Two Old Men
It was a blazing hot day, our second clinic day in the village of Ntooma. The Gospel tent was buzzing with activity as our Ugandan evangelism and prayer teams were ministering to the clinic patients. Dr. Chris Keenan, the team dentist, led a ninety-year-old man over to our area. Chris explained that the man had a terminal tumor in his throat and that even back in the US there was nothing that could be done medically to save him. Chris, himself a strong Christian, knew that the best we could do was offer him the Gospel and prayer ministry. Chris also told me that the aged man had been candidly told the seriousness of his condition.
I guided him (oh, how I wish I knew his name!) to Beth, a wonderful, Spirit-filled, young teacher from Masindi and the leader of our prayer ministry that day. Fortunately, she was able to communicate with him in his own language. Speaking was very difficult for him but he clearly indicated that he was not a Christian, was not interested in hearing about Jesus and not interested in receiving prayers for his condition.
Beth and I sorrowfully watched as the bent over old man slowly walked away on his walking stick. The Holy Spirit gave us each a glance at the sadness that our Lord must feel each time someone turns down the grace that He offers and the gift that He has already brought.
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42
Two days later, early in the clinic day at Kimengo, I saw another old man who was waiting patiently for his medications. He had been among the first to arrive for the clinic. He had walked from his home on bare feet using two shafts of scrap iron for walking sticks. The Physical Therapy team just “happened” to have a matched pair of claw-footed walking canes and a brand-new pair of running shoes in exactly his size. This wonderful bounty had laid unclaimed waiting just for him on the last clinic day.
I joined him on his bench, read his clinic papers and learned that he was 94 years old and that his name was Zephaniah. With hand motions and a gentle touch on his elbow, I led him over to our Gospel tent and turned him over to one of the team’s evangelists, a wonderful woman from Kimengo named Alice. Her first impression was that he could not hear. I encouraged her to speak loudly directly into his ear. I left the two of them with Alice bending over Zephaniah shouting in his ear and sharing the Gospel by showing him the EvangeCube (e3Resources.org).
Some time later I checked back and found Zephaniah still sitting in the Gospel area with a tremendous, toothless grin on his face. I learned from Alice that he had accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. She had led him through the sinner’s prayer and several of the other team members had prayed with him. Rev. Francis had graciously granted Zephaniah’s request for his laminated cross name badge.
Zephaniah stayed with us for several hours adding a holy glow to the tent. The whole team was uplifted and joyous seeing this old man accept the gift that was bought and paid for by Jesus on a cross 2000 years ago. We know that there was rejoicing in heaven on that day.
“I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10b
Clark Smith, with his wife Carol, founded E412 Ministries after receiving a call to full-time missions at the 2007 New Wineskins for Global Mission Conference. Clark and Carol have led 45 missions in 20 different countries across the globe. Clark is a member of the Board of Trustees for New Wineskins, and he and Carol live in Savannah, GA. You can contact Clark here.