October 23, 2013

Adventist Life

When I first met Edward, the man who later would become my husband, I was filled with contradictions. I attended church on Sundays, so it was difficult for me to date someone who went to church—and even closed his business—on Saturdays, because he believed it was the day God asks us to keep holy. Edward never discussed the issue with me in detail; he just politely asked me one time to come to church with him. My answer was an emphatic “No.” Being a devout member of a different denomination, I determined that one day he would join my church. The situation changed when I began having doubts about some of my church’s practices and beliefs. I wondered whether they were biblically based and appropriate for Christians. I had a close relationship with God, but I didn’t want to stop attending church, because I realized how difficult it is to preserve a connection with God without the support that church membership provides. I decided, however, not to discuss these concerns with Edward.

The following summer in Berlin, Germany, I served as a camp tent leader for 12-year-old girls from East Berlin. I had a wonderful time with them, but I was unable to attend church services for two weeks. Afterward, I was happy to be back in my home church, but I encountered another situation involving church practices that was even more serious, and love for my church began to diminish. Sunday morning worship services became mere routine, and my prior earnestness to “win” my boyfriend to my church denomination was extinguished.

Not Seeing Eye to Eye

One day I went to visit Edward at his place of business, but only his father, Anton, was there. Anton shook my hand and then pulled out from under the counter a worn, taped-up Bible. He then opened it to the book of Revelation and started to explain to me the meaning of the number 666.

In the midst of his statements I interrupted with a question: “What would you say if I were to try to get you to accept a different religion, and how much time would you give me?” I turned to leave, but then Edward walked in. He looked surprised, but he took my hand and we walked out together. I didn’t talk to him at that time about his father’s words; I just looked at him, wondering why God had put this man into my life.

Becoming Part of the Family

A few weeks later I entered an Adventist church for the first time. The building seemed empty, with no statues, pictures, or candles. I felt out of place. Edward and I continued dating, but I never returned to his church. I did spend many welcoming moments with his family, however. Anton was a warmhearted, caring, and loving person, and he never mentioned his beliefs or his Bible again.

Two years later Anton was diagnosed with cancer. Edward was very upset. After a year filled with prayers and many somber moments, Anton asked to see us both. With a fading voice he asked us to kneel in front of his bed. His weakening eyes looked at me, and with a smile he asked, “Will you marry min Jung [my boy]?” Looking at Edward, I answered, “Yes.” Anton’s face brightened with a smile. He spoke a prayer filled with love and blessings for Edward and me and for our future life together. I felt the presence of God. A few days later Anton died.

The following year Edward and I were married. Soon after, however, he informed me that the minister who had married us would be visiting me each week to discuss the Bible and Adventist beliefs. We’re happily married; why can’t they leave me alone? I wondered. I decided to put a stop to this right from the beginning, so I borrowed a lot of jewelry from friends and was wearing it when the pastor knocked on my door.

The pastor appeared startled by my appearance, but he came in, and I had my first Bible study. We studied together for two years. Eventually our studies turned into discussions about various events in the Bible, marriage, children, family behaviors, diseases, friendships, and the importance of making Jesus the priority in our lives. Finally, on March 26, 1960, I was baptized. As I stepped out of the water, three trumpeters played “Holy, Holy, Holy,” my favorite hymn. I had never felt so close to God. Bowing my head, I thanked Jesus for accepting me and becoming my best friend.

A Special Day

We celebrate many special days in our lives—national holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and various other days we deem important to us. Sadly, however, we often forget the most important day of all: that of our baptism.

I have now been a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for more than 50 years and have held numerous church positions of responsibility, but each year on the anniversary of my baptism I recommit myself to God and thank Him for His many blessings. I remind myself that the most important things in life are not positions, but people, and that each of us must serve God with a humble heart.

People can easily become discouraged, and some end up leaving the church. But on the anniversary of my baptism I’m reminded that strong efforts must be made to win them back into the family of God. Jesus wants us to be a blessing to others and to make a positive difference in their lives. Our Lord and Savior is in charge, but we must allow Him to use us as tools in His hands.

The anniversary of our baptism is a day of commemoration, one on which we should reflect on past experiences, especially on answered prayers and the mercies of God. We also should ask the Lord on that day to motivate us to contact newly baptized members and others who are seeking the security of God’s love as well as ours. Caring for and loving one another is evidence that God is working in our lives.

Just Pick a Day

The best day of my life was that of my baptism, which is why I commemorate it every year. Some people may not remember the date of their baptism. To those I say: “Just pick a day.” I wish we had a national or worldwide “baptism day,” to be celebrated as we do our birthdays, for on that day we accepted Jesus as our brother, friend, healer, and Redeemer—and we were reborn.

So let’s remember to celebrate that special day by remembering Jesus’ blessings in our past and looking forward to His triumphant soon return, when I can envision Him saying once again, as He did on the cross, “It is finished.”