I met Michael during my medical training. We were the same age, I liked him, but I knew within minutes of meeting him that he was going to die soon. He had a ruptured appendix and AIDS.
Michael had been living in San Francisco when he was diagnosed and returned to his home town because of his illness. In those days there was no treatment for AIDS and he and his family knew that he would gradually die. The rupture of his appendix changed that timeline considerably. Because Michael was so sick I spent some time talking to his parents to prepare them for what was coming. As usual, I talked before I listened. When I finally tuned in, they told me a story that I still remember, twenty-five years later.
Michael had grown up in the church and had been very active there. He was a leader among the youth and had been highly respected by everyone. During Michael’s senior year of high school, he was prepared to graduate as the valedictorian of his class. At about that time, though, he made it public that he was homosexual.
Michael’s church had a custom of recognizing the high school graduates by calling them to stand in front of the congregation, by giving them a small gift and by praying over them. On the Sunday of this event, Michael wore his best clothes and his mother told me that he sat on the front row, expecting to be called up to give a short speech. The church leader recognized the other high school graduates but didn’t call Michael to come up before the congregation. Michael was embarrassed, hurt and soon fled to California to get away.
After speaking with his parents, I went into Michael’s ICU room and pulled the curtains. The room was large so that the patient could be easily attended from either side of the bed, it was white from floor to ceiling, and it appeared and smelled sterile.
In many ways Michael really didn’t look sick but every medical test told a bad story. I re-told Michael what the surgeons had already told him; his appendix had ruptured spilling intestinal contents into his abdomen and, with AIDS, his body had no means of fighting the infection. Then, I then took my best shot at something I had been thinking about since I met him.
“Michael,” I said calmly, “there is no human or anything on this earth that can help you. I’m sorry to say this so plainly but, in less than eight hours, you are going to die. And, although I don’t know for sure what is going to happen, I believe that you are going to stand before God who judges all people. Would you like to talk more about this or is this none of my business?”
At that, he slowly turned his head away from me and whispered to the wall, “It is none of your business.”
Five hours later he was dead. Billions of invisible life forms inside of his body killed him.
Main point: The world isn’t just old, or broken, it is cursed and people all over the world will continue to suffer until the curse is lifted.
So what: The curse will only be removed when The Church is complete. There are still over 3000 people groups with no access to the gospel. You can do something about it through prayer, through giving money, by going to the ends of the earth to make disciples, or by training and sending others–perhaps your children.