We all want to be disciples of Christ. But are we really willing to follow Him? It’s an easy question to answer in the abstract. But what if our livelihoods are on the line?
I was raised a Catholic. One day a pamphlet arrived in our letterbox advertising a Bible correspondence course. I didn’t know which church was offering the lessons but I couldn’t get enough of them. It was like an explosion of information that I never knew and they opened up the Bible in an amazing way.
There are times in your life where you need to take a stand and fight the battle to benefit others, and bring glory and recognition to God.
I completed three more Bible courses and before I knew it another pamphlet arrived in the letterbox advertising a Revelation seminar, and this brought me into the Church. I was only about 14 when I truly found God and was baptised into the Invercargill Seventh-day Adventist Church in New Zealand.
When I was about 20 my life took a different turn. I started to drift away from God and eventually left the Church. But as the years went by I saw all the events happening in the world that confirmed the Bible’s prophecies. In my heart I knew we really were in the last days. And I asked myself, whose side do I want to be on? When I was 40, I decided to invite God back into my life and I promised to never leave Him again. It was the best decision I could make—but it hasn’t been easy.
I was working Monday through Saturday. As my faith grew, I didn’t feel right about working on the Sabbath. I approached my boss to explain the situation and at first it seemed like he was going to agree as he gave me six months of no Saturday work. Everything was great—because I loved my job and I was well respected for my work ethic.
But as time passed, he changed his mind and tried to make me work on Saturdays. I refused each time. I pleaded with him, suggesting ways I could work on Sundays. But I decided to put God first over man and that is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I was truly torn between choosing God or choosing my job. The best my boss would offer was for me to work about six Saturdays a year. This was no good to me as I wanted to totally commit myself to God, not give a part-time commitment. It doesn’t make sense to steal or commit adultery a couple of times a year, does it? So why would I agree to break the Sabbath six times a year?
I thought of all I had learned and the God I was committed to. And I remembered Ellen White’s inspiring words: “Towards the end of time, faithfulness to this commandment will be the great test of loyalty to God. By it a line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve him not.”1
Pastor Victor Kulakov was leading Invercargill church at the time and he offered my wife and I vital support and genuine friendship. He supported me during the difficult times and even wrote letters to my boss.
On September 7, 2012 my boss fired me for failing to follow his order to work on the Sabbath. It was a horrible and stressful day for me and my wife.
Since the time I had first approached my boss, I had trusted our heavenly Father and applied my faith like never before. God and my local church provided for our needs and I managed to pick up casual jobs until I found another permanent job.
However, I felt God prompting me to take the matter further and little miracles resulted in me meeting a lawyer. This was an issue that I could not simply sweep under the carpet—I knew how important the Sabbath day is to God.
Some people might be questioning why I took legal action where others would have walked away. There are times in your life where you need to take a stand and fight the battle to benefit others, and bring glory and recognition to God. The following verse inspires me:
“And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good, but even if you should suffer for righteousness sake you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled, but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. With meekness and fear, having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than evil” (1 Peter 3: 13-17).
I took my case to the Human Rights Commission and they accepted it. A tribunal hearing was held on September 15, 2014 at the Invercargill Court. It lasted for four days and on October 14 I received a phone call from the Commission saying that I had won the case. I was very happy and relieved that it was over as it had dragged on for just over two years. This will now set a legal precedent in New Zealand that will protect not only Seventh-day Adventists, but people of all faiths who wish to observe their holy days. It will give others hope and encouragement that we do have the legal right to worship God in New Zealand.
This experience has brought me closer to God and also prepared me for any other fierce trials that may come my way. God was there the whole time and gave me the strength, peace and reassurance that everything would be OK.
I hope my testimony brings you hope and that you apply faith from the smallest to the biggest problems in your life. I thank God for this opportunity and pray that much good will come from it. Let me end with the crucial question: Would you stand for your faith?
1. Ellen G White, Great Controversy, 605.
*As told to Invercargill Seventh-day Adventist Church pastors Younis and Romina Masih. Mark Meulenbroek is a member of Invercargill church.