A Mexican Thanksgiving
by Mary C.D. Johnson
When we think of Thanksgiving break, many of us imagine sleeping in late, overeating on pumpkin pie and stuffing, watching Netflix, and getting a head start on our holiday shopping. However, that was not the case for those of us that had the privilege to serve on a Build and Restore International mission trip to Dzidzantún, Mexico last November.
We started our days at 7:00 a.m. with fresh squeezed juice and a thought-provoking Bible study. We then braved the heat and humidity and worked several hours to build a kitchen for the Aldea Shabbat Health Center. The building will be used for cooking and health classes so that people can learn about how to live a longer, healthier life.
In the late afternoon, we got cleaned up and ready for our health evangelistic series. Volunteers were able to give a presentation each night on topics such as water, rest, and diet, as well as other spiritual topics. The children also enjoyed a children’s program that was focused on the sanctuary and salvation. After a debriefing session each evening, we retired to our sleeping bags and air mattresses to rest up for another day of service.
Although it wasn’t your typical Thanksgiving break, it was by far one of the best! The volunteers of all ages were blessed. When the teens were asked if they would do it again, they said “Yes, definitely!” Alexander Angulo Ríos, a high school student from California, said, “I recommend going on a mission trip because you’re surrounded by people you can relate to, and you feel like you’re in a small community.”
If you would like to have an unforgettable experience, consider joining us on a mission trip! Check out our website and learn more at buildandrestore.org.
The Sabbath Safari
by Meiring Pretorius
e were entering an open market where a young Muslim woman was selling her produce. While waiting for customers, her attention was absorbed in a familiar piece of literature from Light Bearers. The pastors and elders with me approached her for a possible impromptu interview and video. Suddenly, the atmosphere of the market changed. The woman was friendly, but the atmosphere around us was not. Noticing the seriousness of the moment, one of the pastors whispered, "We are putting this lady in a difficult situation.” Many of the other marketers were also Muslims. "Her family and community may shun her," he added. We quietly left the market.
This incident was a sharp reminder of the difficulty in reaching the Muslim community with the gospel. Even so, many in Tanzania are receiving Bible lessons from Light Bearers Ministry and are reading them privately. Silently, God's Spirit is touching many of the 17 million Muslims in Tanzania who are searching for the Truth.
I met another woman named Mary Paul Luziga. She was a Muslim but had been born in a Christian home. From a young age, she had been on a safari to know more about the Sabbath. Safari means "a journey with a purpose" in the Swahili language. Her purpose in this journey was to find the meaning of the Sabbath. Answers from her own Christian community were disappointing and inadequate. She felt unfulfilled in her worship. "Maybe I will find the Sabbath in Islam," she hoped, turning to the Muslim faith for answers. She remained a Muslim for 18 years.
One day, Mary fell ill and had to go to the hospital for treatment. Doctor Mbogo attended to her. After the treatment, she jokingly remarked, "Any other things to be treated, doctor?" In answer to her question, the doctor opened a drawer and handed her a Swahili Bible lesson entitled, "Search the Scriptures."
Mary asked herself, "Am I not a Muslim? What Scriptures do I need to search since my childhood Christianity could not give me the answers on the Sabbath? This is why I turned to Islam which has not satisfied my desire for worship either."
She took the tract home but did not read it because Islam says that Christians are blasphemers. But Islam also says that it is an abomination to destroy the holy Word written on paper. This was contradictory to her. "Was this tract not speaking the Word of God?" she reasoned. She took the piece of literature, unstitched her pillow, pushed the tract inside, and stitched it closed again. For three years, she slept on that same pillow. The message was preserved under her head.
After three years, she moved closer to the city. In the city, someone handed her a tract with the same title, “Search the Scriptures.” The Holy Spirit was speaking to her heart. Mary went home, unstitched her pillow, and started reading the hidden lesson, continuing her safari for the Sabbath. She then attended a series of Seventh-day Adventist evangelistic meetings in the city.
During a Q&A at the meetings, Mary’s first question was on the truth of the Sabbath. "Why don't you Seventh-day Adventists worship on the first day of the week like others?"
On her safari through these Bible lessons, she learned the amazing truth that Jesus conquered death. She started studying the resurrection. The resurrection made sense to her, more than anything she had heard before.
"If Jesus rose from the grave, why can’t I also be healed from my illness," she thought. "Maybe if I am baptized I will be healed physically." She decided to be baptized. God did not only give her spiritual healing but also physical restoration.
Now she tells Muslims that Jesus overcame death and that He is alive! He is interceding for us in the Most Holy place and preparing places for us in heaven. He is with everyone, speaking to their hearts, because He wants every human to be saved. On her safari in search of the Sabbath, she met the Lord of the Sabbath.
– When Everything Is Missions
The Hutia Hunter
by World Youth Group (WYG) Cuba Report
reddy avoided looking down as he climbed higher and higher up the swaying tree top, some 60 feet off the ground. Determined not to go home from the hunt empty-handed and unable to provide for his family, Freddy chased the evasive Hutia up to the very tip top branches. The Hutia, Cuba’s largest endemic mammal, is a large tree-dwelling rodent that grows to two feet in length and can weigh up to 20 pounds. A live Hutia can sell for nearly a months wage ($30) in Havana.
Hunting without guns requires strength and bravery. Focused on the Hutia, Freddy chased the animal out onto smaller and smaller branches, high above the forest floor. Suddenly, the limb supporting him snapped and he plummeted more than six stories to the ground. Landing miraculously between two jagged tree stumps, Freddy found himself on the ground with a broken spine, several fractured ribs, and a punctured lung.
Two friends heard his falling cry and ran to help. Together, they carried Freddy to the edge of the forest where they summoned a horse cart. Traveling several kilometers on a cart jostled his broken spine and bones. Barely able to breathe with insufficient oxygen, Freddy passed in and out of consciousness. At the edge of a dirt road, his friends appealed to a driver of a farm tractor with a cart to take him to the nearest paved road where an ambulance could pick him up.
Despite several operations over the next eight months, Freddy lost his ability to move except to shake his head. With his crushing sense of his loss, Freddy knew he could no longer care for his family, pursue the hidden dreams of his heart, or even be a normal man. Freddy cried, becoming angry, bitter, and ultimately depressed. He thought about his life and past. He remembered his mom taking him to church as a boy. He remembered the stories from the Bible that engaged him and spoke of such a powerful God. Could they be true?
The more Bible stories he tried to remember, the more Freddy wondered if the Author of those miracle stories would listen to his own painful story. “What do I have to lose?” he thought. Alone one night in a Cuban hospital bed without chaplains or counselors, Freddy cried to God, asking for faith to believe in Him and asking for forgiveness for the years of unbelief.
Freddy states, “To my surprise, I immediately sensed that God heard my cry and that I was accepted and forgiven. I felt a peace I had never known. I asked God to take all of the remains of my life and...to give me this one thing, the presence of Jesus in my heart.” Freddy continued, “From the moment I invited Jesus into my heart, I knew I had made the right decision as hope and energy returned to me. The next morning, I asked to be placed in a wheelchair in a sitting position and rejoiced at how well I did. The following day, I asked to be taken to the new church (WYG plant) in my town. I went joyfully and had no pain. In fact, my pain is totally gone now. I don’t need any more pain medication. I am now moving my arms and beginning to get a little feeling in my lower extremities and I know it is because of God.”
WYG’s Medical Missionary/Bible Worker (MM/BW) couple in the town began applying treatments to Freddy’s bed sores and studying the Bible with him and his wife. This past Sabbath, Freddy, his wife Annibel, and eight of their friends were baptized. Freddy declares: “Yes I’m an invalid, I can’t chase Hutia and do the things I once thought important, but I’ve never known the happiness I now know. With all I am, I am grateful God saved my life, allowing my testimony to impact many who are now studying the Bible with my pastor (WYG MM/BW) and giving both my wife and I the joy of eternal salvation!”
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life (1 John 5:11,12).
Please continue to keep Cuba in your prayers. Learn how you can get involved at: www.worldyouthgroup.org