When I was a kid, there was a Seventh-day Adventist Church in Cameron, WV, a small one-room building built over top of a creek. My dad was a Sabbath believer, and mom was a strong Christian, so we attended off and on. I still remember sitting on mom's lap with a picture Bible having family devotions. She would read to me and my two sisters, and the pictures really brought everything to life for us. Then dad would pray, and we would all sing hymns.
When I was about 17 years old, I attended a series of evangelistic messages at the church and was baptized. Then I graduated high school, met my wife Donna, with her big brown eyes, and we married shortly after. Life was busy with all the duties of raising two sons and earning a living. Unfortunately, the church and God faded into the background. We taught our children at home about God, and that was about it. One day, I was informed the little church I had attended as a child had closed.
Many years later, when my parents passed away, I started thinking and feeling a need to reacquaint myself with God. By that time my son, Fred, was grown, and he and his first wife were attending the Brethren Church in Cameron. The pastor, Ralph John, had preached at my mother’s funeral. So, I thought I would give the Sunday church a chance.
I had never really been exposed to their doctrine, except for an occasional visit to a Pentecostal church that was pastored by a friend of my dad. Fred and I seemed to both feel a calling at the same time and began pastoral studies with a course called Theology for Life. At the same time, I was reading the Bible cover to cover, and I also completed the Amazing Facts study courses. I then read Uriah Smith’s book Daniel and the Revelation, which was a course offered back then through the Voice of Prophecy. The harder I studied, the more I realized the Sabbath truth and the doctrines of the church of my childhood were the true Word of God and were screaming to be proclaimed! I spent many evenings debating the issue of the Sabbath with Pastor John until one evening he looked at me and said, “Bob, I do think we should keep the Sabbath.” He immediately encouraged starting a Saturday worship service.
We began with just a handful of people. Then the church board met and gave the members the choice to come on Sunday or follow us on Saturday. They decided to start an independent church, so we did. We were holding services in my home and looking for a meeting house. Then one day Fred called and said he had run into the family of Jack Hubbs that owned the little church I had attended as a child. He said if we could fix it up, we would be welcome to it. We sure had a project on our hands. The building sat on pillars that were leaning, the roof was sinking and the whole interior needed redone along with the plumbing. With our hands and God's blessing, we restored it and had ourselves a church building that we moved into in 2001.
Even after much prayer and hard work, we just couldn't get it to grow, so I thought we should affiliate with the Adventist organization. I contacted Pastor Don Clemons who was in Wheeling at that time. He came out to our church and talked to the members, but they didn't want to join the Adventists. The church ended up closing a year or so later. At that point, I stopped attending church altogether. But I knew I should, so I continued to pray.
Several years later, I learned that Fred and his boys were going back to the Brethren church. I started praying for God to show him this error. At the same time, I was thinking what a poor example I was setting. Then one Friday evening last summer Fred called and said, “Dad, let’s go to the Wheeling church tomorrow.” We did, and praise God! We are home! As much as this world permits, of course.