Personal Stories: Colin Sharpe's story

He May Let Me Stay With You Longer If My Sales Figures Are On Target

An emotionally moving story of how a life-long non-Christian courageously came to the Lord in the closing days of his life, through his daughter’s literary intervention, his old chum’s devotion, and the power of many people’s prayers; and how his conversion was so powerful that he took every last opportunity to spread the Word to all his visitors.

Colin Sharpe’s story begins in June 2008 and ends in July but although it is only short in terms of time it spans a huge gulf between being a non-Christian and a devoted follower of Jesus. His conversion was swift.

About three weeks before he finally saw the Light his cancer had been detected. “The doctor told me I had an average of four months to live, there would be only a 20% chance that chemotherapy would work and if it did the average may rise to eight months.”

Colin bravely took it on the chin. “Although shocked, as I expected it to be curable, the odds seemed not bad.”

Then on Wednesday 2nd July he met a former colleague and friend who he had worked with for several years from 1959, and had always kept in touch. “I was invited to a church (a place where I very rarely go) so that I could see my old work mate Cliff celebrate 35 years as a priest.”

Colin’s visit to see his long-time friend exalted in a House of God had a profound effect. “He knew about my cancer and it was a naturally very emotional time for us both. Karen who took me was also deeply moved.”

When he returned home he discovered a communication from his daughter, a committed Christian who lives in Birmingham. “Julie had sent me the most moving letter and booklet I have ever seen.” It was Journey Into Life by Norman Warren.

Written the day before, on Tuesday 1st July, Julie’s letter began: “To my beautiful, handsome daddy.” And by way of introduction explained why she was writing instead of talking: “It seems a bit weird to be writing you a letter when we have always been able to talk so freely about stuff but this is a bit different and I do find it hard to share my faith with you although I know I shouldn’t.”

Her father had begun to turn towards the Lord. “I was so encouraged when you told me you were praying to God for healing, and then more so when mum told me you had put a cross above your bed. I have no doubt you believe in God and that you have always had some sort of faith.”

She implored him to confirm a relationship with Christ. “I just want you to have the chance of asking Jesus personally to be your Lord and Saviour. It says in the Bible in John chapter 14 verse six that ‘no-one comes to the Father except through Jesus.’ That means the only way to heaven is through Jesus. Asking Jesus into your life is the most important thing you will ever do, and I just so want to see you in Heaven – more than anything in the whole world.”

Extolling the power of the Holy Spirit she continued: “I believe God can take away all your cancer and heal you completely but much more than that I know that God wants you to spend eternity with Him. Our lives here are very short compared to forever.”

You don’t have to be a religious devotee to have a closeness with the Lord Julie defined:. “Having a relationship with Jesus isn’t about going to church (you’ll be extremely pleased to hear), it isn’t about Bible bashing or endless prayer meetings, neither is it about giving up everything you enjoy, it is just about you and God being free to talk. He will give you a peace and joy beyond anything this world could offer.”

Referring to a time many years before, flirting with Christianity, when her husband gave her this booklet Journey Into Life, she was astounded that nobody had brought it to her attention earlier.

“I was looking at this stuff for myself when I was 21 and Jon gave me a booklet, the very one I have enclosed for you. I remember sitting up in bed one night and reading it through and praying the prayer near the end. I also remember thinking ‘why didn’t anyone tell me this stuff before?’”

Apologising for not bringing her dad the message earlier Julie went on to insist upon his venturing into the volume to discover its redeeming contents.

“Dad, I’m so sorry I have not had the courage to share this with you since I made my commitment 17 years ago but now I so want to give you that chance. Please read the booklet, find somewhere quiet, and on your own and just spend 10 minutes going through it.”

Urging him to take the leap of faith she affirmed: “Making this decision really will change everything forever.”

Praising her father’s paternal qualities Julie’s love was obvious. “You have been and continue to be the most amazing dad anyone could have. Lots of people say ‘My dad is the best dad in the world’. Truth is I know mine really is!”

“I will continue to support you and love you forever and ever and ever and ever but please know that the future will be so much better if Jesus is in it.”

Unsure of what her father would make of her pleading letter she signed off: “Lots of love and please don’t think I’ve totally lost it!”

The day after he got his daughter’s letter Colin was told that his earthly termination was imminent. “The following day, Thursday, I was told ‘sorry mate, you are too ill for any treatment, you have one to four weeks left, go home and die’.”

“They say it ever so nice, and it must be a crap job for them. Dick was with me, so we saw the funny side and we thought about how to break the news.”

A sudden transformation happened. “I can assure you that you change, just like that. I read the booklet, asked Jesus into my life, asked to have my sins forgiven, and you do accumulate a lot of sins over 65 years.”

Ready to open the door of his life to Jesus Christ, Colin thought of the Saviour’s love for him and the shortness of this life, for after death there would be no more opportunity to turn to Christ, it would be too late.

“Lord Jesus Christ,”he prayed, “I know I have sinned in my thoughts, words and actions. There are so many good things I have not done. There are so many sinful things I have done.”

In repentance. “I am sorry for my sins and turn from everything I know to be wrong. You gave your life upon the cross for me. And I know you can save me from eternal destruction.”

Entrepreneur Colin saw this as a pretty good deal and gave his all to God: “Gratefully I give my life back to you. Now I ask you to come into my life. Come in as my Saviour to cleanse me. Come in as my Lord to control me. Come in as my Friend to be with me. And I will serve you all of my remaining time in complete obedience.”

Finally, in the closing moments of his life Julie’s erstwhile endeavour had come to fruition. Colin totally gave himself to God for all he was worth. His soul was saved. Hallelujah! His Father’s welcome awaited in Heaven.

Julie had been the clinching catalyst. The prayers over many years by many people had paid off.

Colin spoke to his priest friend Cliff and asked him about the transition from Earth to the afterlife, and so to give him hope and a grasp on Heaven and eternity Cliff gave him the following reading:-

‘Gone from my sight’

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: ‘There she is gone!’

‘Gone where?’

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side. And she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port. Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at that moment when someone at my side says: ‘There, she is gone!’ There are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:

‘Here she comes!’ after … And that is dying.

Henry Van Dyke (1852 – 1933)

Having understood that, Colin had another word with his old priest pal about spreading the Word. “I spoke to my mate Cliff. He told me that I would have fantastic power during my remaining time and to try and bring as many people to Jesus as possible.”

Taking him at his word Colin did exactly that. He gave every visitor a copy of both his own and his daughter’s letter together with a copy of the booklet that so changed his outlook, so that they may understand and hopefully experience something of what he himself had found.

His sense of humour prevailed until the end. “Being a businessman I reckon that he may let me stay with you longer if my sales figures are on target …..”

His Christian outpouring spread quicker than his cancer, but his fantastic committed relationship with the Lord reached a crescendo when, on 30 July, he was eternally united with him.

And his parting shot, “God bless you all. See you in heaven sooner or later,” will be fondly remembered by all those who loved him so dearly.

Colin Sharpe

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