This post is part of my “stories” series. In this series, I share stories of how people live their lives in response to the gospel and as a demonstration of God’s love in order to teach us and to provide an example to provoke us to love and good works. (See “stories: A New Series” for more information about this series.)
MaÃ«l (pronounced like Ishmael without the Ish) from “The Adventures of MaÃ«l and Cindy” is one of my best friends, and has been for over six years now. We both have engineering backgrounds, and we both went to college at Ga Tech, although we went at different times.
Our family has spent alot of time with MaÃ«l and Cindy, and they are like close family to us. Since we’ve known them, MaÃ«l has asked us to pray for his family back in Europe. You see, MaÃ«l is French, but he was born and raised in Italy. He is the only believer in his family. He only heard and receieved the gospel after moving to the United States for college.
In the last couple of years, MaÃ«l has especially and urgently asked us to pray for his grandparents. They were both in bad health. He has had several times to talk to them, to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to them, and to implore them to follow Christ. While his grandmother seemed interested at times, she would never move beyond interest.
A few weeks ago, we heard the bad news that MaÃ«l’s grandfather had passed away. MaÃ«l and Cindy’s passports had expired, so they were not able to travel to France for the funeral. The family asked MaÃ«l if he would write the funeral. He did, and someone read his words expressing his desire to see his family understand and accept the gospel.
After the funeral, MaÃ«l and Cindy received their renewed passports and flew to France to spend time with his grandmother. She was not doing well after her husband passed away, and the family did not think she would live much longer.
A few days after their flight, we received this email update from MaÃ«l:
We have some encouraging news. We had several opportunities to talk to my grandmother. I asked her if she was ready to die, and she answered that she was ready, meaning she wanted to, but when I asked her, she was not sure if she was in a right relationship with God. So, I shared the gospel with her yet again. We talked about having a relationship with God and being adopted by the Father. I asked her to think about it.
The next day, I asked her if she had thought about it, and she said that she had and she thinks that she believes what I believe. So I asked her if she wanted to have a relationship with God and be adopted by the
Father. She smiled and said yes. We then prayed with her to receive Christ as her Lord and Savior.
At her age, and with her physical and mental condition, I pray that it was a sincere desire. I made sure that she understood this was not about pleasing me, but about her relationship with God, and that God knew if she really believed it in her heart. I have come to learn from my European brothers and sisters, that in this culture, we have to put much faith in God as to the outcomes of the sharing of the Gospel; whereas this is true anywhere, the reality of it and the need to draw comfort from that fact is much more striking here.
MaÃ«l told us that he and Cindy planned to fly back to the United States the next day. However, when they got to the airport, their flight was full, and they were not able to leave. That evening – the day after MaÃ«l’s grandmother had expressed interest in “having a relationship with God and being adopted by the Father” – we received another email from MaÃ«l:
My Grandmother just went to be with her new found Lord.
Yes, MaÃ«l’s grandmother had died the very next day. We don’t always understand God’s timing. But, I’m thankful for his patience, and I’m thankful to have a friend like MaÃ«l who was always loving and consistent in his proclamation and demonstration of the good news of Jesus Christ to his family.
If you would like for me to include your story in this series, please send me an email at aknox [at] sebts [dot] edu.