First Baptist Church of Beltsville

Finding Peace with God on the Hilltop of Beltsville

My Friend Tony

[Below is a story sent to me by my chaplain friend who works at a VA Hospital]

Usually I am less than motivated about returning to work after a holiday weekend. Today was not an exception. I took my kids to the beach yesterday and am coping with the new sunburn on my face and balding head. Getting out of bed was not something I really wanted to do and I actually thought about calling in sick today. However, there was a twist to the beginning of my work day. I have been counseling a Veteran since I arrived on station a few months ago. I will call him Jim. Jim had been struggling with God for quite some time. When I met Jim for the first time he sat in my office and cried for 15 – 20 minutes before he could verbalize an entire sentence. All he could basically say at that time three months ago was that "God was doing something" in his life, but that he did not know what. We prayed together and I told Jim if he wanted to talk some more to come by my office.

I would see Jim around the hospital in the hallways and we would speak and he would stop by my office every two to three weeks to talk more in depth. He would tell me how he would stop by the hospital chapel daily to mediate and try to figure out what God was doing in his life. Usually he would weep and tell me that his life was turning upside down. I relayed to Jim that sometimes God turns our lives upside down to get our attention and maybe that what was happening in his case. Jim stated to me, "God is getting my attention!" Jim had been a man who had been reading the Koran since 1979.

About two weeks ago Jim came back into my office and said he had some questions about a Bible. Jim had not made references to the Bible or anything Christian before. He asked about the King James Version (KJV) Bible and then asked about other versions such as the New King James Version (NKJV). He said he had visited a Baptist church close to his home recently and asked the pastor about the Bible. I was floored when he told me he visited a church but tried not to show my surprise. Jim told me that he asked the pastor at the church he had visited about getting a Bible and that the pastor told him that the KJV was the only correct version of the Bible that he should purchase. Jim said he was having problems understanding the KJV and had asked another chaplain on staff previously about other versions of the Bible that were easier to understand but was "still the Bible." I felt I had earned Jim's trust over the weeks and he had asked me a question about the different versions because he truly wanted to understand God. I explained to him that the KJV and NKJV were both translations of the Bible and that both are reliable texts. I am not here to argue the point of the KJV only controversy but to simply say that what I had in my office was a man who had been reading the Koran for 30 years and now he wanted a version of the Bible he could understand to learn about God. I told him that the NKJV was an excellent translation as was the NIV, NASB or other translations.

Jim came by my office this morning bright and early. He sat in the chair across from me and told me through tears in his eyes he had trouble sleeping this weekend. When I asked what was going on with him, he told me that he was waiting to come by to see me this morning because he wanted to "confess" his sins and "know God." I confirmed with him that he wanted me to share with him about the salvation of Jesus Christ and he said "Yes!"

I shared about how we are all sinners and that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to pay for the sins of us all. It is by God's grace we have salvation not by anything we do to earn it. I shared Romans 10:9-10 about believing in your heart and confessing with our mouths that Jesus is Lord. I told him that believing was not just accepting the facts of Jesus' life but by believing we accept that Jesus alone saves us. Jim said he understood that and wanted me to pray for him. I led him through a prayer where Jim asked Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of his life. After the prayer Jim was weeping again. I told him that it was a great day and that the angels in Heaven were rejoicing because of the decision that he made. We talked about how the Holy Spirit had been at work in his life for several months and that none of us come to God without the Holy Spirit initiating it. When we rose from our chairs Jim shook my hand and we hugged. I told him that he is now my spiritual brother.

Jim has his own NKJV Bible on order and it should be here by Friday. Jim agreed to read a chapter a day of the Gospel of John. He wants me to sign the Bible and record his decision to accept Jesus in the cover. All I can say is that today has already been a great beginning to this week; sunburn and all!