From Strangers to Family

by Christy Hoagland

On Friday afternoon I received a phone call asking if we would visit a man’s dying father, his son was worried about his spiritual condition and desperately wanted someone to tell him about Jesus.  He was in a hospital not far from us and it was on our way to our prison service that night so I told the caller that we would be glad to go see him.

We arrived at the hospital and asked the woman at the front desk for (we’ll call him Bob).  The woman told us he wasn’t in their system…we could’ve just walked out, maybe there was a mix up by the caller or maybe he had already passed…but the woman got up and said she would go check and quickly went down the hall.  She returned and told us he was in the ER.  We walked to the ER and asked for Bob and they let the three of us right in (I thought that was odd), we found his room and it was packed with his family.  I walked in and said, “Bob? I know you don’t know me” and he said “No, I don’t”.  I told him we had been sent to see him and by whom and the entire family minus one daughter immediately got up and let us have the room with him.  As they were filing out the doctor came in and told him more about his condition, he would see the radiation oncologist on Monday and that he could go home today but to come back if he got worse.  He left and then each of us began telling him about the Gospel.  Bob said he knew there was a God but that he was not a Christian, he had not given his life to Christ and he didn’t want to. He said he didn’t want to be fake.  As we talked about the hope, forgiveness, and love that Jesus gives I felt like he was shutting down and wanted no part of what was being said.  In my mind I was saying “the Spirit is not drawing him”, we will just have to pray with him and be on our way and hope that a seed was planted and would take root.  The doctor came in again and told Bob that he had a little bit of good news for him, that he needed to stay in the hospital and begin treatment and that things didn’t look quite as dire as before.  The doc then left and James turned to Bob and said “let Christy tell you a quick story”, I was going to tell him about my mom and the miracles God has done through her battle with cancer.  Bob said “I don’t need to hear anymore”…for a split second I thought he had really had enough and was going to kick us out…but instead he said “that’s the first positive news I’ve had in my whole life”.  God became real to him for the first time in his life.  Johnny asked him if he wanted to give his life to Christ and Bob said “Yes, I do”.  He prayed to receive Christ, we were all crying and thanking God for the Spirit’s mighty move upon Bob.  His daughter through tears was looking heavenward and saying thank you, thank you.  We all hugged Bob and Bob even kissed me on the cheek.  In a matter of probably 30 minutes strangers became family, walls were torn down, strongholds were destroyed and the Holy Spirit moved into another heart and life.  Bob’s daughter hugged us tightly and said “that was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, I gotta go tell mom!”

Ezekiel 36:26 says “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  And this is exactly what happened before our very eyes, it was one of the most miraculous things I’ve ever witnessed.  What an honor it is to tell about Jesus and watch Him work. Go tell someone about Him today…you might just see a heart of stone turn into a heart of flesh.

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