Juan Oro was married to Enrique’s aunt Tia Fela. He was a Spaniard who had come to America from Cuba. He was a hard worker in the migrant fields. When he was in his late 60’s he took sick with cancer. Enrique went to visit him in their apartment in ‘Little Havana’ in Miami. Juan liked Enrique.
Part of the Cuban culture is the older men and the younger men form a certain bond. Both groups learn from each other. There is not the disconnect between the generations. Juan talked with Enrique man to man. “Listen, before this cancer takes all the dignity out of my manhood...” Juan reached over to a drawer and showed Enrique a gun, "I'm going to take care of my own business." Juan feared his cancer was going to incapacitate him. He wasn’t going to be a burden to his wife.
“I hear you, man.” Said Enrique.
“Don't tell anyone.”
Juan had not told anybody about the gun. He had to tell someone so he told Enrique.
Months went by and Juan kept getting worse. Enrique couldn’t get Juan’s gun out of his mind. He called his mom. “I’m going to tell you something that Juan told me when he found out he had cancer. He said when the time came when he couldn’t take care of himself, he had a gun.”
“A gun?” asked his mom. “What do you mean?”
“He’s going to shoot himself.”
“How do you know this?” she asked.
“He told me,” said Enrique. “He pulled open a drawer to show me the gun he's going to use on himself.”
Enrique’s mom took action. She called Juan’s wife and others in the family. They searched the apartment, found the gun and made sure Juan would never again get access to another one.
Enrique had betrayed his uncle’s trust. How could he face him again? He stayed away. But as time went on and Juan grew worse his mother kept at Henry. “You need to go see your uncle! You're ungrateful. Where's your sense of loyalty to your family? He likes you. Don’t say you’re too busy.”
There was no way Enrique was going to see him. But then, Juan got really bad. He was at the hospital in intensive care. Enrique’s mom was livid. Enrique knew he had to see him, but he was ashamed.
Enrique shared the story of his uncle at the Bible study at Bob Beer's house. “I’m so burdened for him,” said Enrique. Here I know the gospel and I know he’s never heard it.” “Let’s pray for him, and we will pray for you” said Bob. He strongly encouraged Enrique to see Juan.
So the next day with a bit of help from a couple of beers and a marijuana joint, Enrique walked into the ICU ward. His uncle was awake, but he was so hooked up with tubes he couldn’t talk. He looked up at Enrique.
“What’s he thinking about,” thought Enrique. “Is he thinking that he’s where he is at, just lying there like a rag, because I ratted him out?”
Enrique started talking. He was very emotional. “Please forgive me,” he said. “What could I do? I knew I was the only one you told about the gun. If you killed yourself…but what could I do? I’m sorry I sold you out. I am so embarrassed. That’s why I didn’t come to see you. I couldn’t. I’ll tell you what. I’ll bring you another gun. You can shoot me first before you shoot yourself.”
Juan just stared and listened.
Enrique kept talking. “I got to tell you about something, Juan. You’re close to death. You’ve got to face it. You know Juan, they lied to us. Our whole religious system, it’s a sham. The only thing it's for is to keep people under its bondage, and to take our money.”
“But Juan, this is the truth. God does love us. And He knows we’re sinners. He knows we can’t save ourselves. He knew none of us could ever be good enough. God loves us so much He sent His Son Jesus into the world. He knew we were helpless. So Jesus Christ died for my sins, Juan. He died for your sins. It was He, the One who never sinned that could alone pay for our sins by dying for them."
“So God gives us forgiveness and salvation as a gift. It had to be a gift Juan. There’s no way we could pay for it. It was way too costly. You know we couldn’t earn it. He had to do it Himself. And He had to give it to us for free."
“The Bible says that the one condition is, we have to believe it and take it as a gift.”
Tears started coming out of Juan. “Oh my goodness,” thought Enrique. “He is so ticked off. He would love to totally kick me, but he can’t do it because he’s stuck in bed.”
Then it began to dawn on Enrique. “Could it be that he is crying because he actually believes what I just told him?” He thought, “Can it be? Nah, it ain’t like that.”
Then all of a sudden Enrique says to Juan. “You okay? You’ve got to let me know. Is the reason you’re crying because you believe what I just told you? If it is, squeeze my hand.”
Juan didn’t just squeeze his hand. He pumped it, and he pumped it for as long as Enrique held his hand there. Juan was crying for joy. He believed. He knew the Lord Jesus was His Savior, his own personal Savior. God had saved him! Enrique left Juan overwhelmed. He had never had an experience like that. He wondered if he personally had ever had experienced what Juan just had.
Enrique told the Christians at his church. They rejoiced.
In less than a week, Juan was dead. All Cubans appear to be good Catholics when they die because the family always gives them a big Catholic burial. But Juan never went to church. He had left his religion behind a long time ago. Enrique told his mother, “It's a farce if you give Juan a Roman Catholic burial! He didn’t believe it.” He said to his mom, “Juan got saved when I visited him at the hospital. I was with him when he received the Lord Jesus as his Savior. If you give Juan a Catholic funeral, it will be like slapping him in the face.”
His mom listened. She talked with the family. In the Cuban culture, people tend to accept others for who they are. Juan’s widow agreed that when Juan was alive he would have nothing to do with religion, so she asked Enrique’s mom, “If we don’t go with a Catholic funeral, what are we going to do?”
His mom talked to Enrique. “Don't tell me your going to be like those hippies that find fault with everything but don't do anything about it. Why don’t you say something at the funeral? You opened your mouth, so put your money where your mouth is.”
Enrique hadn't thought anyone would actually listen to him. Now what?
He called Bob Beers. What should he say at the funeral?
“Tell them exactly what happened with Juan,” said Bob.
So Enrique preached his first gospel message. He told the people at the funeral how Juan came to know the Lord Jesus. He explained why they weren’t doing a big Catholic funeral. He expounded on Christ raising Lazarus in John 11, and he preached on the believer’s hope in the Resurrection.
It was a good message. Perhaps hearts were touched. They certainly wondered at it. Many had never heard such things before. But Enrique still felt like something was not quite right. Lisa’s parents were convinced something was not quite right. They wanted Lisa to get away from him and they offered to make arrangements for her to go off and study in Paris.