PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “If they’re breathing-they need Jesus!” By: Ron Woodrum
One of the most interesting and convicting authors I have ever read is Mark Cahill. He has only written two books. One is the book One Heartbeat Away: Your Journey into Eternity. It is a disturbing account of how we live with death every second of our lives, and must be prepared for eternity. His follow up book is on witnessing, titled One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven. In the latter book, in a chapter entitled “If They’re Breathing They Need Jesus!” He tells about a couple witnessing encounters he had with two very famous people. Mark Cahill went to college and played basketball with Charles Barkley. He even roomed with Barkley while the team traveled. They became very good friends, and are still friends today. On one occasion, after their college days, he was speaking at a Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, where Barkley lives. Upon arriving in town, he called Charles to see if they could get together, after the conference that night. Charles said, “absolutely, we’re hanging out tonight at”, (and he mentioned a famous club). Mark asked him who the “we” was. He said, “Quin Buckner, Alex Rodriguez, and Michael Jordan”. He of course accepted. How could he miss an opportunity like that! When Charles introduced Mark to Jordan, he told him, “Michael this is my good friend from college I was telling you about!” All night they talked about basketball, baseball, golf, and occasionally religion, due to input from Mark. As they were leaving, they headed out to the limousine that would take they all to their various destinations. As we walked together toward the car, I said, “Michael, I am speaking in town this week, and I would like to ask you a question”. Michael said, “Ok, shoot!” I asked, “Michael, when you die, what do you think is on the other side? What do you think is out there when we leave here?” Cahill said that a very serious look came over him, he started nodding his head, and was silent for about ten seconds. Then he responded, “I think there are those pearly gates, when we die”. I knew I didn’t have much time; the others were catching up with us. So, I got right to the point, and asked, “Michael have you ever committed your life to Jesus Christ?” Quicker than he leaves the floor for one of his famous jump shots, he shot back “yes I have” and quickly asked, “Have to talked to Barkley about this?” Cahill assured him that he had done that several times. Michael shook his head as he walked away to the limo. He later found out that Jordan used to discuss Jesus a lot with Horace Grant when they played together on the Bulls, but after his father was murdered, he just clammed up about his faith, and refused to talk about it any longer! Even NBA stars need Jesus.
On another occasion, Mark was invited to come to Charles mother’s home in Leeds, Alabama for the holidays. While there he had the opportunity to meet Charles’ family. He really hit it off with Charles brother Daryl. Daryl told Mark, “I recently had a heart attack”. He went on to tell Mark that after the heart attack that he had a near death experience. He said that while in the operating room his spirit rose up out of his body, he saw the doctors and nurses working with his body on the operating table. He said he went on a journey where he saw burning trees, burning grounds all around the base of the trees, then a lake of fire with people in it screaming for help. With terror in his eyes he said, “I saw hell! Then I came back!” Mark asked, “Daryl, if you would have remained dead where would you have gone?” Daryl replied, “I would have gone to hell!” Mark asked, “Do you want to go to hell?” Immediately he answered, “No, I want to go to heaven!” “Do you know what you need to do to go to heaven?” Mark asked. “Yes, committing my heart and life to Jesus Christ”, Daryl affirmed. “Have you done that now?”, Mark inquired. “No-I love the things of the world too much to do that right now!” Mark warned him, that with a bad heart, he was playing Russian Roulette with his soul. Daryl acknowledged the risk he was taking. A few years later, Daryl had another heart attack that took his life. It was March 20, 2009. He died young, at the age of 42. What about his destiny? If you look up Daryl Shawn Barkley…you see his grave which says, “Deacon Daryl Shawn Barkley”…Did he embrace the faith that his mother taught him, and serve his Lord in his final days? If so, that near death wake up call changed his eternity. That is a vision that would be good for all of us to wake up to. We will never be the same for time and eternity. What a difference it could make in the lives we touch for Jesus, while there is still time.
On a grave in a cemetery near Jackson, California are the following words:
Remember me as you pass by,
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, you soon will be
Prepare for death, and follow me.
Someone wrote below those words in marker:
To follow you, I am not content
Until I know-which way you went!
Today’s message should encourage us to encourage everyone to know which way you are going while there is still time!