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The gasoline smell was more distracting than the giggling of Bon, the 21-year-old grandson of Uncle Somneuk. Pausing to hold a double-layered plastic bag to his nose, he inhaled the fumes before continuing his hallucinations. By the time we finished Branch Sabbath School, we were beginning to feel a little light-headed ourselves.

Bon’s addiction to inhalants is not a new phenomenon. As a warm-up exercise, he drank, smoked, and used amphetamines in his early teens. Then at eighteen, he began sniffing glue—the toxic fumes damaging his nervous system to the point that he couldn’t walk and was frequently in delirium. After nearly dying in this state, Bon tossed the glue and adopted gasoline as his inhalant of choice—a choice that significantly impacts our gatherings.

The regular assault on our olfactory system has made attending Branch Sabbath School a burden. We can only imagine what effect the gasoline fumes are having on Uncle Somneuk’s health. Fortunately, Bon sleeps in an open shed, leaving the house relatively fume free. However, the shed is right off the front porch where we conduct Branch Sabbath School.

Throughout this past week, we prayed more intently that God would enable us to meet with Uncle Somneuk without the dizzying effects of Bon’s addiction. Sabbath morning, as we pulled up to the house and opened the door, the fumes were overpowering. Duang got out as I parked the car and asked Uncle Somneuk for guidance. He motioned to a government building nearby that was under construction. “We can meet in there. A worker recently fell to his death, and they have halted operations. No one will interrupt us.”

The fresh air led to a longer-than-usual song service. Two boys, playing in the abandoned building, crept within 20 feet of us before darting away when Duang smiled and invited them to join us. Our study for the day was the first half of John 14. We concluded with the words of Christ, “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.”
“Uncle Somneuk, is there something that you would like to request of Jesus?” Duang asked.

“I want Bon to quit his addiction to the inhalants,” came the reply. Each of us took turns praying, beginning with Uncle Somneuk. It was the first time he had prayed out loud with us. Since arriving home, Duang and I have prayed daily for God to grant victory in Bon’s life over this addiction. Please join us in this prayer.

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