I met Richard through work in the early 90's. Throughout my life I have run into many an interesting person, with varied backgrounds and his was certainly unique. It is ever my hope to speak a word about Christ to those I meet and come to know. And this is the story of our friendship and several conversations.
Early on I learned that Richard was deeply into the gay lifestyle, he did not hide it. We went to lunch together one day and he openly shared this and it opened up many conversations in the following weeks. He was involved in the ACT-UP portion of the movement, which was a militant wing, pressing the lifestyle to the forefront of American culture and demanding acceptance (think 1990's here).
We had many discussions at lunch or break in that brief time of our employment together that probably lasted a few months. Many times the words became a bit heated and abrupt, with my sharing with him his eternal danger, which he would equally fire back from his perspective. Once he even told of a friend in the lifestyle that had a prior "partner" who had gotten converted to Christ and was now being an annoying Billy Graham of sorts, testifying to that prior partner. So this was not all "new" to him. Interestingly through it all, it was Richard the pressed the friendship more than myself.
There was a conversation with him once where he did let down his guard and admitted that he would like out of the lifestyle, but that the cost was just too high. Why? Because his entire life, friendships, acquaintances, circles of friends and activities, everything- was tied to the lifestyle. He would on occasion be overheard arguing on the phone with an estranged prior partner who wanted things to continue but they had broken off. Things appeared to be quite emotionally charged. Yet he could not leave the lifestyle. He was caught with no way out. In looking back I can see why the LBGT movement of today is militant and adamant about non-conversion "therapy" and being dead-set against allowing free speech of Christians like myself to call this lifestyle a choice, insisting to their "own" that it is how they are born, and forcing it upon the culture. Satan keeps his goods intact that way. Anyway, back to Richard-
He openly shared that he had contracted HIV -and had full blown AIDS- this was back in the early days of drug cocktails being discovered for treatment. He bore the early marks of such treatments, with excessive weight loss. One time, on a lighter note, we were in the break room at work, and he adamantly retorted to my pressing the claims of God upon him....he wondered why I would care if he perished, and I told him it was because I loved him (as a friend). Now a couple tables over facing me were some other co-workers who could not hear much of the conversation but they should sure looked at me odd for telling him I loved him. In hindsight they may have misunderstood. I have since learned to be more careful in my speech.
Of course in seeking to be faithful to the Lord, I did tell him the way out was the cross, where One died for even him, but to no avail, and things soon took a turn where we would lose contact. He was discharged from the workplace for something related to theft (this was a bank), and we lost contact.
I sought some years later to find him and see what became of him. I don't recall how, but I found out that within a few years of the above-described events, my friend Richard did pay the ultimate price, and died of complications related to the disease he had contracted. I even sought out and came into contact with his mother and tried to delve into the matter, but was understandably turned away by her.
This has been the pattern of several interactions I have had with people, where I had the privilege of sharing the gospel of Christ crucified for our sins, and risen from the dead. And yet the person rejected the Savior and remedy found in Cross and empty tomb. This has often troubled me not to see such contacts turn to the Lord, but He is glorified in the salvation of souls and, we may not like this thought, but He is also glorified in their judgment as well.
It would seem this is a warning to the reader, life at best is very brief, like the falling of a leaf, like the binding of a sheaf. Be in time, if in sin you longer wait, you may find no open gate, and your cry be just too late, Be in time.
When the Spirit of God calls to YOU because you have heard the word of God, do not harden your heart, lest you wake up in hell and it is too late.
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief - Paul.
And that would be true of myself also, a great sinner. But ah, my Savior is a greater Savior. Where sin does abound, grace can overflow. G