94-Year-Old Veteran Trusts Christ

If you receive our monthly newsletter you may recognize this story. I received the  following from Dr. Alex  Duvall of Georgetown, South Carolina in April:

Hank Winter, a retired U. S. naval captain, is a 94- year-old veteran of both WWI and Korea where he served as a fighter pilot. He is my  wife’s grandfather,  and I have known him for about 20 years. He has always epitomized gentlemanly behavior, generosity, and graciousness. For the past few years, he attended church regularly, but if you asked him about his faith, he would honestly admit that he was not a believer in Jesus Christ. About two years ago, we had a conversation about his objections to belief from an apologetics approach, and it went nowhere. My wife and  her  sister  both  wrote letters encouraging Hank to come to faith. While appreciated, these letters did not bring him to faith in Jesus Christ.

Then in the fall of 2016, my local church hosted Every Believer a Witness with Dennis Nunn for their annual revival week. Despite being a believer for many years, evangelism was a great struggle for me. I was hoping this event would be a help in  that department; boy, I was not disappointed! Never had I encountered such an encouraging, Biblically-based, and practical teaching on the reason and way to be a faithful witness for Jesus Christ. Over the course of five sessions, I gained both the easy-to-understand methods and the opportunity to practice  witnessing that  made filling the Great Commission in my daily life seem not only possible but even rewarding! I continued to not only pray for those who God had laid on my heart for salvation but to look for ways to witness to them. Hank was at the top of my list, as well as on several others’ prayer lists, and it was not long before it appeared  time was running out for him to accept  Christ.

In January of 2017, the heart failure that for so many years had not been able to slow down Captain Hank Winter began to take its toll. He was hospitalized twice that month with trouble breathing and also had an infection in his lungs and blood stream. He would have periods of time  where  he  was short of breath even sitting in a chair, and despite good medical care, he had minimal improvement. During both his hospitalizations, I took my Bible and with his permission read various  passages to  him  and  discussed  the  gospel.  I concentrated  on passages such as the  sinner on the cross and the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard to  emphasize  that the grace offered through Christ is available to latecomers just as much as those who accept it early in life. We discussed these  spiritual matters  for awhile, and  although he  considered them more seriously, still belief eluded  him.

Shortly after coming home from the hospital for the second time, Hank went to his doctor who is a Christian partner of mine and had prayed for Hank and witnessed to him in the past. Hank was given the choice to go to the hospital yet again with little chance of significant improvement or to take a palliative approach to his illness by concentrating on his quality of life at home with hospice.  Hank  chose  the  latter option. I visited with him a few times at his  home and had some good discussions, but Hank was still unconverted. I remembered Dennis teaching that we are just as faithful when we share the gospel with those who reject it as we are with those who accept it; salvation is of the Lord. However, I, along with many others, sure was praying hard for Hank’s conversion, including my young children  who  knew  the stakes.  All the  while, Hank’s health continued  to be precarious.

Then in the course of just a few days, I experienced a barrage of adverse events that started with a brand new generator suddenly breaking with no explanation and culminating on a Wednesday at work with me having the most crushing day in over a decade of practicing medicine. I recalled what Dennis had said in his last session: if you are serious about sharing the gospel, expect some resistance from Satan. I almost was not surprised, and looking back, God had prepared  me  for it.  How do you respond to the worst day you have ever had at work? Comfort food or drink? Sulk? Retreat to a circle of close family and friends? Exercise? Listen to music?  In and of themselves, most of these are not bad things, but perhaps something bigger was going on, and I felt the Lord had shown me what it was. In a strange way, I was encouraged because if there was truly spiritual warfare  at play  and  all this  trouble had suddenly appeared, Hank must be close to salvation. I responded in the  only way I felt was truly fighting back; after work, I went back to Hank’s with my Bible and witnessed to him again. He did not convert then, but I felt I had  responded faithfully and that God would not lay Hank’s eternal soul on so many hearts without plans to show His power to save.

After hearing that Hank had further declined, I went back over to his house the following Sunday evening. There were no high and holy prayers or notable special preparations; I just went. Hank had a lot of questions about dying and was having fears about death and hell now that he felt he was staring over the edge of the cliff. I read a few passages emphasizing the open invitation to come to the One who gives peace and takes away the sting of death.  I,  along with my  believing mother-in-law who is his ever-present caretaker, held his  hands  and  prayed.  The  Holy Spirit did  the work only He can do, and Hank Winter repented of his  sins  and  called  on the Lord to accept him. When he opened his eyes, his fear and shortness of breath had passed.  At 94 years old, his spiritual man had just risen from the  dead.

I am sharing Hank’s conversion story with his permission. He may be late to the fight, but Captain Hank Winter made the decision to be faithful  to  his  Lord’s  order from Acts that “you will be my witnesses.” He  has  fired  one  last missile  despite being unable to leave home and struggles to even walk to his  front door. It just goes  to show, every believer can be a witness.

 

Alex Duvall

From Dennis: “Don’t give up on sharing your faith with your family and friends!”

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