A Wink and a Smile
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17(NASB).
The bone cancer was winning the battle; Uncle Joe was losing.
After traveling 1,700 miles, my husband and I stood at his hospital bedside. This time when I tried to share the gospel, he listened, which was not only an answer to prayer, but a miracle.
The next day an elderly roommate poked his head around the curtain, wearing a baseball cap that read, “I love Jesus.” With a voice of authority, he said, “Joe, I’d like to tell you about my Boss who I’ve served for over 50 years.” Using his own amazing testimony, Don also shared the gospel. With tears in my eyes, I stifled a smile at how the Lord was working.
Don wholeheartedly loved the Lord. In his 80s, he was still regularly traveling to Guatemala, relying on the Lord for the funds to go and share the love of Jesus.
When a nurse came into the room, the three of us ducked behind the curtain. As I told Don about our prayer for someone to share with my uncle, his eyes widened. When the nurse finished, Don pushed back the curtain and said, “Joe, I’d like to pray over you.”
“Go ahead,” he replied, “but I don’t think it will do any good.” The Lord performed yet another miracle. The three of us laid hands on a stubborn man, whose resolve seemed to be crumbling.
When Don finished, my husband and I laid hands on him, beseeching the Lord for healing and safety on his upcoming trip to Central America.
When we returned from lunch, Don was gone. A cousin commented how one minute he was there and the next he wasn’t. Apparently, Don had checked himself out of the hospital.
For the remainder of the afternoon, my uncle was exceedingly quiet. Being a deep thinker, we’d like to imagine he was contemplating what had been shared, and that the Holy Spirit was convicting him.
After the hospital staff admitted there was nothing more to be done, other than managing his pain, attention was turned toward taking him home.
Aunt Dorothy sat by his bed, the love of 65 years of marriage displayed in her kind and caring eyes. In a weak voice, Joe reached out for his wife’s hand, telling her he didn’t want to go home; he would be a burden to her. With compassion and tenderness, she said, “Joe, why then did we get married, if not to care for one another?”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the full room of family members. He had to surrender, and he knew it.
That night, my husband and I kissed Uncle Joe goodbye, knowing it would be the last time we would see him. He gave me a weak smile and winked at my husband. It was difficult walking away. I wanted to turn back and plead with him to accept Christ, but I knew I couldn’t do that; he’d heard the gospel, and it was the Holy Spirit’s job to convict him, not mine. But at the doorway, I had to turn and look at my dear uncle one more time.
A day and a half later, he passed away peacefully at home in the wee hours of the morning, his wife, two sons, and a granddaughter by his bedside.
We will never know for sure until we are in the presence of the Lord if my uncle accepted Jesus as his Savior. But for now, we will rest in God’s word:
“I know that [God] can do all things and that no purpose of [His] can be thwarted” Job 42:2 (NASB).
by Ryan Duncan, crosswalk.com
It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. – Deuteronomy 13:4
Sometimes I feel like, as a Christian, I’m no good. I have no memory for Bible verses, I don’t have any gifts in leadership or preaching, and I’ve done some pretty stupid, not to mention embarrassing, things while trying to serve Christ in the past. In moments like these, I try to remember Gladys Alyward.
Gladys Alyward was a London-born woman who became a missionary to China in the 1930’s. Another missionary named Mrs. Lawson had invited Alyward to China, where the two women would run an inn and tell Bible stories to the passing travelers. Lawson and Alyward were the only foreigners in the city, at a time when Europeans were looked on with great distrust by the Chinese, and not long after her arrival, Mrs. Lawson suffered a severe fall and died a few days later.
Only a few weeks after Lawson’s death, Alyward was approached by the city’s Mandarin. The government had decided to put an end to the ancient practice of foot-binding, and this meant the government needed a foot-inspector, a woman (someone who could invade the women’s quarters without scandal) who would patrol the district and enforce the decree. Though Alyward was now running the inn by herself, she chose to accept the position and used it to minister to countless individuals.
A year after that, Alyward was once again summoned by the Mandarin. A riot had broken out at a local prison, and Alyward was told to calm it. The prison guards had heard of her strange religion and wanted to put it to the test, so Alyward had no choice but to walk into the rampaging prison. To everyone’s surprise, when Alyward called for the rioting prisoners to stop, they did. She told them to select a spokesman for the prisoners whom she could speak with, which again, they did without argument. It turned out the prisoners were confined to close quarters all day, with nothing to do and nothing to eat but food sent to them by family members. Though prison reform was unheard of at the time, Alyward managed to gather equipment the men could use to grind grain, earning them money for food.
As the years passed, the people of the city gave Alyward the name Ai-weh-deh, meaning “Virtuous One.” Her inn expanded to become an orphanage where she cared for over 100 children, and when the Japanese threatened to invade in WWII, it was she who led the children over the mountains to safety. Alyward continued to preach the message of Christ all her life until she died in 1970.
Funny thing about Gladys Alyward: when she first applied to be a missionary, she was turned down. The organization she’d applied for considered her “unqualified” to minister in a foreign country.
God loves unqualified Christians. Look at Peter – a day laborer and a coward. Look at Matthew, who was a tax collector and an outcast. Look at Mary, who the scripture say Jesus cast twelve demons from. Don’t underestimate what Christ can do with your life. Give God one willing Christian, and he can change the face of the world.
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. ~ Albert Einstein
Harry Houdini was one of the greatest escape artists the world has ever seen. One of the most famous tricks he loved to perform was to escape from jail cells across the world. Houdini would travel to a city and challenge the citizens to create a cell from which he could not escape. He would always free himself in record time, whether he was in handcuffs, or the cell was triple locked, or he had to scale a wall to escape.
Of course, Houdini had a lot tricks up his sleeve. He would ask to test the lock with the key and make an impression of it using a small box of wax that he kept in his palm. He would then hide the key in his hair or the heel of his slippers. Other times, he was able to have the key passed to him from a friend after reaching his hands through the bars to shake hands with the onlookers. If all else failed, he had a special lock pick made that he could hide in his belt.
However, as one story goes, there was one cell in a town in the British Isles that stumped the great illusionist. Houdini walked into the challenge with confidence. Once the jail was closed, he took off his coat and set to work with his key and lock pick. But there was something unusual about the lock. He worked for thirty minutes with no success. An hour passed, and still he was stuck behind the bars. After two hours had passed, an exhausted Houdini collapsed against the door in defeat… and it swung open.
The citizens of the town had played a trick on Houdini by not locking the cell in the first place! The solution was there in plain sight. It had only been locked in his mind.
Sometimes, we fall into the same trap. We fail to recognize the reality of our situation because what our eyes are telling us does not represent the whole story. We fail to see the solutions in plain sight or are blind to what is really taking place. In particular, as we will discuss in this first session, we fail to see that we are in an invisible war… and that the battlefield for the struggle is located in our own hearts and minds.
“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to … know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.” – Ephesians 3:17-19 NASB
By his own admission, Adoniram Judson had lived a “wild, reckless life.” Born on this day in Massachusetts in 1788, he was raised in a Christian home, but in his youth he became an atheist. Then, suddenly, everything changed.
While staying in an inn, he listened with concern to the cries of a man in the room next door. The following morning, he learned that the man had died. He was shocked to discover that the man was a friend from college. Judson realized that the man was lost forever. But he realized that he, too, was lost. As a result, he gave his life to the Lord.
As he grew in his knowledge of the Lord, Judson became inspired by the message of Ephesians 3 and Christ’s love for the lost. The burden led him to become a missionary.
In 1812 he sailed for Burma, where he spent most of the rest of his life. When he arrived, there was not one known Christian in that land of millions. It took six years for the first convert, but his faithfulness bore fruit. When he died, a government survey indicated that there were 210,000 Christians!
Today, the world needs people like Adoniram Judson, who are motivated by God’s love, ready to share that commitment. Ask God to give you a burden for souls. Dedicate your life to serving His Kingdom.