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Coincidence? No Way!
Why do Christians commemorate a death on a cross? Michael Coren, who calls himself a “cynical and experienced person,” learned the answer through a television interview.

Why, people ask, do you Christians insist on commemorating the agonizing death on the cross of a man who lived 2,000 years ago? We answer that the man who died was the Son of God, who died for us. All of us. Then came His resurrection. He is the risen Jesus, seen by hundreds of people who were so convinced of the reality of the empty tomb that they were willing to die themselves, often under torture, with a smile on their faces.

Michael Coren

Think about it. People die for the wrong reasons; people die for lies that they believe to be truths. But nobody dies for something they know to be a lie. Yet the men and women who were contemporaries of Christ knew Him, dined with Him, slept next to Him and shared their lives with Him. They were worldly, hardened people. They saw Him die, and these people knew death and what it looked like.

They then saw their friend and teacher alive again. Even put their hands into His wounds. Were they all naïve and foolish? Not at all. Surely it is those who deny the obvious who are the true escapists.

I certainly was for most of my life. Until that night when I sat watching the television, unable to sleep. Nothing on the screen really. Then I found a show hosted by a gentle soul named Terry Winter. He was interviewing a man called Roger Simpson.

Nothing the pair said seemed to leave any mark, and when I awoke the next day I could remember nothing of the interview. Yet I felt oddly different, even transformed. As though I had been washed clean.

I'm a cynical, experienced person, I thought, and this was just a passing phase, a case of physiology playing a trick. There was something else, however. I knew as sure as I knew my face that this Roger Simpson was a close friend of a friend of mine, a Baptist minister named Justin Dennison. I felt as if they were almost brothers.

This certainty ached away at me until, feeling a little foolish, I telephoned Justin to ask him. He was out, but his wife Sue was home. I told her about seeing Simpson on the television, but not about my strangely changed state.

There was a long pause. "Twenty years ago at the coffee bar of the University of London in Britain," she said. "Well, 20 years ago that man Roger Simpson converted Justin to Christianity." I felt a warmth swim through my body and thought I was going to cry.

My sense of newness increased; my attitudes towards people, towards everything, began to change. I was scared. Life was good and I didn't want any changes, thank you very much. Finally the pull was too strong, the urge to take that forgotten old Bible down from the shelf and read it. The need to, yes, the need to pray.

To pray! The man must be crazy. I suppose I felt that way myself. I was embarrassed, frightened, confused. But prayer did happen, questions were asked, answers given, arguments made. This God I had found—or had He found me?—was not some Disney creation but a father who wanted my best.

I went to see a minister, took instruction, was baptized. The Sunday morning that it happened the church was full of people I had never met but who had come along especially. I asked them why. "We've been praying for you," they all said. Hundreds of them, familiar with me through my broadcasting, had decided to pray. Churches, groups, individuals. It is, I now know, frequently the case when people suddenly find themselves submerged in the truth of the Christian faith.

Several years later I prayed for my sister Stephanie to be reunited with her family. She broke off all links more than a decade ago. When I became a Christian I had tried to make contact, but I didn't even know her new married name. Then, suddenly, during my morning worship comes this prayer.

A week later the telephone rings. It's my mum, from Britain. "Mike," she says, in those lovely cockney tones. "You won't believe this, but I've got a letter here from Steph." A breath. "She wants to meet with us, to get back together."

I trace my sister's telephone number and make the call. I tell her husband that it's her brother on the line, and Steph speaks to me, almost hysterical with tears. I ask why she didn't write earlier. She says she thought everybody hated her. I ask who told her this. She doesn't know.

I then ask why she made contact now. Because, she says, she heard that Dad was dying. I tell her that this isn't the case, and ask who told her. Again, she doesn't know.

I now ask when she wrote the letter to my parents. She knows to the minute, because the BBC news had just started. A shiver runs down my spine. She had written the letter the moment I had made that prayer.

"Steph," I say, "there is something I have to tell you. Something very important." I explain that on a specific date years earlier I became a Christian. She asks me to repeat the date. "Oh my goodness," she says, "Oh my Lord. So did I."

Thank you, God. For everything.

Michael Coren is the host of the television show Michael Coren Live on CTS (weeknights, 10 pm) and CFRB radio's Michael Coren Show (Sunday, 8 pm). He writes a weekly column in the Sun newspaper chain and is the author of ten books. For more information on him, his work and how to book him for public speaking, visit his web site at www.michaelcoren.com

Originally published in testimony, March 2002.

Used with permission. Copyright © 2009 Christianity.ca.

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