The only one to stand

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Aura Ebron Steedman was born in Talisay, Camarines Norte, Philippines, approximately 338 kilometres from Manila. She is the seventh of 10 children to Rosa and Levy Ebron. Rice farming was their main source of income. Her parents were diligent workers and were out in the field planting the rice before sunrise every day. The children had been brought up with strict rules. When the parents were not around, the older siblings would step in by doing household chores, like cooking, and ensuring that every one of the children were working together and everything was done before they headed off to school. It was a hard life, but Rosa and Levy did all they could to help the family survive.

There was minimal money to buy food, at the best of times. There were tough times when the typhoons came and destroyed the crop. It would take four months for more rice to grow, and so during that time they went without, because there was simply no money to buy food.

When Aura was eight-years old she discovered she could make a little money by selling vegetables in the neighbouring town close to her elementary school. Every day, around 6am, she would carry a big bundle of vegetables on her head, hoping to sell them before school, which started at 7:30am. One generous customer often bought all her vegetables for a few pesos. This helped pay for items needed for school.

Another way Aura earned money was to sing. When she did this people gave her a few pesos or some vegetables. Singing became a way of survival.

Up to this time she had little religious training. Her father had been a Seventh-day Adventist growing up, and her mother was a Catholic, but neither attended church. Her paternal grandmother was a Seventh-day Adventist but sadly died when Aura was 12. Maybe she had planted a few seeds of God’s love in Aura’s heart!

When Aura was 15 and in her third year of high school, a group of Seventh-day Adventists from Sta. Cruz church conducted an evangelistic seminar for two weeks, close to where she lived. Out of curiosity, Aura decided to go. She was very interested right from the start. The topics were all new to her, and she learned about Creation, the Trinity and the Sabbath. As soon as she heard about keeping the Sabbath holy, she immediately thought that it was not going to be easy to do, given her situation at home. She decided to keep the Sabbath anyway. 

The seminar concluded with an appeal from the pastor, “Whoever wants to accept Jesus as your personal Saviour, please stand?” The only person to stand was Aura!

Her baptism was arranged to be held at the Adventist church in Daet, on a Sunday at 9am. The only problem was, the church was quite a long way from her house. On the day of her baptism, she had only two pesos, which would cover only one way by public transport, which meant she would have to walk home. But God had a plan. God sent an Adventist tricycle driver into that very crowded town. Aura approached him, introduced herself, and said she was to be baptised that day and needed to get to the church. The driver told her that the day before in their church service it had been announced about the baptism, but he did not know who it was. He drove her to the church and he drove her all the way back home free of charge. Praise God!

Her mother had no idea about her decision to be baptised until the following Saturday when Rosa saw her preparing to go to church. Aura explained that she had been baptised as a Seventh-day Adventist and she wanted to attend church every Sabbath. But every Saturday, all the children had to help on the farm, either planting or harvesting rice. Aura told her mother that she was willing to work all day Sunday instead, but Rosa became angry. Children were expected to obey their parents. Aura loved her mother, but she was determined that she would serve God by keeping His Sabbath no matter the consequences. Her first Sabbath was not a happy one, because Aura knew she was disobeying her mother.

One thing that Aura was confused about was in the Ten Commandments where it says to “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” but it also says, “Honour your mother and your father”. If her parents did not want her to go to church, should she listen to them? 

She spoke to a church elder and he responded by saying, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Although it was difficult, nothing would stop her from going to church.

After graduating from high school, Aura attended the Adventist University of the Philippines (AUP), studying a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She was working and studying at the same time to pay for her tuition, but during her last year she needed to study full time. Her parents did not have enough money to cover tuition fees for her final year.

It was the policy that the students needed to pay a percentage of the fees each semester before they could sit their final examination. Each semester Aura always asked for an extension, which initially was granted, but during her last semester the extension was declined. Her only choice was to pray and seek the mercy of the AUP president. Aura had no appointment and waited from 8am until finally, at 11am, she was given permission to enter his office. After explaining her situation, she noticed him writing on a paper and placing it in an envelope. She was told to give it to the Student Affairs Department. To her surprise, he had paid her full tuition fees of P43,000 (around $A1000). God is so good.

During her time at AUP, and unknown to her, the church in Santa Cruz had been sending people to visit her parents. You can imagine her joy at hearing that her parents had also been baptised. That weekend she travelled home, and for the first time was able to attend church with her parents. What a joyous day that was. Since then, seven of her siblings have been baptised.

In April 2007, a group of Australian youth, volunteers from the Hoxton Park church in Sydney, Australia, went to the Philippines to conduct an evangelistic crusade near her home in Camarines Norte. The group initially stayed at AUP, and Aura asked if she could hitch a ride in their bus back to Talisay. She joined them on the bus and immediately noticed a handsome young man sitting at the back. She, however, had been allocated a seat down the front. His name was Chris Steedman and the next day, on Sabbath afternoon, they spent time getting to know each other. That was the beginning of their love story. Chris was new to the faith, having been baptised five months earlier.

In October 2007, Aura travelled to Australia and met Chris’s family and was happy to meet all the Hoxton Park church family. On January 6, 2008, Chris and Aura were married. Two days later Aura had to return to the Philippines. She completed all the requirements for a spouse visa, which two months later was granted.

Aura and Chris have now been married for 15 years and have two lovely daughters, Acacia and Trisha. Aura works as a registered nurse serving elderly people and veterans in the community. Aura is also the Primary Sabbath school teacher at Hoxton Park church, which she loves. 

Aura says, “I will continue to serve God for as long as I live. He has been so good and faithful to me.”

Sandra Lehn attends Hoxton Park church, Sydney, NSW.

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