One early Sabbath morning, I received a phone call from a church member. “Pastor, there is a man here who wants to talk to you. He seems agitated and insists on speaking with the pastor.” I hurried to church to meet with the man. I silently prayed for guidance and sat down.

The gentleman looked me over, verified I was the pastor, and then asked if I would help him with his problems. I listened intently as he began disclosing his marital and psychological struggles. I told him, “My brother, God can help you. Let me share with you my favorite text, which has helped me over the years.” I opened my iPad and read Jer. 29:11-14: “I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the LORD; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you search for me… you will find me….” Then I added, “God brought you here for a purpose; God has a plan for you, your wife, and your whole family’s future.”

It was nearly time for church to start, so I prayed with him and invited him to stay for church. I also suggested we meet together with his wife to address their marital concerns. Before leaving, Daniel gave me a bear hug and said, “Pastor, I have a very good feeling!” Although Daniel did not attend church that Sabbath, he began attending regularly thereafter with his family.

Shortly after I had begun pastoring in Rapid City, I began prayer walking, asking for God’s help in reaching people in my new mission field. However, it wasn’t until I met Daniel and heard his story that I realized I had been failing to recognize God’s responses to my prayers.

Before discovering the Rapid City Adventist Church, Daniel had been watching religious television programs. During this period, he developed an overwhelming urge to transform his life, seek greater fulfillment in his marriage, achieve better health, and reconcile with God. He discovered God’s call to observe the seventh-day Sabbath and sought out a Sabbath-keeping church. This led him to our Adventist church that fateful morning. He told me, “Pastor, the Holy Spirit led me to this church.” I realized that God actively invites people into His church to join His divine mission, and it struck me that His work of salvation persists regardless of my response.

When I finally realized what God was doing in my city, I began praying even more earnestly. I was convinced that if God found us worthy to bring someone off the streets into our church to learn more about Him, then I should pray that God would make the Rapid City Church a working reflection of His character. God called the Adventist Church to provide a safe haven for all to worship Him. I firmly believe that if our Rapid City Church is such a place, then those who walk in will be willing to spread the Word. I started praying for God to lead more men and women to encounter Jesus Christ in the lives of our members. I can testify that I’ve had a number of people walk in: Adventists transferring in and people off the street desiring church fellowship. Experience has shown me that sometimes we aren’t the nicest of people, and it scares me.

I gave Daniel and his wife reading materials and stayed in contact. He said, “Being a part of the church has been a blessing. I think God calls us to be members of a church. I still haven’t figured out what our Father wants me to do, but I will listen, and I will do what He says.” After discussing the importance and significance of baptism, he and his whole family decided to be baptized.

Two weeks before the scheduled date of baptism, I got a text from Daniel, “I’m at the ER now. I finally saw the pain clinic and they are recommending surgery.” I grappled with whether he would physically be eligible for baptism by immersion. I prayed about the matter, and his subsequent text brought relief: “I didn’t get admitted. Thank God.” Despite Daniel’s evident physical discomfort at his baptism, he wanted to proceed.

On that day, in December of 2023, I baptized four candidates –Timothy, Daniel, Amber (Daniel’s wife), and Emmett (their son)—as a public testimony of their faith. I challenged them to prioritize daily prayer and Bible study to nurture their newfound faith in their journey ahead. These candidates were saved by God’s grace; they, like all of us, need to let our faith be evidenced by our lives as we demonstrate that faith. The call to embrace the Word of God and have fellowship with Jesus Christ is a call to the stewardship of our time, talents, treasures, and our body temples as we grow and develop a closer relationship with God and in our service to man.

Brian Mungandi is the pastor at the Rapid City Seventh-day Adventist Church in South Dakota.