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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2 thoughts on “The Atheist

  1. Thank you so much Pam for sharing! It’s so hard now to share the gospel with patients – you’re only allowed to share your “religious beliefs” if a patient were to ask you. I remember my first days of Enrollment in the Hospital and HR was clear that proselitizing was grounds for dismissal. Such a sad things when as a nurse you have opportunity to see people at the worst moments of their lives and cannot offer such sweet Hope without them asking. So I started praying that God would give some curiosity to my patients so that I could be free to share the Gospel. And God did answer, not only with patients but co-workers too!

    • Thanks for sharing this, Jenni! It is sad that we no longer have the freedom of speech that I had when I started my nursing career. I am no longer permitted to give tracts to my patients either. But as you have learned, nothing is too hard for the Lord!

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