During my younger years from 5 to 14, I attended several different churches. My parents did not attend church but would allow us to go with neighbors or friends who invited us to their Sunday Schools. Because of this, I experienced many differentSunday school classes including Baptist, Lutheran, Mormon, Congregational, and evenChristian Science occasionally. When I was 12, I began a weekly confirmation class for two years at a Lutheran Church.I remember memorizing the books of the Bible, the Ten Commandants and part of Luther’s small Catechism, but do not remember learning about how to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I was confirmed, though shortly after stopped attending church. I felt distant from God and did not have a personal relationship with Jesus. I remember going to church and feeling fearful of God. I felt I tried to do everything I should, yet still felt distant from Him.
Then in High school I was invited by a friend to attend a weekly Young Life meeting. There I heard the Good News of the Gospel and that Jesus desires to have a relationship with me. I prayed to the Lord, confessed my sins, and invited Jesus into my heart. Finally, I had peace that I truly belong to God and began my journey with my Savior, JesusChrist
When I began following Christ as my Lord and Savior, my parents did not know what to expect. They were good people and thought if you followed the Golden Rule, were honest, hardworking, and caring for others, you would go to Heaven. They thought I was going through a religious phase. Shortly after, my brother (two years younger than me) became a Christian as well. I think my parents were a little worried; It was the 70s during the Jesus movement so I'm not sure what they were thinking. I tried to warn them that Christ was coming back and that I wanted to be sure that they would be saved and not go to hell. What was I thinking by sharing the good news that Jesus loved them, by telling them they were sinful and they were going to die? I know they felt I was judging them. They needed to know the whole story: God loved them, he died on the cross, he rose up from the grave, he paid the price for our sins, and he did it because he loved them so much. But I was a youngChristian and did not explain the gospel fully to them.
Over the years we had discussions and my mother specifically said “Catherine I've lived a good life; God is not going to send people to hell that lived a good life”; and she had lived a good life. She had come from a background of not having a father in her life, being raised by her grandmother. She was one of those women that had pulled herself up on her own bootstraps and made a life on her own. She lived her life helping many people and being an amazing mother. I remember that she would rescue stray dogs she found and bring them home. She would help women who were going through the stresses of Parenthood and many weekends we would have a child stay with us whose mother just needed a break. My heart longed for her to know Jesus personally as her Savior. I prayed for both my parents; friends prayed for my parents for many, many years. My mother suffered from breast cancer and that brought us closer together, but she still just couldn’t see the truth.After remaining cancer free for about 15 years, her cancer returned and this time it had metastasized to other parts of her body. Eventually, she required hospice and God provided a hospice nurse. I was excited when I found out this hospice nurse was a Christian. Three days before my mother died, she led my mom to the Lord. I will always remember her and how she shared Christ to my mom by sharing her own story of salvation.What amazing peace my mother experienced those final 3 days I spent mostly with her before she died. It was amazing; she was ready and eager to see Jesus, and ready to be received into His open arms.
Later, as I continued to pray for my father and he aged and needed more care, our relationship changed. Like my mother, he also grew up without a father, for his father died when he was only a toddler. He was an amazing man. I still have beautiful memories of backpacking each summer in the High Sierras as a family. He loved the outdoors and loved to hike. The last 6 months of his life, at age 80, he required more care and decided to move into a board and care home. The Lord led him to one owned and ran by an amazing Christian Romanian couple. With their prayers and stories of Jesus, along with the prayers of my family and friends, he was open to receive Jesus. One day he said I am ready to pray with you. I was surprised and filled with Joy. What a blessing to pray with him as he asked Jesus to forgive him for his sins and to come into his heart. He died about two weeks later and was at peace his remaining days.
I hope this encourages you to continue to pray for your parents, brothers, sisters, children, friends, co-workers, and others in your life. Those prayers may seem to go unanswered but I found after many years of praying for my parents that God answered them. God is pursuing the lost and He never gives up. He desires all to know Him. I Timothy 2:1-5