Many years ago, my grandpa’s (Mum’s dad) elder brother angrily visited Grandpa with the intention of killing him because my grandpa had become a Seventh-day Adventist. Yes, a very dramatic occurrence in my family history. Spoiler alert—my grand uncle did not use his bush knife on Grandpa. In fact, Grandpa convinced angry uncle to also become a Seventh-day Adventist!
During the late 1920s, Sanika Afa’ese (my grandpa) was a government teacher in Samoa. One day, in 1930, he found discarded pages of a Signs of the Times magazine. He was drawn to the article titled, “Why I became a Seventh-day Adventist”. The questions that flooded his mind after reading the article began a life-changing journey.
In his search for answers, Sanika discovered an Adventist church with warm fellowship and Bible teaching that addressed his many queries. Soon after, he made the momentous decisions to be baptised and to leave government employment to teach at the burgeoning Vailoa Adventist School. It was during this time that big brother, Fepulea’i, learned that his younger brother had forsaken their family religion.
Fepulea’i personally took on the task of restoring family honour by paying his brother, who lived on the island of Upolu, an ill-intended visit. On arrival he made clear to Grandpa the purpose of his visit and the intended outcome he had in mind. Grandpa ever so gently requested—and was granted—an opportunity to share why he had become an Adventist. After a week of loving fellowship, intensive Bible study and inspiring Sabbath worship, Fepulea’i apologised to Grandpa for his evil intentions. Fepulea’i returned home and became one of the first three people to be baptised as Seventh-day Adventists on the big island of Savaii.
Grandpa became a pastor, church planter and evangelist.
Pastor Sanika Afa’ese was one of the pioneer Samoan pastors for Adventist ministry in Samoa, American Samoa, New Zealand, Hawaii, San Francisco and San Diego. I’m so grateful that he received his brother with bold gentleness, conviction and love.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”–Proverbs 15:1.
This devotional was also part of the Adventist Heritage Daily Devotional series. You can listen to a recording of this and other devotional stories at the podcast page.