This wonderful account happened whilst I was working in a residential care home where people still had their wits about them, but were either too frail or had trouble walking, and needed help and assistance carrying out everyday tasks.
Even though I did Penny’s hair for about three years, I never really got to know her like I did with the other residents. She had that ‘stiff upper lip’ kind of expression on her face, and I couldn’t really tell what she was thinking or feeling. Maybe it was the pain that she was in, although sometimes I got the impression that she was very bitter and angry about life in general, which made it difficult for me to get into a relaxed conversation with her whenever I did her hair. The strange thing was that she really did enjoy being pampered, and getting her hair done every other week.
She never said much throughout the session, but once she did look in the mirror to see her beautiful white shiny hair all styled and finished, and her smile said it all. But it wasn’t always possible to do her hair as she suffered with her back and legs, and spent most of her time bedbound. I’m not sure what was wrong with her; all I knew from the staff was that she couldn’t stay upright in her wheelchair for too long, so I had to work quickly before her back gave way.
So, you can imagine how difficult it was for me to try and mention the Lord Jesus Christ, but time was pressing on, she was very frail in her mid-90s, and getting ever closer to eternity. Every time I walked passed her room I would think, “Oh dear Lord, please give me the opportunity to give her the gospel message. I’ve known her for three years now and if she slips away, I’m going to feel so guilty.”
Then one day as I was walking past Penny’s room, the carer who had just finished getting her washed and dressed, shouted, “Piera, can you do Penny’s hair now, she’s feeling much better today and wants her hair cut and set? She’s been waiting for you all morning.” So I said, “Yes of course, I’ll just go and collect the towels and get my room ready”.
The carer wheeled Penny over to my hairdressing room, and then left. I was so happy that Penny was feeling up to it, and while I was cutting her hair and making small talk, I felt the Lord gently but firmly telling me (but not audibly – but deep within my soul) to give her the gospel message. Even though I’d been waiting and praying for this moment, a part of me was afraid that she’d get annoyed, reject the message or report me. But the Lord’s prompting got stronger and stronger, so I knew I had to do it!
So, I more or less said, “Penny do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?”, and she replied, “Yes”. After a sigh of relief, I went on to ask, “And do you know the gospel message”, and she replied “No”. So after putting the rollers in her hair, I pulled up a chair and sat down beside her, and I began to tell her that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and that she needed to have her sins forgiven.
As I spoke about the things of the Lord, she listened intently. I remember us holding hands and saying a prayer together, then she asked the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive her of her sins and to save her soul. It was such an emotional experience for both of us. I gave her a hug, placed the setting dryer over her head, and told her that I needed to see to another lady, and would be back within 30 minutes.
Once alone again in the hairdressing room, Penny and I were in deep thought. I was in the middle of taking her rollers out, when she said to me, “Piera, can you hear them singing?”, but I said “No, there’s no one singing.” The radio and television were switched off, and the only noise in the room was coming from the traffic outside the window that was open behind me. But she insisted, “Listen, it’s a choir.” Just as it was starting to freak me out, it struck me, perhaps God was allowing her to hear the angels in heaven rejoicing for another soul that had just come to repentance?
Once I realised this, I grabbed my small pocket Bible from my handbag desperately trying to find the scripture of what had just taken place. I couldn’t remember where it was in the Bible, so I quickly phoned my husband and he told me. “It’s in the book of Luke, chapter 15 verse 10.” So I opened it up and showed Penny what it said, Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Penny was overwhelmed with joy, but was starting to get very tired; she’d been in her wheelchair for more than an hour, and needed to lie down. So I took her back to her room and called the carers in to put her back into bed.
I never got to do Penny’s hair again, for shortly afterwards, she went to be with her Lord and Saviour. Thank you Lord!
In Christian love,