On the 27th of January, 2008, the Lord, by His infinite love and grace, presented me with the most wonderful blessing from Heaven upon human beings. It was a nice and calm day. The river seemed to be still. The fowls swimming on its waters seemed to be announcing the great event to come some hours later. Within my heart was this assurance: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus was there to bury the old me and raise me to a new life. What a wonderful miracle it is for him who surrenders all to the King of Life! “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor 5:17). I am sure you guessed what I am talking about. You’re right, that was the day in which I was baptised. Let me tell you how everything happened.
I was brought up in a religious environment. Throughout the years I followed my parents in Pentecostal churches. The Lord was so merciful to me that since a very young age, about seven or eight years old, I knew, somehow, that there was something so special in Jesus that I really wanted to find out what it was. Later I came to discover that it was the love of our Master for a fallen race that was drawing me to His caring arms.
Thirsty still, a bit confused and not very happy with the religious teachings presented to me so far, I started praying to the Lord to show me if I really was walking in the right path under His approval. I was sure I was though, even amid doubts and disappointments. Even without being conscious of it, I was searching for the living waters that would quench my thirst forever. It was in this scenario that my mother talked to me about a little group of people who had recently visited her. I became interested in talking to them, for I thought mum was at risk of being deceived by some false messengers. That was the first answer to my prayers and the beginning of a mysterious work. Mum had gotten in touch with a group of colporteurs from the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement church in a small town in Brazil.
I learned almost all the basic doctrines of the Adventist faith and soon became a member of the church. My immature faith and age, as well as a very self-confident style of life, led me to trust in my own competence and intelligence to deal with trials and temptations. What I didn’t know was that only a supernatural power from Heaven would protect me from the surprises of adolescence and transition to the adult age. That was a lesson that Providence was about to teach me, even through bitter trials and hard experience. After some time I was no longer a member of the church and was uniting myself with my lovely wife—though out of the church.
The beginning of this new life was marked by a mixture of care, something that we used to call ‘love’, and a lack of patience and understanding untold. Many times I thought that I couldn’t handle the situation anymore. One thing was very clear: my wife loved me, not my religion. By that time I was trying to come back to the way of the Lord and expected that she would follow me. Both of us were very confused about our own feelings toward each other and a future for a healthy relationship was very obscure. I knew what I had to do to fix it; I had to run quickly to Jesus and beg His pardon, mercy and a miracle to take me away from that tempestuous sea and darkness I was living in, to His glorious light and resting peace. I was in need of Jesus more than ever, even though I was not so aware of it.
In order to accomplish His mysterious plan for me, God was straightening my ways by permitting me to go through trials, difficulties and bitter disappointments, with my self nourished by a life of cherished sins. Many times I heard the merciful and loving voice of the Master calling loud and distinctly: “Come My son while time worketh on thy behalf”. This was very clear to me when I had a horrible car crash and only got some little scratches out of it, among many other situations. The Lord was treating me patiently and with great love. “Come my son”, was the most wonderful message that Providence whispered in my ears every now and then. These warnings led me to seek God’s protection and forgiveness. At that time I started attending the Sabbath meetings again, and gradually more frequently. Soon my wife and I left our home country to live in Japan.
What a holy and caring Father we have! The future ahead was full of promises of a very successful new era in my life. But it was in that far and strange nation that our loving Master and friend taught me the most wonderful and merciful lessons of His love. I had already got in touch with our church in Japan and was attending the meetings regularly, but my wife was not. She still opposed my religious beliefs.
However, with very basic knowledge of the new culture and language, and oppressed by ungodly people who made very plain my reality as a ‘foreigner’ in their country, there was no room for my pride, self-confidence or vain self-gratification. The bitter experience had already started to take place. Disappointment after disappointment with myself were now so frequent—part of my daily life. Amid tears I met my misery and dependence on Jesus in turning my useless life into something acceptable and in clearing my sins away. In that time I realised that there was nothing that I could do to present myself holy before the Father, nothing in myself could recommend me to heaven. All I could see was a wasted life without satisfaction and with no salvation. What a sad reality! What needless pain I bore!
In such despair I requested a rebaptism in the church in Japan and started having Bible studies with our brethren there. Notwithstanding, precious lessons I was not acquainted with were still to be taught. Even though I was living an apparently holy life and judged to possess enough knowledge of the sacred truths, God knew my heart and my ways far better than I and made me realise I was not ready. After nearly three years living in Japan I had plans to go to England to finish my studies. By that time, bitter experiences had shown me that I must trust in God thoroughly, surrender all my life into God’s hands and accept everything that the wisdom of Providence had prepared for me. I prayed earnestly that the will of God would be done. On the 1st of December 2006 I flew to Perth, Australia, instead.
The church received me with gladness and brotherly love. Several months after my arrival in Perth, my wife also came to Australia, and to my surprise, joined me in the battle for the crown of glory. That was God’s promise that the time of bitter trials had been abbreviated, for the Lord knew I could no longer bear such a depressing life. Joyfully I attended the meetings every week, and with great pleasure I continued the Bible studies with the responsible Bible worker. The miraculous revelation of God’s will for my life and His holy providence appeared as the greatest demonstration of love for a sinful soul. The walk in God’s path was not an easy task though; tears did not cease in crying for deliverance and guidance. By an act of love and mercy, through clear messages of salvation and pity, our Master led me to the baptismal waters on the on the 27th of January, 2008.