March 17, 2016

My Car Trouble Led to 2 Baptisms

, district pastor for Durango, Colorado

I had just left an evening prayer meeting at the Pagosa Springs Church in the U.S. state of Colorado when my vehicle experienced a problem and I had to pull over.

With no cell-phone coverage in the mountainous region, I was unable to communicate with anyone. So I prayed to God to send someone to help me.

Moments later the engine restarted, and I drove a few more miles before the problem returned. I found myself at a rest stop with a parking lot beside the road. Two trailer trucks were parked there, but I didn’t ask the drivers for assistance because I figured they were sleeping.

Soon a third trailer truck pulled in and parked near my vehicle. I told the driver about my car trouble, and he managed to fix the problem.

Before continuing on, I handed him a copy of El Centinela, the Spanish-language version of the Seventh-day Adventist sharing magazine Signs of the Times. The driver asked whether I was a Christian. When I replied that I was a pastor, he was overjoyed. He told me that he had been traveling for hours and begging God to send someone to help him resolve a conflict that had been tormenting his conscience.

The curious thing was that I also had been praying for God to send someone — but for a different reason.

In the middle of that solitary and obscure rest stop nestled in the mountains, I counseled the man and prayed that God would give him peace. The driver expressed his gratitude and, thanks to God, said he was already feeling better. We exchanged names and cell-phone numbers before parting.

Contact Continues Via Cell Phone

Several days later we spoke by cell phone, and I offered to study the Bible with Alberto as he traveled across the United States. He gladly accepted.

So over the cell phone we began to study the prophecies of Revelation, of which Alberto had a very basic understanding from his membership in another religious denomination. Then we covered the great truths of the Bible. When Alberto heard about the seventh-day Sabbath, he immediately asked his boss for permission to stop driving every Friday evening and to resume after the Sabbath ended after sunset Saturday. His boss granted the request.

In every town where he stopped, Alberto searched for an Adventist church to attend on Sabbath. This way he met many Adventists and shared with them his story about his Bible studies. His new friends gave him many magazines to read and invited him to eat in their homes. Alberto also began to share the Adventist message and his own story with coworkers.

Every two weeks, Alberto traveled to his hometown of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to rest and spend time with his family. He shared everything he was learning from the Bible with them. Eventually, he began attending an Adventist church in El Paso, Texas, which is located just across the border from Ciudad Juarez. Alberto’s mother lives in El Paso, and he began to pray that she would embrace the Adventist message.

Road to Baptism

But Alberto remained unbaptized. Whenever the Adventist pastor in El Paso would ask him whether he wished to be baptized, Alberto would reply that he wanted to come to Colorado to be baptized by me.

In June 2015, I was scheduled to lead evangelistic meetings at the Adventist church in Bloomfield, New Mexico. I asked Alberto to get permission from his boss to travel to the meetings, and I encouraged him to get baptized at their conclusion.

Alberto made the necessary arrangements.

Almost three years after our first encounter on the road, I had the privilege of baptizing Alberto on a Sabbath in New Mexico. Before he went under the water, Alberto announced that on that same day and at almost that same hour, his mother was being baptized at the Adventist church in El Paso.

The next day Alberto joyfully returned to his work with a firm determination to continue to share the gospel so others might enjoy the truth that had set him and his conscience free.

The baptisms of Alberto and his mother were made possible through a roadside encounter followed by cell-phone Bible studies. I believe God allowed my car to experience mechanical problems so Alberto de Santiago could learn the divine message that has transformed his heart. Praise God for His mysterious ways!

This story appeared in the Mid-America Outlook magazine.