Joel of Jerusalem Jun/Jul 1989
I recently read an interview in one of Israel’s largest newspapers concerning a woman who was celebrating her one hundredth birthday. She lives in a nursing home which accepts only those who are capable of paying the expensive rates charged. The reporter conducting the interview asked this lady if she believed in life after death, and she replied, “I wish I knew. I am very jealous of the Christians who seem so sure of themselves on this subject. They believe that they will live after they die and that there will be angels surrounding them in Heaven throughout eternity singing pleasant songs. My wish is for nothing more or nothing less than to live forever, even after I die, but I don’t know how this can be. I don’t want to die like a crazy person, unsure of my eternal destination, trying to find the answer to this riddle of life after death. I just don’t know!”
This rather long interview appeared in the newspaper on a Friday, and on that very same day I wrote an equally long letter to this dear lady and sent it to the nursing home where she resides. Of course, I was certain that if my letter were read, it would quickly be thrown into the trash as soon as they realized I was referring to Jesus, but that did not deter me. When I mailed the letter, I committed it to the Lord, our Savior, praying that the Holy Spirit would speak to this lady (and any others who would read it). Also, in a prayer meeting with other believers, we prayed for the salvation of the elderly people in this nursing home. And the Lord answered our prayers!
I soon learned that the letter was received, and because the lady’s eyesight is poor, it was read to her in the presence of several other elderly residents of the home. In the letter I told her that not only those who call themselves “born-again Christians” will have the privilege of spending eternity in Heaven with the Lord. I explained that every person who was ever born has the right to live in Heaven with the Lord after physical death, but each one must come to God in the proper way. In Luke 23:46 we read that Jesus said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” We can all commend our spirits to the Father by placing our faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I was surprised on the following Tuesday morning to receive a telephone call from one of the residents of the nursing home (I had included my address and telephone number in the letter). She immediately asked if I were the person who had written the letter to the home. I replied that I was the writer, and I was sure that she was about to deliver a sharp reprimand. Instead, she said, “This is the first time in my life that anyone has given me such courage.” She identified herself as a friend of the lady to whom I had written. She had heard the letter read and was calling on behalf of her friend and herself. She told me her name and then asked my name and who I represented. She thought I was from one of the ultrorthodox Jewish sects which abound in Israel, but when I told her in whom I believed, she remarked, “Now I must go back and study your letter very carefully”.
I learned that this lady is eighty years of age, but she spoke very clearly, and it was obvious that her mind was clear as well. I was glad to learn that the person who read the letter aloud was one of the nurses in the home and that she had discussed the contents of the letter with those who were listening. This lady spoke with me on the telephone for about a half hour, and she then requested that I write to her and include more information about the Lord Jesus and my faith in Him. She said, “I am glad you have been willing to speak with me for such a long time, and now I feel I must know more. At my age I am valueless to everyone, and I have no one to whom I can tell my troubles.” I assured her she was not valueless and offered her hope by reading Psalm 92:14, “They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.” she appreciated hearing this word of encouragement from the Scriptures and said, “You make me feel like a young lady! I have almost forgotten about my age.”
She then asked to which synagogue I belonged, and I replied, “I cannot discuss everything on the telephone. If the nursing home will invite me to visit you, I will be pleased to do so and will give you a more complete explanation of these matters.” She expressed a sincere interest in having me visit her, and more than that, she insisted in continuing our telephone conversation. I was now in a position where I could not say no. As it is written in Amos 8:11, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord god, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lᴏʀᴅ.” I could not put her off; I could not tell her that I would talk with her some other time. This lady recognized the reality of her advanced age, and she wanted answers to her question – now!
I thought that when I told her I believed in Jesus she would immediately hang up the telephone, but she did not. She was interested in hearing more about Him, and so I continued to speak with her. I proceeded slowly at first, and she listened very quietly. She then asked how I had come to the decision to believe in the Lord Jesus as my Messiah and Savior. I replied, “Believing in Jesus was not something I could decide to believe or not to believe. I read the Scriptures and came to the understanding that without putting my trust in Jesus, all of my so-called faith was in vain.”
Our conversation continued for quite some time, and at the conclusion this dear lady again asked me to visit her personally and explain my faith more fully. I agreed to do so and am now waiting for an official invitation from the nursing home. Please pray that this visit will come about quickly and that the Lord will use me to reach the one-hundred-year old lady, the lady with whom I spoke on the telephone, and many more of the senior citizens at this home – people who want to spend eternity in Heaven with our Lord but do not know how to get there. Pray that the Word of God and the Spirit of God will pierce their hearts and bring them to Himself before it is too late.