“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
We make plans, many plans and yet God has other plans for us. For 14 years, Luis had laid on his bed. He had broken his back in a motorcycle accident and now spent his days just lying on this bed in an eight-by-eight-foot room, built out of concrete blocks, in the back of his parents’ property.
Some years ago my husband Andy and I had made a trip to Cuba, and we became aware of the great need for Bibles and study books for the pastors there. So we began to make regular visits, providing those things, along with other much needed articles. We’d been told about Luis – we knew he had a Bible to read, but we were told he needed glasses. We had glasses for him, but could not find Luis. We had been told his house was within one kilometer of the hotel that we would be staying in.
We asked every one if they knew Luis, the man with the broken back. It took us three trips to Cuba before we met someone who remembered him and took us to his “forgotten prison.” He was overjoyed with his glasses and asked for his Bible to loudly read to us. His dirty mattress had no sheets. He wore rags. Just him, his Bible, his cot and one chair in this room. But his joy shone out of his eyes. Andy and I just cried, for him, and for his joy.
Two years later, someone gave us a copy of the Heidelberg Catechism….in Spanish! We decided to give it to Luis. We also took him four more books we had found at Value Village. How happy he was with those books. Then he opened the Catechism at Lord’s Day 1 and started to read.
What is your only comfort in life and death?
That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil.
He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together
for my salvation.
Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.
Luis started to cry. Tears were flowing down his face and he was praising God at the same time. “This is what I believe!” he kept saying.
We cried too. We had sometimes thought and said that all those old writings and confessions were so out of date and no longer applicable to our lives. And now this! We prayed together being so very aware of the hand of God.
Two years later we again stood at his bedside. Again we had more books and sheets for his bed, plus clothing for him. He could hardly contain his joy when he saw us, not because of us, but because of what he had to tell us: “I have studied this book and all that is explained to me in this Heidelberger. I also explained to the only friend who has visited me all those years!” And he went on to tell us that this friend now had completed the study and was attending church, for this friend had become a believer.
He told us that he now understood the plans God had had for him. That he had been privileged to help bring a friend to faith. It was not to harm him, but to strengthen him and others in their faith.
A year later, shortly after we visited him and knew his time on earth was coming to an end, he succumbed to bedsores. Thankfully, we had a chance to say goodbye to this faithful child of God. For now, he rejoices before God’s holy throne.
A Portuguese translation of this article can be found here.