My life's experience is strongly connected with my mother's experience. Even in her childhood, she believed there was a power that watched over her and her family members. As she watched her loved ones stand before home icons, light candles and pray for protection, she never doubted that a higher being watched over her family.
My grandmother died when my mom was only five months old. My mother lived with her father and five sisters for several years before her father remarried. Hers was a very strict and conservative family.
My mother grew up, got married and found a job. She had two daughters and everything was good in her life. That is until she became very sick. She began fearing for her life. Her thoughts became more and more negative as her health declined. Soon her days were spent standing before a home icon, praying for her health and God's blessing and healing.
My mother's sister, who lived in another town, began reading the Bible. When my mother would visit her, my aunt would talk about God and read the Bible to her. My mother's response was negative. She felt reading one book was not important. Besides, she didn't really understand what the Bible was saying.
My mother's health continued to deteriorate. She began spending more and more time at the Orthodox Church. She continuously lit candles and prayed for health. Like most people in her town, she thought true religion consisted of going to a church, celebrating the saints, fasting or making a sacrifice to God, then waiting for His blessings. Hers was a distant God. She prayed to the Saints to protect her.
One day my mother felt even worse than normal. She fell into a deep sleep and had a dream. She dreamt that she should buy a Bible and read it. If she did so, her condition would improve. She also dreamt she would find peace if she would keep the Sabbath. When she awoke, she immediately went to find a Bible.
She went to her priest and told him of her dream. He told her he had a New Testament Bible and she could read it. However, he cautioned her that it would be difficult to keep the Sabbath. He said she should be more concerned with taking care of her daughters than worrying about what day to keep holy.
My mother took the Bible and headed home. Her attitude regarding the Bible was the same as her attitude toward her home icons. She felt if the Bible sat in the house, she would be protected. Besides, she could not read very well. She sat the Bible in front of the icon and believed she would become well.
Her situation did not change. Though she kept the Bible in her house, continued to go to church, light candies and prayer health did not improve. She was very sick. One day, after visiting the doctor, she went to church with a neighbor. My mother prayed, then broke down and cried. She begged for help. Her neighbor thought my mother's behavior was strange, so she told my father about it. Though my father knew my mother occasionally cried in church, he was very disturbed about her behavior. He forbade her to attend church.
Later that week, my mother had another dream. She dreamt she should go to a certain part of the city and find a group of people who did not work on the Sabbath. I was about five years old then. I remember the morning my mother took my sister and me to find those Sabbath-keepers. We found the Sabbath-keepers' church and were welcomed by an old woman who stood in the garden. She told my mother, "Dear child, you are at the right place, but today is Wednesday and there is no service. Come back on the Sabbath. The service will begin at 9 o'clock." That Sabbath, my mother did not go to work. Instead she attended the Adventist Church.
Everything was strange to her in the new church. There were no icons, no mysticisms or candles. She did not know how to behave. She listened to the hymns and over time they became familiar to her.
She told her boss she could no longer work on the Sabbath. Surprisingly, he accepted her news calmly and told, her that if it was good for her, she had permission not to work on Sabbath. She was baptized in 1976.
My father was brought up in a communist family and di ' n''t understand the need for church. My mother did not tell him she was going to the Adventist Church for she knew he did not respect churches. Also, she was somewhat afraid of his reaction.
My mother's health began to improve. She began living normally. My father was traveling a great deal at the time, so he did not realize we were regularly attending church. The only thing he realized was that the situation in our home was improving,
One day my father met one of my mother's work colleagues. He told my father about my mother not having to work on Sabbath. He informed my dad that my mother had become a Seventh-day Adventist. Needless to say, my father was very surprised. He had heard only bad things about Adventists. From that day on, our home became a place of quarrels and even fights. Many of our relatives started visiting us so they could try their best to convince us not to go to the Adventist Church.
For days and months, our home was full of quarrels. My father kept saying to my mother, "No, no, no Don't go to that church!" My mother tried to tell him that she found peace and recovery in the church. But the more she talked of God and His help, the more angry my father became. He encouraged our relatives to keep discouraging my mother from going to church.
I remember the day my father yelled and yelled from the third floor of our home. He tore each page from my mother's Bible and threw them from the third floor window. The next day, I saw all the pages lying on the street in front of our house. That night the wind scattered the pages all over the park. Many years later, I found out that an older man from our neighborhood saw some of the pages and began to read them. He was so moved, he went out and bought a Bible.
One day my mother's sister and her family came over to convince my mother to quit going to church. When she saw my mother would not listen, my aunt turned to my father and said, "Leave her, Velj a, you don't need a woman who is an Adventist! I will take care of your children. Leave her!" My sister and I held my mother and cried.
This behavior continued for several years. Finally, my mother could take it no longer. She, along with my sister and me, stopped going to church. But time could not destroy the things I had learned in Sabbath School. I lived between two worlds. I planned to go back to church once I grew up. But time went by and our friends and school separated us from church. My mother began working on Sabbath because my father had told her boss she must work on that day. Our lives soon returned to the way they had been years before.
Eventually I finished secondary school. It was then that I began to think about God and life. There had been a change in my father during the past several years. He had become less rude and aggressive. In 1989, I began attending church again. I did not fear my father's wrath. I met old friends and was soon baptized. My sister was baptized two years later.
My mother attended church occasionally. She led her life in a way that became a witness for Christ. She eventually told my father, "I want to serve God, especially on the Sabbath." My father replied, "I know you very well. If you think you should do so, then do it."
Though he has never chosen to read the Bible, my father can see God's love through my mother's lifestyle. It is my prayer that one day his heart will be touched and he will come to know the One who gave him such a beautiful wife.
My mother was rebaptized in 1998. My sister and I have married and we feel blessed by God. We are happy knowing God is caring for us all the time. We have many wishes, hopes and desires. But the most important goal of our lives is to always choose God and walk with Him on a daily basis.