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grace washed over him...

My father-in-law left this earth in August. He was a practicing Muslim for most of his life following Islam. He would tell stories of living in Iran and there were glimpses of deep pain and trauma in those stories...a restlessness. The prisons, the hangings in the streets, the violence he experienced growing up...there was no peace. And for the 11 years that I knew him, the first 10 had a spirit of restlessness deep within his soul. Our family prayed for him, friends prayed for him, friends witnessed to him, my mother-in-law witnessed to him, the TV pastors witnessed to him...but still we were left wondering...does he believe? When he had his double knee replacement in March, we were not expecting it to end in death...but what a beautiful last 6 months of his life that we and him experienced. It was filled with horrendous physical pain, but his soul...there was no longer a restlessness...there was pure peace...and we knew without a doubt it was Jesus. God's grace washed over him...


In the time that I knew him, he was a man who didn't speak openly about faith...Islam or Christianity. But, he loved to watch Charles Stanley every Sunday on TV with Betty (my mother-in-law). She would recount that he was so faithful to watch him and listen to every word. When Stanley would give the invitation he would close his eyes and he would seemingly be mouthing his words to himself. In the last year of his life he had become so sensitive and his countenance was strikingly different - we all saw it and felt it. He was softer, he was lighter, he had hope. His laugh and smile...oh his laugh...it would melt your heart. But we wouldn't know of his salvation for sure, until months later in a hospital room after his surgery.

My mother-in-law, after noticing a cross with Jesus on it in his room above his door, asked him one day in the hospital about Jesus and accepting him. And his response was "Betty...I have already accepted him into my heart and my head" (as he motioned with his hands putting them over his heart and on his head). It was the first time he had openly stated that he had accepted Jesus. Apprehension made its way into our minds, was it for real? It was hard to imagine this, from a man who did not speak openly about what he believed, but still, we gladly rejoiced in this newfound hope. God's grace washed over him...


It didn't take long to truly see the change. One particular day, while doing physical therapy...in the midst of pain that was so intense...I played his favorite hymn, "Change My Heart Oh God". And on this particular day, he sat on the side of the bed, in agony over his physical pain, and cry...no...he sobbed, while singing the words to that song. With his hands raised high, God was visibly changing his heart. There was not a dry eye in that room as all of us wept with him (including the physical therapists) at the beauty of a man, who for so long was so strong, who was crumbling into Jesus' hands and humbling himself to cry out to God in the midst of his agony. And God's grace washed over him...


There were many more moments like this - such sweet sweet memories - as Betty faithfully stood by his side every single day without fail. Joseph and I would stand by his side too as much as we could. We would all make jokes, rub his shoulders, take him on walks and play his Elvis spirituals and hymns he loved so much. They are memories so real that can never be forgotten. Those 6 months were incredibly difficult and took so much endurance...but they were also the most beautiful I have ever seen. And God's grace washed over him...


Hossien left those he loved in August, after a 6 month battle of infection and pain and mental decline. He was alone when he took his last breath, and we will never know why God orchestrated it that way. But one thing we do know...the angels were there, ushering him into God's presence where all his pain was washed away and his faith became a reality as he clung to a total dependence on the One he cried out to. The ultimate healer had healed his body, his heart and his mind, and God's grace washed over him...this once Muslim, was a Jesus follower and had found true peace.


Until we meet again...


"I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." John 11:25-26

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