I am taking the liberty of sharing a very precious experience and testimony that happened some years ago – a thief on the cross experience ….
A few months ago I read about a tragic incident where a well-known Bishop was asked the question: “If you were at the bedside of a very ill elderly lady and she asked you what was waiting for her after death, what would you say to her?” His reply was: “My dear, I honestly do not know”
As Christians we have the best news to share. You and I have an answer for that lady (and anyone else who may ask a similar question) based on the Word of God.
Let me share a very precious experience I had some 22 years ago whilst working as a Professional Nurse in an Oncology ward in South Africa.
A lovely man (originally from the UK) – very honorable, a former Royal Air Force pilot in the 2nd world war – was stricken with a severe spinal cancer – in extreme pain (for which he was being given appropriate treatment) – his name …. Charles Earnshaw 1
The treatment he was receiving was palliative as the cancer was too advanced. He was a dying man. And yet death wouldn’t come. He appeared to be struggling to die. His body was cold and clammy. He was incredibly weak … but, it was as if he couldn’t die! At least 2 mornings we’d come on duty thinking that Charles would have passed away. … but … he was still clinging on to what little life was left.
A Christian doctor who was looking after him had spoken to him briefly and he had said to her: “I am afraid to die, I do not know what is waiting for me when I die …. I’m really scared”. The doctor told me about this and (although she didn’t need to, I would have done it anyway) asked me if I would be willing to have a chat with him.
The Lord had planned it so that we had adequate staffing that day and it was agreed with the other ward staff that I would spend time with him that day.
I explained to Charles that I would be looking after him that particular day and would be available to listen and to help as much as I could. It wasn’t long and the subject was raised by Charles. He spoke quietly (he was very weak) and said: “I’m afraid to die.” I explained that the Lord Jesus could help Him, could give Him peace. “How can I turn to God now? I’ve ignored him all my life …”
With the Lord’s help I was able to explain and share the story of the thief on the cross. I shared the well-known verse from John 3:16 with him. God then led me to personalize the verse as follows: “For God so loved Charles Earnshaw, that He gave His only begotten Son, that if Charles Earnshaw believes in Him, Charles Earnshaw will not perish but have eternal life”. It was as if a light went on. He was almost startled by the Truth.
As time went on we discussed issues and I tried to answer his questions as best I could.
It is important to remember that during this time, he was in so much pain & would from time to time have medication to ease the pain.
He did not want me to leave him
Around 14h00 that afternoon, I asked Charles if he would like to pray to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as His Saviour. “Yes, please!”
He was physically frightfully weak indeed but his mind was very alert throughout.
Because of the weakness, I offered to pray slowly & allow him to pray quietly and make the prayer his own. We prayed …
When we had finished praying he said amen. I asked him: “Are you glad you have prayed that prayer?” His reply: “I wish I’d prayed it a LONG time ago.”
He never spoke again & at around 14h30, Charles Earnshaw passed away peacefully into the presence of his new-found Friend, his Saviour and Lord -Jesus Christ.
You & I, if we know the Lord as our Saviour, have a life-giving message to proclaim. Never hesitate to share with others that Jesus gives peace, joy and life – life eternal.
(1 Name has been changed to protect privacy)
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