Blown by the Wind

This is a story about Graciano whom others fondly called Tatang. A simple farmer from Dinalupihan, Bataan, Philippines who had an amazing story.

While walking on a dusty road in his town one day he picked up a piece of paper being blown by the wind. He can’t make anything out of it because he was illiterate (he can neither read nor write).

He could have thrown away his seemingly worthless piece of paper, but the Holy Spirit prompted him to show it to someone. Tatang then went to his cousin, a Roman Catholic priest, who read it for him.

The paper was not worthless after all, it was a pamphlet of the SDA church specifically talking about the Seventh-day Sabbath. His cousin helped him understand the pamphlet through the use of a Bible.

His cousin noticed that he still had several questions and was curious about the Sabbath, so he told Tatang to ask the “Sabadistas” of their town. He was told where the church was located for he’d find more answers there. Also he was told to go on a Saturday because he’ll find more people to ask.

One Saturday morning, Tatang gained the courage to visit the local SDA church. As he reached the place, he was surprised by the warmth of the “Sabadistas” who readily welcomed and greeted people even outside the gates of the church. From the gate he was led by a hospitable member all the way to the front pews.

A bit embarrassed at first, for he was only wearing his working clothes (and never anticipating he’d end up listening through the whole service just a few feet away from the pulpit), he was nevertheless delighted of the peace and joy he found that Sabbath morning. He even hummed songs he’d heard in the service all the way back to his house.

The next Sabbath, he was there again, but this time with the best clothes from his “baul.” He came early to church and joined in singing the songs he recognized from his last visit. He listened to the songs about God, the Bible review, the sermons of hope and the heart-felt prayers. He even enjoyed the Christian friendship extended to him.

A few Sabbaths later they gave him a Bible of his own as he was invited to Bible studies. In the Bible studies, he asked someone to read for him as he listened. At home, he asked his wife (who finished elementary school) to read it for him using the Bible study guides.

For several weeks, he would listen intently to Inang as she read the Bible. I believe that Romans 10:17 – “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” was indeed true to his experience as he slowly felt God’s presence in his life.

She then noticed that there was something different going on —he was changing! He would wake up early morning to pray (then at noon and in the evening too). He became gentle, meek and caring. He stopped drinking and eating unclean food based on the Bible. And wonder of wonders, he was actually slowly learning how to read and write with the Bible as his textbook! He even stopped working even before sundown during Friday afternoons and instead greeted the Sabbath with songs.

Inang was mystified of what was happening to him. She was asking, “What’s going on in that Sabadista’s church?” She never went with him at that point, so she thought he might be having an affair.

One Friday evening, as Tatang was sleeping, she soaked his well-pressed clothes with water. It was still dripping in the morning, but he still wore it anyway and went to church without getting angry. Anticipating a reprimand she never got made her think things through.

After that episode, Inang would secretly get the Bible from Tatang’s bayong, hanging at the side of their kubo, (while he worked in the fields) and read it. She read those verses that he highlighted with a pencil or pen and learned more about her husband’s transformation.

A few weeks, later she asked Tatang if she could join him at church. He was happy to bring her along with him and probably with their children in tow.

He was later baptized and Inang followed suit. They both remained faithful to the Lord until the end. I don’t exactly remember what year they were converted, but this I know, that they named several of their children from Bible characters.

My grandmother (Inang), was a major reason why my father, Pastor Abner Roque, became a minister of the gospel. And my grandfather (Tatang), was a major influence to about five generations of Seventh-day Adventists within our family and to others as well.

I had the chance to know him better for he was one of those who raised me. I treasure those wonderful times with him.

He prayed long prayers and worshiped 3 times a day – morning, noon and night; with extra prayers at 3pm, 12mn and 3am. I often hear my siblings and cousins say that I was his favorite, probably for the fact that I joined him through his daily devotions and actually enjoyed it.

He was a faithful believer and a very knowledgeable Bible student. He had an awesome memory that he can conduct a Bible study even without a Bible at hand, able to recall verses word for word (from Genesis to Revelation). He would share the Lord to anyone he would meet, even to a stranger in a park.

He was well-versed in the Adventist doctrines that I found it stirring to hear him and my father talk about it in our family worship. I also see a reflection of him in my father’s own spiritual walk with God. I saw through their lives (not only in words) glimpses of My Heavenly Father for which I’m grateful for.

And so it was that pamphlet — carrying God’s message of hope and love — blown by the wind– the instrument why the lives within our family for five generations were never the same again.

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