In almost disbelief I stared at the notice pinned to the college administration’s bulletin board. My heart sank. Would all my education be in vain?
I checked the notice a second time: “Examination Schedule for All Medical Students.” Looking carefully, I could see that my final 10 days of exams would begin on a Thursday, which meant that required exams would also be held on two Sabbaths.
For most people this would not be an issue; but for Paul Orser, who had never attended class on a single Sabbath, it would be a severe test of his faith. How easy it would be to compromise. After all, wasn’t it God’s plan for him to use his education to minister to the physical needs of others?
After agonizing all week in prayer that God would somehow change the exam dates, he knew that he would have to make an appointment with his state’s education vice chancellor and appeal the timing. After traveling 250 miles (400 kilometers) by bus for the appointment, Paul made his plea—and his hopes were shattered. The curt reply was “Go home, boy. I have no time to deal with such nonsense!”
Devastated, Paul returned to his home and his family. That night as he lay in bed, Paul thought about God’s promise in Philippians 4:19: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
GOD’S BLESSINGS IN THE PAST
Undeniably, throughout Paul’s life, God had proved Himself to be faithful. Paul recalled how in 2002 a fire had raged through his small village near Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh, India. It had destroyed 52 homes, including his own, along with all his meager possessions. After his father died, village elders finally succeeded in securing a land grant (for only two cents) and gave him one year to build a home. He vividly remembered, however, that sad day when, after 14 months and no sign of construction, a government official came and demanded that the land documents be returned.
Challenging years followed, as Paul was torn between providing care for his mother and grandmother and completing his education. In 2011 he graduated from Jeeva Jyothi Ministry, a medical missionary school in Tamil Nadu, 230 miles (370 kilometers) from his home. The following year he became part of the teaching staff.
During a home health-care visit, while traveling by bus to administer medical treatments, Paul came upon an accident. The driver was dead, and another person was in severe pain, bleeding from his head and leg. Paul did his best to comfort him, called an ambulance, and accompanied him to the hospital. Paul recognized the injured man. He was the same official who, a year earlier, had demanded that his land documents be returned.
Two weeks later Paul returned home and found his mother waiting nervously. A stranger had been waiting for Paul most of the day. It was the injured man from the accident, whom Paul had helped. Paul listened as Prabhaka Reddy expressed his thanks for Paul’s kindness. Then, in disbelief, Paul watched as Mr. Reddy opened his briefcase and returned Paul’s land documents. In time, because of the kindness shown by Paul, Mr. Reddy became a Christian and joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Then Paul recalled another time that God had shown His faithfulness: Prabhaka Reddy was moved to a different region, and a new official, Mr. Rami Reddy, came to check on Paul’s construction progress. Only a small portion of the house foundation had been laid, so the land documents were again reclaimed. On Rami Reddy’s way home, he stopped to visit his uncle, Ayyavar Reddy. When he laid Paul’s land documents on his uncle’s table, Ayyavar Reddy noticed Paul’s parent’s surname, Subbaiah, on the form.
“What are you doing?” Ayyavar Reddy demanded of his nephew. “That man’s son is a doctor and has been treating me! I’m walking again because of him! You must return these documents.” Also, Paul’s mother worked in the rice paddy fields owned by Ayyavar. Honoring his uncle’s request, Rami returned the land papers to Paul.
Remembering God’s blessings in his past, Paul had confidence that God would work things out for him to graduate.
MOVING FORWARD IN FAITH
The day after receiving the abrupt rejection of his request to take his exams on days other than the Sabbath, Paul felt impressed to seek advice from Dr. Vengam Raju, a close and trusted professor and counselor at the medical college. Taking Dr. Raju’s advice, Paul made an appointment to speak with the top education chancellor of India. Funds providentially were provided for his six-hour flight to Delhi. Many people were praying for Paul on the morning of his appointment.
Paul nervously made his way along the cold, stark marble halls to meet the chancellor, yet he felt confident that God would provide a way through his difficult dilemma. After expressing his appreciation to the chancellor for allowing him to appeal the decision regarding Sabbath exams, he then explained his commitment to follow his conscience in keeping all God’s commandments. In amazement, Paul listened as the official spoke by phone to the very same person who had refused to hear his earlier plea. “Yes, he must be the same student,” the chancellor said to the woman on the phone. “Yes, he’s really here in my office. I’m sure that he would appreciate another chance to see you.”
Traveling back to Vijayawada, Paul now was given time to appeal and to present a written plea for an exception. The administrator showed much kindness, and Paul was allowed to make up the exams given on the two Sabbath days and reschedule for two successive Sundays.
LIVING A LIFE OF SERVICE
Paul has now finished his training and is specializing in diabetes recovery at Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. Paul achieved nearly perfect scores and ranked near the top of his class.
After graduating in June, Paul took an additional six-month class and became a certified cardiac monitor technician. While doing his “practicals” in the hospital’s intensive-care unit, he was amazed at how those under his care responded to his physical loving touch and prayers for them—rare indeed in India.
Paul’s wife, Shobah, will be graduating with a master’s degree in 2025 and anticipates uniting her career with Paul’s as they continue to seek God’s guidance in serving their community. They’re currently overseeing the construction of a health center near their home, where they will be advancing Christ’s method in ministering to both physical and spiritual needs in nearby villages. Paul has also purchased property near the health center where organic, nutritious vegetables will be provided for those incorporating a plant-based diet and living a healthy lifestyle.
Again and again God has proved His faithfulness. God opened the door to allow Paul to graduate, which was just another of the many ways God has proved that He has a plan for Paul’s life.
Paul also was successful in constructing a home for his family on the property God providentially protected, a visible tribute to God’s promises.“To God be the glory!”