I’m humbled and thrilled to be a part of someone’s journey of faith. Here’s Rocky’s story.
Our friendly atheist neighbor
Meet my friend Rocky. He was our neighbor when we first moved to this town.
We got to know him a little bit. He was raised as a Catholic, but was now an atheist, he said.
And although he was happy to talk about spiritual things, he was clearly not interested in changing his mind anytime soon.
After a couple of years we moved to a different neighborhood nearby, but still kept in touch off and on.
Then one day Rocky called in a panic. He was in severe pain. I rushed down to his apartment, loaded him into the car and sped off to the hospital emergency room.
Over the course of the next few months, we helped him while he was in and out of the hospital and nursing care facility. Eventually they discovered that he had late-stage cancer, and there wasn’t much to be done.
At one visit to the ER, the doctors told him to get his affairs in order immediately. They didn’t think he would make it home. He used my phone to call his brother and sister (who live out of state) and tell them goodbye. But he pulled through to fight another day.
Gradually his health continued to decline and eventually he moved into hospice care.
We visited him regularly, chatting about life, and talking more about the gospel. He seemed as resistant as ever. His mind was made up about these things.
A very short list of friends
I remember one day I went to his apartment to check his mail and get some things for him. He was a bit of a hermit and his apartment was a jumbled assortment of old CDs, movies, and food wrappers, coated in a layer of cigarette smoke.
I glanced at his computer desk and there, on top of the pile, was a piece of paper. On the top it said one word: Friends: Below that was just one name: Ethan, with my cell phone number, followed by my work number.
That meant a lot to me. I’m proud that he considered me his one and only friend.
The surprise ending
After a while in hospice care, he passed away peacefully.
But that’s not the end of the story.
The morning he passed away, his sister messaged me to let me know. She lived out of state but we had gotten to know her when she came to visit Rocky a few times.
Now get this:
His sister relayed to me that just before Rocky passed away, the nurse at the hospice prayed with him to turn his life to Jesus.
It turns out that this nurse had also been talking with him about the good news.
And at some point, he was ready.
I can’t tell you how happy (and surprised) this made me.
Never give up praying and expressing the good news with the people in your life!