Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Thank you for your partnership with us in the work to which God has called us. Know that we are greatly helped through your prayers and generous support. May God bless you for it.
A few days before Christmas I received a message informing me that another man in the community had died from cancer. It was sad news. He was a younger man in his forties, and he left behind two small children and their mother. I had met him several years ago when the church was first starting. We had met together and I shared the Gospel with him. But communication between us ended abruptly after a conversation in which I had confronted him about an area of sin in his life. He didn’t take it well. In hindsight, while it was true that he was living in sin and needed to repent, I could have handled things much better. I had been too hard with him and focused more on what he needed to run from (sin) than on the One that he needed to run to (Christ). Several years went by. We sometimes saw each other in passing, an inevitable result of living in a small community, but things remained cold and distant between us. I had known that he had been diagnosed with cancer for some time. I felt concerned for him, but I was slow to reach out. On a few occasions, a dear sister in Christ in our church expressed her concern about him to me, not wanting to see him die outside of Christ. She had been spending time with them, taking part in a Bible study at his house, and shared with me that he was afraid to die and had been asking questions about how to be saved. She wanted me to go and visit him with her, so I encouraged her to ask them about it, telling her that I would be very happy to visit with him if he was willing.
After a while, I wrote to him to express my care and concern, letting him know that I was sorry to hear about what he was going through and that I wanted to meet with him if he was willing. He replied with a simple ‘thank you’. The next morning, he sent me another message and, after a brief exchange, extended an invitation to me to come and visit him in his home. I went that afternoon. When I arrived at his house, he welcomed me and invited me into the living room where he shared with me about his battle with cancer. The toll it had taken on him was evident. The conversation was warm and friendly. We began to talk about the things of God and once again, after several years, I shared the Gospel with him again, clearly and gently. After explaining how to seek the Lord and His salvation, I prayed for him and then left, grateful for the renewed opportunity with him.
After a few weeks, I had heard that he was not doing well, that he had been given a time frame, and only had a few months to live. I had also heard that he had cried out to the Lord for forgiveness during a recent Bible study. So I messaged him asking, asking if we could get together for another visit, and we made plans to meet the following day. He welcomed me into the same living room, but he looked tired and our conversation didn’t last as long as the previous one, because he needed to rest. I spoke to him about Christ, the Gospel, salvation, and the need for repentance. It felt more urgent this time. I was still gentle, remembering how badly things went several years before, but I tried to be direct, remembering his present condition. I exhorted him about repentance from his sin, and he wasn’t resistant this time but nodded in agreement. He was humble and told me that he had been asking for forgiveness daily. I urged him once more to seek the Lord and make sure of his salvation and spoke encouragingly about the love and grace of Christ. He looked very tired. I prayed for him and then left. He died less than two weeks later.
I was sad to learn of his death; it had happened much sooner than expected. But I was grateful for the restored relationship with him, and for the opportunity to minister to a dying man. While it is still unclear to me whether or not he was truly converted (I simply do not know for sure), I am hopeful for him, knowing that God is better than my highest thoughts of Him and that His promise stands that all who call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved. I hope to see him, a brother, in heaven.
I have been asked to conduct a private memorial service for the family at his home, but due to COVID restrictions, it has been delayed until a later time.
Thank you for your prayers and support.