It’s always wonderful when people investigating Christianity accept Jesus and want to be baptised – but it’s not every day the people who do this are 99 and 77 years old.
“I’ve shed a few tears, because it’s just lovely,” says the chaplain at Anglicare’s Farrer Brown Court in Castle Hill, the Rev Martin Symons – who baptised two residents, 99-year-old Vic Westneat and 77-year-old Don Greentree, at a special service in April.
They each came to faith through different ministries at the aged care home. Mr Westneat began attending Christianity Explored after the death of his wife, and also spent time talking to Mr Symons and other pastoral staff about the things of faith.
Mr Greentree, a Vietnam veteran, talked through a range of issues with Mr Symons and then they began reading the Bible together.
Independently of each other, both told the chaplain they wanted to give their lives to Jesus. He took each man carefully through what this meant, then prayed with them as they put their lives and eternity into the Lord’s hands.
Neither man had been baptised, Mr Symons says, “so I got them both together, looked at the baptism service and talked about the questions that are in it: about turning to Christ and turning away from evil – what all that meant. And they were both very excited about it.
“Vic said, ‘Why has it taken so long for me to come to God? It’s taken 99 years for me to know God! And I said, ‘That’s the thing, mate – it’s never too late’.”
For Mr Symons, these stories highlight perfectly what Jesus talks about in the parable of the workers from Matthew 20. Some join in the work in the last hour of the day, “yet they all get paid the same: [they all get] eternal life”.
He wants to encourage others with the knowledge that older people do become Christians. Mr Greentree and Mr Westneat are now happily living for the Lord, and watching them discover the truths of faith as they read, learn and grow more each day clearly gives Mr Symons great joy.
“It’s like seeing little kids – it’s unreal. It’s wonderful.”