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José Antonio Lamas Helu was born in Beirut, Lebanon, on November 18, 1886. He traveled to Venezuela with several relatives on August 19, 1904. During the next ten years he learned the Spanish language and held various jobs. He tried to return to Lebanon, but the 1914 Revolution kept him from returning. He became a merchant and arrived at Camagüán, Guárico state. It is there where he heard the Adventist message for the first time at an evangelistic campaign conducted by Pastor Baxter. Lamas was baptized when he was 35 on April 22, 1921. He became a member of the Adventist church in Camagua. His first Christian experience was while defending his belief on the observance of the Sabbath as a holy day when he was incarcerated; but the president of the republic, Juan Vicente Gomez, intervened and set him free.