Echoes of Grace story
One cold winter night a boy stood in the street of Dublin, homeless, friendless and cold. He had begun to run with a street gang, and that very night they had agreed to meet in a certain street, at a certain hour.
As he stood at the appointed place, waiting, shivering with cold, a hand was suddenly laid on his shoulder. Was it the police? In the dark he could only see a tall form standing by him, and he shook with fear. But a kind voice said: "Boy, what are you doing here at this time of night? You have no business in the streets so late; go home - go to bed."
"I have no home, and no bed to go to."
"That's sad, poor fellow. Would you go to a home and a bed if I provided one?"
"That I would, sharp!" replied the boy.
"Well, in such a street, and at such a number, you will find a bed."
Before he could finish, the boy had started off. "Stop!" cried the voice, "how are you going to get in? You need a pass, no one can go in there without a pass. Can you remember that the pass is 'John 3:16'? Don't forget, or they won't let you in. 'John 3:16.' There, that's something that will do you good."
Joyfully the boy rushed off, repeating the words, and soon found himself at the place indicated and looking up at a pair of large iron gates. Then his heart failed him, they looked so grand. How could he get in there? Timidly he rang the bell. A gruff voice asked, "Who's there?"
"Me, sir! Please, sir, I'm John 3:16," in very shaky tones. "All right, in with you; that's the pass," and in the boy went.
He was soon between sheets in a warm bed, and as he curled himself up to go to sleep, he thought, "This is a lucky name, I'll stick with it!"
The next morning he was given breakfast before being sent out into the streets, for this home was only for the night. He wandered aimlessly, hoping to avoid meeting his old companions and thinking about his new home when, carelessly crossing a street, he was run over. A crowd collected. The unconscious boy was placed on a stretcher and carried to the nearest hospital. He revived as he entered, but asked his name and address he could only answer "John3:16."
After his injuries had been attended to he was carried up into the accident ward. In a short time his injuries brought on fever and delirium. Then was heard in ringing tones and often repeated, "John 3:16! It was to do me good, and so it has!"
These persistent cries aroused the other patients. Bibles were pulled out to see what he meant. Here one and there another read the words:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
As those poor, suffering patients read the loving words and heard the unconscious cry - "It was to do me good, and so it has!" - their hearts were touched and God used that text then and there for the conversion of souls.
Consciousness returned, and the boy gazed around him. How clean it looked, and how quiet it was! Where was he? Presently a voice from the next bed said, "John Thr-ree Sixteen, and how are you today?"
"Why, how do you know my new name?"
"Know it! You've never ceased with your John Thr-ree Sixteen, and I for one say "Blessed John Thr-ree Sixteen!"
It sounded so strange to the boy's ears to be called blessed - he for whom no one had ever cared.
"Don't you know where it comes from? It's from the Bible, God's Word to man."
"Read it to me," he said, and as the words fell on his ear he muttered, "That's beautiful! It's all about love, and not a home for a night, but a home for always."
He soon learned the verse, saying, "I've not only got a new name, but something with it."
On a bed near him lay an old man who was very ill. He groaned aloud, "I'm such a sinner. I'm not fit to die. What shall I do? Oh, what will become of me? God, have mercy!"
The boy heard his miserable words. Poor old man, he thought. He wants a pass. "Patrick," he called, "I know something that will do you good - quite sure - it done me good."
"Tell me, tell me quickly," cried Patrick. "If only I could find something to do me good."
"Here it is! Now listen, John 3:16. Are you listening?"
"Yes, yes; go on."
"John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Through these words Patrick found peace in his dying hour, and entered into everlasting life - another soul brought to Christ in that hospital by means of a single verse blessed by the Holy Spirit.
"John 3:16" recovered. God blessed his simple faith, and when he left the hospital, friends placed him in a school and made education possible. He became an earnest worker for the Master, with John 3:16 as his favorite text.
"The blood of Jesus Christ . . . cleanseth us from all sin."
1 John 1:9