My name is Rory Hall, and I am a Seventh-day Adventist. This sentence summarizes a dramatic change in lifestyle, relationships and habits; in other words it is a summary of the power of God to save and transform lives.
I grew in a home that had parents who went to two different Sunday churches. In my earlier years I followed my mother to the United Church almost two miles away from home, while my father went to the local Baptist church where he was the second deacon, the second in charge of the local church. When my mother went off to work, I attended church with my dad.
During those formative years my uncle, a pastor in the Baptist church, brought many visitors to our home. I was a very talkative young man and on one occasion I boasted to an overseas guest of the Bible I had lying in my parents’ drawer. The guest asked, “Can you read the Bible?” I was taken aback by the question; at 6 years old it had not crossed my mind that reading was something I should desire to do. In short order the guest suggested that I ask my father to teach me to read the Bible they had secured for me.
That was the beginning of a period of importunate requests for my father to teach me to read. To satisfy the desire of his son, my father found the time and my Bible reading lessons advanced with the KJV easy pronunciation Bible that was to be mine when I could read. These Bible reading lessons greatly improved my scholastic ability, and by grade three I was reading far above my reading level, along with great improvement in my spelling and reasoning skills.
A cousin at church and I used to sit during the “big people” sermons and quietly read as many chapters as possible. Sunday mornings before church began were also filled with Bible questions as we quizzed each other to see how much we knew about Bible characters. This love of Scripture was also fostered by the one week of “Daily Vacation Bible School” in the summer.
A special moment in my young life occurred one day when I was asked to do a short exhortation for morning devotion based on the parable of the Good Samaritan. With confidence I accepted the task expecting that my father, who regularly preached at church, would simply write a message for me. I was astonished when my father challenged me with an idea that has not left me since; “Don’t allow anyone to write a message for you. Read the Scriptures for yourself and prayerfully ask God to give you the message that He desires your audience to hear.” The exhortation was a success, and amidst the many congratulations I could only give God the praise.
My closeness to the word and activity level in church placed me in contact with persons who gently and also persistently influenced me to get baptized, and a few days after my 12th birthday in 1998 I was baptized as member of the Baptist church. My life in high school had just begun, and soon the enticement of the world stood at war with the attractions offered by a Church with very few members (about seven) and only two baptized young people. Coupled with that was the fact that during high school my mom moved to America and my brother left home. This meant that often I would be alone, and thus more susceptible to the influences of the television, peer pressure, and romance novels.
In Vacation Bible School we learned that, “[the Bible] will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from [the Bible].” It was proven true; as the romance novels and friends took my attention away from Bible stories, I started getting fascinated with relationships and sex as presented in these novels. By the time I entered college, Bible religion was the furthest thing from my mind. Now science, the love of which I'd always had, dominated my existence, and scientific articles became my source of knowledge instead of “the Word of God.”
By the time I left college, my Bible was relegated to the suitcase, but the words of Solomon proved true: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when He is old, he will not depart from it” (KJV Proverbs 22:6). Through the love of the Scriptures “in the days of [my] youth” God had mercifully implanted a “hunger and thirst for righteousness” in my heart (Ecclesiastes 12:1; Matthew 5:6). I desired more than science could offer. One question especially kept the hunger alive; “If there is no God, how could lifeless things receive life?” Science was powerless to answer such a simple question, and soon I recognized that I needed to go back to church. But which church?
The Pentecostal churches in my community were out of the question at the time, because they taught that the Father and the Son are the same person; they went further to say that on the day of His baptism, Jesus was in heaven speaking to himself on earth. The “tongues” issue was also one that closed my mind against these churches, as 1 Corinthians 14 reveals that when one speaks in an “unknown tongue” an interpreter must be provided. The Baptist church in my community soon had issues that caused my father to leave, and to me it was a signal from God that this church was not the place for me. When I went to the local United church and saw a female pastor as the head of the church, that was my signal that I couldn’t attend. I now recognized that I could only find God’s true church by earnest prayer and searching for truth.
At this time I was teaching, and in one of my classes in January of 2010 a student of an extra class asked about the Sunday law that was recently passed in Germany. When I learned the law provided for Sunday to be a day of “rest and religious contemplation” a thought was impressed on my mind “think to change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25). The fact that the Sunday law passed in Germany so closely mimicked the Sabbath commandment was to me a signal of the binding claims of the Sabbath on mankind. Thus a Sabbath commitment seed was sown in my heart.
In March of 2010 a pastor who was married to my cousin was assigned a district in the neighboring parish. In June of the same year his wife, my cousin, was doing calculus and requested me to stop by to assist her with it. At the same time an evangelistic series was being held at one of the district churches. I was asked to attend a couple nights, but I declined, claiming that I had to prepare to assist my cousin. The real reason was fear for what God could do if I attended.
I was impressed with the regular morning and evening devotions that occurred during my time at their home. (In fact, from the time I had come to know this couple in 2006, I had been impressed by their morning and evening worship sessions and they had proved a source of encouragement for at the time I was leaving college.) After much persistence I finally accepted the invitation to attend the series. The sermon that particular night was on the History of the Church as revealed in the seals of Revelation 6.
The preacher revealed that the purity of the early church, represented by the white horse (Revelation 6:2), gradually degraded to the doctrines of death, represented by the pale horse (Revelation 6:8). He then revealed that each Protestant denomination had a particular truth that they recovered, but that they made the error of advancing no further than their founders. The preacher then revealed that the Seventh-day Adventist Church had arisen by bringing all these truths together, and also to carry to completion the work of the reformation. His singular altar call came unforgettably to my ears “for those searching for the truth, this is it.” I responded to the call and a couple weeks later, on August 11, 2010, I was baptized at the Seventh-day Adventist church in Litchfield, Trelawny.
The scientific mind finds in prophecy solid, irrefutable proof of the divine authorship of the word, and through personal studies especially in Isaiah 40-48 I have found that God places prophecy at the forefront of the tests that reveal that He is the real Supreme Being. In my early Adventist experience it was those messages of prophecy, clearly marking out the rise of world powers and their fall, that captivated my reasoning powers. I soon recognized that the same God who was able to predict and control the affairs of nations was also able to transform my life to reflect His image.