“Sundays Are for Something More,” Ensign, June 2017
Many years ago, while working as a street vendor in a little town in Poland, I met a man named Nikolai Shaveko. We discovered that we both came from Chernigov, Ukraine, and quickly became friends.
Eventually I learned that Nikolai had no place to stay, so my wife and I invited him to stay with us. Our apartment wasn’t very warm or comfortable, but we had an extra room. He gratefully agreed and stayed with us for a time. He began to see how we lived.
Like most vendors selling household goods, we needed to work long and hard to have enough money to live. But unlike most people, my wife and I didn’t work Sundays. One day, Nikolai asked why. Why would we skip working and making money for an entire day?
“Sundays do not exist for working or making money,” I told him. “They were made for a different purpose.”
“But how can you afford to pay for food and rent if you don’t work seven days a week?” he asked.
To answer his question, we invited him to come worship with us. That was his first experience hearing about the Church, and he didn’t take to it right away. He still thought we were incredibly odd for choosing going to meetings over making money. But from that moment on, we frequently talked to him about our beliefs, and little by little, he became more and more interested.
Nikolai saw us living what we knew to be true. He saw the blessings that came into our lives. Yes, it was hard to earn enough money to live, but we knew that it was right to keep the Sabbath day holy. And the Lord blessed us. We always had enough money for the things we needed. That strengthened our testimony of the principle and helped us be better witnesses to Nikolai. We had the conviction to invite him, “Try it, and you will see!”
One week, he did.
Instead of going to work, he came to church with us. He didn’t think it was possible to work only six days a week, but because of the hope and blessings he saw in our lives, he tried it.
That week, when he counted his money, he was surprised. He had made more money that week than he normally made by working seven days a week!
The same thing happened when we talked about tithing. At first, Nikolai couldn’t understand how we could give up 10 percent of our income.
“I will never have enough to do that!” he insisted.
We just shrugged. “If you try it, you will see.”
He was incredulous, but then slowly smiled. “So it’s like not working on Sundays,” he said. “If you pay your tithing, you will have enough money for yourself and what you need.”
That was a big revelation for Nikolai. He learned for himself that if we follow God’s commandments, God will bless us and things will work out for our benefit.
When Nikolai returned home to Chernigov, he invited the missionaries to teach him and his family. Soon he and his family joined the Church. Later, Nikolai served as a branch president, and his daughter served a mission in Russia.
We loved talking to Nikolai about the Church, but in the end, inviting him to live the principles of the gospel was more powerful than simply telling him about them. He and his family gained testimonies and changed their lives because they chose to live gospel truths.