Initially, he wasn’t a sociable fellow, and was sorely lacking in the “friend department.” Still, there was something about him that was truly likeable. He was akin to a coconut, tough and hairy on the outside, yet something sweet deep inside the exterior.
His name was Fred Langley. He was short on words, possessed a sharp mind, and had an avid interest in sports. His days were mainly spent reading newspapers, magazines, and watching sports. He had no family, never married, and barely acknowledged anyone who came to visit him. In fact, he could be downright nasty, most of the time.
Everyone complained about him, doctors, nurses and volunteers. There was hardly anyone who wanted to be around Fred. Yet, Bea loved visiting him, and did so every single day. She never missed the opportunity to sit and chat with Fred.
“Fred, can I come in?”
Fred jumped up and greeted Bea as he waved her in with a smile. “Hi, I was wondering if you’d show up today…you’re a little late ain’t ya?”
“Well, I had a couple of emergency admissions, and family members to attend to.” She smiled wide as she handed him what he’d requested at their last visit.
He stared at it for a moment and then ran his gnarly hands over the leather bound Bible.
“Your request is my command.” She laughed, while she sat in the red leather chair by his bedside. “Everything is in there, just like we’ve discussed for the past two years.”
“Thank-you,” he said, as he continued to rub the cover.
“How are you today Fred? I heard you didn’t have a restful night. Something going on that you’d like to discuss?” Bea’s head tilted to one side. “It’s okay Fred…”
“I was thinking about all our talks, and how you’re just about the only one who visits me. The nurses and doctors don’t count ‘cuz they have ta come in. You’re my social worker… you kinda have ta visit, but you enjoy talking with me.”
“Yes Fred, very much so.”
“Well, anyhow, I was thinking about Jesus, and how he visited everyone. As a social worker you’re kind of in the same business as Jesus, ain’t ya?”
“Well, you could say that. I try to walk with the mind of Jesus, and be an example of what he represents. So, yes…kind of the same business.”
“Can you show me how to read this Bible?” He stood and opened it. “Can you show me the parts where Jesus is in it?”
“Of course Fred, it’d be an honor and my pleasure to do so.”
“I wanna see where He walks on the water, and I wanna read where He helped the blind man. But, I most wanna see where He says He forgives us…all of us.” His eyes were filled with unshed tears, “please…”
Bea touched his worn-out hands, and in a quivering voice said, “Yes, I’ll show you Fred.”
The next several years were spent speaking about Jesus. Fred was baptized, and accepted Jesus as his savior, and truly began to learn the word. The Bible became worn from its constant use. He truly was a new creation, and transformed into a completely different man.
“Bea, I don’t know how you did it! He really is a new man. No one wanted to go and see him, and now it’s a pleasure…what’d you do?” Peggy the head nurse asked as she scrunched her brows.
“It wasn’t me Peggy. It’s Him.” She pointed up and continued, “He can do all things, and, he came to the Lord. You’ve seen it for yourself. Has your opinion changed about God?”
She laughed, “One step at a time sister…I’m starting to think about it, I’ll give you that much.”
“That’s good enough for me.”
“You were right after all huh?”
“Fred. You’ve always said that his bark was bigger than his bite. You tried to encourage all of us in this nursing home to accept him, and be kind to him. It was so difficult, he tried our patience…I’m ashamed as a nurse to admit that. I guess you were right; he was a lonely mixed up man. But, still…it’s hard to be around someone that was so miserable.”
“I know. It’s okay Peggy, you’re a compassionate nurse, don’t even go there.”
When Fred passed away he left a note for Bea: Thanks for bringing me to Jesus. I’m putting in a good word for you right now. Love, Fred
*Based on a true story~
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