More than thirty years have passed since I met the general, an unforgettable meeting that took place as the result of answering a classified ad.
We had just moved into a new home, our first with a formal dining room, and were looking for a china cabinet. Since couldn’t afford a new one, we searched the classifieds and called about one we hoped would be within our budget.
“My husband is ill and we’re getting ready to move to Chicago to be near his doctor,” the woman who answered my call said. And shortly after listening to a brief description of the cabinet, Pauline and I were on our way to see it, still not sure of the price.
In less than an hour, we found ourselves standing before the object of our search, at ease in conversation with the charming owner and surprised at how reasonably the cabinet was priced. During our conversation, I glanced at a framed certificate on the wall that said “Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
“Has a member of your family served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff? I asked.
At that moment, a distinguished looking man stepped into the room who, having heard my question, answered it. “Yes,” he said, “I was a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Cuban missile crisis, serving under President Kennedy.”
We quickly agreed to buy the china cabinet and soon the general and I were taking measurements of the cabinet and my station wagon to see if the two were compatible. At the same time, I was taking other measurements. Knowing the general was entering a severe battle with cancer, I began asking questions about his relationship with God.
The general and I talked openly, about God’s great offer of eternal life. He was gracious and pleased to talk but when we headed home I was uneasy about his preparation for his coming war with cancer; so returned to continue our conversation.
Months later, I was invited to speak at a church in Chicago. While there, at Pauline’s suggestion, I decided to visit the general at the hospital where he was being treated and continue our conversation.
When I entered the General’s hospital room, I found him very thin but smiling, sitting on the edge of his bed with intravenous tubes in his arm coming down from a portable carrier. He then told me how a missionary-turned-chaplain had been praying with him and talking to him about what we had discussed at his home.
“Are you sure now that you will go to heaven?” I asked.
“Yes, I am sure!” He replied.
Then the General stood up, placed one hand on the portable intravenous bottle carrier, walked straight to me, threw his arms around me and said “You have no idea what it means to me that you have come.”
The general had reached the pinnacle of power in his profession but the most important day of his life was when, by faith, he met the King.
And the most important thing a person of faith can do is introduce others to our King. After all, we’re members of His cabinet.
Roger Campbell is an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.