“Mom, Mom! Where are you?” Josh said as he raced into the house. “I had a fun day at school!” Nearly every day was like this when Josh got home. He was a bundle of energy, enthusiasm and happiness.
However, one afternoon, when Josh was 10 years old, he didn’t come bounding in the house yelling with excitement. Instead, he quietly put his backpack on the floor and shuffled into the kitchen.
Mom had her back to him, washing some dishes. Suddenly, she realized she was not alone. In a panic, she whirled around, nearly dropping the plate in her hand before seeing Josh standing there.
“Josh, why did you sneak in on me like that? Are you OK?” she asked, staring at his rather pale face.
Josh had to smile, even if just a little. He chuckled and said, “I wasn’t trying to scare you. I just came in quietly because I don’t feel good. Sorry, Mom, but your reaction was funny!”
Mom had to laugh as well, but then she stopped laughing. Josh slumped into a chair at the table, looking glum. “Mom, I just don’t feel good. I don’t know what’s wrong, but I am so tired, and I just feel yucky!”
Mom got Josh some juice and took his temperature. She then told Josh that maybe he should take a nap and rest a bit. Josh was so tired he ended up sleeping all night. Unfortunately, the next day, he didn’t feel any better, so he stayed home. Three days went by, and Josh’s mom and dad decided to take him to see a doctor.
After several medical tests, the doctor told Josh and his mom, “I’ll call as soon as I have the results.”
A couple days later, the call came. Josh could tell that the news wasn’t good, because Mom held her breath for the longest time while the doctor talked. She then called his dad at work and told him, “Honey, please come home immediately.”
They packed up a small suitcase and took Josh to a specialized hospital called the Children’s Cancer Hospital, and his parents kept whispering about something called leukemia.
After piles of paperwork that his parents had to read and sign, and being seen by an endless stream of doctors and nurses, Josh was able to close his eyes and sleep in his hospital bed. He was exhausted.
The next day, he found that his dad had already left for work. Mom was in her wrinkled dress, curled up on the one little couch in the room. Sensing that Josh was awake, she jumped up and came over to see how he was doing.
Despite excellent medical care, days went by, and Josh was still in the hospital. When Mom would go home for the night, Dad would come and stay with Josh. Both looked tired and worried.
One day, someone knocked on his door, and a kind-faced man peeked in. The man wasn’t wearing a white coat, and he didn’t have a stethoscope around his neck, so Josh could tell that the man wasn’t a doctor or a nurse. The kind man asked, “So what’s your name, young man?”
Josh wiggled up straighter in bed, trying to smile. He said, “My name is Josh.”
The man smiled and as he shook Josh’s hand, he said, “Josh, I’m not a doctor or a nurse, but I like to visit people here to make them smile. So, tell me, Josh, how long have you been here?”
Josh’s hands came out from under his blanket. He wrinkled up his nose and began counting on his fingers, coming to the conclusion, “It’s been 18 days so far.”
“I see,” said the kind man. “Well, Josh, so what do you miss most?”
Josh’s eyes grew sad as he said, “I miss my friends! They’ve come to visit me, but they can’t drive yet, so they have to wait until their parents can bring them. I especially miss my best friend.”
The kind man nodded. “Well, I totally understand that! But I want to tell you something. I have a Best Friend who’s always with me, so I never feel lonely.”
Josh’s eyes opened wide. “Really? Where is he and what is his name? Could I meet him too?”
The kind man then said, “Well, Josh, his name is Jesus. Have you ever heard about Him before?”
Josh replied, “Well, I’ve heard about Him a little. I know He’s a man who lived a long time ago, and the Bible talks about Him, but we don’t go to church, sir, so I don’t know much.”
The man then smiled and said, “Would you like to hear about Jesus?”
Josh and his parents nodded their heads, so the kind man began telling them stories about how Jesus created the world and how much He loves children. A whole hour went by. It was wonderful! Then came the time when the man had to leave. He said, “Would you like to know more about Jesus so He can be your friend too?”
“Oh yes!” said Josh, and Josh’s parents agreed as well.
The kind man then asked if he could send some Adventist World Radio audio messages of hope to their cell phones. Josh’s mom quickly said, “Oh, yes, please! We could use some hope!”
The kind man came to visit about once a week, and Josh and his parents listened to the audio messages every time they received a new one. Several weeks later, during one of the man’s visits, Josh had a question for him. He asked, “I’ve been talking to Mom and Dad, and they said I could ask you this question. Would it be OK if you prayed to Jesus and told him I want to give my heart to Him? I want Him to be my very best friend too!”
The kind man’s eyes filled with happy tears as he came over and gently squeezed Josh’s thin little hand. “Oh, I think that would be wonderful! But you know what? I think He would love to hear from you too. Why don’t you tell Him, and then I’ll pray as well?”
Josh offered a shy smile and said, “Well, OK. I’m not sure I’ll do this right, but here goes. Dear Jesus, it’s me, Josh. This nice man has been telling us about you, and well, I was wondering if you could be my best friend too? I’m sorry when I’ve not always been kind or honest. Will you forgive me? This man said that if I give my heart to you, you will come live in my heart and help me not be so scared or lonely. Thank you, Jesus . . . oh, and again, it’s me, Josh. Amen.”
The kind man had a hard time finding his voice, but then he prayed for Josh and his parents. Josh’s parents were crying, but they seemed happy.
Weeks went by, and Josh was becoming weaker. One day he said, “Mom and Dad, I think I am going to die. Oh, please don’t cry. It’s OK! Remember what we learned from the kind man and the audio messages? Jesus is going to be coming back soon. I won’t feel any more pain, and you won’t have to be at the hospital anymore. The Bible says death is like sleep, and going to sleep isn’t scary. Very soon, Jesus is going to come in the clouds, and when He does, He will wake me up. Then I can join both of you, and we can all go to heaven, where I will never be sick anymore. Jesus will take care of you until then.”
Josh’s mom and dad hugged each other and Josh, but they continued to cry. A few days later, little Josh died.
A few weeks after the funeral, Josh’s mom and dad remembered what Josh had said about meeting them on resurrection morning and being ready to go home to meet Jesus. They began to look for a church that taught what the kind man had taught them, and started attending some meetings at their local Seventh-day Adventist church. After those evangelistic meetings, Mom and Dad gave their hearts to Jesus!
Today, Josh’s parents still miss him, but their hearts are full of hope because they know that one day soon, Jesus will come in the clouds. The graves will open up, and everyone who died loving Jesus will go home to live with Him in heaven.
Very soon, they will be able to hold Josh in their arms again. It will be the best reunion ever! And on that day, maybe you will say, “Hey, is that you, Josh? I read about you once on the AWR website!”
By Karen Glassford
Digital Evangelism Manager