Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How I became 7th-day Adventist? Part 1: The Context

Today I am sharing this testimony, not because I want to tell people to become Seventh-day Adventists. Far from that. But I just want to document my own spiritual journey and tell my story about how I am where I am today. Mark you, if I discovered another denomination now that believes everything that I believe now, I would leave the Seventh-day Adventist denomination to join it. But, so far, my search has been unfruitful in discovering a group or even a movement that has a perfect combination of my beliefs. And worst in a foreign land which seems to have less churches per square miles than Jamaica.

This testimony on the other hand may encourage you, which ever denomination that you are in, because where ever you find yourself, there might have been a particular message that God called you to within that fellowship, which you need to hold on to. Because when you have your personal experience with God, regardless of the denomination that you are a part of, God will eventually lead you to where you ought to be.

For me, it is more important to know God and be lead into another denomination and eventually become part of the remnant than it is to become an Adventist and possess superficial knowledge of God and eventually miss out on being part of the remnant.

So while I tell you how I became an Adventist, I want you to bear in mind, that God has people else where in every denomination that will eventually be his remnant (that which remains, when the entire Christendom has fallen away into apostasy). 

But before you can recognise that you are called to be part of the remnant, you must first know that you are in Babylon. For years I was a believer in Christ (from age 15) before becoming Adventist, and not knowing that I was in Babylon. So my testimony today is basically how I came to know that I was in Babylon.

I must say that in my past, I never set foot into Adventist Church, even when my entire family went once. I even remember the Adventists marching in my community and inviting us to church. But I never had any interest in their faith or religion. 

Those who are Sabbath-keepers are perhaps well acquainted with the term Babylon. Sabbath-keepers are usually the ones that know the scriptures in Revelation, and know that Babylon in Revelations has come to signify the fallen church of apostasy in the last days. While some interpret the church to be Rome (based on American Protestant traditions), others, Hollywood, others, New York City, others United States of America, I prefer to just generalise the fallen church of apostasy to be Christianity in general, both Protestants and Catholicism. These ideas  require more justification beyond the scope of this testimony.

I can tell you that I do not remember the exact date when I was baptised an Adventist. It was perhaps around 30th day of a month in 2003 on a Saturday. Neither do I remember the name of the crusade, though I suspect that it had "footprints" in the theme. I can as much as point out the surname of the Evangelist, Pastor Cunningham, and the district of Eastern Jamaica Conference. However, I have never forgotten the sermon I heard on the day that I was baptised an Adventist. Because it is the message that God delivered for me that mattered most, not the denomination or organisation. Today, my baptismal certificate is lost, but the message still resounds in my heart, as it was a pivot message that delivered an answer to my questioning and searching.

To all who do not know me, I was born and raised in a Sabbath and holy-day keeping church that also sowed the seed of the message of Babylon in my subconsciousness. However, by my adolescent years, the church founder had died and the church was in transition. That church became split over doctrinal issues in this transition period and in the end ended up renouncing most of the doctrines believed by the founder, including the Sabbath. It became mainstream Evangelical. When I was baptised in that church though I still went to church on a Sabbath, but it was more because of custom or tradition and not faith. My beliefs also were more closely aligned to mainstream Evangelicals and sympathetic towards Pentecostals.

In those days, I had a Utopian view of Christianity as a united community of believers whose prayers and faith helped to preserve the nations of the world from disasters and destruction. I felt that doctrinal matters were irrelevant as long as we held the core of serving Jesus and believing that he was the Christ and Saviour. In those days I would visit anybody's church.

It was until I began university before my Utopian view of Christianity was challenged. Faced on campus with intellectuals critical of Christianity, a large community of atheists, black power activists, communists, African religious persons, fornicators and secularists, I found that I needed a Christian community even more than I did in high school.

You see, I received an Anglican Christian education (God bless the Anglicans of Jamaica). Had devotions every morning before beginning classes. Had access to a Chaplin. Could attend church services on special times during the school year and even had Christmas services at school. Not to mention repeating the Apostles creed. Attended funerals at the church. From what I saw and learned by observation, politicians, leaders and all the persons who became anyone of respected social status were Christians (mostly Anglicans). Christianity seemed like a path to respectability, social mobility and prestige.

I still remember to this day some of what my principals and vice principals instilled in me, from my attendance of Anglican schools from the elementary to secondary level:

  • reverence for the reading of the Bible
  • a few popular Bible verses, prayers and hymns
  • information about Jesus and who he is
However, when I arrived at university, I realise that tertiary education would not be the same as my early Anglican education. I experienced culture shock, as I realised the lifestyles of the politicians and leaders on campus. Though the princess of England established a chapel at the university, I found spirituality wanting on campus. This was definitely not Anglican tertiary education. To be spiritual at university was a matter of the individual free will. There was no one to enforce any policies to attend any spiritual event. Instead, I had to take responsibility for my own spiritual condition in an environment that was hostile to Christian faith. Fertility idols and paintings (posing as sculptures and art work. Parties every weekend. Young adults indulging in premarital sex (the Bible calls it fornication), liquor and alcohol available and in abundance.

To make matters worse, nonreligious lecturers and professors taught, which contrasted with my Christian high school teachers and principals. (Mark you, my principals was addicted to cigarette smoking and smoked until his eyes were red. and he wasn't the only one either, as there were portraits of other principals with pipes in their mouth. At the time I was blinded to such faults).

It was in this new environment, devoid of the spirituality of my youth, that I sought to connect with other young people of the Christian faith which serves as the background and one of the turning points of my life, which I will explain some more in part 2 of this series.

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