Four years ago, at 16, before Júlio became one of our Bible workers, he struggled in a terrible battle with his appetite. His sister had invited him to visit the Adventist church, into which she and four of her other brothers and sisters had recently been baptized. Júlio enjoyed visiting the church and the Bible lessons on Sabbath afternoons. The issue causing such a struggle for Júlio was that he loved eating pork; he was reluctant to accept the Bible teaching that pigs are unclean and should never be eaten. For months Júlio rejected the working of the Holy Spirit on his conscience. It was becoming evident that he loved eating pig more than he loved Jesus.
Then one weekend, Júlio ate a large meal of roasted pork and became very sick. After enduring stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea, he finally admitted that perhaps the Bible was right in declaring pork as unfit for human consumption. He repented of his sin and decided to follow Jesus with all his heart . . . and stomach. Júlio’s walk with the Lord changed from reluctance to deep devotion. He, at last, had a clear conscience and was baptized in 2019.
We started getting to know Júlio in 2021 while we were helping the Agostinho Neto SDA Church construct a church building that would meet government COVID-19 health requirements for reopening. It was Júlio who walked two hours each way, every day, to make homemade bricks. He is the one who helped carry the heavy bags of cement. Moreover, Júlio was the first to submit his resume in response to our advertisement about hiring young men to become Bible workers.
During the interview process, Júlio told us that he was a certified grade school teacher but wanted to attend our Adventist university and become a pastor. We explained that if he was a faithful, effective Bible worker and raised a new church, then we would find a way to send him to Beira Adventist University to get pastoral training. That night Júlio went back home to his father and mother and told them his plan to change careers and become a Bible worker, then hopefully a pastor. “No,” they told him, “we have already invested money in your education; you must work and help support the family as a teacher.” His family is large, with nearly 16 kids, and his father has two wives; Júlio is from the second wife.
When we saw Júlio again, he was sad and struggling with rebellion against his parents. He wanted to attend our 10-week intensive Bible worker training against their wishes. We told him we would pray for God to intervene, but he could not disobey his parents. Júlio missed the first two weeks of training but did not give up on his dream. During this time, he again explained to his father what a Bible worker was and how he could be sponsored to return to college to become a pastor. After the two weeks of intercessory prayer, his father said, “Let him do what he wants to do.” It was a miracle! Júlio is now one of our two Bible workers.