Jam Obias’ journey to becoming a Weimar Academy teacher started when she was just seven years old. Recalling her childhood, Jam explains, “I grew up in the Philippines, with my mother, father and twin brother. We lived a very secure and stable life; my family was great! My father stayed at home and took care of my brother and me while my mother travelled to various countries while working with an international non-profit organization.” It was during one of her travels that Jam’s mother, Nancy, met Kristine Brunkow, now Director of Institutional Research at Weimar Institute.
Kristine, a Seventh-day Adventist, quickly became great friends with Nancy as they journeyed across Southeast Asia. They worked closely on a child survival grant program for the United States Agency for International Development. Together, they aided local governments in the assessment, planning, and delivery of health services for children on the central Philippines island of Leyte. Having formed a close relationship with Nancy, Kristine felt an urge to share her faith with her colleague, but found opportunities limited. “I didn’t want to stuff my religion down her throat. She knew I was an Adventist, that I didn’t work on Sabbaths, and that my diet was different than most, but she didn’t seem overly interested,” Kristine remembers. She didn’t allow this to discourage her. Throughout the years, Kristine shared various forms of literature and audio material with Nancy.
Eventually, these materials found their way into the hands of Nancy’s daughter, and it wasn’t long before Jam’s life began to change. “I was raised Catholic and went to church every Sunday. My family were quite religious.” Jam always believed in God, but as she grew up, she had unanswered religious questions.
One day she came across a Joe Crews’ pamphlet from Kristine titled, Is Sunday Really Sacred? “Everyone I knew attend church on Sunday, both Catholics and Protestants…but I had never asked myself that question, Is Sunday really sacred?” recalls Jam. “As I read, I was really shocked! I was keeping the wrong day!”
As a university student, Jam continued to read Adventist literature and listen to the sermons Kristine sent to Nancy. Jam was captivated by these new truths about the Bible and the true nature of God.
Providentially, a student at Jam’s university stood at the front of the class and shared a short talk on salvation by grace, which was another entirely new concept for Jam. It differed vastly from the salvation by deeds doctrine that Jam had been taught all her life. Afterwards, she signed up for Bible studies and began visiting various Protestant churches.
“I found that the gospel was about being loved, even when you are apparently unlovable. I had the mindset that I had to first be worthy of being loved, but no…Jesus has always loved me,” marvels Jam. “Still, my mind couldn’t forget the question, “Is Sunday really sacred?” These other churches weren’t giving me the answers.”
Jam brought her questions to her mother. Although Nancy was unable to provide the answers her daughter needed, she knew someone that could. Having stayed in touch with Kristine throughout the years, Nancy sent an email to her.
“When I received the email from Nancy, I just couldn’t believe it. She told me what Jam was going through, and asked if I would be a spiritual mentor to her. Of course, I would,” Kristine shares.
The two would frequently communicate over the internet, with Jam often bringing questions that she couldn’t understand to Kristine, who in turn directed her to the Bible and other helpful materials.
“I learned the doctrines first, before I ever learned the name of the [Seventh-day Adventist] church,” notes Jam. “I think this way was far better for me, because I knew I wasn’t being loyal to a church and its name but to the Bible and its teachings. Those alone should be able to lead you to God’s true church,” asserts Jam. Her years of searching and study coupled with the mentoring she received culminated in her decision to be baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist.
After her baptism, Jam taught at Palau Mission Academy, an Adventist school on the western Pacific Ocean island-state of Koror in the Republic of Palau. There, she grew spiritually and matured.
Near the end of her two years there, Weimar Academy had an opening for a new science teacher, and Kristine knew just the right person to fill the position. The Academy staff agreed with Kristine and moved quickly to bring her to Weimar. However, Jam decided to finish her Master’s degree in Education before making the big move to the United States.
Looking back on her remarkable journey, Jam explains that, “I believe every conversion is made up of a progression of impressions that God gives us, and then suddenly you come to the point where it all comes together. You can finally see the big picture. You see how God was leading throughout your whole life, and you just have to choose Him!”
For Kristine, that big picture was beyond her wildest dreams. “I would never have thought that through all these years, all the prayers, books and audio sermons would have resulted in this. Even when I doubted, God has been so faithful!” she exclaims. “It’s so true, ‘His word shall not return to him void!’ This is a miracle of God, and I’m just so excited to see what He is going to do now that Jam is here!” adds Kristine.
The miracle also includes Jam’s parents as they have both now baptized members of the Seventh-day Adventist church. They are active in their church and her father even has his own cooking show on 3ABN Philippines.
As for Jam, a new job in a new country could be overwhelming to many people, but she is taking it all in stride. “I don’t have expectations; I just want to be faithful to God,” she notes. “I’ve read the book Education and its definition of a true teacher. I know that I cannot do that by myself. My prayer is that others would see Jesus working through me.”
Jam is teaching Anatomy and Physiology, Pre-Algebra and Chemistry this year. Please keep the vital ministries of Jam and the rest of the Weimar Academy staff in your prayers.