Becoming a Friend by Michael Stephens
It was Saturday morning February 13, 2016; Randy White and Michael Stephens had set up a display at Mac's Fresh Market to sell tickets for the annuals Sportsmen's Banquet in Farmerville. I went up to purchase tickets for Robby and the boys; and visited for a while. This is a story by Michael Stephens that came out of that morning.
A little while after I had left a man walked up and started talking to Randy but Randy couldn't remember his name. Then Michael and Randy talk about the problems with remembering people's name but how easy it is to remember faces. While they were talking another guy came up and asked what they were doing. Randy began to explain to him that it was a fundraiser for XMA. As he was talking to Randy, Michael thought to himself, I know this guy. As this man was talking to Randy he pulls out his wallet and took out five dollar bill and hands it to Michael and said "Here." Michael's response was what ticket do you want to buy; he said I don't want anything, I just want to give it to you all. Michael thanked him and put the money in a box as Randy continued to talk to the man. He reaches back in his pocket and pulled out two more $5's and hands it to Michael and said here, here's two more $5, again Michael thank him for the donation. As Randy continued to talk to him, he reaches into his pocket, pulls out his wallet and counted out the remaining money it was $29 and said here this is all my money. He said take all of it, Michael said, "Are you sure that you don't want a ticket?" He said I don't need it, I don't need the money and I don't need the prizes. I just found out yesterday that I have cancer, it's all in my bones and all in my body and so I'm not going to live much longer.
The man looks at Michael and the hat that he was wearing it had, "Cajun Valve" on it and he said don't I know you and Michael response was I know you, your name is Chuck. They had not seen each other in 17 years; they had worked with each other at Industrial Valve. This was right after Michael had got out of high school. They talk for a few minutes and as they did Michael was thinking that they needed to pray for Chuck. There was a pause in the conversation and Michael spoke up and said Chuck do you mind if we pray for you. He said, "No I don't mind." So both Michael and Randy laid hands on him to pray for him but as they did he said I have drunk a couple beers. Michael said we don't care about that we just want to pray for you. We just want to let you know just how much God love you. Michael started praying for healing for his body but he felt more led to pray for his spiritual well-being. They prayed that he would feel the presence of God, and that he would feel God's love, that he would feel God's peace and emotional stability. He thanked them and then he left; he went and sat in his car that was parked in front of the store.
Michael began to remember our conversation where I mentioned that Jesus called his disciples "friends." And how important it was that his disciples knew that they were friends of Jesus. He thought the power of being a friend over and over again. Michael would play the word over in his mind, "Brother, Friend" and when Michael would say friend it seemed that there was power and that word. The word brother has a reverence to it but when somebody says friend it becomes a different level of relationship. As he thought about this, Chuck has cancer and he may die, I prayed for him and now he's gone, he needs a friend. Michael was thinking I was his friend when we work together. Michael looked over to where the car was and it was still there. Michael said to himself, "I have got to go talk to him." Michael walked over to his car and tapped on the window, he was still sitting there wiping his eyes, and he had come to tears. Michael said, "Chuck I don't know if you have love and support from your family but I would like to be a close friend to you and I will give you my phone number. You call me, I don't care if you call me every day or any time you need to talk I want to be for you through this. I will be there to help you, to pray with you and encourage you. He said, "Men I need that." Michael said I mean what I say, you call me. He talked to Michael about his struggles with believing God. Michael talked to him about having a relationship with Jesus Christ and it being more than just going to church. Michael told him that we could pray for healing and Jesus can heal your body right now, but you're still going to die. Every person that Jesus healed on this earth has died and gone and they are an eternity somewhere. We want to pray for you and God wants to heal you but first he wants to heal your heart most importantly. Our attitude toward Jesus Christ should be I'm going to serve you whether I live or die. The most important thing right now is that God wants you to know that he loves you in a spiritual sense at this time more than a physical sense. Michael shared the gospel with him. They talk again for another 20 minutes and Michael encouraged him to call. Whatever you need I will be there for you.
When Michael got home that night he had a text from Chuck, it said that he got more from the prayer than any prize that you may have. He text Michael back a few minutes later and said I always thought I was saved until I talk to you today. After our conversation today I know I am saved!
April 29, Michael sent me this text: The old friend of mine that we prayed for at Mac's just called me and told me he is back from MD Anderson and is cancer free!