Nearly two years ago, Pastor Don Johnson and his wife labored for the souls of Brookings, South Dakota. They drove the 51 miles from Sioux Falls every night for a month in hopes of reaching hearts with the Gospel and the Three Angels’ Messages. For the first time in many years, the Johnsons had no baptisms at the close of an evangelistic series. But one man, Tom, had come to every meeting, and despite poor health continued to attend Sabbath services.
Although Tom delayed his decision for baptism, he believed the message. Meanwhile, his health faded rapidly, due to a failing pancreas and liver. His doctor said it was time to get his affairs in order.
Pastors Johnson and Eaton met with Tom and his mother for an anointing service to seek the Lord’s healing. Tom that day announced his decision to be baptized. He had held back because he was afraid he would hurt his mother’s feelings by leaving the Dutch Reformed Church in which she had raised him. Now he declared, “I believe this to be the truth, and I must follow the truth.”
So it was that Tom took his stand, with five others, to join the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A week afterward he had surgery for what the doctors believed would fix his health. But four days later, Tom fell asleep in the Lord. More than 400 attended the funeral.
Pastor Eaton reflected: “Following Tom’s surgery, I spent four days with his family after the hospital had taken him off the machines. This provided opportunity to build a relationship with Tom’s brothers and his wonderful mother.”
As a result, a brother that Tom thought would never come the Lord declared that he was open to seeking God again. He asked if Eaton would send him a copy of a sermon once a month, since the Wyoming town in which he lives has only a Mormon and a Catholic congregation.
Pastor Eaton remembered: “I was so nervous before the funeral because this was my first one. But in spite of my shortcomings, the Holy Spirit spoke through me. And because of Tom’s witness, a tremendous testimony was left as his legacy to friends and family.”