People literally come to camp meeting in Africa by the thousands. Our story focuses on 18-year-old *Gati.
Gati, though not an Adventist, was very interested in the Adventist faith. She had heard of Adventist camp meetings but never had the chance to attend, until this one. The meetings were being held about two kilometers away from her village and she was very excited. She had one problem - her parents. Her parents were Moslem and would not allow her to attend the meetings. They told her that as long as they lived, none of their children would ever attend an Adventist meeting.
On opening night, Gati decided to sneak away and go to the meetings. She was thrilled by the singing and especially the message. When she returned home later that night, her parents asked her where she had been. She told them that she had gone to the Adventist camp meeting and they told her that if she went again, she would be severely punished.
That night Gati could not sleep. “What was she going to do?” “Should she obey her parents or should she listen to the voice inside her?” were the questions keeping her awake. She did not know how to pray, but she did know that God knew what she was going through. By morning she resolved in her heart that she would again go and attend the meetings. Knowing her parents’ attitude, she decided to go and camp with others who were staying at the grounds. She packed her clothes and snuck away early in the morning while everyone was still asleep.
Thursday, Gati’s two brothers found her, beat her up and left. As they walked away they told her that if she did not return home they would return and finish her off. She chose to remain.
On Friday, a baptism was announced for the following day and an appeal was made. Gati found herself responding with many others as they walked to the front. She didn’t know that her brothers were watching her.
When her parents learned that their daughter had accepted Jesus as her personal Savior and that she was going to be baptized, they were both shocked and angry.
On Sabbath morning the father woke, went to his drawer and pulled out his pistol, cleaned it and put six bullets in it. He put the pistol in the inner pocket of his jacket and waited for the baptism. When the time came, he and his wife pressed through the crowd and came to the banks of the river. After some time they saw Gati wading into the water. As she walked into the water, she looked up and saw her father. Her heart skipped and she hesitated a little but gathered courage and continued to walk toward the baptizing pastors.
Gati’s father slipped his hand into his jacket pocket and held his pistol. His hands trembling, he slowly began to pull the pistol out, but then put it back.
Sunday morning Gati started for home. She found her parents seated on the veranda. She went into her room and left her things. As she walked into the sitting room, she found her father pacing and her mother sobbing. As soon as her father saw her, he pulled out his gun, shot her twice - killing her.
Four years later a lot has changed in the hearts of Gati’s family. Today, her mother and both brothers are preparing to be baptized. Her death has helped change attitudes. Moslems who choose to convert to Christianity in this area are now being tolerated. This could be the beginning of a chain reaction leading many Moslems and other people in the area to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Praise be to God.
Persecution will soon come to all who believe in Jesus Christ. But there is good news. As we go from everywhere to everywhere, we should remember that Jesus has promised to be with us till the end of the age. God will walk with us and our volunteers.

By: Saustin Mfune, Volunteer Coordinator
*Not her real name

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Recently I have been feeling more and more in need of the Holy Spirit’s guidance in teaching my classes, because to tell you the truth, I break down and cry sometimes. Joy Williams
I decided that I was not spending enough time in my private Bible studies so instead of coming home after my classes at night and going to bed, I started relaxing in the Word of the Lord. Since then it’s been wonderful.
I teach classes with different levels of understanding. We have levels one through five, with level one being the lowest level where the students form sentences much more slowly than in the other levels. There is a lady in one of my level one classes who is a bit shy, but recently started opening up to me. One day shewas the only one who came to class because of a flu epidemic. We talked for the entire class about her life and the problems she is having in her marriage, which she is afraid will end in divorce. I knew this was my opportunity to tell her about Jesus but I didn’t know how to start and what words to use. When she was finished she said to me, “What do you think?”
“I believe in Jesus. Do you know Him?” I asked. “Yes, but not much,” she replied.
I then told her that I have been serving Him for eight years now, and during those years I have had many difficulties and when I ask Him for help with my problems He’s answered every time. “He has never failed me yet and I am sure He never will.”
I told her He speaks to me through His Word and I speak to Him through prayer. She then asked, “How do you pray?” I told her, “You speak to God like you are speaking to me now.” She said, “Could you show me how?”
I went and found a Bible and opened it to the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew and we read it together. I then prayed with her. She asked me if she could have the Bible. “Sure, and if you want I can study with you, too.” She said that she would like that so I told her to start reading the books of Genesis and John because they are the two which I could understand and helped me when I first became a Christian. I gave her two chapters in each book to read.
She was surprised when I suggested Genesis. She told me her Bible has only the New testament and the priest told her that the old testament has been done away with. I then explained to her why we read the entire Bible. We are planning to meet every Sunday so I can study the Bible with her.
She also made an effort to come to Friday night meetings with her three-year-old son. She told me he loves the singing and he was singing when he got home. I was so happy when she told me that. I was also delighted that she is interested in attending the services.
Please pray for this lady, that she may find Jesus and join His family. She is such a sweet woman.
After she left I could not contain my joy and I was jumping up and down and smiling and reiterating again and again how happy I was. These people here do not know God and it is so wonderful when they ask you about Him. I was so happy.
Please pray for me as I continue to study with her. I am comforted in knowing that God is indeed working through me. It’s amazing what He can do through us if we let Him lead.
Please continue to pray for our Kiev school. There are many more who are interested in the Word of God and are coming to our programs. Please pray that somehow they too may have the zeal to want to know more about Jesus.
Sometimes it gets hard and I feel like I can’t make it but God gives me new strength every day. He keeps molding me as well as refining me by the experiences I face. He teaches me love and patience in ways I can’t even understand at times. I know He is just showing His love and making me into the best Joy I can be. I know now the fact that we are all His PRECIOUS SOULS.

By: Joy Williams, Volunteer serving in Kiev, Ukraine.

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We determined to do our best in rearing the children. Right from Osquítar's birth (that is our affectionate name for him), we dedicated time to teach him about our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. We told him the Bible stories, we sang, and we prayed with him during his earliest years. A profound respect for spiritual things became very evident in Osquítar. When he turned three years old, we were surprised early one morning to hear his voice singing to the accompaniment of a portable tape recorder we had in the house. With his own words, he told us that he wanted to serve God through music and prayer. Osquitar Vargas
A Shadow Over Our Home  
Osquítar was taken to the clinic with an irritation in his throat and a lump on the left side of his jaw. Four months passed while the church family prayed with us for this mysterious problem. Pastor Victor Venegas decided to anoint our boy. Briefly he explained to Osquítar the purpose of anointing and baptism.
Six days later, we took our boy to have further medical exams in three different clinics. The doctors who saw him were very concerned with what they found. Osquítar was transferred to the children's hospital in preparation for surgery. A biopsy was performed, and Dr García summoned us to meet with her. The biopsy revealed that our little boy had Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
My mind went blank. Just the name of Jesus came to my dry lips and I begged Him to hold me in His arms so that I would not lose my faith. While the doctor explained in greater detail the nature of the disease, my eyes filled with tears, and anguish invaded my spirit. I could imagine the suffering of God when He gave His Son up to die.
The Savior then gave me a sign of His love. Even though devastating news had just befallen us, this little boy gathered 15 people, among them doctors and nurses, and invited them to listen to his song of gratitude to God. Following that presentation, he went to another mother there, consoled her, and prayed for her little girl who was also diagnosed with cancer. Osquítar prayed that day with several families whose children were in the cancer ward, and he handed out copies of the Christian magazine, El Centinela. God was reminding me to whom my boy belonged. He was Jesus' little servant.
Chemotherapy was ordered to begin immediately. On returning home, sadness again overwhelmed me. How was I going to give this news to my daughters and my husband? That Friday evening the entire family was heart-broken. We hoped to find comfort as we gathered together for worship.
Osquítar was in bed suffering from the effects of the therapy. We hugged each other, cried, and prayed together with our son, asking God for mercy. Despite our anguish, we knew that all things are possible for Him.
"'Mommy, I think Satan has caused me to have this disease because he knows I am serving Jesus," exclaimed Osquítar. “Don't worry! Jesus defeated Satan and He will win over him again in our family. Jesus came down from Heaven with power and glory.” Later, he said “Jesus is coming back and I want to get ready. I want to learn new songs and present His word.” He spoke with real conviction.
While undergoing chemotherapy there were especially difficult periods because of the reactions caused in his body. Nothing, however, kept Osquítar from glorifying the name of God. He passed sleepless nights, and frequent vomiting, with determination and singing. Even while the treatments were continuing, numerous people, including pastors would come by to see our boy and ask him to sing in evangelistic efforts and at weeks of prayer. Often they had not even heard about his battle with cancer.

Osquítar always accepted their invitations, conscious of his calling. Presently, our son continues serving the Lord with eagerness. The doctors say that he needs to have frequent check-ups. But we know that God keeps him in His hands and has a ministry for this child. Osquítar will follow God's will for his life. God's plan for our lives is always the best plan. His wisdom and His mercy mean everything to us. We trust Him to lead us day by day until Jesus returns.

The Vargas Family

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Jennifer Goley By far, the most amazing and exciting things occur daily in our English School “classrooms,” if they can be called such, during our Bible classes.
Mr Nakamura attended a counseling class 3-5 years ago and recently attended two of the ACTS 2000 meetings. He speaks almost no English, but Mr Yamamoto was able to translate the lesson about Abraham and his near sacrifice of Isaac.
On Sunday he was back for more Bible study. This time he brought company: his wife and dog. Yes, his dog! On Wednesday, he was 15 minutes early. I pulled out the lesson on “The Creation of Man and Woman.” Right after we prayed, Mr Miura and Akemi walked in. When we were almost finished, who should open the door but my mountainclimbing student, Mr Kawai, who, on the first day of class, had loudly declared his dislike for the Bible and all things related.
We read all the verses we had already studied so that he could know where we were and then I proceeded to wrap things up with the summary of the three gifts God gave us at creation: life, marriage and the Sabbath.
We were on the last point, the Sabbath, when for some reason, I said the word “doyobi” (Saturday in Japanese). Mr Miura’s head shot up and he cried, “Doyobi? You mean nichiyobi (Sunday) don’t you?” “No,” I replied. “I mean doyobi, Saturday.” Mr Miura seemed completely lost. “Doyobi?” he repeated.
“Yes,” replied Mr Nakamura as though it was an obvious fact, “the seventh day.” This was scarcely Mr Nakamura’s third class and he was already teaching the class!
“What about Sunday? What is Sunday?” Mr Miura questioned. “Is it a normal day?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“We work on Sunday. God made light on Sunday,” Mr Nakamura interjected.
“Yes!” I cried, “God worked on Sunday. He made light!” What insight for such a new student! The situation was ironic. God was using the neophyte to teach the more seasoned student and He was also making sure that Mr Miura got a point which I had somehow failed to make clear the first time. God is so good! If we don’t get it right the first time, He’ll simply bring it around again until we get it right.
In our last Bible class before Thanksgiving break, Mr Hideo stayed behind and asked me a question. “The Bible is a big book and I know it will take us a long time to read it. Sometimes we have troubles or problems and we need help. I have some trouble. I’m looking for some peace or something. Is there a part in this book that could offer some help, some encouragement?
I was completely dumbfounded! No one had ever asked me for help from the Bible so directly before. John 14:27 immediately (and I’m sure providentially) came to mind. “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you; I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”
Mr Hideo was silent after he read those words and then he said, “That is a very good verse. Sometimes I feel like that, worried, upset and afraid. That is a very good verse.”
Then he said that there was something different about Carmen and I from himself and other Japanese. “You seem like something holy,” he said. I had to smile. I assured him that it was not Carmen or I, but that it was Christ.

When you have Christ as your best Friend, the relationship is visible to those around you. When Mr Hideo left that day I was still in shock over the working of the Holy Spirit. Angels could finish the gospel work in a flash. But we are given the opportunity of service for our benefit. Twelve English schools and 50 churches in Japan seem so small among 150 million people. God may not be calling you to Japan, but if He is, don’t ignore the call.

By: Jennifer Goley, student missionary from Southwestern Adventist University, Texas.

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Debbie, Jonathan, Larissa and Elmer Santos
Debbie and Elmer Santos, together with their children Jonathan and Larissa, were the first Volunteer Missionary family to leave Australia at the beginning of 2001, the International Year of Volunteers. They are serving for two years at the River Plate Sanitarium and Hospital in Argentina where Elmer is in charge of Biomedical Engineering.
The Santos’, pictured here during their final briefing, are members of the Toowoomba Church in South Queensland. Debbie served in Japan as a volunteer previously. She originally came from Inverell where her parents the Sheltons live. In the year 2000 almost 1,000 Volunteers from the South Pacific Division served somewhere - 400 of these are national volunteer lay pastors serving in our Island countries.
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It was Thursday and I was frustrated. Spiritually, I felt as if we were losing the precious young man that Ben and I had worked so hard for and nurtured over the last two years. As Ben and I talked together, I felt so completely helpless. The two of us had had Bible studies with Tarkwon and about eight of his schoolmates three nights a week and on Sabbath afternoons. We had worked and prayed hard for these precious teenagers that God had entrusted to our care. Tarkwon was one of two that had made his decision to follow Jesus all the way. Now it looked like we were losing one of the fruits of our labors. What could we do?

Over the last couple of weeks, I had sensed Tarkwon struggle. Inside, there was something tugging at him. I was not sure what it was. I tried to get him to talk to me, but he was not opening up to me as he usually did. Outbursts in class were becoming a regular occurrence. I knew that inside, something was eating away at him. This was not the Tarkwon I had loved and nurtured over the last two years. Where had that young man gone?

In my mind’s eye, I saw him just one year before. I had watched, with tears in my eyes, as Tarkwon had been baptized. How PROUD I was of him. He had made the decision in the face of opposition and it had been a long road. His baptism had made all of the anxious prayers and tears worth it.

Tarkwon had told a few members of his family about his baptism but not one showed up. That weighed on him much more than any of us realized.

Now here I was, one year later, about to cry. Tarkwon had not been to church more than two times since he had been baptized. His family had told him that he needed to stay at home on Sabbaths and take care of his grandfather. This was a perpetual frustration for me. I KNEW that this was Satan's way of keeping Tarkwon away from us.

Tarkwon is an easy-going, likeable young man. He’s a good boy. One that has been taught well. He knows how to make you laugh. He is a hard worker. As I watched him, I had a growing concern that his easy-going nature would get him into trouble.

My mind leaped back to the present. There had been another outburst in class. I started praying. Only God could work this one out and He did, sooner than I thought He would.

Saturday night Tarkwon came to me. With tears in his eyes he told me that his family had kicked him out of the house the night before because he wanted to go to church. I was so proud I cried. He had finally stood up for what he believed in. I took him to the other SM’s and we prayed with him. That is when he really broke down. Here we had an 18-year-old young man, a senior in high school, who had nowhere to go and only the clothes on his back to wear. He was sobbing, head covered, body racked with tears.

He told us that he would not go back. He had to come to church. Who was going to pay his tuition? Where was he going to live? What was he going to wear? How would he make it through college?

We took care of the immediate needs and trusted God to do the rest. You should have seen the trust in Tarkwon’s eyes. He knew HIS God would take care of him.

Tarkwon’s family called him back home on Monday. His grandfather, who had kicked him out, had spent a sleepless, tear-filled three days. They took him back with open arms, more willing to listen to this son of theirs that had given up family and home to follow completely the Jesus he loved.

And his influence still is evident. Because of Tarkwon, three other young men are making their decision to follow Jesus completely. One has made a STRONG stand. He stands up to classmates and tells them they need to follow the Bible and the Bible only.

I thank God for Tarkwon’s witness and for the fact that we weren’t losing him. We didn’t lose him. We’ll never lose him. His witness will continue to bless others for a long time to come.

By: Tammy McGee, Student Missionary serving in Majuro

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