With God, it is never too late


Author: Ruth Preston

Faith in Later Life Church Champion Mavis has shared with us before about her ministry with older people (you can read more here). But Mavis had so many wonderful stories of encouragement that we couldn’t limit ourselves to just one blog post! So, here we are again sharing more uplifting stories of God working in peoples’ lives through Mavis, her husband, and their faithful ministry in the care of older people.


During our chat with Mavis, she shared about her time working in residential care homes and hospital wards for older people. In the care home, there was one particular man whose door she used to pass by every day on her rounds. One day, he called her inside. They got talking and the man shared about how he used to teach Greek and Hebrew back in the fifties. Mavis thought his intelligence and knowledge around complex topics was simply incredible. While he was talking, she couldn’t help thinking ‘what do I know about that?’


She shared with us, “he was very much into deep conversations and questioning you on things. I said that I don’t know much about what he does but I could tell him about Jesus.”


After a few conversations, he started opening up. He shared about how he was once engaged to a lady who became hospitalised in Canada in a coma. He shared how his fiancé woke up one day and said to him, “I don’t know why you’re interested in heaven because there is nothing there. I have been in a coma and there is nothing there. It’s nonsense.”


Mavis told the man that his fiancé was right in one respect, but not the other. When you are in a coma, there is nothing there. The Bible says that when you die, there is judgement, but she wasn’t dead, she was in a coma. Now that she has died, she will be somewhere. Either in heaven or not in heaven. “So,” Mavis said to the man, “she told you the truth in one respect. There is no judgement when you are in a coma because there is no heaven or hell there.” After sharing this, Mavis left him to think about what she had said until the following week.


When she returned to see him the next week, he said that he understood what she had shared but that he could not make a decision. For four months, week after week, his response was the same. The whole time, Mavis was praying to God, asking Him to give her something to say to this man.


One day, while she was visiting with him, she said, “when you were working in the Middle East, it was hot wasn’t it?” He replied that it was. Mavis asked him, “did you wear shirts?” He replied that he did. He had two shirts: one white and the other blue. Mavis asked how he decided which shirt to wear each day and he told her he would open up his wardrobe in the morning and decide.


Mavis told the man, “if you want to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, I want you to pick a white shirt. If you don’t want to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, I want you to pick a blue shirt. I am going away for a week now, but when I come back, I want you to have made your decision.” And then she went away.


When Mavis returned a week later, she came back to see the man and he said, “I have picked a white shirt and now you need to pray for me.” Mavis was overwhelmed and thanked God. She prayed for the man and then she went away for a fortnight’s holiday with her husband.


On the third Monday, she returned and went to the office to sign-in before paying her visit. The lady at the reception said there was no point coming to visit because the man had been sent to hospital on the Monday before and on the Saturday he had passed away.


From her first conversation with the man, to the day he passed away, six months had passed. Six months went by but God would not give up. God kept him alive until he was saved.


Mavis told us, “it is such a humbling experience because it has got nothing to do with you. We are just the mouthpiece for God and I just think of the day when we get to heaven and I say to that man, ‘no shirts up here then!’”


During our time together, Mavis shared another story of a woman on the ward who she visited with. This lady had dementia and did not speak at all. When Mavis went to see her, she was very distressed. Mavis told us, “I said to the lady, ‘you weren’t very well last night’, and she looked at me straight in the face and said, ‘He wouldn’t let me go up the ladder’. ‘Who wouldn’t let you go up the ladder?’ I asked her. She said, ‘you know Him, and He wouldn’t let me go up’. So, I said, ‘Okay, I understand. Do you want to go up?’ She said that she did but that He wouldn’t let her.”


So, Mavis said, “I will hold your hand and I will pray and if you accept this prayer with your heart, then we will know.” They prayed together and Mavis told the lady she would see her next week. As she was turning to leave, the lady said, “I can’t go up the ladder yet because I haven’t spoken to my son in two years and I need to put it right.”


The next week, Mavis went to visit the lady and was met by one of the staff members in the hall. He said that something funny had happened during the week. He shared that the lady’s son had turned up, there were lots of tears, and then he went away.


Mavis went in to visit with the lady and she said her son had come to visit and it was good. Mavis prayed for her again and said, “I will see you next week.” But the lady replied, “I won’t see you next week because my daughter-in-law is coming and then I am going up the ladder.”


The following week, Mavis visited the ward and was greeted by another one of the carers who told her that the daughter-in-law had come, there had been lots of tears, and then she had left. The carer said, “I went in to make her a cup of tea, but she was lying in her bed with her hands on her chest and she was gone.”


“It blows my mind, the mercy of God,” Mavis told us, “these people that nobody talks to or makes time for, because they don’t think they understand, I see God break-in. You see the tenderness in the heart of God in those situations.”


Before you had even thought about God, He was pursuing you. The stories Mavis has shared are a wonderful reminder that God is always pursuing us, even when we are far from Him or we can’t make up our minds whether to follow Him, or we have unresolved problems, He is always pursuing. He loves us so much that He never gives up – not even when our lives are drawing to a close. Praise God for His mercy!


Psalm 139:16-17 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”


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