Mary had tried to share the Gospel message with her stepfather Peter for several years, but he never seemed interested in hearing about the things of God.
So, earlier this year, when Bell Shoals Baptist Church Senior Pastor Stephen Rummage shared during a worship service about the opportunity for the congregation to “Come to the Cross” to pray for unsaved friends and family members, Peter’s name came to mind for Mary and her family.
During the four-week emphasis on the church’s five campuses and at BellShoalsBaptistAcademy, believers wrote down the names of lost family and friends on a piece of paper and “nailed” the paper to large wooden crosses. They also committed to pray for and witness to the people whose name they wrote down.
When George Thomasson, pastor of multisite development at Bell Shoals, had visited Mary’s stepfather in the hospital last August before his surgery for a tumor on his bladder, Peter saw no need for God in his life.
Following that surgery Peter found out that a second surgery would be necessary. Pastor Thomasson again visited him in the hospital, but he still wasn’t interested in being prayed for.
Mary didn’t give up on him. She continued to pray for him and with him—always making sure to share the Gospel in her prayer—while he was in the hospital for several weeks and after he was able to come home.
Mary continued to visit her stepfather in his home, and even after he moved to Tennessee earlier this year. Slowly, he started to become more open to her praying with him.
A few days before Peter’s birthday, Mary found out that his cancer had spread to his brain. When Mary called Peter on his birthday she prayed with him, and after the prayer he said, “I do believe, Mary.” He told her he wanted to pray to receive Christ as his Savior.
That week Peter had to be hospitalized again and doctors discovered that the cancer had spread into his blood and the tumors in his brain had grown. While in the hospital he slipped in to a coma and he passed away at age 76.
The Sunday before Peter passed away, Mary and her family were able to place yellow and red ribbons on his name on the cross at Bell Shoals, signifying that he had heard the Gospel and received Christ as his Savior.
Mary offers this encouragement to people who are praying for friends and family members to be saved: “Never, ever give up.”
Michael Smith is a freelance writer living in the Tampa area.