How I Became a Seventh-day Adventist Christian

I was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. My dad was an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service and was assigned to the World Health Organization malaria eradication project. My mom and dad were married about a year when I was born in the Adventist hospital in Addis. Though my dad grew up with a Presbyterian or Episcopalian background, and my mother was raised a Methodist, they now leaned toward atheism. When I think of how I came to know God, I sometimes wonder if the doctors and nurses at the hospital had special prayer for me.

I first encountered Christianity when I was 9 years old. My dad, who was then a biology professor at Alaska Methodist University (AMU), was offered a teaching sabbatical at a sister school in the Philippines. Even though AMU was a Methodist school, it wasn't really Christian in the sense that many mission colleges are, whereas the sister school was staffed mostly by career Methodist missionaries. I went to Bible class once a week there. Miss Dietz, a dear old lady, taught me well-known Bible stories. My parents were expected to attend church. They took me once and then gave me the choice of whether I would go or not. For me, it was boring; I was very glad not to attend any more services.

By now I was a confirmed atheist and had little respect for Christians. During fifth grade, I had my mouth washed out with soap for having such filthy speech (at public school in Anchorage). During this time, a junior/senior high school was built near our home. There were race riots and drug problems. My dad figured that I would get mixed up in some trouble, especially drugs. Some of my friends ended up ruining their lives just that way. His solution was to send me to school at the Anchorage Junior Academy (AJA).

I had never heard of a Seventh-day Adventist. In fact, I'm sure you could have convinced me that an Adventist was some kind of flower from West Africa that blossomed seven days after being flooded with water, or some other crazy thing. I wasn't happy about my dad's idea. Going to a private school was the pits; going to a private church school was even worse. Leaving my friends was hard, and I wouldn’t be at the new school where you could pick your classes, the gym was fantastic, and going there was the cool thing to do.

My first day at church school was everyone else's second day. Our family was vacationing and didn't get back for the first day of school. Even though the school had only four classrooms, I felt lost. One of the other students, Chris Nash, made me feel welcome. It was generally a hard time for me, though.

After awhile I discovered there were some things that I liked about church school, for instance—recess. We played organized games; dare base was one I really liked. I also discovered that these people truly believed in God. In fact, their beliefs governed how they lived. I was impressed with their dedication, but knew they were all deluded. I learned to live with their delusions (things like morning worship, prayer, etc.). I made friends and was eventually doing OK.

Around spring, there was this thing called week of prayer. By the time it came along, I figured that there might just be a God, but there wasn't any way, if there was a God, that I was going to let it affect my life. The week of prayer made me think. By the end of the week I wanted to join the baptismal class, but I was too chicken. It depressed me for a couple of days until I realized that they probably had week of prayer every year and I would get the chance again. I read the Bible at night and I still remember when I found the fourth commandment in Exodus 35 (not where most people look). The Holy Spirit was working on me.

After seventh grade I spent most of the summer in Chitina. I attended a Sunday church there with a family friend, who was the pastor. I was tempted to tell the pastor that he was confused about the day to worship on, but I didn't. It's just as well since I still didn't know about Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5. The next year I was happy to go back to church school and enjoyed it a lot. I was elected student association president, started attending church with my friends, and was doing things outside of school with them too. Scholastically things were improving; in fact, my whole life was getting much better.

I had long since decided that I wanted to be in baptismal class and I joined at the next week of prayer. I dropped hints to my parents at the dinner table that I was in baptismal class, but it didn't faze them. The Friday evening before I was to be baptized I had to tell my family in no uncertain terms what I was doing. My dad took it in stride, but I later heard that it was the last thing he expected. My mom didn't react too calmly. She whisked me off to the pastor's house and got a crash course in Adventist doctrine. The upshot was that my baptism was postponed until the next Sabbath, and my folks attended church for it.

It is interesting to look at the pictures on the wall of the AJA. You can see the evolution of Rob Frohne, from something like a monkey to something much more like a human being. The Lord changed almost everything about me. The reasons I am committed to the Lord now have a lot to do with the changes He brought about then. I am very grateful.

July 01, 2006 / Perspective
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