A story about praying fervently for the salvation of your friends and loved ones. I wrote most of this in August 2003; however, I have updated it for this blog (12/11/2013).
In August 2003, my pastor asked me to speak to our church about praying for the salvation of a loved one and not giving up. He wanted me to share my story about my Dad.
If you have read my blog, you may already know a little bit about him. My Dad was a very interesting man. He was born in Mobile, Alabama and later, his family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana. His family was poor and he quit school in the 8th grade to go to work to help out. At 16, he lied about his age to join the Air Force. Although he was not formally educated, he was very ambitious and very smart. He taught himself by reading books on everything. He was self-employed most of his life and made money by operating, and then later buying and selling offshore marine vessels, such as supply boats, tugboats, crew boats, and liftboats. My Dad had an entrepreneurial spirit about him and he did many fun and interesting things to make money. He always dreamed he’d be a millionaire. When my friends asked me what he did, I told them he was a Wheeler-Dealer. But he was not selfish with his money; he was a very generous man and always helped out his family when they needed it. His hobbies were hunting, fishing and flying airplanes. He also loved to smoke and drink.
My Dad was not a religious man. Except for the day I got married, I have only one memory of him being in church and that was when I was about 5 years old. My Dad had a good friend who attended the Jehovah’s Witness church and encouraged my parents to attend. My parents went for a brief time and considered joining the church, but they required my Dad to stop smoking, which he did not want to do, so they quit going. Other than that, during my childhood and adolescence, I don’t remember my Dad being interested in church or God. My Dad was a very proud man, and he was successful, and I think he felt that he didn’t needed God. I think he felt that he had done pretty well all by himself.
My mom was raised Lutheran, and although she hadn’t been regularly attending church, she was a believer. In the early 1990’s, she began going to church regularly and this put a wedge between my parents. As my mom grew closer to God, my Dad became distant. He would go to his ranch in West Texas for days at a time, come home for a week or so, and then go off again. He and my mom got along pretty well that way, but they were more or less leading separate lives. Around 1999, he picked up a Koran at a used bookstore and began reading it. He also began believing it. I can remember him telling me that Jesus Christ was a good man, a prophet, but not the Son of God. One Sunday, my Pastor at the time, Pastor David Ruzicka, told us about the book, The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel. It’s a book about Mr. Strobel’s own doubts of who Jesus was, and how he became convinced that Jesus is the Son of God. I bought the book, read it, and then gave it to my Dad to read. Well, he had a field day with that book. We were out at his ranch when he had read about half the book and had written all sorts of derogatory comments in the margins (in ink) that argued with the writer’s points. I was very upset with him, and mad that he had marked up my book. (Of course, now, I am so glad that I have it; it’s a little glimpse of him to remember.)
It wasn’t long after that, in June 2000, that my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. It started in his mouth, from years of smoking, and had already spread to his lung and kidney when they found it. My mom and sister and I began praying fervently for Dad’s healing and salvation. I put my Dad on the prayer list at my church, and my mom and sister had him on their prayer lists at their churches. As it became clear that my Dad was not going to survive the cancer, he became very depressed. I can remember him walking with his head down, pointed toward the floor. It was so weird to see him like that, when he had been such a proud man all his life. On occasion, he went to church with my mom. It took his own mortality to make him see that he did need God. In December of 2000, he accepted Christ as his savior. He died less than 2 months later.
So, as you can see, you should never give up praying for your loved ones. God does work miracles. I wrote the poem, The Wise Man, the night before my Dad’s funeral, and read it at the service. It’s posted on my blog if you’d like to read it.
I really miss my Dad. He was my security; I always knew I could count on him and that he had my back. But I am so thankful that he is in heaven and that I will see him again one day. I know God made us all unique, but my Dad was truly “one of a kind”. There will never be another Jim Crawford. Because no one could fill his shoes.
My sister made this collage, and that is her with my Dad in a couple of the pictures. There is one picture of all of us: my Dad, my sister, me and my Mom (and a little boy that I was babysitting at the time).
Written August 13, 2003