Sermon Illustrations

Doug Nichols served with Operation Mobilisation in India 1966-1968.

In 1967, Doug Nochols was serving as a missionary in India. While he was just starting to study the language he contracted tuberculosis and was eventually sent to a sanatorium to recuperate.

It was not a very good place to be. It was not very clean and conditions were difficult because there were so many sick people there. But Doug decided to do the best he could in that situation. So he took tracts and some Gospel of John booklets and tried to pass them on but they were not interested in an American and his God. No one wanted the tracts and books. He tried to witness, but he was handicapped because of his inability to communicate in their language. Discouragement set in and Doug began to wonder why God had allowed him to be there anyway.

Doug would often be awakened in the night by the rasping sound of coughing, both his and others. But then, what can you expect in the TB ward of a sanatorium? Unable to sleep because of his raspy cough, early one morning Doug noticed an old man trying to sit on the edge of the bed, but because of weakness, he would fall back. Exhausted, the old man finally lay still and sobbed. Early the next morning the scene was repeated. Then later in the morning, the stench that began to permeate the ward certified the obvious: the old man had been unsuccessfully trying to get up and go to a rest room.

Says Doug: "The nurses were extremely agitated and angry because they had to clean up the mess. One of the nurses in her anger even slapped him. The man, terribly embarrassed, just curled up into a ball and wept."

The next morning- about 2:00 A.M.-Doug noticed the old man was again trying to generate enough strength to get himself out of bed. This time, though, without thinking, Doug got out of bed, went over to where the old man was, put one arm under his head and neck, the other under his legs, and gently carried him to the rest room. When he had finished, Doug carried him back to his bed.

But what happened after that is what makes the story. The old man, speaking in a language Doug didn’t understand, thanked him profusely, and then... gently kissed him on the cheek.

The story doesn’t end there, either. Eventually Doug drifted off to an uneasy sleep.

In the morning he awakened to a steaming cup of tea served to him by another patient who spoke no English. After the patient served the tea, he made motions indicating that he wanted one of Doug’s tracts.

"Throughout the day," says Doug, "people came to me, asking for the Gospel booklets. This included the nurses, the hospital interns, the doctors, until everyone in the hospital had a tract, booklet, or Gospel of John.

Over the next few days," he adds, "several indicated they trusted Christ as Saviour as a result of reading the Good News!"

A final thought. The world doesn’t care how much you have or what you know; they want to know how much you care.

He said, "Now what did I do? I didn’t preach a sermon. I couldn’t even communicate in their language. I didn’t have a great lesson to teach them. I didn’t have wonderful things to offer. All I did was to take an old man to the bathroom and anyone can do that!"

Reference: Heroes - People Who Made A Difference In Our World by Dr. Harold J. Sala, (OMF Literature, Inc., P.O. Box 2217 Manila, Philippines, 1998), pp. 29-31.

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