Last month I received a call from Sharon at our Washington, D.C., office, asking for us to visit her friend Emelia in the hospital. Sharon described Emelia as an open-minded, eighty-seven-year-old Jewish woman, very close to coming to faith in Christ.
As soon as I hung up with Sharon, I called Emelia, but she was in too much pain to speak with me. (She was recovering from heart and back problems.) I decided it would be best to visit her in person the following week as I was planning to be in Baltimore.
When I walked into her room, Emelia’s eyes were closed. I waited, hoping she would wake soon. She opened her eyes and asked who I was. I told her that I was with Jews for Jesus and that her friend Sharon had asked me to come.
When I asked Emelia who she thought Jesus was, without hesitating, she replied, He was the one who healed the lame and opened the eyes of the blind.” Then very thoughtfully she added, “And I think He may have been the Messiah, but we missed it.” I asked Emelia if she had ever asked Jesus into her heart. She said she had been thinking about it but still wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do.
Emelia went on to explain that she had been thinking about Jesus for years. She was afraid to talk to her friends or family about her thoughts. She knew they would think her crazy, this eighty-seven-year-old Jewish woman thinking about Jesus. “But,” she said, “I know He healed the blind man.” Emelia herself was nearly blind, so this meant a great deal to her.
“Yes, Emelia, He did heal the blind man,” I agreed, “but He also gave him something much greater: spiritual sight.”
“Yes, He did,” Emelia replied. “I don’t know why I think these things at my age, but I know something is drawing me to Jesus. Do you understand?” she asked.
“Of course,” I answered. “It’s the Spirit of God revealing it to you.” At that moment she winced from a sharp pain, and I knew the time had come for me to leave.
The following week I returned. Emelia, seeing only my shadow, thought I was a nurse when I entered the room. She asked me for a pain pill, so I went to get the nurse. While we waited, she closed her eyes and asked Jesus to remove her pain.
I asked Emelia if she wanted to pray another kind of prayer, to ask Jesus into her heart. She asked me why she needed to do that. For the next ten minutes we talked about sin and separation from God, as well as forgiveness through Jesus and eternal life.
“Eternal life?” Emelia protested, “I don’t want to live forever!”
“But Emelia, when you pass on from this life, God will give you a new body—one without pain.” She smiled at that thought. Finally, no more pain. “All right, I think I want to do that.” I lead her in a prayer of repentance, and she was born again that day.
The nurse arrived to give Emelia her medication. Emelia grabbed my hand and cried, “I know God sent you here. I prayed that God would send someone to take away my pain, and He sent you to get a nurse.” As I left, I heard Emelia telling her nurse, “You know I’m going to have a new body some day…”