‘The Man’ Shares Sabbath
By Andrew McChesney
Not many people can say that they have spoken with an angel.
Farmer Notley Tidwell could–but he didn’t. Instead, he referred to the mysterious stranger as “the man”.
One evening in the 1880s, Notley prayed as he trudged home, his fiddle in hand, from a barn dance in the U.S. state of Texas. He was confused. He had been raised to worship on Sunday, but he had been studying the Bible and saw that the Fourth Commandment said, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8; KJV).
As he prayed, a man suddenly appeared beside him. Notley knew everyone in the area, and he had never seen this man before. But he wasn’t startled. The stranger was very pleasant.
“He just appeared and started talking to him”, said his granddaughter, Lorena Stigaullde, 94.
The conversation soon turned to the Sabbath, and Notley shared his growing conviction that God had set aside Saturday, not Sunday. He expressed bewilderment that he couldn’t find anyone who observed Saturday.
The stranger said he knew of a group of people who worshipped on Saturday, and he gave detailed directions to their meeting place. Notley glanced to the side as they spoke, and when he looked back, the man was gone.
“He was just there, and he turned, and he was gone”, said his great-granddaughter Reba Seifert, 68.
Returning home, Notley told his wife about the unusual meeting and, days later, decided to follow the man’s directions. They led to a farmhouse where a small group of Seventh-day Adventists met every Sabbath.
Notley was baptized into the Adventist Church with his wife and their eight children. He later became a local church leader and planted the first local Adventist church, located between the towns of Linden and Marietta, Texas.
Although the church is now closed, others have sprung up in the area, including a church in Linden where Lorena attends with other relatives.
Notley’s legacy also lives on. His faithfulness to God spawned several generations of mission-minded Seventh-day Adventists who have served as Bible workers, literature evangelists, and special needs leaders in Texas and beyond.
“He became the first Adventist in a large family”, said Reba, one of granddaughter Lorena’s four children.
Notley never identified the stranger as an angel, but the family believes that he was sent from heaven in answer to an earnest prayer.
“He just called him ‘the man’, but he believed that God sent him”, said Lorena, who heard her grandfather tell the story when she was a girl. “I believe he was an angel”.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission. Find more mission stories at adventistmission[dot]org
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