How I Became a Seventh Day Adventist Christian

I was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. My dad was an officer in the United States Public Health Service and was assigned to the World Health Organization malaria eradication project there. My mom and dad had been married about a year when I was born in the SDA hospital there in Addis; my dad's previous wife had died of cancer a few years before my mom and he were married. Neither of them were practicing Christians. My dad grew up with a Presbyterian or Episcopalian background, and my mother was raised a Methodist. During my life they have been pretty much atheists. I sometimes wonder if the doctors and nurses at the hospital in Addis had special prayer for me when I think of how I came to know God.

My first encounter with Christianity came when I was nine. My dad, who was then a biology professor at Alaska Methodist University (where he taught evolution, embryology, anatomy and physiology, ecology, general biology and other similar classes), got the chance to take a sabbatical leave to teach in the Philippines at a sister school for a year. (Even though AMU was a Methodist school, it wasn't really Christian in the sense that many mission colleges are.) The sister school, Silliman University, was a real mission school staffed mostly by career Methodist missionaries. I went to Bible class once a week there. Miss Dietz, a dear old lady taught me well known Bible stories.  These kind of helped round out the lack of Biblical literature in my background. My parents were expected to attend church. They took me once and then gave me the choice of whether I would attend after that or not. For me it was boring; I was very glad not to attend any more services.

I was a confirmed atheist and had little respect for Christians. During my fifth grade year I had my mouth washed out with soap for having such filthy speech (at public school in Anchorage). My sixth grade year I decided that I would do my best to get at least one A in grade school. (My scholastic record was distinguished only by its lack of good grades;  in fact, I failed first grade, but my mother persuaded school administrators to put me in second grade anyway. Up to sixth grade I had never received an A in anything.) I tried very hard to get that A, but I didn't make it. Other than that effort, I can't recall any times when I really gave school much effort. (I used to write random numbers in for all those arithmetic problems in math class.)  During my fifth grade school year a new senior high and junior high school complex was built about two miles from our home. The first year of operation was a rough one. There were race riots; the drug scene was bad. My dad figured that I would get mixed up in those things. He was especially worried about me getting mixed up with drugs. He was very probably right. Some of my friends ended up ruining their lives just that way. His solution to the problem was to send me to school at the Anchorage SDA Junior Academy. I had never heard of a Seventh Day Adventist. In fact, I'm pretty sure you could have easily convinced me that an Adventist was some kind of a flower from West Africa that blossomed seven days after being flooded with water or some other similar crazy thing. I wasn't happy about my dad's idea. Going to a private school was the pits; going to a private church school was even worse; leaving all my public school friends was hard. I wasn't going to get to go to the new school where you could pick your classes, the gym was fantastic and going there was the cool thing to do.

I remember my first day at church school; it was everyone else's second day. (Transferring schools in the middle of the year was something else I didn't like, but our family was vacationing up in Chitina and didn't get back for the first day of school. It seemed like a great idea until I actually had to go to school.) Even though the school had only four class rooms I felt lost. One of the other students, Chris Nash, was there early like me and made me feel pretty welcome. It was generally a hard time for me though.

After I had been attending a while I discovered there were some things that I liked about the church school, for instance recess. We played organized games; dare base was one I really liked. I also discovered that these people actually truly believed in God. In fact, it pretty much governed how they lived. I was impressed with their dedication, but knew that they were all deluded. I learned to live with their delusions (things like morning worship, prayer, etc.). I made friends and was eventually doing ok.

Sometime around spring, there was this thing called week of prayer. It must have been specially aimed at me. By the time it came along, I kind of figured that there might just be a God, but there wasn't any way, if there was, that I was going to let it affect my life. The week of prayer made me think. I decided there was a reason to at least check it out. By the end of the week I wanted to join the baptismal class, but I was too chicken. It depressed me for a couple of days until I realized that they probably had week of prayer every year and next year I would get the chance again. I continued checking things out more thoroughly. I read the Bible at night and I still remember when I found the fourth commandment in Exodus 35 (not where most people look). The Holy Spirit was working on me.

I spent most of the summer after my 7th grade year in Chitina. I attended a Sunday church there with a friend of my family's who was the pastor. My folks had bought his mission station there in Chitina a few years earlier when he had been impressed to go to South Africa and start one there. My family still owns the log parsonage and church there. I remember being tempted to tell the pastor that he was all confused about the day to worship on, but I didn't and it's just as well. (I still didn't know about Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5.)

The next school year I was happy to go back to church school and enjoyed it a lot. I was quite popular, was elected S.A. president, started attending church with my friends, and was doing things outside of school with a lot of them too. Scholastically things were improving dramatically too. In fact, my whole life was getting much better.

When week of prayer came along, it wasn't for me that year, but I had long since decided that I wanted to be in baptismal class and I joined it. I remember dropping hints to my parents at the dinner table that I was in baptismal class, but it didn't phase them. (After all they knew that I attended worships, Bible class and other religious functions with my friends.) It went like that until the Friday evening before I was to be baptized. I had to tell my family in no uncertain terms what I was doing. My dad took it in stride pretty well. I later heard that it was the very last thing he expected. My mom didn't react too calmly. She whisked me off to the SDA pastor's house and got a crash course in SDA doctrine. The upshot of the matter was that my baptism was postponed until the next Sabbath and my folks attended church for it.

It is interesting to look at the pictures on the wall of the Anchorage SDA church school. You can see the evolution of Rob Frohne, from something like a monkey to something much more like a human being. The Lord really changed almost everything about me. The reasons I am committed to the Lord now have a lot to do with the changes He brought about then. I am very grateful.