This week was one of those defining moments in ministry and a reminder of what missions is all about. Last May we posted the story of a man named Edwin from our local night shelter that came to faith in Jesus Christ. (A Baptism with an Amazing Twist – May 2014).
That blog post instantly became popular and had more traffic and hits than any other story we’ve posted. Here’s the rest of the story.
Just after Christmas, the day before Nancy and I left for a ministry trip to America, I went to see Edwin at the night shelter. He had been ill and not able to come to church much, and I thought this most likely would be the last time I would get to see Edwin. Because of his particular form of Tuberculosis, Edwin was isolated from the other residents at the homeless shelter. His life had been reduced to living in a converted metal container on the shelter’s property.
Last week Edwin died, going from his humble earthly “home” to the glory of his heavenly home. When I received the news of Edwin’s death, all I could think about was the remarkable transformation he had just experienced. This man who was ill, homeless, isolated, and feeling abandoned, was now in heaven with Jesus. Totally new in every way. Can you imagine what it was like when he arrived… standing in utter awe of Jesus and his new home? My heart broke with the news of Edwin’s passing, but I also felt great joy. I’m so grateful that God brought Edwin into our lives, that he heard the good news of the Gospel and believed in Jesus, his Savior.
This week I’ve been asking myself some timely questions: Will my transformation from this life to the next be just as radical as Edwin’s, or is it possible that I’m so caught up in my life and ministry here that I’ve lost sight of what’s to come? Are the earthly pleasures I experience now so great that I would somehow fool myself into thinking this life could be better? Do I really believe that it will be better when I see Jesus? The Apostle Paul had similar thoughts in one of his letters that led him to these conclusions, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. (Phil. 1:21,23)
Edwin’s story of faith is really God’s story. Jesus came to save us from our sins and bring us into an eternal relationship with Him where one day we’ll dwell forever in a home that He’s prepared for us.
Here is my prayer for all of us… Jesus, help us to get this right for you. Give us eyes to see like you see and a passion to reach our neighborhoods and the nations. Help us not to get so comfortable in this earthly home that we lose the wonder of the heavenly home that awaits us. Thank you for the price you paid to give us this hope. Amen.