For me, this story will always be a reminder of God’s gracious guidance and power to answer prayer.
The adventure started some time ago as I visited NCEM missionaries, Phil and Gracie Welch. You see, I served as the pastor of their home church. I had visited them on this day and had a wonderful time with them. As I left to travel back home, I began to pray for their ministry and for the ministry of NCEM here in Cape Breton.
I asked the Lord to open our church to ministry to the Native people in our region. I even dared to ask God very specifically for a Native man to befriend and minister to, helping him to come to a knowledge of Christ. Of course I prayed that this might be in accordance with God’s will but, to be honest, I prayed it in little faith, not expecting God to do this.
That was a Tuesday night. The following Thursday morning I sat in my office when the phone rang. When I answered it, there was an unfamiliar voice on the other end. The dialect seemed different and the voice seemed slurred a bit.
But what the man asked was clear. He asked if I could answer some questions he had about the Bible. I told him I would do my best, and the questions started. I faithfully tried to answer his questions, all the time praying for help and trying to understand what this call was really about.
Finally, as the conversation wound down, I asked the man on the other end who he was. He informed me that he was Henry, an 82 year-old Native man who had suffered a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair.
I just about fell off my chair! God had miraculously inspired this man to call me. This was the answer to my prayer!
He said that he had tried to contact other ministers to get his questions answered, but had been put off without getting any answers. I asked him if it was alright if I came to visit him. He said, “Anytime. You come anytime, Reverend!” He gave me his address and phone number.
A few days later I was sitting in the kitchen of a mobile home, talking face to face with Henry. He had many questions, and I tried to answer them all. He told me he’d like to go to church, so I made arrangements to pick him up and take him.
Henry thought I preached too long, but he enjoyed the fellowship. He began attending our little Baptist church on a regular basis, with me going before the service to pick him up. He brought his wife and two daughters at first; however, these ladies eventually quit coming. But Henry did not let that stop his coming to church. Even if they decided not to come with him, Henry would call me during the week and say, “Reverend, I’ll be ready on Sunday.”
One day, on the way to church, Henry looked at me and commented on all the ceremony within religion. He said, “Reverend, all of that is not important. To God it is what is in your heart which is important.” I asked Henry if he had asked Jesus into his heart, and he said that, yes, he had. After that, I began to notice a change. He rarely spoke of the old ways, liking to talk about Jesus instead.
Henry called one Wednesday. He had not felt well for a couple of weeks, but he seemed to be feeling better. He said maybe the problem was that he had not had chocolate bars for awhile. Henry loved chocolate, and I would often bring him chocolate bars — always three for, in Henry’s words, “Me, myself, and I.” I planned to visit Henry on Friday and take him his “Me, myself and I.”
On Thursday afternoon I got a distress call. I had been out in my yard for just a few moments when the first call came in. It was followed very shortly by a second. Henry had passed away quietly at home, and the family wanted me to come and be with them.
When I got there, Henry’s oldest daughter clung to me and sobbed. Then she said something I will never forget. She said her father had had so much peace the past few months because he knew where he was going and was ready to go. He had mentioned it many times to her in the past few weeks.
I knew Henry had given his heart to God whom he had first worshiped as the Creator, but had recently come to know as the loving God who sent His Son to die on the cross of Calvary for his sins. Henry was indeed ready to go home.
I preached the following Sunday morning and saw the spot where Henry often sat in his wheelchair. It was empty now, but I knew that my dear friend, the one God had sent me, was now at home in peace with his Saviour.
I marvel at how God led Henry across my path, and our church is agreed that Henry was a God-send to our whole congregation. God knew best when to send him, and God knew when to take him home. I just praise God that we were found faithful and today my friend is with God.
Chris Greer is a pastor in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
Adapted from our Northern Lights magazine (Issue #497). Note: some of the locations and involvements of our missionaries may have changed since the original publishing of this article.