member John Ohman.
I want to attend your church and start Bible studies!” was the message found by Jay Rosario, pastor of the Panama City Beach Church in Panama City, Fla., in his email inbox from John Ohman. Pastors receive all kinds of calls, texts, and emails ranging from a broad spectrum of subject matter. This one, however, was one that a pastor prays they receive every day. This one is the one that keeps them motivated to keep going and going.
Rosario had never met Ohman before. Ohman was in the process of moving from Illinois to the panhandle of Florida, and knew that the first thing he needed to do was to find a church and begin Bible studies. He had first become acquainted with the Bible and the Seventh-day Adventist Church through a friend who had connected him to the ministry of 3ABN and Amazing Facts. In his own words, he said, “I was shocked to find so many things in the Bible that I had no idea [were] in there!” Ohman had attended a Christian church and had been a part of several different denominations, but never before heard the things he was learning.
Rosario had the privilege of being the first Adventist pastor that Ohman had ever met in person, one on one. They met in Rosario’s office and began Bible studies. Ohman looked like he was in a candy store. He fell in love with the pictures of God he was discovering, and realized how much Jesus had done for him. Ohman did not hesitate or wait to inquire about the local church and its services. He immediately decided to attend that Sabbath.
Once there, he quickly fell in love with the church family, as he “fit like a glove instantly, and everyone accepted me for who I was.” He felt like he already belonged there before he even arrived.
On a later Sabbath, Rosario remembers greeting everyone as they were exiting the services. He went to the fellowship hall looking for Ohman and could not find him. After surveying the area and everyone sitting, Rosario quickly noticed the kitchen. Ohman was washing dishes and helping the potluck team clean everything up. Rosario was amazed at how soon he was involved in serving others in the church. Not only was he involved in cleaning up that Sabbath, but it became a habit every Sabbath.
He also started getting involved in the local community, volunteering several days a week at a retirement center. “I don’t know what drove me. I just know I wanted to do good for someone,” says Ohman. Rosario was amazed at how Ohman had both a deep interest in learning about God as well as getting involved to be a blessing to others.
Eventually, Ohman expressed a desire to seal his commitment to Jesus through the waters of baptism. Ohman says, “You guys got me. You ain’t throwing me away ’cause I’m staying.” The thought of throwing him away never crossed the minds of Rosario or the church members.
Gulf States | October 2020