“Are You on Death Row?”

Twenty-eight year old Robert Howard paced from one side of the cell to another. He looked at his watch. “Five more hours,” he muttered.

He looked up in time to see a guard walking by. “Hey you,” Robert spoke.

The guard stopped. Turning to Robert, he asked, “Yes?”

“Got a preacher you can bring here?” Robert asked.

“Sure,” the guard replied.

Robert sat down on the cot and waited. Finally the minister arrived.

“You send for a preacher?” the preacher, Bruce Andrews, asked.

“I didn’t send for anybody,” Robert replied.

“The warden said you asked for a preacher,” Bruce answered.

“Well the warden’s wrong,” Robert said sourly. “Maybe it was my forty-four year old mother.”

“Well you can tell your mother that her request has been heard,” Bruce said.

“And how am I supposed to tell my mother? I’m less than five hours away from a lethal injection—”

“Did you send for a preacher?” Bruce asked, when Robert didn’t say anything for a few moments.

“Yeah,” Robert admitted.

“Is there something you want to talk about?”

Robert shook his head.

“Then why did you asked for a preacher?”

Robert jumped to his feet. “Because I don’t want to die! I don’t know anybody in this universe that wants to die. Nobody knows what’s on the other side of death; nor can they come back and tell us what is on the other side. So I-I’m scared, you know?”

“I understand.”

“Really?” Robert asked in disbelief. “Are you on death row? You don’t understand.”

“To be honest,” Bruce answered, “I am.”

“And how’s that?” Robert asked.

“Mr. Howard,” the preacher said, “you are scheduled to die in less than five hours. Unless the Lord comes back, I’m going to die in the near future. I am thirty-four years old; how much longer do you think I have on this earth? Fifty years? Sixty years? It could only be sixty minutes—I don’t know. The only thing I do know is that one day, I could die. The only difference is: you have the disadvantage of knowing when you’re going to die. So just like you, I, too, am on death row.”

Robert plopped onto the cot. “What a miserable life I’ve lived. I’m twenty-eight years old and I’ve been in and out of trouble for most of my life. You name one crime; and I’ve done it, or something very similar.”

“We’ve all committed crimes, Mr. Howard.”

“You’re not in here. So what crime did you commit?”

“Well let my ask you: Why do you think people die?”

“Some people die because prison officials give them lethal injections.”

“Let me ask this again: Why do you think people die?”

“Because their heart stops!” Robert angrily replied.

“Mr. Howard,” Bruce began, “the Bible says that the wages of sin is death.”

“So?”

“It’s the truth. Everybody sins; therefore, everybody deserves to die.”

“So what’s your solution?”

“Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus came to this earth to die for our sins. He lived a perfect, sinless life; died, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. Because of what He did, we can get into Heaven if we accept the gift that God has offered us.”

“And what’s that?”

“Eternal life.”

“And how do we accept this gift?”

“By admitting that we are sinners and asking God to save us.”

Right there in that cell, Robert bowed his head and received the free gift of salvation. He was adopted into God’s family, and received assurance of his salvation. Another soul had been born into the kingdom of God.

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