By Dean Cullinane
Weimar religion student from London, England
When the Adventist World Church launched its “Mission to the Cities” initiative in New York City in 2013, the British Union Conference announced that Dublin, Ireland would be the focus of its territory’s evangelism efforts as a “City of Hope”. That is exactly how current Weimar pre-med student Giorgia Maghelli will always remember the city – one where she truly found hope and the path that led to Weimar.
“Dublin. Dublin – that’s where I found Jesus…or rather, where He found me.”
Born in Rome, Italy, Giorgia was raised a nominal Catholic. In her teens, her father became a self-professed Buddhist whereas her mother – and eventually Giorgia herself – embraced the New Age Movement. By the time Giorgia was an art history student at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland, her search for truth and meaning had expanded to include astrology and the writings of mystical authors. There she noticed a book that some considered mystical, the Bible, seemed to be intrinsically linked to the historical content she was being taught. Yet her professors never used it as a credible document, but rather as a source of ridicule.
“In my final year, our professor cracked a joke [in class] about the Bible and its fictional tales. Another girl, a student also, raised her hand and boldly stated that the Bible was true and factual. Admittedly, at the time I thought she must be crazy; however, I couldn’t believe it when the entire class burst into laughter! I was appalled to see that sort of childish bullying. Over the course of the semester, that scene often seemed to creep into my thoughts. Every time I played it over in my mind, I would feel extremely uncomfortable. As a result of numerous other incidents of a similar nature, I became very restless and felt I had a lot of questions that needed answers, which I wasn’t getting from the New Age.”
After completing a summer internship at the Vatican Museum and earning her fashion studies diploma, Giorgia had fulfilled a dream she had since she was a young girl. She expected to feel that her life was on track. However, she still had unanswered questions. Interestingly, her mother was also seeking answers, and regularly watched alternative media channels on the internet. A curiously titled video showed up on her feed: “Total Onslaught” – a 36-part series on the book of Revelation presented by Adventist author Walter Veith.
Introduced to these videos by her mother, Giorgia’s eyes were opened. Soon they both knew with all of their hearts that the God of the Bible was real, trustworthy, and, most importantly, coming soon! Unable to justify her keen interest in fashion with the principles she found in the Bible, Giorgia left fashion and focused on getting to know more about Jesus.
In the summer of that year, Giorgia attended the wedding of a friend in Edinburgh. While there, she visited the local Adventist church. She was impressed by the simplicity of the decor and hospitality of the people within, and asked a member if they had any literature. She was given a book that ensured her life would never be the same.
“The opening sentence will forever be etched in my mind: ’God is love. His nature, His law, is love. It ever has been; it ever will be’. I remember sitting on a beach one day with mother in Italy, silent tears of joy streaming down my face as I drank in every word. That collection of ‘fictional tales’, which I had once thought to be the Old Testament, was suddenly a collection of stories about people that I could actually relate to. God loving them despite their flaws gave me a lot to be hopeful about! God was working on my heart in a very powerful way. I lamented all the years I had had such a distorted view of Him and realized I was in desperate need of healing.”
The book? Patriarchs and Prophets by Ellen. G. White.
Captivated by what she had read, Giorgia searched online for an Adventist church when she returned to her mother’s apartment in Dublin. The first time she and her mother walked into the Ranelagh church, Mark Finley was conducting his evangelistic presentations for the Mission to the Cities campaign. Hearing the Spirit of God speak to them both so clearly, Giorgia and her mother came forward during the appeal to be baptized.
A year later found Giorgia baptized but still in search of her life’s purpose. Working as a legal secretary in Dublin, Giorgia was puzzled as to why it seemed all the Adventists working in the Adventist’s community center called “Centre of Hope” seemed to be in the medical field and why all the meals offered there were vegetarian. It was then that she started to learn more fully about Adventist health principles.
Having suﬀered from depression in the past due to her parents’ separation, Giorgia was also intrigued by the weekly Depression Recovery program at the center. She enrolled and by the end of the eight-week program, Giorgia had witnessed the most remarkable transformations in the lives of the attendees, many of whom had started attending Sabbath services. Inspired by the power of medical missionary work in leading people to Jesus, Giorgia felt the Lord was calling her to further her own education in this area.
After deciding to attend a nursing school in Dublin, Giorgia was advised by a doctor-friend to consider a small Adventist college in northern California called Weimar Institute. Trusting the godly council of her mentor, Giorgia soon spent a few days at Weimar, an hour’s travel from Sacramento.
“When I got to Weimar, all the dots kind of connected. Admissions gave me a schedule and I sat in on some of the college and HEALTH classes. I instantly fell in love with the environment: every class started with a prayer, often accompanied by an uplifting hymn. During lunch in the cafeteria, I got to know many of the students and was impressed with their sweet spirit. I was so happy to see this army of youth preparing to be of service in the world. I also realized that Dr. Nedley’s Depression Recovery program was run at Weimar and he was the president of the school. All of this was no coincidence; I knew that the Lord was leading.”
Giorgia enrolled for the following semester and was accepted shortly before the start of the Spring 2017 classes. What lies in the next chapter of her exciting walk with the Lord? Only He knows…
“I’ve learned to not hatch too many of my own plans, because God has a way of revealing His own in good time. Having said that, I would love to return to Europe and perhaps open a health center.”
Whatever God’s plan for Giorgia is, she will go forward with new skills from Weimar and an enduring hope from God.