I’ll just call her Lisa since that is her real name and since she gave me permission to do so. Ellen and I first met this special lady about 7 years ago when, after she and her husband, Dirk, had visited a church service at Thompson Road Baptist Church, having accepted the invitation to attend that one of our deacons had extended to them.
They lived in a modest house on Indy’s near southside, just two or three miles from our church. Lisa had been blind for many years and she and Dirk had been married, before he passed away, twenty-two years. They were not alone as, when one knocked on the door, a beautiful black dog, rather large, but never noisy, would come wagging its tail as if to say, “come on in.” We did, passing through the kitchen on into the living room where Lisa was sitting in her favorite spot on a couch, near her media equipment that enabled her, though blind, to converse on a phone and to send and receive emails. Dirk would be found comfortably stationed in his favorite chair, and we were cordially invited to be seated on another smaller couch by a coffee table. We were asked if we’d like a cup of coffee which, as I recall, I declined with a “No thank you,” but would on subsequent visits always answer, “Yes, please.”
Our first visit was interesting if a bit shaky. Lisa was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2015 and had been fighting it with various forms of treatment. We heard from her own perspective the battle that she had been fighting and had early on been given one to three years to live. That is about the time we met Lisa and Dirk and she, having been saved at an early age in life, knew enough to reach out to God knowing that even the best of doctors and modern medicines would be to no avail if God were not guiding her health care with His unseen hand. We of course prayed for Lisa, beseeching God for His gracious intervention and asking, if it would please Him to, with or without the best of medical treatment, heal her. Our church had been alerted to pray also and special prayers were sent up to the throne of grace. The doctors planned and proceeded with a bone marrow transplant, acknowledging that even if it did at first appear successful the cancer could return at any time. That was in August of 2017 and Lisa remains cancer free today.
Lisa is a pleasant person. Her face is graced with a soft smile that connotes caring. Her marriage to Dirk was her first, his third. One would never pick them out of a crowd as a couple. He was all things mechanic, kind of rough around the edges, but he had thrived on hard work, mastering machinery and fighting back by returning deft blows in his battle in life’s school of hard knocks. He did not expect any handouts, was a patient and loving caregiver for his disabled wife who had been herself thrown into the ring do to battle with a deadly blood disease.
As the preacher and his wife sat on the couch that first visit, Lisa listened quietly as Dirk and I began to communicate about “You and God.” He had a lot of questions which merely conveyed an honest skepticism about spiritual matters. He had never been a person of faith and though well read, especially in matters of religion, he had not embraced Christ nor any belief system. He was not antagonistic, but certainly not eager to receive anything said at face value. He was polite but firm in his agnosticism. It was a challenging and, for this preacher, exciting exchange between one person who was saved, settled and satisfied and another who would best be described as seeking and sincere. It would be the first of several such visits before Dirk, the host who would demonstrate more hospitality with every visit so that on one such occasion he pulled out of his freezer a loaf of his homemade fruit cake, soaked in rum, to send home with us to enjoy at Christmas, would acknowledge and accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Lisa would later tell me that Dirk loved reading the Bible and loved reading it to her.
God answered prayed for our friend, Lisa, and she is still alive. She had never been baptized after having accepted Christ as a child, so it was her desire and my intent that we would have a special baptismal service for this dear lady. Because of the fragility of her health and the tenuous logistics of getting her into a baptismal tank and out again, the plan was abandoned, but there was little doubt that her heart’s desire was to publicly confess Christ as Lord. She had been given 1-3 years to live and seven or eight years later she still has a life in her peaceful place on Indy’s southside, but her beautiful black canine, whose name was Raven, has since died; and her devoted husband who lived to see that Lisa was cared for, passed into eternity, not long after we first met Lisa and Dirk, in the early morning hours not yet daylight, having fought a gallant fight, slipping from life here to life in heaven where the Son light of Jesus’ presence was without doubt a welcoming sight to a man to whom life had served up some daunting challenges. Dirk, who was thought to be healthy and strong when Lisa received her cancer diagnosis, was gone and Lisa still lives.
It was just a couple of weeks ago that Lisa reached out to us having heard that I now have a cancer similar to the one that she so far has survived. I have been retired since 2019 and even before then because of transportation and health issues Lisa had not been able to attend our church; so Ellen and I had lost touch with her though she has been in our thoughts often. It was so good to hear from this friend and to recall and recount the goodness of God to her through prayer, patient waiting, faith; and skilled doctors who with modern medicines, working as God’s instruments to bring about His will through intercessory prayer, have been able to stretch her life well past the 1-3 years. I knew at the time and I am sure even now, Lisa would attribute her healing and health successes to God’s answers of prayers
Just another unusual twist on Life’s Pilgrim journey. I am glad that we got to meet this special couple and their dog Raven. We always felt welcomed. Dirk made his peace with God in time and the love of his life, Lisa, lives on in her quiet world where she is never alone as she communes with God and her circle of family and friends. Just another chapter in the lives of this pastor and his wife, whose lives have been ceaselessly enriched over the past 50 years of ministry, privileged to have known, served and loved the Lisas and Dirks through whom God has mercifully blessed their lives.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men.” (Tit.2:11)
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)