A Prayer for Forgiveness


A Prayer for Forgiveness


There is one thing we can be sure of in our Christian life: when we turn to God in faith and repentance, he accepts us. No matter our age, stage or background. When we repent and believe, God says we become his.

This is partly why a person’s later years are hugely significant.

There is a greater urgency to share the gospel when speaking with seniors. But sadly, our older generation is increasingly neglected and lonely, with fewer opportunities available to hear the life-saving message of Christ.

That’s why Simon Knightly, London City Missionary and Team Leader, will forever cherish the moment when Iris, at the age of 89, embraced the gospel for herself.

Simon had been working closely with volunteers from Forestdale Church when he first met Iris.

Forestdale is home to a large estate with many isolated older people, many of whom are housebound and unlikely to hear the good news of Jesus. The volunteers from Forestdale Church were keen to reach their community with the gospel, so Simon began training them.

“On Tuesdays, Maria, a volunteer I’d been training from the church, would come with me to call at the homes at the estate, trying to get to know the residents a little better. Knocking on her neighbours’ doors was new for Maria. She was hesitant initially, but she’s now one of the keenest,” Simon recalls.

“Iris’ door was one of the first we knocked on. She was always welcoming and ready to talk about spiritual matters when we visited. Like many seniors, her mobility wasn’t the best, and she was also a little lonely.”

Iris had lived on the estate for more than 50 years and was recently widowed. She only knew a little of Christianity.

Simon and the team progressed slowly, being invited from the doorstep to the living room, and then into her life. Over a year and a half, they journeyed with her, sharing the good news of Jesus.

“We shared God’s heart for her in the parable of the prodigal son a while ago, and Iris said, ‘I heard this story once, but I’ve never heard anyone share it with me like that!’” says Simon.

“When we’d leave, Maria would comment on how close Iris seemed to God’s kingdom — how close she was to believing the gospel.

“Despite her frailty, wonderfully, Iris visited Forestdale Church one Easter Sunday and sat with Maria, hearing the resurrection message of Jesus, who defeated death.”

Sadly, just before that visit, Simon and the team at Forestdale Church had found out that Iris had been diagnosed with cancer. Pretty soon, she was told it was terminal.

I was conscious of the urgency...for Iris to respond to the gospel.

Many home visits later, Simon found himself sitting in Iris’ living room again. Iris' daughter was usually around most days to look after her, but she was out that day Simon visited.

“There was something about that day,” says Simon. “It felt like God sent me to Iris’s home — that he had ordained the meeting.

“I was conscious of the urgency for the need for Iris to respond to the gospel. She heard about God’s heart and knew who Jesus was. I needed to be straight with her about the reality of death and what it would be like to come before Jesus. I needed to explain eternity in a clear way and ask Iris what she believed.”

And then it happened.

In her living room, Iris reached out to Simon and asked: “Would you pray with me for forgiveness?”

Simon was only too happy to agree. As they prayed together, the Holy Spirit worked in Iris’ heart, and she was saved -- just as God promises us when we turn to him.

Only a few months later, Iris went to be with Jesus.

The good news of Jesus Christ was shared with Iris towards the end of her earthly life, and we praise God that she now gets to spend eternity with him. No matter a person's age, the gospel is the power to change someone’s eternity.

“After the funeral I went back a few times to help Iris’ daughter as best as I could,” Simon explains.

“Iris had always said her daughter was sceptical about matters of spirituality, but I took the opportunity God presented me.

“I said to her that I truly believed Iris was with Jesus now and was able to share the gospel with her. That’s when, to my surprise, she revealed her mum told her what happened that day I came to visit, the day we prayed together."

“Iris had made a point of sharing that it was an incredibly powerful experience.”

Not only did Iris believe that day Simon prayed with her, but she also wanted to share this wonderful moment with her daughter before she died.

Praise God for his goodness and mercy. Is God calling you today to reach out to someone with the gospel? Why not pray now for an opportunity to share this life-changing message?

If you are interested in sharing the best news we have—the good news of Jesus Christ—with seniors like Iris, join us at our Practical Evangelism Training Day on 15 June. We’ll share all our experiences and helpful ways to have that gospel conversation with seniors.