An amazing few weeks! Miracles, blessing, constriction, attack, salvation, a wonderful funeral service….
It’s been a while since I blogged here, it’s not been for inactivity – just the opposite, in fact! – but wanted to include some things that I felt would happen between the last blog and this one! You might remember that I wrote some time ago – maybe even a few months – about a lovely man , Roy. I’ve mentioned him in the interim, too, but when I met Roy last year – August I think it was – it was partly because God had done a wonderful transformational miracle for his daughter, Janéce, here in Northern Ireland. Having met her and her husband, Ronnie, in early June, when they came to a meeting I was speaking at in Dunmurry, Janéce looked at death’s door, with rampant cancer. I did wonder if she’d make it through the meeting, to be honest.
Well, she did, and God did a number of miracles for her that night. Having virtually been carried in to the church, looking like death warmed up, she genuinely did almost dance out of the church: the transformation in her body matching that of her face, which we watched God do with a great degree of awe. Janéce’s mum was very ill, with cancer: and wanted me to go to her parents’ home in August to pray for her. She and Ronnie ‘warned’ me about dad, Roy: not into the God and Jesus stuff, no time for either…Well, because of what he saw God do in his daughter overnight, it must, I guess, have sparked his interest, as he stayed in the room, sat in the corner, hacking away with the most wracking cough I think I’ve ever heard.
Prayed for mum: no visible evident change – in fact, in just a few weeks, sadly, she passed away. I took the bull by the horns that day and said to Roy, ‘I know that you’re not into the God and Jesus stuff, but would you let me pray for your cough?’ He thought about it for few moments, then said yes. So before he could move, I plonked myself down next to him, and put an arm around him saying that Jesus said if we lay our hands on the sick, they’ll get well…. it’s not really a male Irish thing to do with a not-yet-Christian, I guess, but in for a penny….
God healed Roy’s lungs that day: he wasn’t a smoker, but his lungs were diseased, functioning at only 50%. Later, the doctors were amazed that his lungs were perfect, 100% functional…
Then, right at the time of Margaret’s funeral (Roy’s wife), HE was diagnosed with cancer of the stomach and bowel. NOW, he asked Janéce & Ronnie if ‘God’s wee man Paul could come and pray for me’… 🙂 – sometimes, over the coming months, it was God’s mate Paul… I like both idealistically – just not sure how accurate they are from God’s perspective! Over the next 10 months, Roy got better and better in himself, new energy – he was out and about all over the province visiting mates, finding old friends to have a Guinness followed by a whisky chaser, with… no joke, he LOOKED 30 years younger (he was 80 when we met)….yet the doctors kept telling him the cancer was increasing, now in his liver, and ‘how are you managing the pain, Roy?’ Roy wasn’t IN any pain. He totally confounded the medics with his appearance, energy, lack of pain, sparkling eyes, and endless wit.
Roy was clearly the glue at the centre of quite a large family, a wonderful personality, endless jokes, we loved being with each other. We’d go down to the Working Men’s Club for lunch, bless him (and Ronnie!) they’d never let me buy (I always tried…).
Roy was telling all his mates about ‘God’s wee man’… quite an evangelist for someone not yet in the Kingdom! About 5 weeks ago, Roy was taken into hospital, as he couldn’t keep food down: and was told that the cancer had spread across the top and bottom of his stomach, blocking the oesophagus and the exit to the bowel…. and given maximum 4 weeks to live. When he got home from hospital, he phoned me and asked if I’d go to pray for him (he and the family live the other side of Belfast to me). Of course I did: he was shaken by the prognosis, so I asked God to blitz him with peace, which he did…. by now, Ronnie and Janéce were there, and Bill, one of his sons, and a granddaughter.
In the next few moments, I had the amazing privilege of leading Roy to Jesus, he prayed such a passionate, genuine prayer, and finished with ‘thank you, Jesus’…. there were some tears in the room, believe me! 36 hours later, early one Tuesday morning, Roy went home to be with the Jesus he’d encountered for a 10 months, and met for those 36 hours. I was asked by the family if I’d take the funeral service at Belfast Crematorium. I said yes before my mind had a chance to argue with me….
The place was packed, with people standing. Family of course, but many many friends. I ‘joked’ that doubtless Roy had got a joke ready to tell Peter, and another for Jesus, on arrival in heaven – which was the door opener for me to share what Roy had done just before he died, and share to gospel with the mourners. That sparked some lovely little conversations with people after the service was over (I managed to finish with one minute to spare – crucial in a Crematorium!). It was a time of joy, in all honesty, as Roy by now really DID have time for the God and Jesus stuff…. I’ve been asked, too, to ‘do’ the committal of Roy’s ashes in the cemetery, when I’m back from Colombia.
You know, we’re in an era now of a very different style of evangelism and ministry, than has been the style before. Building friendships, bridges, with people is vital, whether it’s for salvation, healing, or whatever the need. I don’t know, but I imagine if I’d clattered into Roy with all the reasons why he might not be healed as he had not time for God, I doubt I’d ever have seen him again. The days of big ‘rally’ evangelism I believe are well gone… I miss Roy, as a man who’d become a lovely friend, whether or not he’d made that final choice that took him to glory. I’m thrilled that he did, of course!
I’ve realised that this is now a long blog, so I’ll split it into two!