Risking All for Sabbath at Voice of America
God answers a desperate prayer in an unexpected way in São Tomé and Príncipe.
After baptism, Carlos Freitas told his supervisor that he could no longer work Saturdays at Voice of America, a U.S. government-funded news broadcaster.
The supervisor, a U.S. citizen, looked at Carlos quizzically.
“Sabbath-keeping is an Old Testament law,” he said, “Christians follow the New Testament.”
Carlos went to his home in São Tomé, the capital of the small island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe, and made a list of Sabbath references in the New Testament. He handed the list to his supervisor the next day.
“The Sabbath is in the New Testament and needs to be kept,” he said.
“Is that your final decision?”
“Yes, my decision is to keep the Sabbath because anything else would be a sin.”
The supervisor shook his hand.
“This is the first time that someone has challenged me over the Sabbath at work,” he said.
That was the end of the discussion. The supervisor never asked Carlos to work on Saturdays.
Then the supervisor left.
Sabbath Test No. 2
Carlos, a father of 10, worked as an electrician at the broadcaster. One of his duties was to unload boat shipments of fuel for the broadcaster’s power generator. The boat docked on Thursdays, and he and several coworkers started unloading the fuel immediately. They finished the task on Friday.
Then one day the boat docked on Friday.
Carlos didn’t bother approaching his new supervisor, a native of São Tomé and a devout Sunday-keeper. Instead he went to the manager, a U.S. citizen.
The manager denied the request to leave work by 5:30 p.m.
“But I have a commitment with God,” Carlos said.
“It’s up to you to decide,” the manager said.
Carlos locked himself in the bathroom and prayed.
It wasn’t easy to find a good job in São Tomé, and Carlos thought, “What will happen to my family? What will I tell them?” He didn’t want to be fired, but he wanted to honor God even more. He decided to work until 5:30 p.m. and leave.
Shortly before 5:30 p.m., the boat’s engines flooded. Carlos and his coworkers fought to resolve the problem, but matters only grew worse. Finally, the men came ashore, where the manager was waiting.
“The situation is really bad,” a coworker said. “There is no way that we can unload the fuel this weekend.”
The manager didn’t say a word.
Carlos went home for the Sabbath, but he dreaded facing the manager after the weekend.
On Monday, the manager didn’t say a thing. He remained silent on Tuesday and Wednesday. A week passed, and he still didn’t say anything.
What Really Happened
Then a coworker said to Carlos, “Do you know what the manager said about the boat? He said what happened was the hand of God.”
Carlos couldn’t believe it. At home, he and his wife thanked God for protecting his job.
A few days later, another coworker provided more details about the manager’s thinking. It turned out that the manager secretly had planned to allow Carlos to leave at 5:30 but the boat’s engines flooded before he could announce his decision. As a result, nobody could work on Sabbath.
Unbeknown to Carlos, a company security guard had been observing him for some time, wondering what would happen if he stuck to his Sabbath convictions. When the guard saw how God had intervened with the boat, he exclaimed to Carlos, “Your God is great!”
The guard started attending the Adventist church.
Carlos has never had another Sabbath conflict.
“God is good to all who trust Him,” said Carlos, who is 48 years old. “I have had some challenges that I thought were impossible to solve, but then everything was solved without me doing anything.”
Many people in this country of 200,000 people don’t know the Sabbath. More than half of the population are Roman Catholic, while the Adventist Church only has about 8,000 members worshipping in 13 churches and 56 companies.
Carlos loves to share his Sabbath story.
“That is my duty now — to tell other people my experience and what I have found in the Bible,” he said. “My desire is to do everything that I can to spread the word of God.”
Carlos Freitas emphasizing the importance of marriage and the Sabbath. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)