Search and Rescue
I had not had a good day, but as I drove to Spike’s home I was looking forward to studying the Bible with him. Spike, whose given name was Marvin, was a new Jewish believer. I had the privilege of praying with Spike to receive the Lord in November 1999 after he received our Future Hope book. Now it was February and Spike was a bright spot every week for me. This sweet man in his 70s was excited about his new relationship with Yeshua and was soaking up the Word of God. As I turned the corner onto Spike’s street, I was thinking about how much Spike had grown in his faith as he was now attending church and even sharing his faith with his friends and family. My thoughts quickly turned to confusion as I saw the television and news crews at Spike’s home.
The house was gutted by fire. Spike’s Christian neighbor, Karen, was visibly upset. (She was the one who had ordered our Future Hope book and put me in touch with Spike to begin with.) Karen explained to me that Spike had been trapped in the fire and that her husband, Charlie, had gone into the burning home to pull Spike out. Spike was at Jackson Memorial in Miami and I was on my way. I called my wife from my cell phone to tell her what had happened and to ask her to start praying.
Spike was in intensive care when I arrived. As I stood over him, I found myself weeping for his pain and pleading to God on his behalf. I don’t know if Spike could hear me or if he even knew I was there, but I tried to speak words of comfort to him. I visited Spike after that and I called the hospital every day that I couldn’t visit. One day when I called to check on his condition, the nurse would not give me any information. She said that I should contact a family member and I knew that Spike was with his Savior. I closed my eyes for a moment and I thought of what heaven must be like. I thought of the parable of the workers in the vineyard and that the workers who were hired in the morning were paid the same as the workers hired in the evening. Spike had not been a believer very long, but he was receiving the same reward nonetheless.
A few days later, I officiated at Spike’s memorial service and it was an honor to do so. He had led a very exciting and interesting life. Before his death, Spike planned to write a book. He told me that the last chapter of the book was going to be about how he came to know that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel. Spike never wrote that book, but he has been written into the Lamb’s Book of Life. Though his body was consumed by flames, thank God he escaped the fires of hell. It may sound corny to compare missionary work to a search and rescue operation, but sometimes that is exactly what it is.