November 18, 2017

Lord, Lay Some Soul Upon My Heart

Kristopher Schaal

The following testimony is about an event that occurred some weeks ago.

Last week, Nathanael and I visited Sun Grove nursing home. We played a trumpet/trombone duet, and I preached. I was really praying that God would save someone, but no one came and talked to me about salvation after the sermon. However, as we were leaving the room where the service took place, Julia, who was playing organ, came up to me and said, “Kristopher, would you have time to talk to someone about salvation.” I said “sure.” She explained to me that she had been talking to this man named James before the service, and that he had said he wanted to get saved, but that he was not ready. Apparently, James had been in tears during their conversation.

So I walked down to James’s room. Nathanael was helping to wheel the residents back to their rooms, so he came down to see where the room was, and then planned to catch up with me later. James was unavailable when I arrived at his room, but I felt led by the Spirit to wait so I stood outside the door to see if I would get the opportunity to talk to him. I almost hoped that James would not be available so that I could just go away saying that it must not have been God’s will for me to talk to James that day.

However, I knew that was wrong thinking, so I prayed that God would give me the opportunity to talk to James and that James would get saved. After a few minutes, the door opened up, and the nurse said that I could visit with James. I walked in and introduced myself. James was laying in his hospital bed covered in sheets. He was very thin and had a long shaggy gray beard. He looked tired, but you could still see plenty of passion in his eyes. His TV was on, he was fiddling on his laptop, and he was watching a DVD, all at the same time.

I told James that the lady who had been by earlier told me about him. I asked James if we could talk about salvation, and he said “ok.” At some points in our conversation, James seemed very moved and tears came to his eyes. At other points, he would get distracted by one of his electronic devices. He would make a comment about the movie that was playing or start messing around on his computer. At one point, the computer started acting up, and I tried to help him fix it. After a few minutes, Nathanael came in. I was tempted just to wrap things up with him and tell him that someone else would be by to see him again next week, but I felt led in this case to “push” a little bit harder. So I continued on.

James had no problem admitting he was a sinner. However, at many points in the conversation he said things like, “I already know all of those things.” I believe James told me that his dad was a preacher. He said that he had read the entire Bible. I felt that should press a little bit deeper to see if he really understood as well as he claimed to; but getting into all of those details take a lot of mental energy, and honestly, I was feeling a bit lazy. He did seem to have a pretty good knowledge of Scripture. Also, Nathanael was with me, and I knew I needed to get him home by a certain time. So I took James at his word.

James knew that he was not a Christian. However, when I asked him if he would like to ask Jesus to save him, James said, “I’m just not ready.” When I asked him why not, he said, “I just don’t think God would want to save a miserable person like me.” I assured him that God DID want to save him, and that we do NOT need to clean ourselves up in order to saved. After that, James said, “ok. I guess I’ll pray.” I asked him if we could turn all of the electronics off. He agreed, and we went through the process of shutting everything down. James said he would rather not pray out loud, so we both simply bowed our heads and prayed in silence—I prayed for James and he prayed for his own soul. After a few minute, James said, “where did Nathanael go?” and I knew he was done praying.

I asked James what he had prayed. He said that he had asked God to forgive him of all the sins he had ever committed, and to save him. I asked him if God had done it, and he said, “I don’t know. I hope so.” I think it was at this time that I showed him Romans 10:13 – “For whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

James really wanted physical healing. He was paralyzed, and had been in the nursing home for a number of years. I told him that God may or may not chose to heal him physically, but that spiritual healing was more important. James countered by saying that Jesus told his disciples that when they went back to heaven, they would do even greater things than He did on earth. (I wondered if he wanted me to try to pray to heal him.) I told him that was true, but that Jesus was referring to the presence of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and ministries of the apostles, and that we can be filled with that Holy Spirit to which Jesus was referring. James was saddened by my response, but he accepted my offer.

I stressed to James the importance of reading his Bible. He did not have a Bible, so I went and found one in the nursing home for Him. When I brought it back, he was very thankful for it. He said he would read it, and thanked me for stopping by. Then, Nathanael and I left James’s room.

That night, Julia reconnected with me at church. Anxiously, she asked me how things went. I told her that James had prayed. “To receive Christ?” she asked. “Yes,” I said, and we rejoiced together. Then I asked her if she would follow up with him the next Sunday. I said that I thought he got saved, but that I was a little unsure of his level of understanding. She said that she would follow up.

One week later, Julia returned to the nursing home and went to James’s room. She was surprised to find the sheets neatly folded. So she went down to the nurse’s station and asked which room James __________ was in. The nurse replied, “I’m sorry. We don’t have any residents by that name.” Bewildered, Julia went back to the room that she remembered James being in. “I can’t be imagining things,” she thought. “I talked to him, and so did Kristopher.” As she was standing there trying to sort things out, she happened to strike up a conversation with another nurse. At the mention of James, the nurse’s face fell. “I’m sorry,” the nurse said. “James died last week.”

What a sobering thing it is to know that I shared the gospel with a man who dearly needed Christ just days before he died. What divine providence it was that connected Julia with James that Sunday afternoon, gave her a burden for him, allowed her to talk with him about his soul, moved her to ask me to talk to him again on the same day, led me to wait those couple of extra minutes outside his door, and led me to “push” for a decision more strongly than I normally would!

I wish now that I would have taken the extra time to make sure that he understood what we were talking about. In the future, I pray that I would never let laziness get between me and the salvation of a soul. However, as best I can tell, by God’s grace alone, James accepted Christ last Sunday, and he is in heaven now.

I’m sure many of you have relatives and neighbors who need Christ. You never know how much more time you will have to witness to them. Dr. Bob used to remind all of the students in chapel that “the most sobering reality in the world today is that people are dying and going to hell today.” It is a sobering reality. We are in a war. Brothers and sisters, we must engage in the battle!! Pray that God would open your eyes to the lost all around you. I believe that the God who deserves to be praised by all men has many people in this city. Let’s pray that God would not allow us to say “hello” to the girl at the drive through window or look into the eyes of the cashier at Walmart without considering the condition of his or her soul.

Has the Holy Spirit been burdening you about someone? What is that “next step” that you need to take? Is it beginning to pray daily for your neighbor? Is it sharing your evangelistic burden with your spouse or a pastor, even if you are afraid they may think you are being a little bit radical? Is it calling up a family member or friend and setting up a lunch appointment so that you can share Christ? Is it getting involved in one of your churches evangelistic programs like bus ministry or nursing home? Is it asking your co-worker to do an evangelistic Bible study with you? Whatever it is that the Lord is leading you to do, please, take that next step! Don’t be lazy or procrastinate. There is no time to waste.


Kristopher Schaal currently serves as a Pastoral Intern at Northwest Valley Baptist Church & Arrowhead Christian Academy


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