve got kids and their parents coming to church.”

Anyone can have a bucket list. It might be 20 years or more before you die, but you can start fulfilling that bucket list today by inviting someone to church every month. Imagine how quickly the Seventh-day Adventist Church would grow if each of the church’s 20 million members brought in just one person a year. Conceivably our church membership could double in just 12 months.

Twenty-seven months have passed since the doctor gave me 18 months to live. I have invited many people to church, and about half have come.

The bucket list has become a lot of fun. It’s wonderful to hear people say, “Yes, I will commit to visiting your church.” But the most gratifying moment of all is when they actually come. They hug you and sit with you in church. They become part of your family.

Bob Stuart, 68, is a serial entrepreneur based in College Place, Washington.

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