Crisis-trained Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) chaplains were in Toronto to offer emotional and spiritual support after a shooting rampage on July 22 left three people dead, including the shooter, and 13 injured. The shooting took place along Danforth Avenue in Toronto’s Greektown neighborhood.
Near the memorial site on Danforth Avenue, one of the RRT chaplains was approached by an elderly man from the Greek Catholic community who wanted to share a near death-experience from his past.
The man told the chaplain that he had suffered a fatal stroke, but while he was in the hospital, he was brought back to life. He recalls meeting a saint who told him that his time on earth was not finished yet.
“And what is it that you weren’t finished doing?” the chaplain asked.
“Telling people about God,” the man answered.
But when the chaplain asked the man if he had followed through with that mission, the man shook his head.
The chaplain then asked the man if he had ever accepted Jesus into his life, but without answering, the man simply turned away and began to walk across the square, motioning for the chaplain to follow him.
Meanwhile, in the same square, another chaplain was having a conversation with a Greek woman who had known Jesus earlier in her life, but now felt separated from God.
The chaplain guided her through the Steps to Peace with God booklet and explained why she might be feeling this sense of separation.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
When they reached the end of the booklet, the woman realized that she needed Jesus, and she prayed to receive Him as her Lord and Savior.
As she finished the prayer, she was glowing with the realization that God is very real and near to her. Then, something caught her eye across the square, and she turned to see a man walking towards her with another chaplain.
“Meet my woman,” said the elderly man as he introduced the chaplain to the Greek woman, his wife.
The chaplain who had been talking with his wife smiled and said, “Do you want to tell them anything?”
The woman proudly announced, “I just accepted Jesus in my life!”
Her husband, who had not stopped chatting until this point, became unusually quiet.
The chaplain asked him again if he wanted to accept Jesus into his life, and the man affirmed that he did, so the chaplain led him through the prayer.
“Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. In Your name, Amen.”
After he prayed, the man’s face softened and his countenance changed, just as his wife’s had moments before. Eager to begin their new journey together with Jesus in their hearts, the couple immediately shared their new faith with their friend, a believer who plans to help them grow in their faith and guide them through the Bible in Greek.
Through the ministry of these two chaplains and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, God worked in the midst of tragedy to bring this man and woman to the right place at the right time, leading each to an individual relationship with Him and a new faith to explore together.
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