Baptism of Sister Kathleen Thirkettle – Sabbath, 5th December 2015
It was a high day for our church at New Lynn, New Zealand. Brethren and friends from various parts of the country were gathered for the regular Sabbath services, baptism, and communion service on the 5th of December 2015.
Immediately after Sabbath lunch, we drove to Mission Bay, Auckland. Car parks were full and many other people were there of different occupations. After finding a good spot for the baptism, we were joined by some relatives of Sr. Kathy. Spectators surprisingly watched what we were doing, taking photos and videos at the same time. And so the words of Jesus Christ were fulfilled on that particular occasion – “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” Luke 15:7.
Sister Kathleen’s Testimony
I was so-called baptised (as the record shows) at six months of age in Hay River, North West Territories in Canada. I attended Sunday School until age 8, when my family emigrated to New Zealand. Throughout my childhood our mother read us Uncle Arthur stories which she must have purchased from a SDA colporteur, although I never did ask her. At around 13 years of age, I felt that the Kathy, the good girl, people saw was really a mask. I actually felt my unfitness for heaven. I was married to William and had three lovely sons by the age of 29. Life centred around being a home mother and a wife, raising the boys the best we knew how, without a thought of God.
Eight years later Doug, then a Scout, wanted to achieve his World Faith badge, and I was resigned to taking him to Church for the stipulated two months. I chose a Methodist/Presbyterian church primarily because the minister had been kind to my sister when she lost a baby. A series of events transpired which awakened a need to know my God and give my heart to Him, and within a couple of months both William and I were attending regularly with our other two sons. Six months later Larry, Doug, William, my mother and I were all baptised. I became strongly involved in teaching Sunday School, and our boys attended Youth Group for the next few years.
But during the next 20 years I was puzzled at apparent discrepancies in my Bible: passages which told how those who sinned (lied, gossiped, over-ate etc.) would not enter heaven, when our minister and many well-known evangelists said once you had given your heart to Jesus you were eternally saved. The book of Revelation and the prophecies of Daniel were a complete mystery to me and were never taught in the Church. Older Christians told me it was all symbolic and nobody would understand the Bible properly until Jesus came. These issues bothered me, but I had no answers.
Before becoming a believer, I had a weakness for alcohol, and after a trying day with young children, William would come home from a day at work to a wife affected by wine. Alcohol made me feel relaxed, and at social events I became quite a party girl. But once I asked Jesus to take control of my life, this changed, and my alcohol consumption stopped, for a time. But then I asked a pastor’s wife if she ever drank alcohol, and she answered, “Of course, I have a glass or two.” She also told me that her husband did the same. This, I decided, gave me licence to also have a glass now and then, and this continued for the next several years. I tried to shut out those verses which told that strong wine was a mocker, telling myself that it was all right.
By this time, I was back working full-time, and our standard of living improved. With that came more expensive tastes in dress and food. Our sons grew up, each learning a trade. I spent many nights in tears praying for them, especially as I knew Doug and Philip, at least, were heading down the same path I had been on earlier, working hard and drinking to excess when they were out together. I was haunted by the thought that I had failed as a mother and despaired at what could happen to them. My prayers seemed to fall on deaf ears – but we know our God’s ear is not hardened, that it cannot hear!
Approximately five years ago to my surprise, Doug (who was now a self-employed builder) started coming home more often, and I sensed a difference; his hands-off manner had disappeared. He would eat with us, even cooking vegetarian meals at times. I didn’t know what had happened, but was so happy, I didn’t ask questions. Doug, in a most humble and gentle way started dropping strange-looking articles on our table showing a statue with a gold head, chest of silver, strange legs; he showed material about bears, goats, rams (which I didn’t read at first), sat up with me watching DVDs (including one on changing God’s Word); and he discussed passages in the Bible which exposed the errors in my Christian walk. I had been deceived by the following doctrines, and these errors would have cost me my salvation: foremost – God’s laws had been nailed to the cross; being saved unconditionally regardless of continued sin; a misunderstanding of the antichrist and the mark of the beast; the secret rapture; the use of a corrupted version of the Bible; and of course the lack of understanding of the health message. So many doctrines were refuted, and I thank God for His grace in opening my eyes so quickly to the truth.
The spirit of prophecy was a shock to hear about, and initially I absolutely shunned the idea that some person could have prophetic knowledge which I should listen to! How could someone add to the Bible? Again, by prayer and reading God’s Word – including Joel 2:28 – ‘…And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…” … along with actually reading Ellen White’s writings and the evidences of Ellen White’s prophecies being fulfilled to the letter, I was convicted this was the truth. The Holy Spirit spoke to me, and I could tell that her advanced understanding of the health message had obviously been given to her by God alone.
This health message forced me to evaluate many areas of lust of the flesh – discovering that I was a slave to fashion, coffee, chocolate and alcohol challenged and showed what a vain and shallow life I had been living for the last 20 something years, all the while outwardly telling the world I was a follower of Christ. I did love Him, but was living in the world, and it was sobering to realise that I had been living a lie and had continually grieved the faithful Witness, who had continually been trying to convict, humble and teach me truth.
And the Sabbath! The seal of the living God! How could I have trampled on it all these years? I had believed a lie – spawned by Satan – which almost the whole of Christianity has taken in – Sunday School – the lifting up of this day of the sun. So will I be saved by keeping the Sabbath? No! Because I am saved by the grace of Jesus alone. “But if ye love me, keep my commandments” John 14:15. And I can keep His commandments in His strength.
Doug (Sr Kathleen’s son)
I asked Doug if I could come to the small meeting the next Sabbath to worship, and he said, “Of course!” This coincided with an independent pastor preaching, and the Holy Spirit convicted me that I could not continue worshipping on Sunday. With my husband’s consent the next day at church I asked permission to speak to the congregation and told them with tears that this would be my last day with them, and why. I told them all that God’s commandments had not been nailed to the cross; I told them several things. The minister was angry, but there was no going back for me. I had a few phone calls from church members that night!
For two months I discussed many doctrinal points with Doug and our dear friend Brother George, watching DVDs and reading the Bible. Emotions came to the fore with tears, thinking about our two other sons whom I had believed saved in Jesus’ love, despite walking away from Him. I was ashamed and full of self-recrimination in having set a bad example as a parent and being party to teaching them error. I had to tell them the truth! Unfortunately, our oldest son Larry in London did not agree with the way Doug, William and myself were beginning to live, suggesting that due to the drastic changes that had been made, this new way of living may well be evidence of some type of cult. He even went so far as to voice fears that our lifestyle would tear the family apart – painful times. (He has since mellowed, after coming home and talking with us). Our youngest son Philip was hurt by what he must have deemed rejection, as in the past Doug and he were best mates, living in the world. Now as he doesn’t live far from us, we maintain contact and show him a Christ-like love, and with prayer I believe God will woo both him and Larry to Jesus.
In the meantime, (also within two months) I had given up my darling sins of indulgence in food and fashion and embraced the health message, trying to explain what seemed bewildering doctrine to my sisters, mother and extended family. Faith and Works p. 97, says, “all the subjects of God’s grace may understand what is required of them. By faith we may conform our lives to the standard of righteousness, because we can appropriate to ourselves the righteousness of Christ.”
The last four years have been challenging, as after explaining present truth to our previous church family, some have resorted to quoting books and internet articles against the Seventh Day Adventist movement and in particular Ellen White. Words like ‘legalism’, ‘cult’, ‘works’, were used. I can only pray for the Holy Spirit to convict these people.
The last year has been another steep learning curve as Jesus has convicted me to draw closer to Him; I have come to understand that Christ is indeed our righteousness, that my best efforts in my own strength are as filthy rags. I also couldn’t understand why there were so many independent groups of God’s remnant church in the world, with no organisational structure. I thank God that Doug also had that same issue and had made contact with people in God’s remnant church, who fellowshipped in an organised and Biblical way. Again, some independent believers whom we had fellowshipped with in the last four years do not agree, and have tried to dissuade William and I from leaving their ‘umbrella’. But I determined to study the doctrines of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement myself and allow the Holy Spirit to lead me. This I know He continues to do.
Do I deserve God’s forgiveness and Jesus’ love? No! After a life of ignoring salvation and then treating His sacrifice on the cross so lightly, I count myself the chief of sinners, as did Paul (1 Timothy 1:15). But Jesus died for sinners!
I praise and thank God for His long forbearance and for guiding me through rough waters. I have learnt the hard way that the only safe course is to set whatever I hear beside God’s Word and the Spirit of Prophecy – ‘for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’ (Revelation 19:10), and if both agree, then no matter how hard the decision, I must follow that way. I thank God that He gives His Holy Spirit to teach truth, building on truth. As I build on truth, by God’s help, my faith can grow daily. As I submit more and more to the Father’s will, I can develop a Christ-like character.
So many changes have occurred in my walk with Christ in the last few years that the former baptism did not satisfy; I felt unclean. I wanted to have a conscience void of offence toward God.
I delight to have buried my ‘old man’, and have risen again, a new creature, by Jesus’ grace. I delight to be part of God’s organised remnant movement and to be able to say with all the faithful, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9).