In 1959, my family moved across the street from a hospital in Cleveland. Dad and Mom operated a physician’s answering service out of our house.
Thirty years later during a family gathering, Dad told us a memorable story. One July night while he manned the switchboard, an unforgettable call came in.
“Bain’s Answering Service, how may I help you?”
“I guess I have the wrong number. I’m tryin’ to get hold of The Crisis Center. I’m gonna kill myself.”
Dad, a Christian, never passed up a chance to give someone the Gospel.
“Maybe I can help you, son. My name is George, what’s your’s?”
“I’m not your son and don’t act like you care. No one cares. That’s why I’m ending it all.”
“God cares, and so do I.”
“Man, you don’t know me so don’t put on an act.”
Dad replied, “I once knew another young man who tried to end his life, but someone who cared introduced him to Christ which changed his entire life.”
“Who cares, how do you know I’m young?”
“You have a young voice.”
“You wanna know how old I am, I’m the ripe old age of nineteen. Ha, I’ve lived such a miserable life I feel like I’m eighty.”
“There’s someone who can help you. Jesus Christ....”
The voice interrupted Dad, “Don’t give me that religious stuff. I went to church for years. God never helped my folks or me. He let my parents and little sister die in a car accident a few days ago. There is no God as far as I’m concerned. What is there to live for?”
Dad heard sobs.
“God put you on earth for a purpose.”
“Are you kiddin’ me? I’m nineteen and so far, death and sadness have filled my life. What purpose is there in sufferin’? Don’t call me son. My name is David.”
“David, I’m sorry your life is difficult. Jesus Christ can make it easier to bear. God sent His Son to suffer and die for humanity. He took our sins upon Himself by dying on the cross. He arose the third day and is in heaven making intercession for us to the Father. You can have eternal life if you trust Him as your Savior and have abundant life today.”
Dad heard a noise as if David hung up the telephone.
“David, are you there? David...?”
“I’m still here. I dropped the phone.”
“Did you hear what I said?”
“I heard. Will He bring back my Dad, Mom, and little sister?”
“No, but He will give you a new life as He lives His life through you.”
“I have to go...”
“No, wait a minute. Will you trust Christ as your Savior, David?”
“I’ll think about it.”
“David,” Dad yelled, “Are you there?”
The police traced the call to an empty telephone booth twenty miles away.
Dad checked the newspapers daily for suicides and prayed for David everyday.
The business grew to the point where my parents moved to another building and hired several operators. One afternoon Dad received a surprise phone call.
“Hello, Is this George?”
“Yes, George Bain. Do I know you?”
“My name is David Preston. I spoke with you on the telephone one night fifteen years ago. I wanted to commit suicide but you said I had a purpose in life. You presented Jesus Christ. Do you remember me?”
“Remember you? David, you have been in my prayers for years.”
“Thank you, George. I should have called sooner but life has been busy. After I hung up my aunt, who is a Christian Counselor, also witnessed to me. We talked all night about my angry feelings. The next day, I trusted Christ as my Savior and my life has never been the same.”
“Thank God.” George interjected as David continued.
“Yes, I do thank God. To make a long story short, I went to medical school, joined a mission board, and have lived in Kenya for the past four years. I’m on furlough for three months. I sure would like to see you in person, George.”
“I would like to meet you, too, David.”
The next day David visited Dad at home where they conversed for hours. They saw each other a few more times before David returned to Africa and continue to stay in touch.
Dad finished his story and said, “I guess you might say David dialed the “right” number instead of the wrong one. God works in mysterious ways.”
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