“How had we been deceived for so long?” Stephanie wondered. “When it’s right in front of you, in the Bible, plain as day, and you trusted and listened to your pastor?”
Wesly was a musician in the church’s worship band, while Stephanie had her ministry of feeding hungry children in their local community. Their daughter Maleena would occasionally sing with her father during church.
It wouldn’t be until Stephanie started working at Tiara Yachts—an Adventist-owned boat manufacturer based in Holland—that they would hear about the Adventist Church. Through that connection, Maleena soon joined the Holland Huskies Pathfinder club as a fifth grader. This act set the family on a serious search for the truth about God.
In 2019, one year after joining the Holland Huskies, Maleena participated in the Pathfinder Bible Experience where teams were tested on books of the Bible they committed to memory.
During this particular year, they were studying the book of Luke. Maleena, who was intrigued by what she was learning, started asking her parents questions about the passages she was reading. In turn, the couple posed these questions to their pastor. “His answers were very vague and not what I would say of sound doctrine,” remembers Wesly.
This experience provoked the family to begin a year-long reckoning with their beliefs, especially regarding Saturday as the Sabbath. “How had we been deceived for so long?” Stephanie wondered. “When it’s right in front of you, in the Bible, plain as day, and you trusted and listened to your pastor?”
Unsatisfied, they went back to the Bible and pursued further information about the Adventist Church. Soon afterward, they began studying the Bible with another couple in the Holland church. The Luckadoo family decided to be baptized in 2020. Maleena was “very determined” that she was going to be baptized on her birthday, May 8. Then, the Coronavirus hit.
Despite the challenges in 2020, Stephanie says that the pandemic turned out to be a personal blessing as it gave them an additional year of Bible study. “We’re involved in Sabbath School and we would spend two to three hours in a Sabbath School class. For us, we look at it as God’s timing.”
A year later, on May 8, 2021, Wesly, Stephanie and Maleena were baptized at the Holland Seventh-day Adventist Church. “The fact that we did it together as a family secured the whole family unit,” Stephanie says.
Reflecting on their experience, Wesly says that he desires to share his faith with his colleagues. “I’ve often asked myself, ‘What am I doing here? How am I going to be a light for God?’” Now, he says that he often finds himself sharing stories from his life with his coworkers to encourage them. “I truly believe that it’s a scary world if you don’t have Jesus in your life.”
For Maleena, though, she hopes she can encourage people to take the first step toward deeper commitment—even if it may be the scariest step. “As a young person, going to a new church was kind of scary for me at first. But I realize we have to start somewhere.”
Samuel Girven is a freelance writer and photographer from Cadillac, Michigan.