Like many young people in Africa, Siyoka had migrated from his home village to a larger town in search of a job. He lived with relatives and sent every penny he could back to his widowed mother and two younger brothers.
It was the music that first attracted him to meetings held by Pastor Mbena, but when he heard the story of Jesus, Siyoka could not stop thinking about how wonderful it would be to go to heaven with Him. What would it be like, he wondered, never to be hungry, sad, lonely, or afraid again.
The meetings over, Siyoka decided to return home and go to school so that perhaps, someday, he could become a pastor too. The local elder who took charge of following up those who had attended the meeting thought Siyoka had lost interest when he left town. He did whatever work he could find to pay for his school fees, as well as caring for the family garden. But that year the rains did not come. Sadly the villagers watched their crops wither and die. Sometimes there would be clouds and even a little rain, but not the steady, soaking rains needed to bring life to the barren earth.
The famine was terrible. Many died and many more, including Siyoka, became sick. In desperation his mother, seeing he was about to die, managed to bring him to a hospital in the nearest city. It was there that Pastor Mbena, visiting some of his church members, found him.
After relating these events, Siyoka’s thin face lit up as he said in a weak whisper,
God is good, Pastor Mbena. He kept me from dying in the famine and now I will be alive to see my people baptized. You will come to my village, won’t you?
Yes, Siyoka, I must come to your village and hold some meetings so your people can learn about Jesus, answered the pastor warmly.
Oh, they already know Jesus, Pastor! Siyoka assured him earnestly.
There are 25 ready to be baptized. I told them everything I learned when I attended your meetings and taught them the songs, too. I met with them every Sabbath. Even when the famine was really bad we prayed, and God answered our prayers. He brought me here so I could find you. When can you come?
Pastor Mbena could hardly believe his ears. This boy who had had so little opportunity to learn had become a preacher for God! When Siyoka was well enough to go home the pastor accompanied him. He visited the people and found that they had indeed been well taught. What a wonderful day it was when Siyoka and his 25 converts were baptized.
This story was written by Charlotte Ishkanian.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission.
Find more mission stories at www.adventistmission.org