Jerome's Story (ESV)
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- Format: Folded Tract
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- Size: 3.5 inches x 5.5 inches
- Pages: 8
- Version: ESV
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If you have a minute, I would like to share with you the story of one of my best friends, Jerome. There was a group of us that all hung out together and stayed close for many years. One thing we all had in common was that we all grew up in church together. Unfortunately, I have learned through the journey of life that just because people grow up in church does not mean that they are in a right relationship with God. Sadly, that was part of the story for me and my friends.
The Wrong Path
As time passed by and we grew older, we began to play around with some things that we had been taught in church that we shouldn’t do. I certainly wasn’t anywhere near perfect, but there were some lines that I was unwilling to cross. Even though there were things in my life that I knew God was not pleased with, there were other places that I was not willing to go. For instance, as we grew older, and became of age, Jerome and some of my other friends would go to bar rooms and strip clubs. Many times when they would head in that direction, I was already with them in the vehicle. I guess that they thought they could entice me to go in with them.
You know, it is an amazing thing how when someone isn’t right with God, they often try to get others around them to do what they do in order to feel better about themselves. But an individual’s guilt, in the eyes of God, is not measured by comparing one person’s failure to another. The only way a person can be seen as not guilty in the eyes of God is through faith in the sacrifice Jesus offered on the cross.
Once again, I was no angel, and I want to make that clear, but I was not willing to cross that line. Time continued to pass, and Jerome’s parents had moved to Baton Rouge. They were attending Jimmy Swaggart’s church and Jerome was doing maintenance work at the ministry. One day my friend Tommy told me that Jerome was in town and that he was looking for me. He said that Jerome was going to be at youth group and he told me to go meet him there. But my car had broken down earlier, I was out of town, and my uncle was helping me fix it.
The Devil’s Plan
I have had a lot of time to reflect on this story … 17 years, to be exact. And I realize now that the Devil was trying to prevent me from seeing Jerome that night. I don’t know what your opinion on the devil is; maybe you laugh when you hear people mention the idea of a Devil, but I can tell you that he laughs, too, because one of his greatest deceptions for thousands of years has been to convince people that he isn’t real. And all the while, he destroys human lives. He destroys marriages. He destroys relationships between fathers and their children. He destroys people’s health. And the tools he uses are deception and sin.
Anyway, the Devil had a plan—but God had one, too. We were able to get my car running. Unfortunately, I missed the youth service that night so Jerome and I went to McDonald’s to get a bite to eat before he headed back to Baton Rouge. Then something crazy happened: Jerome’s truck broke down. Now, I will admit that we weren’t driving the best cars back in those days, but this was too ironic. Once again, I have had a lot of time to think about this story, and I am convinced that the Devil had a plan to prevent this meeting, but God turned it all around. Where originally a broken down car was meant to be a curse some how, like only God can do, He turned it into a blessing. Many people all over the world right now are seeing the Devil cause confusion in their lives. And I don’t know where you are in your life right now or what you are going through, but I want you to know that the Devil doesn’t have any tricks up his sleeve that God cannot handle. And God’s plan will prevail if you let it.
Jerome Turns to God
Jerome had to sleep at my house that night. We stayed up a while playing video games. And then he said, “Hey man, I gave my testimony to the youth group tonight.” He went on to say, “Yeah, you know things haven’t been right for a long time, but I have been going to the services at Brother Swaggart’s and the Spirit of God has been really been moving on my heart. One night, about a week ago, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my lifestyle and I repented of my sin and asked God to forgive me.”
Personally, I was freaking out hearing Jerome talking about God this much because by this point in our lives none of us were talking about God like we should. Then he said this and I know it is why God made sure we had this meeting. He said, “For a long time I hated you. When we would go to those clubs and you wouldn’t get out, I hated you because God was convicting me and you, staying in the car, made it worse. But I want to thank you now. I want to thank you for standing up for what we all knew was right.” The next day Jerome’s truck was fixed and he pulled up in my driveway to say goodbye before he went back to Baton Rouge. It was about 3 p.m. when he left. It would be almost exactly 24 hours later that Jerome would die.
Life is Short
The next day he punched out at work at 3 p.m. and another employee at the ministry asked him to do him a favor, and he did. He went up on the roof of the ministry to change an air conditioning filter. When he did, he touched the wrong thing. He was electrocuted with 675 volts. On November 4, 1994, at the age of 19, Jerome was pronounced dead. Jerome was not promised tomorrow. Fortunately, he responded to the call of God and got his heart right.
None of us are promised tomorrow.1 Is your heart right? What will you do with Jesus? Despite what you may think, not everyone is going to Heaven.2 The Bible tells us there is only one way to Heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ.3 The way is not through Mary, Buddah, Allah, or any other false religion. You can’t work your way to Heaven, either. The only way to Heaven is to recognize you’re a sinner, that you have sinned against God,4 and that you deserve his wrath.5 Then you repent before him and put your faith in what Jesus Christ did on the Cross when he died for the sins of the world … taking our punishment upon Himself.6 It is only by God’s grace that we are saved.
None of us know when we will take our last breath. I’m sure that the night Jerome received God’s gift of salvation, he wasn’t thinking that it would be his last chance or that he would be dead in a week and a half. Eternity is forever! Hell is not going to be fun and games despite what you might think. The Bible says in Hell there will be an eternal lake of fire 7 and weeping and gnashing of teeth.8 I encourage you not to take this lightly Hell is real. Do not pass up God’s gift of salvation. Don’t put it off! Remember, TOMORROW MAY NEVER COME!
1 “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Proverbs 27:1).
2 “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).
3 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
4 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
5 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18).
6 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:22-23).
7 “And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:10-15).
8 “And throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42).