Hans was a real boys’ boy. His father and mother often said, “Hans, Hans, where is this going to end!” But Hans couldn’t help himself. If there was a prank to be played anywhere, he was sure to be part of it.
Finally, summer vacation was just around the corner. Hans wanted to go to the seaside for a youth retreat. So many activities were planned there! If only the wait wasn’t so long! But even the longest wait passes, and finally they were on the Island of Borkum.
The retreat touched Hans in a strange way. In the morning, small groups went out to the dunes with their New Testaments. A passage was read, and the group leader would talk to them about it. Hans was gripped by the message. He realized that there was a voice speaking to him, but he did not want this voice to become too loud. He realized that his young life would have to change, and that did not suit him at all.
In their free time, there was a lot of horsing around. They had been told many times not to climb on the flat roof of the house. The roof could break through, and if the weather was bad, rain would come into the halls and rooms. But prohibiting something made the temptation even more enticing for Hans.
One afternoon, the group came out of the dining room. Hans got a crazy idea. He decided to go up on the dining room roof and stomp around. He wanted to show off. But before he knew it, he fell off and broke his foot. At the hospital, he got a massive cast. In the evening, he was brought back to the house.
In the following days, there was a remarkable picture to be seen. Hans, with his arms slung around their shoulders, was carried by two boys. They took him up the dunes for their daily Bible study. Afterwards, while the others went to the beach, Hans was left lying alone. He couldn’t join in. And again he heard that voice inside him. Someone was talking to him.
One day, I come upon him, but he didn’t even notice me. I saw the little black book in his hand. I sat down beside him. From afar, we heard the other boys playing. We talked about the voice that invites us to take that step towards God.
After four weeks, we all drove back home. The plaster cast on Hans was gone, but he had changed completely.
Then one day, Hans’ father came and brought me the news that he was in the hospital for an operation. He requested that I visit him. The following day, I was too busy to go. When I finally went to visit him, his mother was standing in the corridor of the hospital with a pale face. I asked about Hans. Hans had just passed away. I couldn’t believe that this boy who walked over tables and chairs was no longer there.
He had not survived the operation. I tried finding words of comfort for his mother, but I could hardly speak myself. His mother told me about his last minutes. He had grabbed her hand and said:
“Mother, promise me one thing. If I have to go away from you now, you mustn’t cry. Look, Mother, I know where I’m going!”
When his mother looked at him questioningly, he said, “I am going to my Savior!” Then he quietly passed away.
Reflecting, I went home. “Yes, Hans could die like that,” I thought. He had accepted Jesus into his heart.
This story reminds us again that we need to be ready to meet Jesus at any time!