God’s wonderful providence
Born in an Adventist home, I learned early in childhood some basic essentials of life. My parents were my first teachers, and they taught both in words and through their model lives. I learned to love and obey God, regardless of the consequences. Later, in an Adventist academy, these early lessons were reinforced by model teachers. During the obligatory military service, my biblical convictions regarding Sabbath observance were tested, but God always helped me find a solution.
After secondary school, I enrolled in a public university in northern Argentina to pursue a degree in veterinary science, which involved five years of study. I sailed through my first two years without any courses being taught on the Sabbath. As I began the third year, the class schedule for one course conflicted with my Sabbath conviction, but I was able to work this one out, and I moved on with wings to complete my professional goal.
Come fourth-year, I had the option of taking one course on Tuesdays or Saturdays. But at enrollment time I learned, to my utter disappointment, that the Tuesday track had been cancelled. I asked God why He allowed this to happen! I spoke with the academic authorities and the senior lecturer, explaining my reasons for not attending classes on Saturdays and requesting an exemption. In the meantime I continued taking other courses. The official answer to my puzzle came near the end of the academic year: I could take all the tests, exams, labs, and the final exam at once … in just three hours. I sensed that neither the teacher nor the university administration wanted to help me. Although I prepared well and wrote feverishly, I could not cover all the topics in the time allotted.
By then I was married and was facing a difficult dilemma. I could abandon my career, having completed practically four-fifths of the courses, or I could try again to take the exam of the class still pending. With much prayer and trepidation, I faced the challenge, but failed. It was evident that the lecturer and his assistants did not want to set a precedent that this core course requirement could be challenged without attending classes and labs.
What I did not know at that difficult time in my life was that God was about to find an unexpected and providential solution to my predicament.
Since my grades had been good in all the other courses, I applied and was granted the opportunity to enroll as a conditional student in the fifth and final year of my program. It was expected that by the middle of the year I would take and pass the exam for the pending fourth-year course. At that point I would be reinstated to regular status. I spent time trying to establish a cordial relationship with the main lecturer and his teaching assistants for that course. Their reaction, however, was very cold and uncaring–they saw me as a difficult student with strange religious ideas.
Suddenly, one month before the examination date, I noticed a remarkable change in attitude. They became friendly and with a smile answered the questions I posed on the format and scope of the examination. I knew that the members of several Adventist churches in the area had been praying for me. Yet, I was unable to fully understand the new cordiality of the lecturer and his assistants.
I came to the examination trusting in God. I took the written part, then the laboratory section, and finally faced the oral exam, which was shorter than expected. The head of the examination committee told me, “You know the subject well. Please wait outside.” A moment later I was handed the university identity booklet with the course on Farm Animals marked “Approved.” Praise God! Then another member of the committee asked me to see him later, because he wanted to tell me something important.
This is what he told me.
One early Saturday morning, a few weeks before my exam, Dr. Eloy Caos–the senior lecturer–began driving his car to meet an appointment in the southern part of the province. Near the halfway point of his itinerary, the car began malfunctioning and then stopped at the city of Bella Vista. Dr. Caos inquired about a good service garage and was told that the best mechanic in town closed his shop on Saturdays, but lived next to the garage. The professor followed the instructions, came to the house, and found the mechanic well dressed and about to go out with his family. To the lecturer’s surprise, the mechanic returned to the house, changed his clothes, and quickly fixed the problem. When Dr. Caos asked him how much he owed for the special service, the mechanic gave him a response that kept the lecturer thinking during the rest of his trip–“You owe me nothing.” Then added, “I am a Seventh-day Adventist and was just going to church with my family. You needed assistance, and I was glad to help. Make sure to get a new part for your car on Monday.”
The teaching assistant then told me that when the senior professor came back to the university, he described the incident and said that during the weekend he had learned much about the kind of people Sabbath-keeping Christians are.
So, in God’s wonderful providence, I was able to complete my studies, obtain my degree, and start my profession as a veterinarian. I now reside in the province of La Pampa, in central Argentina, and am the first elder of a new Adventist congregation. My wife is the church secretary, and our daughters lead out in the children and youth departments.
God is faithful.