As I look back, I know God was following me through all the ups and downs of my life—my brave decision to be baptized at 14, my weak resolve in the face of my parents' opposition. He was even there during all the years of my compromises and excuses. When He couldn't work with me, He kept working around me!
I realized that when, in 2015, at even a younger age than I was when I was first baptized, my eldest son decided to be baptized. It didn’t take long for my wife and youngest son to ask for baptism too. Deep inside, after decades of living just beyond God’s will for my life, I knew I needed to join them in rebaptism.
At about this same time, our family began a new kind of journey for all of us. We decided to become serious about following the 40 Days of Prayer. We joined a 24-hour prayer chain. We hosted an all-night prayer vigil.
It was during that time that I decided to fast and pray for four days. I pled with God to show us what He wanted us to do. That was the beginning of my personal prayer life. But God had begun His work long before.
I like to think my timeline with God really began in earnest when my uncle was baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist. I was in my second year of high school and decided if I studied the Adventist teachings I could talk him out ofobserving Sabbath and refusing to eat what we ate. Instead, I realized he was following the truth. So I was dutifully baptized in 1989 at the age of 14. However, my decision became such an issue with my parents that within a year I wasn’t even attending church.
To quiet my conscience, I told God I would return to church when I was on my own, maybe in college. Of course college was very busy; I told God I would get back to church when I was out working. My first job had Sabbaths off, but I only went to church once in a while. My second job didn’t even give me Sabbaths off, so there was no church whatsoever. The same with my next job. By my fourth job, where I had Sabbaths off, I was so relaxed with the world that I didn’t feel the need to go to church on Sabbath; I just spent it the way I wanted to.
Surprisingly, when I moved to a closed Middle Eastern country, my Sabbaths were free! I don’t know why, but I only went to church when I was on vacation in the Philippines, and those times were very few. ButI did begin sending my tithes home faithfully. While in my new job, I had a lot of free time, so I started surfing the internet. After a while, I began searching for the truthand found myself reading whateverI could find about God. God was becoming a bigger part of my timeline!
But you know what happens. The years passed and life got more complicated. I had a family to support and was happy to take anew job in a neighboring Middle Eastern country. I thought I would have Sabbaths off, but sadly, after I started working, I discovered there was work every Saturday. (I had compromised already so much over the years, I just didn’t feel there was anything I could do about it.) About two years after joining the company in Qatar, they began giving us every other Saturday off. I began attending church when my day off fell on Sabbath; I felt the Lord drawing me. My family and I began praying for a place to live near the church! Perhaps I figured wewould have no reason notto attend church! We knew He had answered our prayers when we found an apartment 15 minutes from where our church family met. I knew He wanted us in church!
However, it was four years later, four years of God’s patient work with me, when I was assigned to an office position, that I realized I had one more opportunity to throw my life completely in His hands. The office position that I accepted—and still have—observes regular office house, with nowork on Saturdays. I was ready; I began attending church regularly.
As I look back, I know God followed me through all the ups and downs, my better intentions, and He was there even at my compromises. That’s because He was also working around me. In 2015 my eldest son was baptized. He was 13, even younger than I had been when I became the first in my family to make a decision for Jesus.
It didn’t take long for my wife and youngest son to ask for baptism, and I knew I wanted to join them in rebaptism. It was the beginning of a new kind of journey too. Our family became serious about following the 40 Days of Prayer. We were part of a 24-hours prayer chain. On the last day of the 40 Days we hosted an all-night prayer vigil. I committed myself to fasting and prayer for four days, pleading with God to show us what He wanted us to do. It was the beginning of my personal prayer life.
We joined a group of believers who starteda small midweek prayer group in our community; we saw how it helped us all grow as we studied and prayed together. My relationship to God became more than just going to church on Sabbaths and paying tithe. This was a journey with God, His presence with us, His work through us all week long, every day. He has promised to use us more and more each day.
One Sabbath I heard a sermon, “It’s All About Jesus.” It doesn’t matter who preached it, or what they said actually. But I know the impact on my life. We started reading the Desire ofAgesas a family. Then we moved onto the other Conflict of the Ages books. We started more Bible studies and began growing more and more in faith. I took seriously my ordination as a deacon the next year; it helped me develop a life of servitude. My son became part of the youth leadership and joined the Young Preacher’s Club. A year later, our church family asked us to lead the Family Ministry. I realize that even while we are mentoring parents in leading their children to God, the children themselves are leading all of us closer to Him.
Today, we are still part of the home prayer group. We receive prayer requests from anyone and anywhere; it is meaningful as we observe how prayer is moving our church. Whenever we have difficulties as a family, we pray together.
Only recently I have committed myself to a tentmaking mission. I feel He has called me to this next step. I will pray and watch for open doors to witness to others and let them experience ! Amen --RM