June and Billy

Anna Schlegel

Literature Evangelist Victorian Conference.

 

Joe Paola

Ephesians 6.19 “…that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.”

June welcomed me into her home because of her health issues. She is in the process of undergoing more tests, has follow up appointments with her GP and a referral to a dietician. I used the Abundant Living Series to introduce her to their usefulness as a resource for managing some of her complaints. She showed interest but settled for the Diabetes book for her husband instead. The large Bible on her bookshelf did not escape my notice. I asked her about it. This started a lengthy conversation about her experiences with church; taken off the books for non-attendance by way of a letter (no one bothered to visit and learn of their struggles with a disabled child) and a reluctance to make accommodations for the child’s disabilities in another church school. Finally she found some love and support in yet another Christian school but her needs were unmet as she could not reconcile herself with some of the teachings. And so she drifted from God, as taught by the churches.

My question to her was whether she perceived a difference in the person of Jesus and what she experienced among Christians – to which she replied with an emphatic “yes”. We explored the character of Christ, we touched on creation and the intricacy of nature but came back to Jesus. After an hour of intense conversation with this very bright and inquisitive woman, I introduced her to The Desire of Ages. We prayed together. She exclaimed, “What an unusual morning.”

What I didn’t realize was that several houses down the road God had another unusual appointment planned. A young person sitting on the doorstep of his home taking time out for a smoke and a cuppa. As soon as I mentioned health, Billy began to list his many health issues, including puzzling neurological presentations, coming to terms with transgenderism and community attitudes, and drug addiction. I listened carefully to his story – it was fascinating and heartbreaking to say the least.

He pointed to one incredible achievement: staying off heavy drugs for the last 10 days. He also mentioned this in the context of it being something that was beyond him and he felt it was coming from outside of him and not sure who he is in the context of these changes. I interrupted him at this point: “I know who you are, you are a child of God and He has a purpose for you.”

Billy put it bluntly: “If you had said this a few weeks ago, I would have told you to _____ off. But now I know there is something bigger than me in all of this, some power. I don’t know what to call it. When I saw you walking up the drive way I was wondering what I was going to say to you if you were one of those religious freaks. But this is so weird.”

I pointed out to Billy that the 10 days are not insignificant. They are a trial period. I gave him an example from the OT of Daniel who trialed a God given diet in the face of adversity for 10 days and God blessed his commitment with visibly improved health. I even mentioned the 10 days mentioned in the NT (Rev 2:10) about a 10 days of persecution of suffering for God’s people in the end times, a time of trial in which they choose whether or not to be faithful to what they believe. Billy took it in. He had withstood the 10 days with the help of a power outside of him which I tried to make clear was God. But where to from here? More hospital appointments, life’s ups and downs. How would he cope? Billy accepted my offer of prayer. He also accepted my offer of a special beautifully illustrated edition of Steps to Christ printed in a style suitable to be read as a devotional. I pointed out it has been used in conjunction with the 12 step program to help with addictions with which he was all too familiar. Billy’s face changed when I hugged him. It was as if he couldn’t believe what just happened. God is full of surprises when we least expect them.

Anna Schlegel