All Christians want to
bring the lost to Christ. But each of us has some handicap which causes us
to feel limited in our ability to do so. It may be a weakness of knowledge
or difficulty in expressing ourselves. Perhaps it is a personality
deficiency or even a lack of transportation. Whatever it may be, we tend to
feel that it excuses us from responsibility. Actually, our most debilitating
handicap is a lack of zeal. Once zeal is stirred, love will find a way to
overcome all obstacles.
Take June McNeese as an
example. Just 4 years ago, June held a responsible position with a
Tennessee-based company which manufactured automobile hoses. She was,
however, experiencing considerable throat trouble and the problem grew
steadily worse, slurring her speech, until she could no longer function in
the office. Doctors discovered that she had dreaded Amyotrophic Lateral
Sclerosis, more popularly known as ALS or Lou Gehrigh's Disease. Rapidly it
began affecting the other parts of her body until all of her limbs were
Her speech continued to
deteriorate until now only a constant companion can understand anything she
says, and then only when she uses the simplest of words. Often she must
spell out very slowly what she is trying to say. Meanwhile, her sparkling
eyes and the few words she is able to get across reveal a mind that is still
keen and active.
If ever anyone would be
excused from ``personal evangelism'' it would be June. Without use of her
lower limbs she cannot go on her own. Without her arms and hands she cannot
write. And with her damaged speech mechanism she cannot talk. But June does
not look for an excuse. She looks for a way.
When a nurse was
employed, one stipulation was that she would take June to worship just as
long as possible. Patti, the nurse who was chosen, found the services
strange and the sermons very different from what she was accustomed to in
her own religious experience. Soon she was asking questions which June found
very difficult to answer with the communication problem. To add to the
frustration, Patti could never seem to remember her questions when Joe
Olson, a gospel preacher, came to visit.
Somehow June had to find
a way to get those questions answered, either by herself or by Joe. But all
she had to work with were her neck muscles. Then an idea! An electric
typewriter! One was borrowed to see if she could use it. Her father cut a
wooden dowel rod and placed a rubber tip on one end. Placing the other end
of the rod between her teeth, June happily began typing some answers for
Patti and typing questions for Joe when he came.
Patti was not easily
converted. She had already changed religion once and she wanted to be sure
this time. But little by little the truth, adorned by the life of her
cheerful patient, did its work. Patti was baptized into Christ.
Patti is not her only
convert. A Christian couple who were in error visited her on occasions. She
loved them and longed to see them come closer to the truth. She successfully
used her limited opportunities to teach them ``the way of the Lord more
perfectly.'' There are many others whom she hopes to reach before her time
runs out. The limited life-expectancy characteristic of those with her
disease makes her constantly aware, as Jesus was, that she is approaching a
night ``when no man can work.'' This lends urgency to her efforts.
Perhaps all of us would
be more zealous and more diligent if we could only realize how short is the
time each of us has to accomplish whatever is to be accomplished in this
life. I visited June recently in her Tennessee home. I did not understand a
single word she said. But, at her usual speed of 5 words a minute, she typed
a message for me, perfectly capitalized and indented. ``Dear brother Hall, I
am very glad you could come to see me this afternoon.''