Yesterday I went to the hospital to visit one of my “sheep”. I don’t know what other pastors do when they go here, but my errand was a little unusual. I had heard from a neighbor that this man was in the hospital – and the neighbor also told me, that the house where he used to live now was a crime scene, his roommate had been stabbed in the house by his girlfriend and the police were investigating, so honestly, I did not know exactly what to expect!
As I came into the room, the man was sitting on the hospital bed waiting for the nurse to dress his wounds. First I thought it was from the stabbing incident, but then I realized it was something else. I found out he had been in the hospital for 12 days, even before the incident, and his wounds were not there because of a weapon.
“I dropped the pot of boiling soup on my feet”, he explained. “We were cooking on the fire outside, and I wanted to bring soup inside to cool off. I dropped the pot and I burned my feet, he explained. I looked at his wound. It was not on his foot but on his thigh, since the burn was so bad, that they had to make a skin transplant in order to fix it. I found out that this guy had been walking around trying to self-medicate the burn with hydroperoxide for several days, which only made it worse. Eventually, he had passed out, most likely from drugs, and this was how he came to the hospital
I love this guy so much. He lives in a small house in a side street to OBT, very close to the church. He shows up when we have our community days and our community dinners, and I go there to visit when I can. A few months ago I had him ready and packed to go into a rehab, but on the day we were supposed to leave, he had barricaded himself drunk inside his little house and he refused to leave. I called the rehab center and canceled, and a couple of days later somebody more desperate than him had taken his place.
In the hospital, I called the rehab and explained the situation. They know it is a matter of life or death, so they do what they can. “There is another opening in December”, they said. “Somebody is checking out just before Christmas, so we will reserve the place”. My friend who runs the center was on speaker phone and I made sure that my guy in the hospital bed got the message as well.
I leaned over to his face. “Please don’t die on me. I have come all the way from Denmark just for you, brother so don’t you die on me”, I said repeatedly, as I laid my arm around his shoulders, heartbroken with tears in my eyes.
He looked at me with his big wild and half-crazed eyes. “I am not going to die, pastor, not this time”, he ensured me, but I was not that sure unless he will be able to go directly from the hospital to the rehab. My biggest concern is, that he will go back to his house. So before I left, I took his hand and prayed together with him, speaking life, that this man shall live and not die and see the goodness of the Lord.
When Jesus calls you, it is always now. Don’t wait for later. Don’t wait for tomorrow. People die like flies around here. When my wife did a women’s meeting a few weeks ago the police had sealed off the street corner across from our church. Somebody in a body bag was laying there on the ground, and the detectives were investigating for more evidence. Same night one of our local drug dealers lost his friend to a runaway driver on that same corner. He came to church the next morning, freaking out and begging me to contact the police to make sure they would find the runaway driver. I asked him, “Why can’t you talk to them yourself” and he said that nobody would listen to a drunk drug dealer which is true!
One day I had to throw another young man out of the church because he was so rude. He was shouting and cursing on his way out, and I found out that he had already been trespassed by one of our pastors. He said we were not a real church, he was even quoting scriptures trying to teach me how to be a pastor, but one month later a humble young man came to give his testimony. “I was off track for a while, but God has got me now real good”, he said. I did not recognize him, but it was the same man. Since I saw him last time, he had been robbed and shot three times.
These are my sheep on OBT and most of them are black in the sense, that they are lost, not knowing how to find their way and how to behave. Night and day they are putting themselves in danger, breaking through the fence, running around wild, doing drugs, dealing drugs and dying. But Jesus is still the good shepherd leaving the 99 in order to find the one. He does not want anyone to perish, and neither do we.