Wandley Jeune never imagined that a commitment to his faith would result in such life-altering consequences.
Wandley is a Seventh-day Adventist Christian who observes a weekly Sabbath rest from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. He was a popular barber in a suburb outside Newark, New Jersey, before the shop he worked in told him they couldn’t hold his chair if he wasn’t available to work during the salon’s busiest shifts: Friday after 5:00 p.m. and all day Saturday.
A friend of Wandley’s told him of a local hotel that was hiring workers in their housekeeping department. He interviewed for a position, and was hired. Cautious after his last employment experience, Wandley was upfront about his inability to work on the Sabbath. The hiring manager was nonchalant, explaining he’d need to do so only occasionally during busy periods.
“I was adamant that I could never work a Sabbath shift,” recalls Wandley. “I didn’t want to be in the same position again.”
“I honestly didn’t think it would be an issue,” remembers Wandley’s manager Elona Dhima. “We’d had other employees say they couldn’t work certain shifts, even for religious reasons, but they’d all done it when it had come down to it.”
A few months into his new job the staff was told by the hotel that the coming weekend would be “all hands on deck.” Everyone would be required to work. Wandley reminded his manager of his inability to work during the Sabbath hours. She apologized, but said she couldn’t excuse his absence. All employees would need to report to work.
“I told my manager that I had to honor my commitment to the Sabbath, and she responded that if I didn’t show up for the Saturday shift, I would no longer have a job,” said Wandley. “I was disappointed, but I never for a minute considered working that shift. It just wasn’t an option.”
A few weeks later Wandley received a phone call from his former manager, asking if he’d like to come back to work at the hotel. She promised that he would never be asked to work during the Sabbath hours again, assuring him that she’d personally make sure of it.
Elona recalls the conversation: “I’d never met anyone so committed to their faith. It really made an impression on me.”
Wandley returned to his job at the hotel, and began sharing inspirational books with Elona.
“After he gave me each book, he would quiz me. ‘Have you read it yet? What did you think?’” laughs Elona.
After several months of Elona’s receptive response to the Christian material he shared with her, Wandley asked if she’d be interested in studying the Bible with his pastor.
“I was open to learning more, but hesitant to meet and study with a strange man,” says Elona. “Wandley was undeterred. He said, ‘My pastor’s wife is a pastor too. You can study with her.’”
Elona began studying with Pastor Paula Olivier of the First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Montclair, New Jersey. The two women immediately connected over the joy and peace found in a relationship with Christ. Within a year Elona was baptized, and she and Wandley were married. Today they have a beautiful baby girl, Paula, named after her godmother, “Pastor Paula.”
“I have always been a man of faith,” shares Wandley. “God has always provided for me, and I have never doubted His love for me. But I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined that my commitment to His will would result in Elona’s conversion and our shared life together. I am so proud of my wife and her love for Christ. It’s been an incredible experience watching her grow in her relationship with God, and become an amazing mother to our little girl. I am blessed beyond measure.”