June 11, 2008

Against the Wind

2008 1516 page8 cap’LL NEVER BECOME A SEVENTH-DAY Adventist. EVEN THOUGH these meetings are very interesting and everything agrees with the Bible, I could never join that church.”
“Neither could I,” her husband agreed.
Christine and her husband were on their way home from an evangelistic meeting conducted by my late husband, Dan Guild, in the Victoria Memorial Hall in downtown Singapore.
She knew that the Seventh-day Adventist faith was different from the Lutheran teachings she’d learned at her mother’s knee. “I couldn’t ever change my religion. It would hurt my parents too much,” she affirmed. Her father was a Lutheran pastor.
Flat on Her Back
Christine was born in India. After finishing high school and completing the nurse’s course, she married and moved to Singapore. She joined the government service and worked at the local city hospital.
While confined to hospital rest for six months during an illness, her thoughts turned to the God her mother loved so dearly. She began studying the Bible and reading any available Christian literature. At night while other patients slept, she would pray earnestly, “Lord, show me Thy way. Guide and direct my life. I do not want this world and its pleasures. I want to know about Thee and Thy heavenly kingdom. Give me wisdom to understand Thee better.”
2008 1516 page8After being discharged from the hospital she resumed her work, but continued her search for spiritual understanding. At the Singapore public library she found, of all things, a copy of The Desire of Ages, by Ellen G. White, and as she read its message, her heart responded to the wonderful love of the Savior. The thirst in her soul was quenched.
But when she came to the chapters on baptism and the Sabbath, she quickly turned the pages, as she felt such subjects were unimportant. 
A salesman came to her door one day and wanted to sell her some Christian books. When she looked at the author’s name her interest immediately was aroused—the books were authored by Ellen G. White, the same person who’d written The Desire of Ages. She bought the books the salesman carried: The Great Controversy and Patriarchs and Prophets, and proceeded to read each one, chapter by chapter. For her, they were real treasures.
About this same time Christine met a friend who invited her to attend the evangelistic meetings being conducted by my husband, Dan, at the Victoria Memorial Hall. But when she realized that the meetings were being conducted by Seventh-day Adventists, her resistance barrier (like that of her husband) immediately went up.
The night my husband presented the Sabbath question. Christine at first thought she would get up and walk out, but then decided to stay and hear what the preacher had to say on the subject. She listened to Jesus being uplifted as the Creator and Re-Creator, who’d made the Sabbath and who’d kept it while on earth. Then the thought came to her: If Jesus kept the seventh-day Sabbath, why shouldn’t I?
It was an amazing discovery for her, and in her mind—from that day on—truth and human-made laws struggled for supremacy.
In Her Own Words
Here is the rest of the story as Christine herself tells it:
“The light began to shine in my heart, and I had to share it with others—especially my mother. The sharing began through letters. I translated the writings of Mrs. White into my native tongue, since my mother does not read English. The same joy that had come to me took place in her heart, and she replied, ‘I have never heard such wonderful teachings. Even your father, though he studied theology, says it is all new. Please write to me more often.’
“I wrote her long letters. After a while, I thought: Now that she is so interested, I will tell her that these teachings are from the Seventh-day Adventists. No sooner had I done so than her attitude changed, and she warned me strictly not to join such a church and not to be baptized. She said, ‘You have already been baptized once. One faith and one baptism!’
“I wanted to meet the evangelist and ask questions, and I prayed about it. Then one day, to my surprise, Pastor Guild came to my home. I asked him whether I needed to be baptized again if I wanted to join his church.
“When I told him I had been sprinkled as a baby, he said, ‘You have not been baptized.’ He then asked for my Bible and studied with me the true meaning of baptism.
“Now, at last, both teachings—the seventh-day Sabbath and baptism—became clear to me.
“The following night when I attended the meeting, Mrs. Guild told me about something called the Voice of Prophecy Bible lessons. I took every course, including the Daniel and Revelation course, and all my doubts cleared up. My knowledge increased. I planned now to convince my mother first and then be baptized.
Overcoming Obstacles
“But my mother’s letters discouraged me, and I needed someone to encourage me in the home. My husband, however, had not accepted the truth as I had done.
“The only thing I wanted to do was to go to India, explain the truth, convince my family, and then we would get baptized together. That was my plan, but it was not God’s will. He opened the way first to me. Pastor and Mrs. Guild helped me and encouraged me, but they never forced me.

2008 1516 page8“There was a great struggle in my mind. I was convinced by what I read in those wonderful books, and yet I did not want to disobey my mother. While one voice in my mind said, ‘Accept the truth,’ another said, ‘Wait, don’t be in such a hurry. There is plenty of time. Go home and convince your mother first.’
“Now whom should I obey? Jesus or Mother? I decided to accept the truth and be baptized. I knew it was no use waiting for mother’s permission and so I wrote: ‘Mother, shall I obey Jesus or you?’
“No further opposition came from her, and I told Pastor Guild of my decision.
“But I had still another problem. How could I keep the 
seventh-day Sabbath as a day of worship? Sunday is a public holiday throughout the city of Singapore. I desperately wanted to observe the Sabbath according to the commandment 
of God.
“I wrote to the higher authorities asking for my Sabbaths off. The reply to my letter said, ‘It is not the practice in the medical profession to close on Saturday, and there are no institutions open on Sunday where you can be posted.’
“Here was another test. I found that the test of obedience was not alone to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, but that it comes to every child of God. He says, ‘I have put before you life and death.’ It is our duty to choose.
“I sent in my resignation with one month’s notice. The chief health officer called me and asked me kindly if I still wanted to leave government service. I replied that if I could not get the Sabbath off, I would have to do so. He wrote down everything I said.
“The month ended. The government informed me, ‘Your resignation is accepted and we will let you know when you are to leave the service.’ God was testing me to strengthen my faith.
“Without a job it is hard to live in Singapore. I had been drawing a good salary. What would I do without work? But my hope was in the wonderful promise ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you’ [Matt. 6:33, KJV].
[Though many Adventist nurses do serve hospital duty on Sabbath, Christine did not feel clear, given the local situation, to take that route. Indeed some of the church members urged her that it would be proper to do hospital service for the sick on Sabbath. But her experience and conviction at the time would not let her do so. “My soul needed the spiritual food that is given in the Sabbath services,” she said. “How could I miss that? I felt content that if I followed [God’s] bidding, I would not be in want even though I was without employment.”]
“Then one day another note came from the government asking me to withdraw my resignation. My request for Sabbaths off had been granted. I thanked God with all my heart for that unexpected turn of events. Now I was free to join the church. I was baptized on November 22, 1959.”
Big Dreams Come True
In 1961 Christine took a six-month leave from her work and went to India to visit her parents. Armed with her Bible, some Bible filmstrips, and a projector, she had opportunity to give Bible studies and share her newfound faith with others in her hometown. During the time she was there, she was able to study with her parents and neighbors. In fact, she worked up such an interest that an evangelist was sent to her town to conduct public meetings. At the end of those meetings the group baptized included her mother.
2008 1516 page8Yet Christine was not content. Her father, even though he believed the Sabbath truth, was hesitating, using the excuse that he could not agree with the teaching of baptism by immersion rather than sprinkling. He had “baptized” (christened) nearly 5,000 people into the Lutheran Church during his ministry. How could he make such a change now?
But two years later when Christine returned to visit her parents, her father surprised her and the family by announcing soon after her arrival, “I want to be baptized on the eighth of March. This is my birthday, and I want to be born again.”
He invited his former Lutheran church members to attend his baptism in a nearby river, telling them, “The way I baptized you was not correct according to the Bible. Please come and see the right kind of baptism.”
Christine’s parents made their home into a church for the newly formed group. By then they had more than 100 people who belonged to the Adventist Church.
Christine, now retired, lives in southern California, where (until her recent illness) she actively shared her faith, giving Bible studies and teaching a Sabbath school class. For many years she would return to India for several months, each time to hold public evangelistic meetings and teach others how to win people to the faith. Christine thanks God for leading her life and showing her the way.
Her guiding principle in life may be summed up in the words found in Isaiah 48:17: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”
Lillian R. Guild writes from Loma Linda, California.