Evangelism in My Own Backyard
We all have wonderful stories of how the Lord has brought us out of the world and into His flock. The Lord brought a wonderful person into my life at a very impressionable age, and although the time that lapsed between when we first met and when I more or less officially gave my heart to the Lord and His ways was substantial, it was part of His plan for me.
I come from a Catholic family. I attended Sunday school and church regularly. I assumed I had a good knowledge base of what the Bible said. When I was 12 years old, I developed a love of horses and wanted to learn to ride. My uncle had a neighbor, Corintha, who had horses and was willing to teach me how to ride and care for them. I remember first meeting her and thinking it a little odd that I could not come over and play with the horses on Saturday because that was her day with God. I did lots of activities after church on Sunday. Church definitely was not an all-day event! Well, I was soon to learn a lot more than just horsemanship. Corintha is an avid trail-rider, so we would spend hours on the horses, riding through beautiful countryside. We would often talk about one of Corintha’s favorite subjects: God. I cannot remember everything we talked about, but I do distinctly remember our discussing some of the differences between her Adventist faith and my Catholic faith. Namely, the day of the week that we worshiped on, the part of Catholicism in relation to the antichrist and the state of the dead were topics of contention in the beginning. Her doctrines were definitely hard for me to swallow at that time because it was the very opposite from what I had grown up learning and believing. However, Corintha never pushed me to the point where I shut out the information I was hearing about Adventist beliefs, but it was still years before I really did something with that information.
When I was 16 and a junior in high-school, my mom was quite insistent that I start the confirmation classes at our Catholic church. At that point, I was still attending the Catholic Church, but I was fairly certain I did not want to continue in that faith. My mom bargained with me that if I went through the confirmation classes and was confirmed at the end of them, I could do whatever I wanted after that from a religious standpoint. Looking back, it was a very oxymoronic moment because I was supposed to be standing in front of a Catholic Bishop and the church pronouncing my renewed faith as a Catholic Christian to the Lord above, when deep down that was not what I wanted. Well, it was during these confirmation classes that much of the information from my past conversations with Corintha started to seem more relevant. I thought that these classes were the perfect time and place to ask the questions that Corintha had asked me about why we do the things we do as Catholics. I remember distinctly asking my teacher why we worshiped on Sundays, when the followers of Christ had been worshiping on Saturdays for a long time prior to the change, and she gave me a very blank look and was not able to answer my question. It seemed like a very simple and answerable inquiry to me! I remember having asked some other questions as well, and receiving some troubling looks from the instructors. But I did complete the classes and was confirmed a few months later, with even less faith in what the Catholic religion had to offer me than I had before my confirmation classes.
It was not long after that I lost touch with Corintha. If we saw each other, it was very infrequently. I had a horse of my own, and I moved him to a different boarding stable. I occasionally would think about some of the knowledge she had shared with me. I even had copies of The Great Controversy and The Desire of Ages on my bookshelf at home. I had yet to read them. I graduated from high-school, went to college, met a boy and got engaged. I still had my horse, and I was moving myself and him back home. I needed a place for my horse to live, and I thought of Corintha and her farm and how happy I was there. I called her up and she had a place for my horse to live.
Now, my fiancé, Ben, was raised in a similar religious manner as I was—Catholic, but not really a “practicing” one. Ben and I had not really discussed religious matters much until we were engaged. Ben worked with a man who had been a pastor in a Sunday-keeping church when he lived in California. He had a lot of knowledge of what was in the Bible and his knowledge really sparked our interest. We went to his house for a couple of Bible studies and then we were invited to visit the Sunday-keeping church that he and his family were attending. We attended the church for a couple of months, but the sermon left us wondering what the actual message really was. Where spiritual food was concerned, we were still hungry. So without even really realizing it, we were starting down a path of finding the “right” church for us.
About this time, I could not stop thinking about all those religious conversations that I had with Corintha when I was younger. I finally dug out The Great Controversy and started reading it. By now, it had been ten years since I had first met Corintha. I broached the subject with Ben about possibly visiting Corintha’s church sometime. Ben was pretty skeptical about that, but after a couple of months, we finally were on our way to a Seventh-day Adventist church. The message truly spoke to me! It was fodder for my soul. Afterwards, I realized that the Lord works on our hearts as we become ready for Him, but I almost could not believe that it had taken me that long to come to the Seventh-day Adventist faith!
My husband still took a bit more convincing, but once we started Bible studies, he was like a sponge and the Bible soon proved to him the truth of what was being taught us—and to me, as well. We were baptized about a year later, and we thank the Lord often for showing us His truths. We pray that we can now be the Lord’s evangelists, even if only in our own backyard.
By Laura Palmer, Oregon, USA. Submitted by Pastor Mike Bauler. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.