Christof and his parents and two brothers lived in a crowded city, but they wanted to live in the countryside, so they moved to a tiny village in a mountain valley in central Portugal.
The boys helped their parents plant and harvest food in their large garden. They took care of their chickens so that they could have fresh eggs to eat. There were no children in the nearby village, but the brothers didn’t mind, because they had each other.
One day Christof saw an elderly neighbor herding his goats near the family farm. The boy waved a greeting and ran to the man. “Hi,” he said. “Those are really nice goats you have.” Christof paused a moment. “I’ve been thinking of getting some goats. Do you have any suggestions? Do they cost a lot to raise? Do they need lots of care?”
Antonio, the old man, laughed. “So many questions!” he said. “Walk with me, and I’ll tell you about goats.” And he did. Antonio explained that goats eat nearly anything—including garden crops. He showed Christof how to milk a goat, and he let him taste some goat cheese.
Christof thanked Antonio for his advice and said goodbye. That evening the boy asked his parents if he could use his allowance to buy goats. Christof’s parents talked about it and decided he could. Antonio helped the boy buy good goats, and gave him more information on how to care for them. The old man and young boy often talked about their goats, and their friendship grew.
One day Christof asked Antonio, “Do you believe in God?”
“Yes,” the old man said, “I do believe in God. But there’s no church in our village.” As the old man and young boy talked, Christof realized that Antonio couldn’t read.
The boy offered to bring his Bible and read to Antonio. The old man smiled with pleasure. From that day on, whenever Christof visited Antonio, he took his Bible to read.
“What church to you attend?” the old man asked.
“We’re Seventh-day Adventists,” the boy answered. “We worship God on the Sabbath.”
“Oh,” Antonio was surprised. “My grandmother told me about the Sabbath when I was a boy.”
Christof and Antonio talked about the Sabbath for a while, and the boy invited his friend to go to the nearest Adventist church with his family. But Antonio felt the trip to church was too far and too rough for an old man such as him. So Antonio invited Christof’s family to come to his house on Sundays to worship and read the Bible together.
Word spread through the tiny village that Christof was reading the Bible to Antonio. Marie-Elise, one of Antonio’s neighbors, asked Christof to read the Bible to her as well. In fact, most of the old villagers wanted the boy to read the Bible to them.
Christof and his brothers began riding their bikes into the village to spend time with the aging villagers.
The boys offered to help work in people’s gardens, care for their animals, and do other chores the villagers couldn’t manage well anymore. Christof and his brothers became the grandchildren of the village.
Christof’s family held a weeklong series of Bible studies for the villagers, and everyone attended. Then they organized weekly Bible study meetings in a villager’s home. Today three villages have small groups that meet regularly to study the Bible and learn of God’s love. Some villagers have even begun worshipping on the Sabbath.
In the mountains of central Portugal people have begun accepting God’s message of love, a message that started with a young boy, an old man, and some goats.
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