The Atheist

Diabetes Nurse Educator – Midwest, USA -1980

I exited the elevator on the cardiology unit and asked the head nurse if they had any patients with diabetes they would like me to see? She said Richard was admitted with congestive heart failure (CHF), but also was newly diagnosed with diabetes. I knocked on his door and entered his room.

He was a stout 70 year old white haired man sitting up in bed who appeared weak and weary. I sat down in the chair next to him and began to teach him about his diabetes and how he could control it with diet, exercise, and an oral medication which his doctor had prescribed for him. He paid good attention and asked some very specific scientific questions.

I asked, “Richard, what kind of work did you do before you retired?” He replied, “I was a physics professor at the University for 35 years.” I replied, “That was my Alma mater where I graduated from the School of Nursing! I never took any physics classes since I was so busy with my nursing courses. I really loved attending the Bible class on campus and meeting students from all over the world.” We continued our conversation which I concluded a few minutes later.

As I was leaving, I asked Richard if I could give him something to read with some Bible verses that told how he could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? He answered, “Well, Pam, I have to tell you that I’m an atheist. I don’t believe God even exists. But I will take it and read it.” He put the gospel tract on his bedside table.

As I left the room, I silently prayed, Dear Lord, You know all about the poor condition of Richard’s physical heart. I pray He would read those verses and receive You as his personal Savior so He can have a new spiritual heart.” I wondered if he would throw the tract in the garbage as soon as I left. I also thought about Psalm 14:3:

The fool hath said in his heart, “There is no God.”

Richard was discharged home the next morning, so I didn’t have an opportunity to visit him again.

A few months later, I was sitting in my office in the diabetes classroom when my phone rang. The man introduced himself and said, “Pam, do you remember me? I’m Richard, the retired physics professor who told you I’m an atheist.” “Oh, yes! I remember you Richard. How are you doing with your diabetes?”

“Pam, about a month after I came home, I was readmitted to the hospital because my heart failure flared up again. But while I was going for a heart test, I had a heart attack and my heart totally stopped. They did CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and brought me back from the dead! I was so terrified to die again. I couldn’t wait to get home and read that little paper you gave me with the Bible verses. As soon as I read it, I knew I was a sinner, and prayed and received Christ as my Savior. I am so happy now and full of peace and joy! I know the next time I die, I will go straight to heaven to be with him! I just wanted to thank you for giving me that paper.”

I listened in dumbfounded silence, hardly able to believe my ears! Then I told Richard how thrilled I was that he now knew Jesus Christ as his own Savior. I asked him a few more questions, and it appeared that he truly understood the gospel and had done business with God. He certainly sounded like a totally different man. I asked him if I could visit him at home to meet his wife and study the Bible further with him? He said he would absolutely love for me to visit him!

The next evening I entered his spacious lovely home and met his wife. We all sat down at the kitchen table and began to read Bible verses together. It was such a delightful time of fellowship as Richard asked me many questions as a newborn babe in Christ. I asked if one of the elders from church could come and teach him the Bible? He said that would be marvelous!

Richard grew wonderfully in the Lord in his spiritual walk, but his physical heart continued to decline. About a year later, his wife called me and told me through thankful tears that Richard had passed on and was now home with the Savior in heaven above. We rejoiced together that he was no longer suffering physically. She sent me a beautiful note which said, “I feel good I know he has gone to join the Savior above and is at rest.”

I wrote in my journal that night “Richard is the first person I know of that is in heaven as a result of my testimony. What a privilege to be used of the Lord. May I labor in love more zealously and sacrificially!”

“Salvation is of the Lord.” Jonah 2:9

Reflection – 2014

It still amazes me how God allows us sinners who are saved by His grace to share the good news with others. Like Paul said:

“I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So, then, neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.” I Corinthians 3:6-7

Some of my favorite gospel tracts to give to people.

Some of my favorite gospel tracts to give to people.

I always carry gospel tracts in my purse so I’m ready to hand them out at restaurants, the airport, to store clerks, etc. The following are some good websites where you can obtain gospel tracts.

Moments with the Book: http://www.mwtb.org

Print My Tract: http://www.printmytract.com

Good News Publishers: http://www.crossway.org

Gospels of John in several languages can be found at the Pocket Testament League at http://www.ptl.org

I would love to hear how you have had opportunities to share the gospel with your patients! Please email me at pamela.aprn@gmail.com

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Amputations – “Thy will be done!”

Midwest, USA – 1978

The phone rang and I answered. My dear friend Ellen was calling who lived an hour away. “Pam, One of my former coworkers is a patient at  your hospital and I was wondering if you would visit him and share the gospel with  him? For many years he was the chauffeur for one of the wealthiest men in the city, and is now retired. He seldom has any visitors.” “Sure! I would love to visit him!” I replied.

The next day after I finished work, I knocked on Jack’s hospital room door and entered. He was a thin elderly man who stared at me with his big sad brown eyes. I introduced myself  and sat in the chair beside his bed. I told him a little about myself, and then he told me more of his story. He had smoked all of his adult life and now had decreased circulation to both his legs which caused him severe pain (peripheral vascular disease-PVD). He had been in and out of the hospital several times the past year as they did surgery to implant artificial arteries to bypass the clogged ones to try to get more blood to his feet. Sadly, they weren’t working very well and he was still having a significant amount of pain from the lack of blood and oxygen to his legs.

I shared with Jack how much God loved him that He had died on the cross for his sins, rose again, and lived today. Jesus Christ wanted Jack receive him as his personal Savior. I asked Jack if I could read some Bible verses to him, and he asked me to please do so. I then read the following verses,

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, That whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God– not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

I then prayed for Jack. As I said goodby, he gripped my hand and asked me to please visit him again because he wanted to hear more from the Bible.

I continued to visit Jack after work every day and often after he went home. One afternoon, after we finished studying the Bible at his kitchen table, I asked him if he would like to receive Jesus Christ as his personal Savior? He said he would and he was ready. He bowed his head and prayed out loud, “Dear Lord, I come to you now as a sinner. Thank You for dying on the cross for me to pay the price for my sins. Thank You that You are the Son of God. I now receive You as my very own Savior! Amen.” He looked up and was smiling widely. His big brown eyes were no longer sad, but beaming with joy!

Jack was so happy after he received Christ as his Savior!

Jack was so happy after he received Christ as his Savior!

The road ahead of Jack was not an easy one as he went through numerous surgeries over the next months and much pain. The grafts were not successful and they had to amputate his left leg below the knee. His right leg continued to be very painful and his doctor told him that he needed to also have it amputated. The day before his second amputation, we were reading the Bible together and he said to me. “Pam, I read this morning how Jesus Christ said to the Father before He went to the cross, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Matthew 26:39. That is what I told God today also. “Thy will be done!” Jack said with steely determination and tears in his eyes. Jack’s growth in the Lord was a great blessing to me to behold!

Several months after Jack’s second leg amputation healed, he received two new prostheses (artificial legs). I visited him in his apartment a few days before Christmas, and he said, “I have a surprise for you!” He wheeled himself into his bedroom. After about 15 minutes he WALKED out of his bedroom on his two new legs while leaning on his walker. He was grinning from ear to ear as my tears of joy flowed.

Reflection – 2014

The Lord took Jack home to heaven several years later. It was truly wonderful to watch how the Lord transformed him from an angry bitter man into one full of joy and peace as he grew in God’s grace. The memory of his sweet testimony of submitting his life to God while going through very difficult trials with his health continues to bless me today.

Since then, I have worked with quite a few patients who have amputations. Those who have done the best in handling the trauma are those who trust in the Lord for the grace and strength to adjust to this major change in their life. Others who do not trust in the Lord usually become very bitter and say, “Why me?” Only Christ can transform us when we receive Him as personal Savior!

Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

II Corinthians 5:17

Promotion!

September 30, 1978 – Midwest, USA

Last spring, after I had completed my initial mandatory year of experience on a medical-surgical floor, I began asking the Lord for a position during the day time with weekends off so I could participate more at church. I so missed evening worship and prayer meeting, as well as going door to door calling with the brethren to share the gospel. I thought about applying for a visiting nurse job, but didn’t really feel it would be safe in the big city here.

When I returned from Europe, my head nurse, Mrs. H. told me the administration had approved a new position for the hospital as diabetes nurse educator. The role would include teaching the daily group diabetic classes, making daily rounds on all the patients with diabetes in the hospital to give them individual education, and teaching the staff more about diabetes. The nurse would become an expert on diabetes. They required the nurse to have a BSN, so that eliminated many of the Tower 5 nurses. Mrs. H. only has a hospital diploma in nursing, but she would be the supervisor. The goal is to make our program one of the premier diabetes programs for adults in this part of our state! She asked me to apply, and so I did. The interview was fairly easy with her and Dr. L., the medical director who is an endocrinologist.

I’m not sure how many applied, but she notified me that they chose me for the position! How I thank God for giving me such a wonderful schedule of Monday-Friday with no weekends or holidays! Nothing is too hard for the Lord! I truly love to teach and am looking forward to stretching my mind again to become an expert in the area. So I began August 1. It was such a blessing to be able to drive to and from work in the daylight one week after my apartment mate and I were mugged. (See previous blog – Terror at Night). Surely, God’s timing is perfect! How I thank God for His wonderful encouragement after going through the difficult trial. He blessed me in reading Psalm 37:4.

Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

So now that I have been in the position for two months, I am becoming more comfortable each day in my role. I go to the hospital library many days and read the endocrinology medical journals to discover the most recent research in diabetes. I love it when the other nurses ask me questions, and I can assist them. I also enjoy having the time to teach the patients individually in their room, especially how to give their own insulin injections. I help them overcome their fear of sticking themselves by letting them practice sticking an orange or a sponge again and again until it becomes second nature!

I enjoyed teaching the patients how to give themselves insulin.

I taught the patients how to give themselves insulin.

I contacted the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis, and discovered that they have a special week long educational session for diabetes nurse educators. I asked Mrs. H. and Dr. L. if I could attend, and they obtained the funding for me to attend in November! I am so excited! I have never been to a national nursing seminar before. And to think I get to visit the world famous Mayo Clinic!!

Reflection – 2014

Sadly, I didn’t record any details in my journal about my week in Minneapolis at the Mayo Clinic. But I remember the lectures by the diabetes nurse educators were very helpful and gave me some new ideas for our fledgling program. I greatly appreciated their sheltered glass sidewalks downtown which protected us somewhat from the bitterly cold wind, and the great restaurants the nurses from out of state shared at dinner!

I have found the Mayo Clinic website to be an excellent source for patient education and often recommend it. http://www.mayoclinic.org/patient-care-and-health-information.  The clinic has expanded over the years and now have clinics in Florida and Arizona as well.

Statues of the founding Mayo brothers at the Mayo Clinic

Statues of the founding Mayo brothers at the Mayo Clinic

U.S. News & World Report ranked Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. as the best hospital in the nation in their 2014-2015 rankings. Mayo Clinic has ranked at or near the top of “Honor Roll” hospitals through the history of U.S. News and World Report’s best-hospital rankings.