I was raised in a devoted Roman Catholic family. When I was 8 years old, my mum used to train me to do the holy rosary and some other readings of the lives of the saints every night from seven to eight o’clock and sometimes longer. One day, I secretly talked to Virgin Mary asking her to give me an easier way of going to heaven, but she didn’t answer me. Time passed, and I waited for the answer with the hope in my heart that someday she would surely grant my request.
Nine years later, my older sister, a chemistry teacher in a Catholic University, bought a cookbook from an SDA colporteur, and he gave her The Great Controversy as a gift. Upon arriving home, she told my mum about the new book she got and warned her to keep it hidden because it was considered a very dangerous book. I heard their conversation, and it aroused my curiosity. The Lord had really prepared a way for me to find the light of truth. The following year, when I was in the second year at the State University, I finally got The Great Controversy book without her knowledge. Vacation time had already started, so I asked my dad if I could stay at the farm to relax, but my intention was to read the book. He granted my request, so I went. It was in the evening that I opened the book randomly to the chapter entitled, “God’s Law Immutable.” I read it carefully, and it made a very strong impression on my conscience that I was in the wrong way.
I felt sad but at the same time happy because I was shown my great mistake. Now the question came to my mind, how will I contact E.G. White? I continued reading, and now my faith in the Virgin Mary was starting to waver. Fortunately, the following month, my cousin who had taken a vacation for more than three years, came back. He got his job back from my dad. After returning, he was a very different person; he did his worship in a different way, and that was like a hammer on me. He prayed like a typical Pharisee, comparing himself to me. In the morning I began to ask him about his new church, but he only gave me a negative response. I felt worried about my situation spiritually, so whenever he went to work, I looked for his Bible and the guide. He hid them because he was afraid of my dad. I studied the Bible with the aid of the Holy Spirit and finished the twenty-eight lessons. One week before the classes started I asked my cousin if I could go with him to church. He said, “No”, because of fear. Later, he said, “You cannot go to church, with your worldly dress and jewelry and without formal shoes”. I immediately asked my mum to give me some money to buy those things I needed, but I didn’t tell her anything of what was going on. After I had accomplished my plan, I went back to the farm and showed to my cousin what I bought. To my great surprise he said, “I will not go with you to church”. I asked, “why?” He said, “You are putting my life in great danger”. The following week classes would already resume, so I needed to know where the church was. Finally he said, “Are you really interested?” I told him, “Oh, with all my heart. I am ready to face anything that will happen.” He gave me the direction of the SDA Sanitarium very near to the University I studied at. Sabbath came and I went back to the town where our family lived. I told my mum I was going to school, but I had to hide my church clothes.I went with common clothes so that nobody would know what I was doing.
Upon reaching the gate of the Sanitarium, I asked the guard where the toilet was because I had to change my clothes. At the back of the hospital was a big SDA church; so I went inside, and there I met one of the mathematics professors from the university where I studied. He was so happy to see me and asked if I could do the opening prayer. Then I told him it was my first time to visit an SDA church. Filled with joy, he asked me to relate my experience of how I got to know the message. They gave me ten minutes in the morning and in the A.Y. program more than an hour. Everybody was so amazed as they listened to my experience. After the program, I went to the Chaplain’s office and asked him if I could be baptized. He opened his eyes widely and said, “Why are you in a hurry?” Then he asked me a lot of questions about the Bible, and I answered them according to what I learned from the guide. Finally he said, “Do you really want to be baptized?” I said, “Yes, because before I’ll die I must be sure of my salvation”. He added, “To prove that you are really sincere in your desire to be baptized, you need to bring another soul to Jesus; and then I will baptize you”. “Are you sure Pastor?” I said to him. “Yes,” he said smiling. I went home very happy but with the burden to look for somebody to share the message with. I prayed hard, and the Lord answered me. I found a young lady, an Assembly of God church member. She too loved the Bible, so I asked her if we could have some Bible sharing 2 or 3 times a week, and she said okay. I contacted an elder at the Sanitarium. We did the study, and after three months she decided to be baptized into the Adventist Church; it was May 15, 1976.
A year had passed. I finished my third year in Bachelor of Science and Business Administration, and I did my apprenticeship with the biggest U.S. steel corporation in my country. I tried to hide everything from my parents, but my absence from the Catholic Church had caught the attention of many. The priest, the nuns, the Mayor and some government officials, and friends all went to my parents asking about my unusual situation. My dad’s ego was hurt, and my cousin was first summoned to face him. He was punished badly enough to be taken to hospital with many bruises; but since my Dad was in political power he could not do anything.
My cousin told me to go back to the Roman Catholic Church because he might lose his life. I did not listen to what he said. I told him I was ready to die for my faith. Then he stopped his work with my dad and left. I thought we were now at peace but it was not to be. One evening, a couple of months later, I saw my dad in the living room drinking wine, and he was alone. It was a shocking scene for me, because he never did this in the house. After he finished, he went upstairs and came down armed with a forty-five caliber pistol at his side. I had never expected that he would harass me and my younger brothers, sisters and some of our helpers in the house. During this time, my younger sister, two younger brothers, one of dad’s drivers, our cook and three cousins who worked in the store with my mum were receiving a series of Bible studies from me secretly during the night when mum and dad were already sleeping.
As my dad stood on the stairs, three steps before the ground, he shouted saying, “Where are the Sabbath keepers and where is the leader?” Then he called my name. Fearful, I hurriedly ran to him and said, “Yes Dad. I’m here.” Very quickly he pulled out the pistol and put it to my head and said, “I will kill you. You have brought a great shame to our name.” At this very moment, I knelt down and prayed in front of him, asking the heavenly Father to forgive my dad, for he did not know what he was doing. As soon as I finished my prayer, the world turned into complete darkness, because he punched me three times, and I fell to the floor. Nobody was there to help me except God and my holy angel. The last words I heard were, “Next Sabbath keeper.” Everyone received something bitter from his strong hands. When crisis beset us our true colours appear. My two brothers decided to join a gang, which later caused problems for my dad. My younger sister planned to get married, and our cook decided to get married to our driver after their baptism. My three young cousins stopped going to church but still suffered on Sabbath days. After this trial, I went to consult with an old pastor for advice. I planned to run away from home, but he said I needed to show patience and meekness to them.
Only four months later, another summons was made against us, the Sabbath keepers. Now this was the turning point of our final decision. At this time the trial seemed different–no more harassment but persuasion. This was the strategy my older sister and my dad planned to use with the whole family. Everyone who kept the Sabbath was now called individually and was persuaded to go back to our old church. After everyone had made their appearance in the meeting I was very sad to know everybody wanted to go back to the Catholic Church for one year. I was the last one called. I went up and faced them. My dad spoke of a comparison of a tree to a family. He said “I am the trunk of the tree and you are the branches – the children. If a branch goes against the trunk, even if it hurts me, I have to cut it down”. They started to cry. I saw my Dad crying for the very first time in my life. My mother taught me that if a child causes the parents to cry, a very great curse will fall upon him or her. Now I was greatly terrified upon seeing my parents crying. While I was standing before them, I asked the Lord to help me. My father said, “I give you five minutes to decide.” The cries now became louder, and I could not hold back my tears. I felt pity on them, so I made up my mind to go back to the Catholic Church just for one year to avoid trouble. Immediately, I saw on my father’s forehead in letters of gold the text found in Matthew 19:29. I wiped my tears to check if the letters were really true, and they were there. I asked for a few seconds to go to my room, and opened the Bible directly to the very text I saw and I read it quickly. Then I came out and gave my final decision. This verse says “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” It gave me courage to continue in the faith with the aid of the Holy Spirit’s power. I told them, “I am so sorry. You cannot save me. Only Jesus can, and I cannot go back to the old belief.” Oh! Everybody cried very loud, and people were rushing from the store downstairs to check if I was dead. What a wrong decision Mercy had made. Everybody was so lonely, but I still encouraged my Bible students to be courageous in the faith. My father told me frankly that I was his favourite daughter in secret, but how did I repay him with such disgrace. He said further, “I don’t want to see your face here in the house; and if you can manage to live by yourself without my support for one year, then, I would say that your religion is true.
I did not hesitate to take the challenge, and in faith I went away. My mother did not want to give me my clothes and shoes and other things I needed. The Lord performed numerous miracles on my way. While I was away, they arranged the wedding of my sister and also the wedding of our cook and the driver. This was the first time in my life travelling without a single cent in my hand. Our other driver who used to pick up passengers going to the city brought me to the Sanitarium secretly, by night. A Pastor helped me and sent me to a colporteur seminar in a city twelve hours away by bus. There were fifty young people, who attended the seminar, and I was assigned to a very difficult area where Muslim rebels lived, but there was an SDA church there.
The more dangerous the place the more we tend to pray for God’s protection. I was away for almost two years without any communication with my family. Thank God I was very successful in the work there with five other ladies. I did not finish my contract there because of a horrible dream I had that made me emotionally sick. The doctors could not help me because they could not find anything wrong with me in their physical examinations. I never told anybody about my dream; even I could not believe it, but it turned out to be true. At first our leader did not want me to go because the contract I signed was not yet finished. I pleaded so hard and finally I was permitted to go.
Upon arriving home, everybody was very happy. I bought gifts for each one of them with the thought that no one would be missing. Unfortunately my favourite niece and my very innocent cousin died due to a massacre which occurred at our family farm. The Muslims were responsible. The Muslims wanted to kidnap my dad for a ransom. I questioned my mum and she told me everything about the matter. The situation was exactly as I had seen in my dream. I hurried the following morning to see the place and the scene which had already been revealed to me a month ago. It was a very amazing miracle how the Lord saved my dad, my mum and my other little cousin. Five grenades were thrown and three other bombs, but thanks to God, not one exploded.
My parents were very good to me and my mother felt the need of my presence especially during her sickness.
Two years later my mum died from heart failure. My father got married before me, to a young girl. The following year I received the message of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement through a visit of a worker in our church.
On 5th September, 1986, I was baptized into the Reform Church with 10 other precious souls. Now, my younger sister has built a small church at the farm, where people come every Sabbath to worship the Lord. All thanks be to Him for His marvellous providences and care.