I walked into the room of a patient whom I had never met before and about whose case I knew nothing about. “Hello! I am the pediatric chaplain making unit rounds today. My name is Chaplain Ken.”
The patient’s mother said, “Hi! I am Donna, and this is my son, Steven. I do not believe in any personal, living God and that’s the kind of church we attend. I just try to be connected with everything in a spiritual way. Steven also does not believe in any personal God. He is an atheist. No, I take that back. I think my son has now changed to being an agnostic — you know, someone who believes that the existence of God is actually unknowable. Yesterday, Steven tried to commit suicide by overdosing on drugs. He also has a drinking problem. He is only 16 years old, and I know he needs help.”
Until now, Steven had been silent. But when his mother tried to describe his faith, Steven broke the silence by loudly exclaiming, “Mother, I am not an atheist. I am not an agnostic. I am a Christian because I know I need a personal, living God to help me!”
Surprised, Donna replied, “I didn’t know that. When did this happen?” Steven explained, “I learned at an AA meeting that I need a personal God to whom I could talk and obtain help. I believe that Christianity teaches a personal, living God.” I asked Steven, “What have you learned about this personal, living God?” Steven replied, “I really don’t know anything about Him. I don’t even know who He is and what He does, but I do talk to Him.”
I asked both of them, “Do I have your permission to talk to you about this Christian God? I would like to share with you my living Lord, and how he wants to help you with his wonderful love.” Donna replied, “If this Christian God can help, please tell Steven about Him.” Steven added, “I would really like someone to explain God to me.”
I spent the next hour talking to them about sin and grace. I explained the requirements of God’s law and the saving work of His Son, Jesus — His perfect life, sacrificial death and victorious resurrection from the dead. As we talked, Steven began to understand the seriousness of his attempted suicide and his misuse of drugs and alcohol, but he also learned about the love and forgiveness of the “personal, living God,” Jesus Christ. I shared with Steven a Bible reading plan so that he could grow in faith and learn more about the saving promises of Jesus. He was also referred to a Christian AA group as an additional resource. I’m pleased to report that Steven is considering attending a nearby Lutheran church. He now knows the living Lord and the personal Savior in whom he has forgiveness, strength, direction, and the promise of eternal life.
As we celebrate the Easter Victory of our “personal, living God,” please consider partnering with us in this ministry of reaching out to all the Stevens within the institutions. Help us tell them about the “personal, living God” who lived, died, and rose again to set them free.
*Names have been changed to protect identities