During my quarantine in Central Asia, everyday I would go on a walk, just to get out of the house, and almost every time I’d see the same man sitting outside. I first met this man the previous winter when I walked by and dropped my hat. I actually didn’t realize I lost it until later. But when I saw him next, he returned it to me saying he saw me drop it. That’s how I came to know this man, and after that we always greeted each other when I walked by. On one of my daily walks I heard my name being called by an anxious-looking lady I didn’t recognize. She said she is the daughter-in-law of the older man, and she had been sitting out for some time waiting for me to walk by. She told me the old man is very sick and wants to speak with me. I followed her for a short distance and was met at a gate by an older woman who I learned is the wife of the sick man. Because they were afraid that he had Corona, they laid him next to a window for us to talk through. I sat in the little chair next to the window feeling a bit confused and wondered what was wanted of me. Then the man spoke in a tired and weak sounding voice. He said, “I can tell you are a Christian. When I was young I learned about Jesus and I followed him. But I became afraid of what people would do and think about me so I never told anyone. I never went to church. Never owned a Bible. But I tried to be a good man. Now I will die and I need to know if God will forgive me. Will he forgive me for walking away from him out of fear?”
In that moment, I was so glad to have a Bible in the local language on my phone and read to him 1 John 1:9: ”If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
We then continued to talk about repentance and God’s faithfulness to forgive our sins. Then he prayed that God would forgive him for being too afraid to follow him and for rejecting him. He ended his prayer by praising God for his goodness and faithfulness. You could hear a change in his voice. I could still hear that it was weak but it also had joy in it. His wife sat with us through all this, quietly listening. Before I left she asked me to help her download a Bible onto her phone so she could read it to her husband and thanked me for coming. Because of their fear of passing on his sickness, I didn’t go back to visit them but was able to call over the phone and have some more conversations with both the wife and her husband. The man died about two weeks later during the time that funerals were still banned. I believe those last weeks of his life he spent praising God despite his illness. And a month later the wife also passed away.
Written by E, a PI Worker