Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Steven Dragoo

A lonely literature evangelist walked the dusty hot streets of Butuan City, Philippines.

All day he toiled, and yet he sold nothing. This was his only source of income, so he was a little discouraged. But he determined to knock on one more door before going home that day. As he approached, he prayed and then knocked.

A slight woman with keen eyes opened the door to greet the tired man with a smile. He made his heavenly pitch, and she could see the sincerity in his eyes and hear it in his voice. It was as if the Holy Spirit Himself was pleading with this woman.

She was a Christian, but she had squandered years with no deep interest in pursuing Christ. When the family’s finance situation became grave, the woman began to hunger to learn more about Jesus. But her pockets were always empty. She had 10 children, and three more would be on the way.

So how could she afford the literature evangelist’s book, which she knew she just had to read and share? The book was called “The Great Controversy” and written by Ellen White.

Without hesitation, she bought that book with resources that she did not have.

More than 50 years have passed since that day, but the fruit of that singular book is still being felt. The woman, Epefania Ty, led every single one of her children to Christ. She surely believed, as Ellen White wrote, that “our work for Christ is to begin with the family, in the home. … There is no missionary field more important than this” (“Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 6, page 429).

One of her sons, Florente Ty, became a pastor and now is the president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Philippine Publishing House in Manila. Others became deacons, elders, deaconesses, and teachers in Adventist churches and academies. Nearly all graduated from Mountain View College, and each one who did helped the next one go to that college.

I know this woman as “Mom.” I married one of her daughters, Dorcas, who has taught at Adventist academies all her life.

Mom had a stroke before I met her. She was mute, blind, and bedridden. She tried with all her heart to talk to me at our first meeting but could not. That does not really matter. She has already spoken to my heart many times because she responded to the Holy Spirit those many years ago. Mom died in August 2013 at the age of 89.

Dozens of people have come to Christ because of a lonely literature evangelist, a powerful book, and a woman receptive to the Holy Spirit.

Mom, I’ll see you again on that appointed day.


Steven Dragoo is a Bible worker and evangelist in Christiansburg, Virginia.