I met Stephen 29 years ago when he was a student at Indonesia Adventist University where I served as an academic dean. I could see that he had the potential to become a leader, but he came from a different religion. He did not prepare for baptism in his first year, second year, or third year. When the fourth year came, he still didn’t give any indication that he was interested, even though he was in a baptismal class.
On Friday afternoon, a day before the Sabbath that we were planning to have a baptism, I realized that this was Stephen’s last chance. If he was not going to be baptized that Sabbath day, he would never be baptized.
I had to go downtown. I invited Stephen to go with me so that I could have an opportunity to talk with him in the car: “Stephen, I know you have studied the Bible for four years. Do you have any questions?”
“Are you ready to be baptized tomorrow?”
I began to share the experience of how I had not come from a Seventh-day Adventist family, and how happy I had been to become an Adventist.
I asked him, “Do you want to have that happiness?”
He said, “Yes.”
“So you are ready for baptism tomorrow?”
After the 20 km trip from the college to downtown and back, his answer was still no. But before we separated, we prayed together.
At 5:00 the next morning I gave a Bible study, and I saw that Stephen was there. When it was time for closing prayer someone said, “Please pray for those who are in the valley of decision.”
We did not know that Stephen was praying that if the person presiding asked him to pray it would mean the Lord wanted him to be baptized. He thought it was impossible for him to be asked to pray, because everyone knew that he was in the valley of decision. But to his surprise, he was asked to pray, and he trembled as he prayed.
After the Bible study, Stephen came to see me. “I need to be baptized, because someone asked me to pray. That was the sign that I had asked God to give for me.” So I was able to baptize Stephen that Sabbath, and I always remember him as the student who made a decision on Sabbath morning.
After graduation, Stephen went to the Philippines to earn his Master of Business Administration degree. Then he returned to Indonesia and established his business.
One day Stephen came to me and said something like this: “You have taught me. You have baptized me. But there is one more thing you need to do.”
“What is that?” I asked.
“Help me to find a Chinese wife.”
I said, “OK. Pray about it.” He told me that he always prayed in the middle of the night.
How did the Lord answer his prayer? During my family’s vacation, I met a woman who had made up her mind to be baptized two hours before her baptism. One year later she married Stephen.
What has become of Stephen? He and his wife own one of the biggest fertilizer companies in Indonesia. He served as a member of the university board for 10 years, the union executive committee for 10 years, and now he is a member of the Council on Evangelism and Witness for the General Conference.
Stephen and his wife have financed many building projects. Despite his family’s busy schedules, they give their time to produce national religious television programs.
In witnessing, persistence pays.
Find more keys for successful personal witnessing in The Witnessing Survival Guide: “Winning the Game of Your Life” on pages 58 and 59.
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists