Feature

A God Thing!

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This is absurd! I thought to myself as I left the office to make a hospital visit on the other side of Toronto. I’ve never met this lady. I don’t know her name. I don’t know what she looks like. I don’t even know if I’m driving to the right location. The directory listed three Sunnybrook hospitals in the metro Toronto area. I had chosen one randomly.

All I knew was that this woman, accompanied by her daughter (whom I also did not know), would be receiving chemotherapy at 11 a.m. The woman had terminal cancer with a prognosis of four months to live. All morning I debated whether I should make the effort to find her. With the meager information I had, it seemed like a foolish waste of time. Finally, at 10 o’clock, I felt compelled to try.

One year earlier, my sister, Mary Ann Presher, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgery followed. A month later she moved from Ohio to Colorado Springs with her husband, David. At church, Mary Ann met Kelly Olson, who had had the same surgery. Through their common experience, they became friends.

Kelly learned that I was an Alliance pastor serving in metro Toronto, where her mother and sisters lived. Kelly’s mom, though facing the end of her life, had absolutely no interest in spiritual or eternal matters. She had been burned badly by churches and religious people. And she detested pastors.

Kelly was deeply burdened about her mother’s destiny, so she discussed with Mary Ann a possible meeting between her mother and me. They thought it would best if I just “appeared” before her treatment. But vital information had not been conveyed. Pressure was mounting because the window of time was closing. I missed my turn. I went the wrong way. I drove past the hospital.

Driving into the parking lot, I noticed that this franchise of Sunnybrook had a women’s cancer unit. That was promising! At the information desk, I provided the details: I needed to find the mother of a friend of my sister before she went into chemotherapy. How ridiculous it sounded! The receptionist directed me to the treatment area.

There, I immediately noticed a lady resembling Kelly, who had visited my church. Could it be? As I moved toward her, “Who is this?” was written all over her face.

“Hi. Do you know Kelly Olson?”

“Yes! That’s my daughter! How do you know her?” Wonder and excitement energized the interaction. No one could deny the incredible nature of the story. We talked about five minutes before Nancy was called for her treatment.

A “God-thing” had just occurred. If the timing had been any different, the meeting would have been missed. All future connection may have been lost. And to think I was within minutes of giving up. But the real “God-thing” was yet to happen.

Nancy invited me to visit. Three times we met at her home. Obviously, my vocation was known to her, but spiritual concerns were not raised unless she prompted them. She would be loved purely for Christ Jesus. A friendship developed. Trust emerged.

One morning Kelly called to say that I had better come immediately. I knew if I was to talk to Nancy about her relationship with God, it was then. Her eternal destiny was immediately before her.

I began by asking her if she knew her life was near its end, and then I shared the gospel. Four times I asked, “Nancy, do you trust Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord? Yes or no?” Three times, her responses were about her unworthiness. Each objection was addressed. A fourth time I asked, “Yes or no?” She said “Yes!” My heart was flooded with joy. What an amazing “God-thing” had just occurred!

Two days later I received another call saying Nancy was in her final minutes of earthly life. By the time I arrived, she had already passed into the presence of God.

Nancy’s story was shared with 24 people at a memorial service. All but two did not know Jesus in a personal way. “Coincidence,” some would say. But those who know the passionate heart of God would clearly understand that it was a “God-thing.” Who can trace out His purposes through our life experiences? Two women with cancer, a desperately needy person and a never-ending life.

“Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us! What joy!”(Ps. 126:3, NLT)

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