Amazing Grace thru Cyberspace

One year ago August, 7th, my dear friend, Joe Peterlin went to heaven. We met working on the Dr. Carson’s campaign as it pertains to social media sites.

One day Joe shared with me that his beautiful wife Lana, was in pain grieving over a recent loss of a love one and was facing another dilemma. He did not divulge the latter. At that time January 2017, PICC was promoting a Book of the Month. I touted the works of my favorite author being Catherine Marshall. I chose to send one of my favorites. ‘Adventures in Prayer’. So traveling first class mail from Georgia to Arizona was this little treasure I was hoping would be an inspiration to my new friends.

Not long after the book arrived, I had a brief conversation with Joe over the phone and he kept reminding me that he would not be able to talk for long. He was having difficulty talking. Which I attributed to perhaps congestion from a cold. Shortly thereafter, about three months later, Joe informed me of his declining health due to ALS; this was the other dilemma his wife was faced with. I had no idea what ALS was and how debilitating it is on the body. I began at some point after that conversation to ask others about the disease.

       ALS website – click image

When I found out it could lead to an early death, I immediately went into disciple mode. Is my friend a believer? We share certain values in the political arena; but does he know Christ? I remember speaking to him very candidly about my faith in the Lord… how He changed my life… and how there is absolutely nothing impossible for Him. Joe mentioned being raised as Catholic but had not been a practicing Catholic. Many years had passed and he was not affiliated with a Church.

Over the next six months, I remember sensing through our text messages the enthusiasm Joe was infused with through my sharing the Word and the work of God through Christ when He walked this earth; how the demonstration of His power continued through the apostles and other followers. For a period of nine (9) months I gave Joe only what the Lord gave me for him. God was teaching me how to minister to Joe, and others through the blogs and through technology.

One day in Feb. 2018 Joe texted me and I could sense the excitement in the text as he shared, “The Lord spoke to me, Rochelle; He said Son, your sins are forgiven.” Joe went on to text, “And No! I am not on my meds yet!” I chuckled, thinking that if he had taken his meds, maybe, just maybe he was having a reaction to them. He assured me the Lord had reached his heart. I sent his first communion through the mail. He got his nurse to carefully administer it to him. Shhhh… underneath that glass rose is a little cup of juice with a wafer on the top.   

Over the next weeks, and now looking back, the few short months he had left on this earth, communication became very complex even over text. See, as there was so much to be excited about, all the changes happening in his heart, he had limits. I learned how important it was for a person with ALS to stay calm and not get emotional. I remember in the early part of summer, he had a very low point around midnight. I was surprised when he called me on the phone; he attempted to communicate but there were only mourns and groans I heard. No words. I prayed aloud for an entire hour on the phone with Joe until he fell asleep. I was afraid at first because whatever had upset him, the very build up of fluids/mucous could have proven very dangerous.

Joe found an outlet for his newly found faith and he was on a mission! Wow! what a testimony it is to all of us that a man who could not talk used what he had available to share the Good News!

Immediately after Joe came to the saving power of Jesus, he began to post daily devotions on his FaceBook and on my FaceBook sites. He started preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ through these devotions I shared with him daily. It is from God Calling, first published in 1935. The authors, two elderly ladies, chose to remain anonymous. I had the book in my personal library and decided to use it for devotion the first part of 2018.

Joe was so excited by the devotions, he could not wait for me to post. He found it online and began to share with others; what a witness! He had no voice but began to spread the gospel to others. I remember Joe’s last text to me and my last text to him. He said to me, “Rochelle, Thank you for bringing me to faith in the Lord.” On July 31st I told him, “Joe, the Lord says to tell you He wants you to just Practice being in His Presence. That’s all.” I never got a response from him or heard back until his wife called me. Seven days after my last message to him, Joe had slipped into God’s FULL Presence forever. I saved the text messages from ministering to Joe in an icloud; if I convert to pdf. and print them out, there would be 349 pages of them.

I look back on this now and can only say, for the Grace and Love of God I was able to do this. I lived with every device near me;  at night I had all of them opened on my bed beside me in case Joe needed to talk (text) I would hear the ping. Lana, His loving wife was such a sweet witness to this transformation. It was wonderful to hear from her on this memorial day where she took a moment to reach me and to thank me for remembering the loss of her love.

She and I affirmed our love and respect for each other and how we look forward to meeting one day… should she come east coast, or I go west coast. What a joyful union that would be!

‘Joe, This is Rochelle. I love and miss you. Though we never met in person you are as close as a brother to me and I look forward to eternity in heaven with you.’ You think he got it? I do.

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