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News – Grandpa John’s miracle

December 2007 | by Dennis Hill

Grandpa John’s miracle

My mother’s stepfather had always interested me. ‘Grandpa John’ had not had an easy life. He immigrated to the US from Russia in the 1920s. He married my grandmother a few years after my grandfather died but sadly the marriage ended in divorce and Grandpa John lived the last thirty years of his life alone. His only son moved hundreds of miles away.

Sad, lonely and somewhat bitter, he would probably have called himself an agnostic. But he agreed to study the Bible with me.

Bible studies

One would hardly have called Grandpa John ‘open’ to the message of the gospel, but we studied together for some months along with a Jehovah’s Witness friend of his. I tried to answer their objections and questions but with only mixed success. Both in their 70s, no one would have thought them likely candidates for conversion to Christ.

Grandpa John became increasingly unwell and eventually had to go into a nursing home. I visited him and we talked about Christ and the Bible but he remained, apparently, unaffected. But something was happening that I could not see.


One day, I brought him a leaflet that explained the gospel, which I read to him. The gospel says that we are all sinners who have broken God’s laws, but blinded by our sin we do not sense its true seriousness. We don’t see that we are guilty and facing the judgement of God. But, the gospel also tells us that God so loved the world that he sent his Son to die in the place of sinners. Those who believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, are forgiven their sins and put right with God.

When I finished reading the leaflet, to my astonishment, he prayed and asked Christ to be his Saviour! He broke down in tears and cried out, ‘It’s a miracle! It’s a miracle!’ As he reached out to Christ in faith, he was evidently deeply moved by God’s love.

A glow and a smile

In the days that followed, I saw something I had never seen before in that sad and lonely man – there was a glow and a smile on his face. He had experienced God’s love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. He began to attend church with me but only for a while – Grandpa John died about three months after he met his Saviour.

Some might say, ‘How sad that he didn’t believe years earlier. His life would have been so different’. That is undoubtedly true, and we just don’t know why some things happen as they do. But we do know that everything is under the control of a wise and sovereign God.

Because Grandpa John lived the way he lived, a sad and painful life, and because he came to believe in Christ so late in his life, he is a striking illustration of two important truths.

Important truths

First, God specialises in unlikely conversions! Some very ‘unlikely’ person may be reading this article right now. The fact is, we are all pretty unlikely cases. The Bible says, ‘none seeks after God’. Though some people may seem more unlikely than others, none of us is likely to turn to Christ for salvation. Every single conversion is a miracle of God’s free grace.

Secondly, it doesn’t matter how old a person is or how near death. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we should put off seeking God’s forgiveness – we never know how long we will live. But, as long as there is life there is hope.

Remember, one of the criminals who was crucified alongside Christ was converted right there on the cross – and Jesus spoke those wonderful words, ‘This day you shall be with me in paradise’.

So, whoever you are and whatever your circumstances, you can never be too unlikely a candidate for heaven. If you are reading this article, it is not too late. ‘Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation’. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you too will be saved. Then it will be a happy Christmas indeed.

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