The Sabbath Experience

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Recently, I had the opportunity of spending a weekend with a Christian friend from the Maghreb who now lives stateside. God blessed us with many opportunities to discuss life, who God is, and His character.

My friend shared with me that he has a tough time believing many things preached at the church he attends on Sundays. He explained how, when he asks questions regarding what he reads in the Scriptures, he is told not to worry about it because God loves everyone. He also shared that when he reads the Bible, he sees how God holds people accountable for their actions. While this is true, he hasn’t been able to comprehend how God truly wants to be our friend. He knows that God forgives us, but he doesn’t understand that there is nothing to fear when we have been set free from those sins through Jesus Christ.

He sees God as sovereign and someone we should be afraid of. He’s still learning and does not see that Jesus came to reveal the Father. Jesus had close friendships on this earth. He laughed and cried with people. He mingled with people and showed that He was approachable. If Jesus came to reveal the Father, then everything He did, the Father wants to do as well. We are to be humble before God, and we need to remember that He is sovereign, but He also wants that personal relationship with us.

That Sabbath was my friend’s first time stepping into an SDA church. We joined a Sabbath School class and an excellent discussion. We then went into the sanctuary for the service. He watched the song leaders make mistakes. He saw two young girls providing special music also make mistakes. Finally, we listened to the sermon. I wondered what he was thinking but waited until we left before asking.

Afterward, he told me how much he liked that everyone wasn’t standing around drinking coffee, eating donuts and talking the whole time. He said it was encouraging to see that people could make mistakes while up front, and yet everyone still appreciated what they did. He enjoyed seeing the youth participating and the congregation supporting them, even though they, too, made mistakes. And most importantly, he said that it seemed like everyone was there to worship God, that it wasn’t a grand production, a show, that had to be perfect.

His first experience was a good one, praise God! People even told him they would love to see him come back and would pick him up if he needed a ride.

He has an uphill journey before him. Most of the people he knows, his sponsors and supporters helping him through school — kind people who are a huge support team for him — are people going to church on Sunday, drinking coffee, eating donuts and standing around and talking, but not truly worshipping. I thank God, though, that seeds have been planted, and he has seen something in our churches he values.

As he continues to study and grow, he will have hard decisions to make. Please pray for my Maghrebi friend. May he encounter who God really is and find comfort in who he discovers God to be. May he trust God with his entire being. And may God bring more local people into his life who will be able to disciple him.

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