One of our students committed suicide. One of our Christian Intervention students. A student who had graduated from our classes.
On Tuesday, a couple of weeks ago, he came by the office to pick up his completion certificate as, although he had finished all his lessons, he had not attended the ceremony we have once a month in which we acknowledge those who have accomplished such a thing. “How are you doing?” Michael asked him after I had taken the certificate from the files and it had been given to him.
“Terrible. I can’t find a job. I’m doing terrible.”
He was an exceptionally attractive man, tall, polite, and pleasant. A former employer of his had told us that once–in better economic times– when he was hired on for a job, he sent a floral arrangement to the hiring office, thanking them for the opportunity of a job.
He was a nice man, yet now he stood in our office area saying, “I’m doing badly.”
Mike paused, and as the man turned toward the exit door, said, “You need to come to church, Sunday.”
“I’ve tried church and it did not help me. I’ve stopped drinking and smoking and things have become worse.” He pushed through the door…and that was the last time I saw him.
Mike followed him to his car, trying to speak encouragement to him. But the man persisted in his feeling of hopelessness. “No good, Mike. This is probably costing me a divorce. I’ll likely go back to my old ways…probably wind up in jail once more…you may not see me again.”
On Wednesday the man told his wife he was planning suicide. She removed all guns from the house. On Wednesday evening he attended a sports function with his two children. On Thursday morning, he called his wife and warned her he planned to hang himself. She called her brother who rushed to the home…too late…finding that the man had accomplished the dreadful deed.
Mike was devastated, as indeed were all of us…and of course the ghastly question was: Did we do our best? Did we do all we could have for this dear man?
A couple of days ago, Mike had a long conversation with the deceased man’s wife. I’ve been reading extensively through his Christian Intervention workbook, and from that I’ve learned how lonely he was. How isolated and alienated he felt. I’m so sorry I didn’t recognize that, she told Mike.
Because of this shattering incident, and because of exceptional growth and interest in salvation at Christ Alive, Mike, my husband, and Andrew decided on a very different Wednesday session for last night. Our 7:00 o’clock Bible study was moved to 6:00, and instead of CIP lesson 15, Andrew taught from the Bible, utilizing Search For Truth slides, on repentance, baptism in Jesus Name, and the receiving of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
Mike opened the session. He reminded those gathered of the recent tragic death of that person who was a friend and fellow-student to many of those there. I’ve thought much about this…wondered if I did enough for him…wonder if I do enough for you in these CIP sessions…and have decided to take this extraordinary step in class tonight. My brother will be teaching you exactly how to be saved–according to the Bible.
“Any who are not comfortable with this are welcome to leave now.”
It was stone-quiet. No one moved.