I got the call from my stepmom: My 88-year-old dad was rushed to the hospital with congestive heart failure. I rushed to see him on June 15, 2022 with one goal in mind: give him the Gospel of Jesus.
When I got saved in 1990, after a life of dissipation and sin, dad didn’t believe I had really changed. I couldn’t blame him. I was a bad, irresponsible son who cared not a whit for anybody, even my family. But God gave me a new heart and new desires; over time he has seen the change. But that wasn’t enough for him to believe in Jesus.
My dad is an agnostic who taught me that God could be a beer can when I was a child. So, of course, I worshiped and lived as one who serves a beer can. After I had put childish things away, my only desire was to prove to dad that Jesus is real. But he’s a stubborn guy. Like I was. Like I am. Like all of you.
The first time I remember giving him the gospel was when he was in the hospital twenty-five years ago, after his first heart attack. I was very clear about his need for a Savior, but it was to no avail, except for planting the seed. He told me over the years that a lot of his friends and co-workers told witnessed to him about Jesus, but, no worries, he’d be okay without Him and God would let him into Heaven.
After I discovered a teaching called “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” and learned to present the true Biblical Gospel, I became even more bold when sharing my faith. One time I was driving him somewhere and he saw a bunch of Gospel tracts on the passenger floor. He picked one up and started reading it:
“THE MILLION-DOLLAR QUESTION: Will you go to Heaven when you die? Have you lied, stolen, used God’s name in vain, or lusted (which Jesus said was adultery)? If so, God sees you as a liar, thief, blasphemer, and adulterer at heart. If you die in your sins, you will end up in a terrible place called Hell. But there’s good news. Though we broke God’s Law, Jesus paid the fine by dying on the cross: ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’ Then Jesus rose from the dead and was seen by hundreds of eyewitnesses. He fulfilled all the prophecies of the promised Savior. Please, today, repent and trust Jesus, and God will forgive you and grant you the gift of eternal life.”
In astonishment, Dad asked, “Do you tell people this?” When I told him that I did, he said, “Someone’s going to kick your butt.” Then for added emphasis, he repeated his caution: “Someone is going to kick your butt.” Yet he wasn’t opposed to the message.
When my nephew died, he had me do his memorial, where I clearly presented the Gospel. When his sister passed—my aunt—I did the gravesite service, where again, I gave a clear presentation of the Goods News. I even had everyone sing “Amazing Grace,” with him joining in.
For the last several years I chose to demonstrate the Gospel by being a good son because he’s heard it enough. I made it a point to call him weekly and to visit him every year. In 2019, he even came to our fellowship, Community Church of the Hills, where once again, he heard the Words of eternal life.
My 85-year-old grandma came to the Lord shortly before her death twenty years ago after I served at her convalescent home for a season. My mom, who passed away at 85 in February, came to the Lord at the last hour as well. Now, my hope and prayer was that my dad, whom I love dearly, would also bend the knee. I’d be there for his 89th birthday and for Father’s Day. My hope is that it would indeed be my father’s day, that he acknowledges that God is his everlasting Father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15: 20)
***My Dad finally died in part 2. Read it here.