An Inspired Prisoner

by Josiah Wold 

I stared at the open guest registry in our church foyer. “Rob and Bonnie” were etched into a slot written three weeks before. “What brought them here?” I wondered.

They had come three consecutive Sabbaths and no one in the church knew them. Each time they brought along their two children. On the third sabbath we had fellowship meal and they had stayed behind. The pastor got acquainted with them and set up an appointment for the following day. Now we were driving there, not sure what to expect.

“Hello, come on in.” Bonnie beckoned to us from her porch. The pastor and I made our introductions and settled down into a love seat in their living room. From there Rob began to unfold their story and questions.

“I was in jail and at a low point and I wanted change. I wanted to find which church was really God’s church.” Rob had visited many different religions in the past and had actively been involved as a Jehovah’s Witness. Yet he never had peace that he’d found the right place. He continued, “I ordered for many different religious books from the jail library and the only one they brought was ‘The Desire of Ages’.”

He told us how he read it and realized that it was inspired. “Bonnie,” he had asked after his release, “Which church puts this book out?” Bonnie had been taken to an Adventist church by her grandmother up until 13 and identified it as such. After that point, both of them decided to start visiting our church in Cumberland, Maryland.

“I only have one main question.” Bonnie timidly interjected into a stream of questions. “I have never been baptized, and I know that I need to be.” As we finished up our visit that day, the pastor and I realized one thing, they were thirsting for the truth!

God works in amazing ways. It may be that the second coming will be the only thing that reveals who got that Desire of Ages placed into Rob’s hands. But we do know this, it was at just the right time. We set up Bible studies with their family and we look forward to seeing them take a stand for Jesus very soon!

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By Josiah Wold // Summer 2009

“Nick! A man I met on Sunday is sitting outside in his pickup!” Samuel shouted as he peered out the front door of the church.

Soon Samuel stepped around the corner, followed closely by a rugged-looking farmer. “Whatʼs your name?” asked Nick Johnson, a deacon at the church.

“Edward,” the man replied.

Nick invited him to eat fellowship lunch. During Edwardʼs meal, a few church members shared the truth with him. By the time Edward left, he had an outline of Seventh-day Adventist beliefs. Nick invited him to return the following Sabbath and promised to study the Amazing Facts Bible guides with him.

Edwardʼs farm sits nestled in the hills close to the church. Samuel had met Edward the week before, while colporteuring one summer in rural Indiana. Edward wore rubber boots and dirty farm clothes, along with a full beard and pony tail. By all appearances he seemed to be an unpromising customer. He didnʼt buy any books from Samuel, but he did hear about the Sabbath and where the Taswell Seventh-day Adventist Church was located.

Edward visited the church a few times before he brought his girlfriend Jennifer along. The following Sabbath, Edward showed up at the church, clean-shaven and with no pony tail. After studying the Bible for a few weeks, Edward and Jennifer were convicted of the seventh-day Sabbath and decided to take a stand. This caused Jennifer to lose her job.

The influence of the canvassing efforts didnʼt just stop with Edward and Jennifer. Next, Edwardʼs parents started coming to church. “They have been coming faithfully ever since,” Nick said.

In the fall, Edward proposed to Jennifer. Shortly thereafter, they announced that they wanted to be baptized. Jennifer quit smoking, and they continued to study the Bible.

Then Edwardʼs niece Christine started coming to church and took a stand for the Sabbath as well. An all-star basketball team invited her to join, but when she found out that the games would be on Sabbath, she declined. At Edward and Jenniferʼs wedding, a family member chided her about going to church.“I know Sundayʼs wrong,” she said, “so if I go to church it has to be on Sabbath.”

The Sabbath after their wedding, Edward and Jennifer both went into their watery graves. Then Edwardʼs parents joined the church on profession of faith. Christine comes to church every Sabbath, and other family members have begun to visit occasionally.

Samuel could have passed Edward by as an unpromising contact. Instead, he reached him in a way that is causing a fire to grow in southern Indiana.

Originally Published in Hartland Ministry Report, vol. 16-2.

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By Rena Lee as told to Josiah Wold

I paused in front of the door as I waited for a response to my knock. As usual, no one came. I turned to leave, when I heard voices coming from the back yard. I peered down the driveway and saw three people conversing with each other. I hesitated, and wondered, “Should I interrupt them or not? Maybe theyʼll think I am rude for intruding into their backyard.”

I whispered a short prayer and marched up to them. After canvassing one of them, he smiled at me and said, “I read the Bible.” When I heard his accent I realized that he was Portuguese and wondered how much he understood of my little spiel.

I decided to take a different approach and asked, “What church do you go to?” In broken English he replied, “I used to go to an evangelical church.” He then returned the same question to me, and I responded, “I am personally a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, have you heard of them?” Even though he smiled, his expression seemed to tell me that he hadnʼt.

He decided to take control of the conversation and asked me, “Why is it that so many Christians go to church on Sunday instead of Saturday?”

His question surprised me. In my head different things I had learned began to flash into my mind. I then shared with him about the change of the Sabbath and why Sunday is not the true day of worship. After I finished, he nodded his head in agreement and said, “You know.”

He continued by saying, “I used to go to church on Sunday, but as I studied my Bible I realized it said Sabbath was the seventh-day. When I asked my pastor why we go to church on Sunday, do you know what he said?” I shrugged in response. “He said it was because Jesus rose on Sunday.” The man slowly shook his head and said adamantly, “In Genesis and Revelation it says the seventh-day! I donʼt go to church anymore but I do study the Bible and listen to messageʼs on CD. I am looking for a church that keeps the seventh-day Sabbath.”

As we continued our conversation, he spoke about last day events and the Popeʼs claimed authority over the Bible. As I listened I thought to myself, “This man may not be Adventist, but he sure speaks like one!”

I slipped the Great Controversy into his hand and pointed out that it covered the same topics of which we had been speaking. His eyes glanced at the pages as he flipped through. “I canʼt read English very well, but I will try to read this, and I want to help you out.” He invited me into his house as he went to get the money. I stood there I asked him, “Could I see those CDʼs you were talking about?” He returned around the corner with his neatly organized CDʼs. “Here they are!” I looked at the them and saw a little logo in the corner that didnʼt surprise me at all. Three angels circling a globe. He then pulled out his worn Portuguese Bible, and flipped through its pages, I could see highlights and notes everywhere. I was truly humbled. I realized that even though I was an evangelist, this man was more dedicated to Bible study than I. This experience showed me that there are people out there who hunger and thirst for the truth, yet donʼt always know where to go.

While I was there that day, I tried to get his contact information for Bible studies but the language barrier hindered me from doing so. I just prayed that God would send him someone who spoke his own language.

A few weeks later, a young Brazilian Bible worker miraculously moved into our home. My leader, Josiah, remembered where the home was, and decided to introduce the Bible worker to my contact. Even though, the man wasnʼt there when we went. Bruno, the Bible worker, went back again after we returned to school.

I learned later that Bruno was able to start Bible studies with this man and his wife. In addition they began visiting the church, and a few weeks later were baptized! This story reminds us of the text where Jesus said, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. ” John 10:16.

This experience last summer was one of the best gifts that God could have given me. Many times I had read and heard of stories like this, but never expected to have such an experience myself while canvassing. Yet after it happened, I was grateful to be able to be used as a tool for God and see His hand in every step.