An Unforgettable Conversion

as told to Barbara Ponder

Danny attended church regularly as a child, but at the age of seven, he lost his dad, and in time he became bitter. He said: “If there was a God, He wouldn’t have taken my dad when I was so young.” In spite of this, he always respected his wife, Anita, for her beliefs. She often talked about future events that are predicted in the Bible; in fact, she rarely missed an opportunity, hoping to, at least, prepare him for what is coming.

He listened politely until he finally decided he’d “had enough,” then he calmly, but firmly, told her: “Now you know I don’t believe that ‘stuff’ and I don’t want to hear about it anymore.” But early in July of 2013 he was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus; it had already spread to vital organs and he had only months left to live. With such devastating news, his unbelief was a paramount concern, and since Anita wasn’t free to talk to him about it, she asked the Lord to send someone Danny would listen to. Family and friends were praying for him and a few had an opportunity to talk to him about his need for Jesus, but he wasn’t interested. Anita was caring for him at home and although he had many visitors, that one person she had asked the Lord to send, didn’t come. Eventually, Danny told her he didn’t want anyone coming to the house anymore, with one exception: her daughter, Jennifer.

As the cancer continued to spread, Danny took in less and less nourishment and soon became just a shadow of his former self. He was weak and emaciated; his skin hung from his bones. He was unable to swallow even a sip of water. His voice was reduced to a whisper and, in time, would be gone. When Anita knew he had only days left to live, she called family members and close friends to let them know.

She couldn’t ask anyone to come, so she trusted that the person she’d asked the Lord to send would just “show up.” But not wanting to be alone when he passed, she called Jennifer, who wasn’t working at the time, and asked her to come and stay with her. She agreed to come and could leave on Saturday, since it was a holiday weekend, and her husband would be home to stay with the kids.

Anita didn’t tell Danny she was coming, in case he’d changed his mind; but when she arrived Saturday evening, he showed no sign of surprise and whispered a greeting as if he’d been expecting her. That night, she stayed up to give him his medication, make sure he was comfortable, and let Anita, finally, get a full night of sleep.

The next day, Sunday, November 10, 2013, strange things began to happen. Anita and Jennifer both felt a chill on the left side of Danny’s bed, so intense that they avoided that part of the room. It was very disturbing; Jennifer called it “spooky” and said it actually gave her “chill bumps.” On the right side of his bed, and in the rest of the room, the temperature was completely normal.

Danny had been having restless periods for quite some time. He would toss and turn constantly, but now he was extremely agitated. They tried to comfort him and, thinking he might be in pain, tried to give him his medication, but he pushed them away.

Then they realized he had become focused and was whispering in response to, what they perceived to be, two beings they couldn’t see or hear. Jennifer listened closely to what he was whispering; Anita listened, and also observed his reaction to these beings, and it was frightening. It was clear that the being on his right was in an elevated position because Danny looked up, where the ceiling meets the wall, as he responded in a whisper, “yes……yes…….yes……I know.”

But when he turned to his left he looked down, toward the floor, and there was a look of sheer terror on his face, as he recoiled in fear and whispered, “no……no……oh no.”

He turned to the right again and looked up as he whispered, “yes……yes……yes……alright.” Again, he turned to his left and, just as before, he looked down and, filled with terror, he responded in fearful whispers, “no……no……no.” They couldn’t say how long the encounter continued, but his final response was to the being on his right and he looked up as he whispered, “yes……yes……OK,” then his restlessness and agitation returned.

Anita was visibly shaken when Jennifer left the room to call her grandpa Mitch. She told him what had happened and wanted to know what it meant. My husband knew immediately there was a battle going on, a battle between good and evil, a battle for Danny’s soul. He also knew there was no time for any discussion; instead, he was prompted to tell her to go back and ask Danny if she could give him the plan of salvation. If his response was good, then she should present it, and invite him to receive Jesus.

When Jennifer returned, she found her mom overwhelmed with fear that Danny’s soul would be taken before he was willing to admit he was a sinner and needed Jesus. Anita wanted his final moments to be peaceful, but knew that he must first accept Jesus. Jennifer got her mom’s attention and told her what her grandpa said to do.

It was obvious she was uncertain about following through with it; she may have felt inadequate, since she was young in the faith. Then Anita remembered a New Testament she had ordered some time ago; on one of the pages was the plan of salvation, written as a prayer to receive Jesus. She ordered it, basically, because it was free, and her budget was tight, but she knew it would be a good idea to have it on hand.

She told Jennifer where she kept it, and when she found it she realized it was like the one she had at home, just a different size. She returned to Danny’s bedside where Anita was sitting, trying to calm herself; but knowing there was no way she could read the prayer, she told Jennifer which page she thought it was on.

She opened it to the page, took Danny’s hand and asked him if she could read a prayer to receive Jesus. He nodded his head in the affirmative and whispered, “Yes,” and immediately became calm!! He listened intently, nodding his head in agreement with each part of the prayer, as she read: “God, thank You for loving me. I know I have sinned against You. I believe that your son, Jesus, died for my sins because of Your great love for me. I believe that You raised Jesus from the dead. I now put my trust only in Jesus to love me, forgive me of my sins and lead me in my new life. Thank you for our new relationship and the gift of eternal life. Amen.”

Then she asked him: “Do you understand everything I’ve read and do you believe and accept it?” By now, Danny could no longer even whisper, his voice was gone, but he nodded his head in agreement, mouthed the word, “Yes,” and the moment that final “Yes” formed on his lips, the intense chill that had clung to his left side totally disappeared!! The peace that came over him was so evident it could be felt; the entire atmosphere of the room changed. The battle was over!! There was absolutely no doubt that Danny was a new man.

II Corinthians 5:17 says: “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” He had peace; Romans 5:1 says: “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” And he would live forever; John 11:25 says: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

With praise and worship music playing in the background, they thanked the Lord over and over and praised Him for the unforgettable miracle they had just witnessed. And Danny, with a big smile on his face, kept mouthing the words: “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” The praise continued, uninterrupted, as they gave some attention to a now relaxed and cooperative Danny; they washed him, dressed him in clean clothes, changed the bedding, and made him comfortable.

Jennifer went to bed early, and Anita stayed up, feeling certain it would be Danny’s last night. She sat close to him, his hands in hers; knowing that the moments they were about to share would be both sweet and sad. There was silence as Danny, still mouthing his words, told her how much he loved her, thanked her for taking care of him, for being so patient, and never giving up on him.

As they continued to express their love for each other, Danny began to slip away. His breathing was shallow, each breath was less frequent. Anita leaned closer to him, and whispered softly: “It’s OK now, you can go to be with Jesus.” He took one last breath, and was gone! In spite of the grief she would experience, she is grateful that even as he is “absent from the body,” he is “at home with the Lord.” (II Corinthians 5:8.)

We see God’s hand, from start to finish, in Danny’s conversion. God orchestrated every detail and those who played a part in it were simply His willing instruments. True “deathbed conversions” are rare and, unlike Danny, you may not have a “last minute” opportunity to make the most important decision you can ever make. You may die suddenly, or have a brain injury and be unable to communicate, or you could suffer some other health crisis that would prevent you from ever making that decision, so please make it now, before it’s too late. You don’t know how much longer you will live, but you can know where you will be the moment you breathe your last breath.

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