Tag Archives: Elderly

Day 8: “My Time Is Almost Up; I’m Close to the End”

Last week a group of us went door-to-door handing out invites for our summer kid’s program. Arthur and I met a friendly old man named Heinz while walking on the street. Before lone, we got talking to him about the Gospel.

Though we talked for a while and much was said, I was especially struck by Heinz’s words, “But my time is almost up; I’m close the end.” This was his reason for not changing his mindset about God. He figured, “If I’ve lived my whole life not embracing any one religion, why would I start now?” We told him about the judgement to come (Hebrews 9:27) and that we will all stand before Jesus.

After talking about judgement, I said, “Maybe in the Lord’s kindness He sent us to you to tell you the truth before it’s too late.” He smiled and with a bit of a chuckle and said, “Well wouldn’t that be something.” Though he seemed to be joking in part, his eyes didn’t look entirely closed to the possibility.

Another one of his objections was the crusades and other the evil things done in the name of Christ. He said, “There has been a lot of things done in the name of Christ.” We pleaded with him to look to Jesus to learn the truth of Christianity. We encouraged him to read the Bible. He seemed quite intimidated by the size of the Bible and even reading the Gospels. But eventually he settled on the Two Ways to Live booklet that we gave him.

In God’s kind providence, Arthur saw him later that day at the library and Heinz still had the booklet in his chest pocket! May he read it and understand the Gospel of God’s kingdom and grace. Please pray for Heinz.

The Privatization of Religion in Canada

John C. and I were out at the bus stops at Islington and Elmhurst yesterday. I approached an elderly man, offering him the 10 commandment coin. He refused. I explained to him that we are out on the streets spreading the Gospel, and asked if we could talk for a bit while he waited for his bus. He agreed and started to talk about war. Later, I realized that he misunderstood me, for he originally thought I was asking him to teach me. He argued that we need a pope in Israel.

I asked, “Oh, are you Catholic?” “Yes,” he replied. I inquired about whether or not he thought God would accept him or reject him if he were to die. He was not happy with my question, and responded, “why are you talking to me?” “Because Jesus commands me to preach the Gospel.”  He looked disgusted. Pulling out my little Bible, I said, “Here, I will show you where Jesus commands this.” He said, “No, don’t read that to me.” I said, “You don’t want to hear the Bible?” He insisted that I not read from the Bible on the streets. He said that such a thing is to be done in the church. The he said, “What you need to do is go to South East Asia and preach there.” I don’t doubt that South East Asia has great need for the Gospel, but so does Toronto!

I tried to persuade him that the Scriptures teach that we are to spread the Word everywhere and that even Jesus taught on the beaches and mountains. He did not want to hear it. I transitioned back to my original question: “if you were to die today, do you believe that God would accept you reject you?” He said, “If he was sleeping.” I said, “What if he is not sleeping?” With a jot of humour he replied, “Then we’ll get drunk. Eat, drink, and tomorrow we . . . (he could not remember the end of the phrase, but eventually went on) . . . work.” If my memory is correct, I think John C. said, “die,” in order to help the man (“… tomorrow we die”).

I thought, “what a great time to go to 1 Corinthians 15.” I said, “The Bible speaks of this idea. Let me show you what the Bible says about this.” I really wanted to go to 1 Corinthians 15 (for Paul approves of this mindset ONLY IF there is no resurrection from the dead . . . BUT there is a resurrection from the dead). Again, he did not want to hear from the Bible. He said, “Don’t read it. You should do that in private! It is to be done in secret. That is to be done in the church – not out here.” I said, “That is not what the Bible says. The Bible says that I am commanded to preach everywhere.”

I considered how old he is and that he may not have any contact with people who know and preach the Gospel. I was sincerely concerned for his eternal destiny. Without anger, but in gentleness and boldness, by the grace of God, I told him, “You will go to hell if you do not respond to this.” He turned from me, took a few steps away, and looked down the street awaiting the bus. He was still within about five feet of me (certainly within an ear shot).  With sincere concern for his soul, I felt compelled to speak. By the grace of God, with sternness I spoke thus: “I will speak for no more than one minute before I go, but I have something to say: salvation has come near to you today; you will be judged; before it is too late, you need to turn to God and trust in the work that Christ did and not your own works; I hope to see you again.”

You never know how the Lord will use this call. God is mighty to save. And what about the privatization of religion in Canada? This man was simply saying out loud what many Canadians hold deep in their hearts. The reason for this is simple – people love peace more than truth. The problem with this love affair is that they fail to learn where true peace is found.  How do we as Christians respond to this tenet which is so prevalent in our culture? Well, God is not silent on this issue – may his voice have an effectual force on his church in Canada: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20, emphasis mine).

Church in Canada: arise, let us hear the call of Christ our Captain!

87 and Dead

After having dinner at Steve’s I went out to his car to get a box of Bibles to take to the church (six doors down) on my way to work (for the evening). I just happened to run into my old friend,who I had met two summers ago during my first internship at GFC, while she was walking her beautiful golden Labrador. She is a kind elderly Hungarian lady who has been deeply influence by the word-faith movement (“health and wealth Gospel”). She rejected the true Gospel two summers ago. We had many talks when she would kindly invite me in for tea. I have randomly crossed her path a few times since. She visited GFC a few times two summers ago. I was delighted to see her again and I informed her of my work at the church this summer, so she told me I would see her around (for she walks her dog often).

Thereafter, right when that conversation ended I saw my old neighbour (an elderly Italian man). He a friendly man who enjoys talking about his life – the things he has done, the places he has been, and now, his thoughts in retrospect. Now, some people believe that you have to earn your right to speak (about Christ). I think there is something to be said for this philosophy; however, I believe this approach is often (not always) adopted because of sin (i.e., fear of man, love of self, worldliness, etc.) OR simply a spiritual dullness to the urgent need to spread the Gospel and a lack of faith in the power of the Gospel message itself to save (Romans 1:16).

Well, as I stood listening to this man (and listening-for-a-while I did), I thought to myself, “I have earned my right to speak to this man.” Let me explain the context of this particular situation. I used to live in the church neighbour. My roomate Steve and I would sometimes shovel his driveway in the winter (when we could). We would always have friendly chats with him when he was out. I have learned much about this man, who truly has done many things in his long life. But, I had never confronted him about his sin and the coming judgement; nor had I told him the Gospel.

We talked for while (him much more than me). At one point he mentioned that he was 87 years old. I told him that his days are numbered and asked him if he is prepared to die. He did not answer me, but went on to talk about his life in Italy. Again a little later, when the topic was ripe, I reminded him that he is 87 and asked him if he is prepared for the judgment. Again he responded by talking about other things without answering my question. A while later he mentioned how he went on a trip to Israel once. I told him that I would love to see Israel, for I love Jesus and the Bible. I explained how neat it would be to see the places I read about.

He responded by telling me that he is Catholic. I said, “You are Catholic?” I went on to ask him whether God would accept him or reject him. He did not directly answer me but he did not seemed too concerned. He explained that he was born Catholic so he was going to stay Catholic. He was quite confident that his has no need to be concerned about the judgment. He reasoned that he had lived a good life and helped people. He spoke of orphanages that he helped. He told me of the religious family he grew up in. He reassured me not to be concerned. He told me “don’t worry about it, it’s ok, everything is good.” He also mentioned, “we will see what happens when we get there, we cannot know now.”

I asked him, “have  you ever lied?” He seemed stunned by the question, “What?” I asked him, “have you ever lied?” Apparently he had not. I ask him if he had ever stole. He spoke about his religious upbringing. At one point I asked him, “have you ever sinned? Have you ever done anything bad? Have you ever had to confess to a priest?” He was silent, but responded by shaking his head no. Then I asked him if he had ever committed adultery. At this point he went on to tell me of many television programs that he has access to. I think he meant that he can learn about religion from Catholic sources on television, and that I do not need to worry about informing him of religious things.

He keep reassuring me, “Don’t worry, it’s ok.” Throughout our talk he often said, “Come and go.” He used this phrase to speak of how life is to be lived – you just come and go, do this and that, be busy, help people, do good, don’t worry about thinking of serious things like death and the afterlife, just “come and go.” He is 87 and dead in his sins.

My heart felt dull today. My heart does not sink with love and sadness for him, but I know it should. May the Lord help us to love the lost; and may He help us to know how to best minister to those who are 87 and dead. Lord, help us to believe that you will save even those who 87 and dead.