(By: Matthew Needham)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

I want to speak to you about different people I have shared the gospel with before they died. I am confident that some of them have made it to heaven, but sadly others seemed to have set themselves on the path to destruction. Yet for most of them I cannot be a hundred percent sure which way they have gone. God alone is the final Judge and only He knows what is deep in a person's heart. My hope is that they turned to Christ. My fear is that they followed the bad advice of their worldly friends and put off their salvation to the point that it is forever too late. Many died suddenly without any notice. They got up in the morning expecting a normal day. Little did they know that their number was up and their death was only hours, minutes, seconds away. No one really believes in his own death, but you're not prepared to live until you're prepared to die.  

Death is no respecter of time or place. There isn't anywhere to hide on this earth where Death is not to strike. He comes to the young and old, rich and poor, good and bad alike. I have had friends struck by lingering yet fatal diseases. They knew the end was near and they had a moment to prepare, yet even that chance soon passed. We are warned that no one has power over the day of his death (See: Ecclesiastes 8:8).


I was still a teenager when I started witnessing on the streets and handing out tracts. I first met a man, whose face was covered in Maori tattoos, standing outside the night clubs. By his outward appearance he looked like a rough, mean gang member, but I soon found that he had a soft heart. I got to know him and was able to share the Word of God. One time we had just been talking together and then he got into trouble with the police. He got into a bit of a fight as four policemen were trying to arrest him and get him onto the ground. He did not want to be arrested and he was not cooperating with these policemen at all. As that was happening, I just stood there watching and praying, "Oh God, make sure that this man enters your kingdom."  

When I saw him a week or so later, he came up to me and said, "I love you." I thought: That's a bit of a strange thing for a mean looking gang member to say. But he said it in such a godly way that I realized that since I had been sharing with him about Christ, he was saying from his heart that he loved God.  

After that I didn't see him for quite a few years, until surprisingly I saw him in church. He was praying so beautifully. Strong prayers were coming from his lips. It's such a blessing and a joy to see people saved and their lives turned around for the better. When I heard that he had passed away, I was sad that his life was cut short by cancer, but I was happy that he is now in the glory of God with Jesus in heaven. The place that he has with God is fantastic.

I was talking to a young man about following the Lord, but he said that he had plenty of time and that he was too young. I was talking to an elderly man about following the Lord, but he said that it was too late for him and he was too old. The excuses people hold onto are crazy. No matter what your age, it is a foolish mistake to live another day without preparing for what lies beyond the grave. I had the privilege of visiting an old people's home and I was asked to give a five-minute message. Before a small room of elderly people I spoke about knowing Jesus as your friend. After this little service was over, I went and asked different ones if they knew the Lord. Most of them said that they did, but one man said that he did not, so I asked him if he would like to ask Jesus to be his friend. He said, 'Yes,' and I was able to pray with him before I had to leave. Saying 'Yes' to Jesus is the greatest thing you can do. A few weeks later that old man was nowhere to be found. He had accepted Christ just in time. These elderly people are at the end of their time on earth, but even then the Lord Jesus reaches out to save them.


Two people that I shared with died on the same night. One committed suicide and the other choked to death on his tongue and died in his sleep. Many of the young people used to play video games until the parlor closed, sometimes late into the night. I tried to share the gospel with all of these people. One night after everything was closed, I went and talked to a group of teenage boys. I found that one was particularly interested in what I was saying, so I asked him if he would like to ask Jesus into his life and receive forgiveness of sins. He was open and I led him in a prayer to the Lord for salvation, right there and then on the street. A couple of days later I gave him a Bible and invited him to come with me to church, but he was still strongly influenced by his other friends who were drinking too much alcohol.

I began to display some Christian posters in the center of town. As I was doing this, the teenager I had led to the Lord came and gave me a milkshake. I showed him my poster on how Christ's death can lead us to heaven. Later on I went with the pastor and we took the Jesus film to his house, but he wasn't there. The pastor asked me whether we should call in later that afternoon, but I made the mistake of saying that we could come back another day. It turned out that this young man owed money that he couldn't pay to some gang members and that night he committed suicide. I cried when I heard that he had died because I had failed to see him that day.  

When I prayed about it I clearly felt God quickened to me this scripture:  'I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.' (Mark 9:41). This meant a lot to me because that boy had given me a milkshake as I was sharing the message of Christ. He threw away his life when he committed suicide, but I felt that Jesus was saying that his soul was saved. Although he had sinned, he had believed in Jesus and was covered by the precious blood that washes away all sin.

The other man who died the same day was a Mormon. I was very strong in speaking against the Mormon gospel and the false teachings that bind their church. I gave him a tract which clearly explained how they had gone astray from the clear teachings of the Bible. It also showed why the founder of their church, Joseph Smith, was a false prophet. He read the pamphlet, but he didn't want to take any action. He didn't seem to understand that the true path of salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone and not through the words of Joseph Smith. I sat with him and tried to persuade him to look straight to Jesus. A few days later he was gone. Only God knows if his heart was right. When these two friends died on the same night, I felt like the devil was trying to strike out my evangelism work. I did some prayer and fasting, and then set out again to warn people to turn to God and be saved. 


I had a unique friend called Roger. He often came to church and he would ask me to pray with him when we met on the streets or in the middle of town. He wanted to enter God's kingdom, but he found life to be a constant struggle. As a teenager he dabbled with the occult and smoked marijuana. Taking drugs was a major attack on his brain that he couldn't handle. He could never keep still or relax. A leg or an arm would constantly twitch up and down, and from a young age he used to hear voices in his mind. Roger never expected that he would live past 21 years of age, so his 21st birthday was very special. Sad to say, he never went on. When he died it wasn't so much a shock but more of a relief that his struggle was finally over and at last he's gone to a better place. But has he gone to a better place? By the mercy of God, I believe he has.

As Roger kept himself for God he seemed to become somewhat normal and he had greater control of his mind, but when he drifted away from God it became difficult for him to break free from his bad habits. He struggled to come back to God as the drugs were getting the better of him.  He became very strange in the way he dressed and acted. He stood out with his stylish goatee beard and cool shades, but then he got into some weird clothes. As an adult it was like he had never grown up. At times he was seen to be wearing beads, curtains and skirts. He's the only person I know to have worn an old flowery curtain to church and feel no shame to be seen wearing it. He'd walk around eating from a jar of peanut butter and he'd ride his skate board down the middle of the road. One time when things didn't go his way, he got out of the car and began punching the power poles. He was looking for some kind of attention but never found it. But even at his worst stage, Roger always acknowledged the Lord and his desire to be saved. 

I went down to the night clubs late at night to share the gospel, and I saw Roger wander around the streets by himself. Seeing him from a distance I felt in my heart the importance of talking with him. We caught up with each other and had a good conversation about keeping our faith in the Lord. A young woman then came out of the night club and was telling Roger to party hard. She was telling him not to listen to what I was saying but to have fun getting drunk. I tried to ask her to change and come to God, but she wouldn't listen and went back into the night club. I told Roger not to follow the example of that kind of girl, and Roger said to me the he still had faith in Jesus. That was my last conversation with him. A day or two later he was seen by the bridge at the water falls and midway through the week they found his body washed down the river. Even though he was a strange person and couldn't rise above his mental problems, he trusted in the Lord. Roger's funeral was very beautiful and Jesus Christ was greatly glorified. Many unbelievers heard the gospel that day. 


Outside one of the night clubs there was a wooden bench on the opposite side of the road. I would often sit there and wait to speak to whoever wandered by. There was a girl who was rather short, and often the bouncers wouldn't let her in the night clubs because they thought that she was under age. This meant that on a few occasions she ended up speaking to me. Every weekend she got drunk. It seemed like she was always wasted and staggered around hardly able to walk. I think she may have had Christian parents, but she didn't want to follow in their footsteps. I tried to talk to her about changing her path and I tried to tell her about Jesus. When she died suddenly, her friends were very shocked and never looked the same again. She tried so hard to get into the night clubs so that she could party and drink more alcohol, but she never tired to get into the Kingdom of God.  She never tired to make sure of her salvation and now it's too late.

While sitting on the same wooden bench I tried to call a popular, handsome young man back to God. He would speak to me whenever he saw me and acknowledge that he needed to follow Christ, but he kept putting his salvation off. One day he was at a party and collapsed. I cut his photo and the article out of the newspaper which had this heading: "Top surfer dies at dance party." He had a wonderful Christian mother and sister who were praying for him. Maybe in God's grace he called out for salvation in the moments before his death, but how much safer it would have been if he had come to Christ early on and had lived for God. Six months earlier his sister had a vivid dream of him dying as a drug addict on the street at night and she had a deep conversation with him. It was a really sad dream, and it also prompted their mother to talk to him about his life and where he was going. She gave a reminder that whatever happens, even if he is dying in a gutter, he knows to call upon the name of the Lord. One person had a dream of him dressed in white without knowing that he had just died, so we trust and hope that he did call out to God as he lay dying.

I had a group of friends who used to drink together and blast their loud music. I could speak to most of them about God, but there was one who didn't want to listen to me because he seemed to have anger in his heart. Whenever I tried to share with him about the Lord, he wouldn't listen. He closed his heart towards God. The last time I ever saw this young man I didn't know that he would soon be dead. I saw him at the opposite side of the room and he smiled at me. I was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Jesus on it, but I didn't take the opportunity to go and speak to him. Etched into my memory is that last smile. He went to a party with his friends and he was getting drunk. He got into his car, but was in no condition to be able to drive. He crashed just a short distance before arriving at his house. Through drunk driving they had to pull out his dead body from among the ruins. The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, and the most precious thing that the devil wants to steal is your soul.

When I was in Ghana, West Africa, I was taken to preach to a lady who was selling alcohol, so I spoke to her about the sin of drunkenness. From that day she abandoned her job and found new work. There were other women listening who were all heavy drinkers, plus an 18 year old boy. I hadn't noticed him among the people, but later I was told that he was there. He had been a thief and a drinker. Then he went through a short period of sickness and died. Maybe he called out to God during his time of pain; I don't know. When we share the gospel, we don't know who might be listening and we don't know how much time they have left. Death appeared to be very frequent in Africa as there was a continuous stream of funerals. It always makes me think that I have to redouble my efforts. It must add urgency and passion to my preaching to call people to come to Christ. 

When I arrived at another African town to conduct outdoor evangelistic meetings, I found that the local pastor had tried to inform us not to come. A young man had passed away at the beginning of the week, so this town was full of youth who had gathered from the surrounding areas for the funeral. The young men were wearing red dresses and getting drunk. It was like the whole town was having a huge drunken party.  Some were driving up and down in old cars, shouting and making a lot of noise. The streets were full of people acting as if they were half crazy. Another young person got so drunk that he fell into a coma and by the time he was taken to the hospital he was also dead. The first night we weren't able to hold our meeting in the main area of town because of these rampaging youth, so we went down the nearby hill and immediately people began to confess their sins and come to the Lord.  

Over the next couple of nights we were able to move into the main part of town and I felt a deep burden come through me as I preached against drunkenness and explained the crucifixion of Christ. It was like the words rolled from inside my spirit as I openly rebuked the town for their wickedness. We have to show people the error of their ways, compared to the righteous requirements of God, which are reasonable, just and filled with wisdom.


When sharing the gospel late one Friday night, I came across an old friend. He was extremely drunk and he had no place to go, so he spent the night in the caravan at my house. He was wobbling all over the road and unless I held onto him he would fall into the ditch. The next day he was still intoxicated. I tried to help him to change, but he wouldn't listen. Another time he was so drunk that he fell to sleep in a flower garden. As he was in this state of drunken slumber, and evil person came along and set his clothes on fire. Thankfully a security guard was walking past, saw the fire and rushed over to that place. When he got closer he was shocked to see that it was a person in flames. He quickly put out the fire and rushed him to the hospital. The man was kept alive, but his whole back was burned and he was left with life-long scars. A couple of times I went to visit him in the hospital and we saw how fortunate he was to have survived. Other Christians also shared the gospel with him and after that fiery incident he gave up drinking and became a Christian. But his faith in God didn't last for very long and he soon went back to his drinking. One Christian made him angry, so he no longer wanted to follow Christ. Even after the strong warning of being on fire, he still went back to his old sinful habits. Why? Because he didn't change his heart. To enter into heaven you have to change your life and abandon the sinful desires of your heart, otherwise you will go to the eternal fire.  

I had another friend who also loved to drink alcohol, and for a time he was living in our caravan. I used to wake him up early in the morning so that we could pray together. I was hoping to somehow teach him the habit of prayer. I seemed that with half of his heart he wanted to follow God, but with the other half he wanted to follow this sinful world. He would pray, study the bible and come to church, but those who are half-hearted soon fall away from Jesus.  

One night we listened to some cassette tapes about the reality of hell. I was so stirred listening to that hell message with my friend that for the next two hours I kept asking him to give his life to Jesus. I said to him, 'Listen to what will happen to you if you go the sinful way. Don't you want to get your heart right with God and give your life to Jesus?' He said, 'No.' I didn't want to give up, so I kept trying to persuade him to give his life to Christ. I told him, 'We don't have long to live. We are going to die and then what will happen to you? Your spirit will leave your body, but God will not let you into heaven if you continue in your own way. If you cannot go to heaven, then you will be lost forever.' I pointed him to the great sacrifice that Jesus had made by dying on the cross for our sins and again I asked him, 'Are you ready to give your life to God?' He repeatedly said, 'No!'

For two whole hours I kept pleading with him to be saved. Any argument I could think of as to why he should believe in God I gave to him. He kept listening, but he kept saying, "No!a' Finally, at about one o'clock in the morning, I gave up and we went to sleep.  

Sometimes that man chose to go to church and I would see him at the front of the church crying and weeping. He knew that he had lived a sinful life and he would weep in repentance. But at other times I would see him getting drunk and openly mocking God, even to the point where he was blatantly worshiping Satan. His heart was divided; therefore he was never fully committed to God and he kept falling back into drunkenness. I personally believe that he will eventually be saved, due to the power of God through prevailing in prayer. I was interceding for him with strong prayers through the night when I felt a powerful release of God's presence. He used to tell me that he could see Jesus in me. Whether he comes to the Lord and actually lives for God without continually falling back, or whether he only gets saved on his deathbed, I don't know. But I do know that God heard and established the answer for those intercessory prayers on his behalf. You can't serve God and Satan at the same time, but the ultimate victory for the salvation of souls is in the hands of Jesus.

Another two men often came to church. It seemed as if they were coming on and off for a few years, but they never became serious for God. I shared with them so many times and many other Christians also tried to help them. They were called upon to repent time and time again. They claimed to have given themselves to Christ, but they were also half-hearted. Then I saw them in the middle of town. They had just bought their supply of alcohol and were sitting down to begin drinking when I came along. I said to them, 'You have been coming to church for a long time, so do you want to follow Jesus or not?' They said, "No, we are hypocrites." They clearly told me that they didn't want to follow the Lord. They wanted drunkenness more than they wanted Jesus. There was nothing I could say to change their mind. They were unwilling to listen to good advice and feeling greatly disappointed, I left them to indulge in their sinful activities. They wanted to be hypocrites. Yet those who have a drinking problem (or any drug addiction problem, for that matter) should study what the Bible has to say about drunkenness. It might awaken them to their danger of being lost forever. 

The following Sunday morning I was standing on the top of the steps at the front of our church. Looking up the road I saw these same to men coming to the church. As they were walking up the steps I said to them, "You are both going to hell."

They became enraged. One started swearing and cursing and saying all kinds of bad words. The other one started pushing me. He was pushing me backwards and I thought he was going to punch me, but he just walked off still furious. There is a time to show mercy and patience with those who keep falling into sin. But there also comes a time when the Bible gives the command that if a person pretends to be a Christian brother but continues down the path of drunkenness, greed, idolatry or sexual immorality, they must be expelled from the church (See: 1 Corinthians 5:11-13). If they can accept this discipline and learn from it, they can be restored. When Jesus confronted people with the reality of how close they were to being condemned to hell, He always had a tender heart and a desire that they would repent and be saved (See: Matthew 23:33,37). That kind of extreme warning has to be given when a person persists in knocking on hell's door. Jesus specifically gave a terrifying illustration for those who turn away from Him to drink with drunkards. They will be cut to pieces and assigned a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (See: Matthew 24:48-51). Let's plead for God's mercy, realizing that people have to be faithful and live for God before it is forever too late.


While in Africa, I returned to a nearby town for the second night of an evangelistic crusade. Then I heard the sad news of what took place that morning. A mother and her daughter were walking along the side of the road, when a car came around the corner and hit them. Both the mother and daughter were instantly killed. The night before that mother and daughter heard their last sermon. That morning they stepped into eternity. What a great responsibility it is to minister the gospel and to prepare people for the Day of Judgment. We have to urge one another not to receive the grace of God in vain (See: 2 Corinthians 6:1), so that believers go on with Christ and don't fall away toward the end of their lives. It is a great blessing to know that a person who has recently died has made it safely into heaven. I first shared the gospel with a young man called David before I went to Africa, but it didn't seem to have any effect upon his life. He was quite a simple minded person and often he had nothing to do, so he would spend a lot of time downtown. He was trying to find a girlfriend, but none of the girls would pay any attention to him. I always encouraged him to pray. Whenever I saw him we would talk and then I would ask him if he had prayed yet. He kept saying 'No,' until one day his attitude completely changed. He came with me to church and he went forward for prayer to ask God to forgive his sins. I went to his house for a Bible study and he accepted the Word of God with great gladness in his heart. Then I returned overseas for another missionary trip. When I came back I found that he wasn't around and I was no longer bumping into him downtown. Then I heard the sad news that he had died quite suddenly due to cancer. He was only in his early twenties. How important it is that we accept Christ when we have the chance.

When I came back from Africa I also found that my neighbor had died while I was away. I had talked to him a number of times over the fence about my faith in God, but he never seemed to express any faith himself. Before I left I had given him a booklet about my missionary work. He was an older man, but it was still a shock and a great disappointment to find that he was no longer alive. All I can say again and again is that we have to get closer to God while we still have the chance. Man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27). He was a nice man, but being a nice person isn't enough to get you to heaven. I gave his wife a video of my missionary trip, as well as the conversion story of a powerful healing evangelist called Bill Subritzky. By the time I came back from a mission to India, she was also dead. People are dying all around us. Life is so short; so very, very short.  

Some years back, in-between evangelizing, I had a good paying job installing insulation. During the many hours it takes to complete the job we get to know some of the guys quite well. Yet get to discuss many things and hear the different opinions each person has. Somehow you connect with certain people through your conversations and a friendship is built. One such man was Joe, who was fitting brackets.  Joe was brought up as a Roman Catholic but did not have a strong personal faith. At that time I had written a booklet on the basics of Christianity, so I gave him a copy. On one occasion I got a ride with him into town and he took me to where he was living. We stopped at the wharf and paddled out to his boat, which he had made himself. His goal was to make some quick money and sail off to the tropical islands of the Pacific. I saw my booklet lying among his stuff. The insulators were then laid off work until we would be needed again. Some weeks later I saw Joe while I was downtown. I said to him that I would soon be back at work to try and convert him. He laughed. Little did I know that I would never see him again. Just before I went back he was killed in a car crash. I had love in my heart towards that man, but I never had another opportunity to speak with him.

On another missions trip I found myself along the seaside of Manila, in the Philippines. I had only been doing one to one witnessing and some small Bible studies, until one evening I felt an urgency to give out tracts to the homeless people along the whole Boulevard. About two days later the police made it illegal for people to sleep there and everyone was scattered. There had been a young man in that area who had often received tracts from me. His girlfriend woke him up saying that the police were looking for him. Being half asleep and in a daze, he got up and started running. He ran out onto the road in such a hurry that an oncoming car had no time to stop. He died before reaching the hospital. I don't know whether he knew Christ or not, but I do know that he was reading the message only a few days before his fatal accident. When a person dies suddenly it always reinforces to me the importance of what we do with our time and how we must sacrifice our lives for Christ. We must seek and save the lost before it is forever too late. We must urge people to think about their eternal destiny.


The children were so beautiful at the orphanage in Myanmar (Burma).  From among the group of children I had two that were my favorites. They had such big smiles. Whenever I looked down they would be smiling at me and I couldn't help smiling back at them. They were so beautiful as they worshiped God and listened to my long preaching even better than most adults. Here these little children were with tears in their eyes as they lifted up their arms and worshiped the Lord. But suddenly one of those little girls died from a small disease. To me this little girl looked like an angel who belonged in heaven. She had no parents; she was in this orphanage, but the way that she would listen to the Word of God touched my heart. In my preaching I would use a lot of stories and some of them were very sad. I could see this little girl feeling the message by the affect upon her face. She used to really take it in. To hear that she had suddenly died left some unanswered questions, but we can rejoice that she is in the Kingdom of God. These are the kinds of people that I'm going to enjoy when I get to heaven. We will hug with the love of Jesus and say, '"Hallelujah, you are saved for eternity. You will never be poor ever again. You will never have to worry where your next food will come from. You will never get sick here. You will be in Paradise forever and ever." The apostle John heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (Revelation 14:13). There's only one way that I would want to die, and that's with faith in Jesus Christ. But we also need to have labored for Christ so that our deeds follow us. The work of saving lost souls fills heaven with more treasures. If you want your treasures to be stored in heaven, start leading people to Jesus.  

The Bible calls us to remember this: "Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins" (James 5:20). Turning people back to God is so important. We have to break the strongholds of unbelief and overcome the shallow and false arguments that people cling to. It's not hard to see that the fruit of sin is death, whereas faith in God leads to eternal life.  

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."  (John 11:25). 

The apostle Paul was not afraid of death because he knew that for him to be away from the body was for him to be at home with the Lord. So whether we are in the body or away from it, our goal is to please Christ. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. (2 Corinthians 5:6-10). Once we are saved, we have to try and persuade others. We need to help people and warn them to look ahead to the judgment seat of Christ. All things will be laid bare and every act brought to judgment.

You've heard the gospel message and you know the true way of salvation. God doesn't play games, so don't act foolishly when it comes to the eternal salvation of your precious soul. None of us knows when our time to die will come, so we should always be prepared to stand before the Lord and give an account of our lives. Death is a stepping stone into eternity; it is the passing from this world into the fullness of unveiled reality.  

I have a serious question to ask you. Please think about this very carefully, so that you can make the right choice:

"If you were to die tonight, would you be ready to go to heaven, or would you die in your sins and be lost forever?"

Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake. 

To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.



Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-20 is our assurance)