I’ve told this true story a couple of times and people have asked for more details so here they are.
This is a story from Dysart in the coal mining area of central Queensland. It came to me through my wife’s girlfriend, Marisa, who was on a mission team in Dysart for a year. There was a woman in the little Dysart Baptist church who shared her testimony of coming to faith in Jesus.
This lady was married to a coal miner in the town. They were tough , matter of fact folk who liked a drink, a smoke and a good BBQ with plenty of meat. This may have contributed to the husband contracting cancer.
People in mining towns fall into three broad categories; the” in and outs”, who come for a couple of years, make some money and leave. Then there are “10 year veterans” who have kept their plans in mind but have stayed longer than they intended but are still not seduced by the huge money and profligate lifestyle. Then there are the “stayers”. These folks usually don’t have a plan when they came and now, 10 plus years on, they still don’t have one. They are the locals, but mining towns are often the inventions of the companies they depend upon, so these locals are nothing like folk who are born and bread in rural communities. This couple were Dysart locals, so when he fell ill there was nowhere else to go.
As he lay dying in hospital, she sat by his bed. Sure, there was medication and probably sedation but despite that one afternoon he sat bolt upright in bed, and exclaimed, “Jesus Christ! There is a Jesus Christ!” Now, there are a number of ways that statement could be interpreted. This chap wasn’t especially friendly with Jesus, so “Jesus Christ!” was a frequent expression of his. But it was quite clear to his wife that this was oddly different. She pacified him and tried to get him to lie down again but he was desperately alert and insisted on staying bolt upright.
“I have to confess to you”, he said. “I have to tell you the things I’ve done wrong.”
She assured him that wasn’t necessary, but he was insistent and she gave in. So he proceeded to confess to her everything that he felt ashamed of and had been betrayals in their relationship and his relationships with others. She was incredulous as this hard man weepily begged her forgiveness.
At the conclusion of this never before experienced outpouring he lay down again. She testified that in her opinion the man who lay back on that bed was a different man than the one who had sat up 10 minutes before. She said he had a peace that she had never seen before. It wasn’t relief alone, it was much more than that, as though a new spirit had entered him and replaced his aggressive, self righteous, crude blokeyness.
He died some days later, peaceful to the end. This sent her on a search. Who was this Jesus Christ who had visited her dying cancer ridden husband in the Dysart hospital and demanded that he reconcile with others and himself? Who was this Jesus Christ who had exerted such authority over him and brought him such unnatural peace?
Here search obviously led her to the Baptist church where she met the One she was looking for. The one who had, since the time of her husband’s illness, revealed himself to her as well.