First year at university
The 2000s was a turning point for me spiritually. It was in this period that I arrived at university and felt that Satan was assaulting my intellectual foundation in Christianity. It felt as if there was an intellectual assault on my Christian worldview and outlook, which I did not experience before within in my previous stages of education. For the first time, many of the lecturers and tutors that taught me, seemed to be secular or critical of Christianity. Then many of my fellow university students were the party going types. I met university students who justified the use of curse words and foul language intellectually. I learned of many Christian students who abandoned their faith on campus, some taking on Rastafarian world views, others falling to fornication and parties. I even had a person who seemed to be an overt Satanist in at least one of my classes. To make matters worse, I saw many idols (sculptures) that glorified images of naked bodies and paintings that seemed suggestive of sexual messages. This environment isolated me and made me feel that I was now in the Devil's campus.
So I sought refuge, and went to join the University and College Christian Fellowship (UCCF), the university equivalent of the Christian club that I was part of at my high school. However, unlike high school, for university I had greater options and variety of Christian groups to choose from. However, like the human being that I am, I stuck with what I knew and was used to.
As I attended the first meeting, I felt a sense of smallness, as the group was way bigger than what I was accustomed to in high school. In my first year, though, I at least continued with them, and especially their small group meetings, joining for devotions in the early morning and prayer times when I felt my spiritual reserve was emptying.
While UCCF was my mainstay, I must say that I felt the need to connect with others. I remember signing up for a bible study with Campus Crusade for Christ, though at the first meeting, the person did not show up. At that time I also encountered members of the Kingston Church of Christ. I remember the day I met this tall young fellow who just walked up to me and invited me to church. I was impressed at his boldness and bravery. So I obliged him once by attending the church one Sunday, but more so attended the small student group on campus.
It was a little while before members of UCCF began warning us about cults on campus. Explicitly they mentioned that members of the Kingston Church of Christ were one of those cults who appeared friendly, but were just hiding a deceptive agenda. I was shocked. How could they classify this group of friendly people who were so bold on campus to go up to strangers and invite them to church as a cult? Plus being in small group with them, I could not verify that these persons were up to no good.
This event shook me. Primarily because I too was coming out of a church labelled as a cult (the Worldwide Church of God). As such, I felt the need to seek God for myself and away from organized groups. How could I trust any group? This began my search for "truth" as well as a distrust in organized Christian groups, which continued during my first year.
My second year at university
In my second year, as I moved on campus (closer to the den of iniquity), I connected with Advent Fellowship. At the time, I just did so because I felt that at least we worshipped on the same day. So when I gave my name and contact to the leaders, I did not realise that this move was going to change my life for ever and put me on a path that I was not planning to tread.
I remember going through induction for the hall and telling them that on Friday night, that I did not want to participate, as I wanted to rest for church the next day. The student leader in charge asked me if I was a Sabbath keeper, to which I replied "kind of". The student leader at the time said I could not be on the fence, and that "either you are a Sabbath keeper or not a Sabbath keeper". However, for me it was really complicated. At the time, Worldwide Church of God was no longer observing Sabbath, though the Jamaican congregation still met on Saturday for worship services.
However, I remember, when the President of Advent Fellowship came to my rescue one Friday evening. he asked for me, and the student leaders released me. Then he waited for me to get ready to follow him to Advent Fellowship's first meeting for the term. As we walked to the meeting site, he interviewed me to find out about my spiritual gifts as well as my background. Eventually we arrived, and when the meeting began, I heard singing like I never heard before. This was a talented large group of students, who could really sing. I enjoyed the meeting and from then on, the group became a spiritual oasis for me.
Advent Fellowship also had small group meetings, and I too became involve in that. I hanged out with the ChanSea group (a combination of Chancellor Hall and Mary Searcole Hall). In this small group, the ladies out numbered the men. ChanSea met on Saturday, where we went to church together, had lunch together and studied the quarterly lesson of the SDA church together. Over time, I found that I studied the Bible more and topics about the Sabbath, the law and grace was featured in one of the quarterlies. This began to change my spiritual outlook on the Sabbath.
So far, I have omitted the romantic aspects of my campus life, and the love triangle that developed soon. However, since I do not want to write any names or implicate any of my former girlfriends, I have to keep it brief and just say that over time, I experienced a crises in my relationships that involved two girls. The crises led to depression and made me feel like the world's worst Christian and chief sinner.
Crusade by mistake or by God's design?
One day in the period of my depression, I told my ChanSea friends that I wanted to go to church alone in order to seek God for myself. They respected my wishes and left me to go to church alone that day. As I was on the bus to church, I fell asleep. The public bus passed the usual stop, and as such, I missed my turn. I panicked when I awoke and realised that I was off route. However a calm came over me, and it was like the voice of reason spoke and said there must be an Adventist church else where to go to.
I came off at a particular bus stop, where something was telling me that an Adventist church was located nearby. So I walked in the direction of what I perceived to be the church sign. However, I noticed that I saw some people dressed in church clothes going in the opposite direction. So I stopped them and asked where was the church. I was told that the church would be close today for a crusade, but I could accompany them to the crusade. So I walked with the group to the crusade, in which I was about to hear a sermon that would answer my questionings.
The sermon and altar call
The sermon built upon a principle that was sowed in me by my reading of the literature of Herbert W. Armstrong of the Worldwide Church of God. The sermon was about Babylon (man's religion and laws) and God's religion and laws. The preacher asked us to choose which one we would follow. However, in my spirit, I was hearing a different message. I was hearing from God that of course there is deception even within Christianity, but he has given his word the Bible to help me to identify deception and to stay away from those who teach falsehood. Hence, once I study the Bible I would not fall victim to cults.
When the evangelist made the altar call, I wrestled with the question as to whether or not I should go up. I did feel like a sinner, but I knew I was already baptized. Nonetheless, I went up, and as I did, a lady greeted me and asked me if I wanted to be baptized. Thinking that this was God's will, I said yes, but exclaimed that I did not have any change of clothes. She told me that they had some for circumstances like these, and so that same day, I was plunged into the water a second time, with new life and joy.
And this brethren is how I became a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church. However, the story does not end here, but is still developing as I write, and some day I hope that a book will emerge on my spiritual autobiography that will continue to tell you the complete story. For God knows where he is taking me, and that baptism or initiation was just part of the journey.