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From Death to Life

Mr. Ocana lost his vision in a diabetic crisis New Years day 1998. The following year was filled with many ups and downs. Several times we thought he wouldn't make it much longer, but slowly he would recover. We tried and tried to teach him what he should and shouldn't eat because of his diabetes. He seemed to understand, but then he would continue to eat as before.

Our frustration of feeling like we could not make an impact in his health was paralleled in his spiritual life. 54 years of tradition seemed impenetrable. Pastor Ramirez, the Ocana's neighbor, spent much time over the last year talking and praying with Mr. Ocana, but he didn't see any results either.

How can we help Mr. Ocana know?
Pastor Humberto & Becky Ramirez and Me

So imagine our surprise when Mr. Ocana specifically asked to see the Jesus film on the small TV/VCR we had brought to his hospital room. We rushed home for the Jesus film and several other Christian videos, praying the whole way. In the following days our brief visits (the govt. hospital has very limited visiting hours and only allows one visitor at a time) got filled with more physical concerns like trying to convince him to allow the doctors to perform kidney dialysis. But his wife told us in those days that Mr. Ocana had "given his life over to God." That sounded good, but it was hard to understand what exactly it meant. He could have meant, in a fatalistic sense, that whether he lived or died was up to God. Or it could be that he had "given his life to God" in the sense used in the gospel presentation at the end of the Jesus film.

For weeks we prayed for him, begging that God's Spirit would reach his spirit in a way that our words and we couldn't. But the assurance we were wanting didn't come until two weeks after the funeral.

In the course of conversation during the first time we were able to sit down and talk with Mrs. Ocaña since she came back from the ranch where they buried her husband, I mentioned that we had seen Mr. Ocana's half-brother crying at the gravesite. She was very surprised because that brother had always treated her husband badly, even stealing his inheritance. Then she proceeded to tell me that before he died her husband had asked forgiveness from his siblings, "He told them that if he could get out of bed he would get down on his knees to beg their forgiveness for however he had wronged them throughout his life."

Knowing how deeply his family had hurt him, we were astounded by this awareness of his sin and attitude of repentance. I shared with Mrs. Ocana how repentance is a fruit of God working in his life and that I saw that as an answer to our many prayers for him. I said that we had been praying a lot for his soul as well as his body. "I know that," she replied, "and he knew that too." This spiritual sensitivity was the sign that we had been looking for that God had answered our prayers.

I had sensed that Mrs. Ocana wanted consolation about where her husband is now, but I hadn't felt free to give her any assurance that he was with God. Now I felt deeply joyful and confident that we would see him again. As we left that evening, she cried and, putting her hand over her heart, said that since her husband had died she had had a pain in her heart but that because of our talk the pain dissolved. Driving home we felt we would burst with joy and gratitude.

We thought you would want to know about this because if you prayed for the Ocana family when we wrote about sharing water with them, your prayers were part of those piling up until the right time. But don't stop praying yet, there are still two young adults and two darling little girls without either an earthly or a heavenly father.

Tim & Annette

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