Sometimes we have only a brief moment in time to share the gospel with an individual. Other times, as Peter* discovered, the opportunities for interaction may stretch over years.
Peter met Bill* under difficult circumstances. Peter himself had travelled quite a distance to the regional cancer clinic for a bone marrow transplant. Chemotherapy and radiation would later follow. Bill, on the other hand, was there to be by his wife’s side as she fought her own battle with cancer.
The first time the men met was in the elevator. The hospital served a wide area so it was only the common denominator of cancer that drew these two to the same location. As they made eye contact, Peter felt immediately that they would form a friendship.
Later, as they met up once again, Bill shared that he’d been with his wife through a difficult transplant months earlier. Then her body had begun to reject the transplant and she had developed pneumonia. Bill himself was also in poor health, at times wheelchair bound even as he helped his wife in her fight against the deadly disease. Their future was looking grim.
It wasn’t long before Bill’s wife was placed into the ICU.
Conscious that many around him were going through difficult times, Peter left numerous pieces of Christian literature in several lounge areas throughout the hospital, hoping someone might pick one up and find them helpful.
One day, Peter came upon Bill reading one of the tracts he had placed there. Peter gently commented, “You’ll find answers to some of your questions about God in those pamphlets.”
Bill responded quietly, “I’m noticing that.”
Not long after, Peter heard that Bill’s wife had died and he lost touch with the grieving man.
A year later, Peter’s health had greatly improved and he felt well enough to help out at a nearby Bible camp. One day he was sent to the store to pick up some supplies. Much to his surprise, the man who brought the hamburger buns to the till was none other than Bill.
The likelihood of them ever running into each other again was slim, but here they were. The men hugged and a new phase in their relationship began.
Over the next several months, the two were able to connect again. Bill and his son joined Peter and his wife for dinner. In turn, Peter and his wife spent time at Bill’s place. Eventually, Peter had the opportunity to give his friend a copy of By This Name, though a chance to discuss it never developed.
Once again Peter and Bill lost contact as each of them became caught up in other matters in their busy lives.
Recently, Peter was saddened to learn of Bill’s death. Upon reading his obituary, Peter learned that his friend had become a believer and had attended a Bible-believing church. He later encountered Bill’s pastor and was blessed to hear of the other puzzle pieces that the Lord had put into place to bring Bill into an eternal relationship with Christ.
While Peter’s role may have been small, he was so encouraged to know that he had indeed played a part. He was once again reminded of the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity to build relationships with those around him and to always be prepared to share the gospel, even if only to hand someone a book. Without a doubt, such readiness can make an eternal impact.
(*Name changed as per GoodSeed policy.)