H aile Magicho Sendeno was a super-smart boy.
He finished sixth grade in only half a year. Then he finished seventh grade in the second half of the year. The teachers were so impressed that they gave him the final exams for the eighth grade — and he passed with straight A’s.
As a reward, the Christian school presented Haile with a special gift: his own Bible.
Not many children had their own Bibles in Ethiopia, and Haile couldn’t have bought one on his own. His father was a powerful man in their home village, Angacha, but the family still didn’t have much money, and Bibles were in scarce supply.
Haile happily turned the pages of his new Bible. He read here and there. Then an elderly uncle came to visit. Uncle knew that Haile went to a Christian school and asked about his studies.
“You know, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the true church,” Uncle said.
The words surprised Haile. He and his family went to church on Sundays. The Christian school taught that Sunday is the Sabbath. Uncle was a Seventh-day Adventist pastor and went to church on Saturdays.
Haile decided to prove Uncle wrong. He opened his Bible and began to look for verses that proved Sunday is the Sabbath. In Matthew, he read that Jesus was crucified on the sixth day, Friday, and was resurrected on the first day, Sunday. He saw that Jesus rested on the seventh day, Saturday. He decided to join the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
But there were no Adventist churches in his village. The nearest church was located in a village 15 miles (30 kilometers) away, and that was the church where Uncle worked as pastor.
On Sabbath morning, Haile jumped on his horse and rode to the church. The church’s 15 members recognized him, and they knew that his father was a powerful man. They also knew that his father believed that Sunday was the Sabbath and could send anyone to jail who angered him.
“Why did you come here?” said one.
“To be a member of this church,” Haile said.
“Are you joking or serous?” said another.
“I am serious,” the boy said. “I want to be a Seventh-day Adventist.”
Uncle was happy to see Haile, but he also asked why he had come. Haile opened his Bible and showed the verses that had convinced him that Saturday is the true Sabbath.
Father was furious when he heard that Haile had decided to become a Seventh-day Adventist.
“He will bring a curse on us and our house,” Father said. “If he wants to join that church, he can’t live here.”
Haile was sad, but he was determined to obey God. Mother felt sorry for him and allowed him to come home after school while Father was working. Haile hid in a bed at night and left for school before Father woke up in the morning.
Haile lived like this for a year. Finally, Father noticed that Haile was living at home. He also saw that the boy was quiet, studying well in school, and not hanging out with bad boys.
He called Haile to him.
“Maybe this is a good thing,” he said. “You are not a bad boy even though you’ve accepted the Adventist beliefs. So, continue your studies, worship in your church, and live with us.”
Haile was happy. He knew that God was honoring him for keeping the Sabbath.
He has kept the Sabbath ever since. Through his example, his mother also became a Seventh-day Adventist, and many people have learned about Sabbath. When he moved to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to teach school, he opened a church in his neighborhood. Today, the church has 150 members and 60 children who worship every Sabbath.