I hadn’t attended any church for many years, living life the way I wanted to live it. Then 10 years ago at the age of 67, something happened that I didn’t understand: I got up one morning, picked up my Bible, got in my car, and drove to our local Costco store. I parked at the far end of the parking lot where there were very few cars, and spent the next hour reading my Bible. I had absolutely no plans or intention to do this. I didn’t think about doing this for one second beforehand.
I continued to do this on a daily basis for the next 10 years. Every day I couldn’t wait to get there to spend that hour in God’s Word. Each time it felt more like 10 minutes.
I learned a lot about what God had to say, which was a wonderful thing, but looking back I realize that this had to be only a first step in God’s plan for me. During those 10 years of Bible reading I must have read the word “Sabbath” literally hundreds of times, but I just didn’t get it. It was just a word that did not connect in my mind. I know now that this exact thing has happened and is happening to hundreds of thousands of Bible-reading people around the world.
Then seemingly out of the blue by e-mail, I re-established contact with an old friend, Mark Phillips. He and I once worked for the same company and were longtime friends, but we had not been in contact for a very long time. It turned out he is a Sabbath keeper. I noticed his conversation concerning his relationship with God was a whole lot different than mine. I heard words like: Sabbath, Passover, feasts, etc. These were words that were not very familiar to me at that time, in spite of the fact that I had 10 years of reading the Bible under my belt.
I now believe that re-establishing contact with my longtime friend Mark out of the blue was not just a coincidence. I believe that this was God’s second step in my conversion. It reminds me of the story about Phillip teaching the eunuch. Philip asked the eunuch who was reading the Bible, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And the eunuch replied, “How can I unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:30-31 Acts 8:30-31  And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understand you what you read?
 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
American King James Version×).
I got on Google and typed in “Sabbath keeping churches in San Diego,” and of course the United Church of God website was at the top of the list. I found the website to be extremely well done.
I believe this was God’s third step in my conversion. Just reading this story as I’ve typed it out, it becomes very clear to me the events leading up to this were not just random coincidences, but were instead the deliberate and carefully thought out actions of the almighty God.
I see now that the 10 years of daily Bible reading were a part of God’s plan. But it was only the beginning; more was needed. It brings to mind Romans 10:15 Romans 10:15And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
American King James Version×: “And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!’”
That’s why we have God’s Church. And that’s why God has given us ministers and pastors to preach the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God. Truly blessed is the person who has found the pearl of great price.
Ray Amato is a member in the San Diego, California, congregation.