That very night they had planned to commit a burglary and had appointed him to meet them in a certain street.
As he stood there waiting, shivering and cold, a hand was suddenly laid on his shoulder. It was dark, he could only see a tall form standing by him, and he trembled with fear: but a kind voice said: “Son, what are you doing here at this time of night? You should not be out at so late an hour, go home, go to bed.”
“I have no home and no bed to go to.”
“That’s very sad, my boy! Would you go to a home and a bed if I provided one?”
“That I would, sir!” replied the boy.
“Well, at such and such a street and number you will find a bed.”
Before he could add more the lad had started off. “Stop!” said the man, “how are you going to get in? You need a password; no one can go in there without a password. Here is one for you. The password is ‘John 3:16,’ and don’t forget, or they won’t let you in. ‘John 3:16.’ There, that’s something that will help you.”
Joyfully the lad rushed off repeating the words, and soon found himself at the address, before a large iron gate. Timidly he rang the bell. The night clerk opened the gate, and in a gruff voice asked, “Who’s there?”
“Me, sir! please, sir, I’m John Three Sixteen,” he said in a trembling voice.
“All right, come in, that’s the password,” and in the boy went. He was soon in a nice, warm bed, and between sheets such as he had never seen before. As he curled up to go to sleep, he thought, “This is a lucky name, I think I’ll keep it!” The next morning he was given a bowl of hot porridge and milk before being sent out into the street, for this home was only for a night. He wandered on and on, fearful of meeting his old companions, thinking over his new name, when he heedlessly crossed a crowded street and was run over. The unconscious boy was taken to the nearest hospital.
After his injuries had been attended to he was moved up to the accident ward. In a short time his sufferings caused him to become delirious. Then was heard in ringing tones and oft repeated, “John 3:16! It was to help me, and so it has!”
These persistent cries aroused the other patients. Testaments were pulled out to see to what he referred to. What could it mean? And here one and then another read the precious words, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“It was to help me, and so it has,’’ the sufferer cried.
Consciousness returned, and the poor little fellow gazed around him. How vast it looked and how quiet it was. Where was he? Presently a voice from the next bed said, “John Thr-ree Sixteen, and how are you this day?”
“Why, how do you know my new name?”
“Know it! You’ve never ceased with your ‘John Three Sixteen,’ and I for one say, blessed John Three Sixteen.”
This sounded strange to the lad’s ear. To be called blessed – for he whom no one cared!
“And don’t you know where it comes from? It’s from the Bible.”
“The Bible? What’s that?” The poor little waif had never heard of the Bible, that blessed Book, God’s Word to man. “Read it to me,” he said, and as the words fell on his ear he muttered, “That’s beautiful; it’s all about love, and not a home for a night, but a home for always.” He soon learned the text, and its meaning, saying, “I’ve got a new name, but something to it.” This was indeed a joy.
Days passed on, and there were changes in the ward, but our little friend never felt lonely; he fed on his text and its precious words, little thinking how soon he would have use for them. Yet another soul in that ward was to be won to Christ by this means and now in simple conscious faith he was to be the agent of blessing. On a cot near him lay an old man who was very ill. Early one morning a nun came to his bedside and said, “Patrick, how is it with you today?”
“Badly, badly,” groaned the old man.
“Has the priest been to see you?” asked the nun.
“Oh, yes; but that makes it worse, for he has annointed me with holy oil, and I am marked for death. I’m not fit to die; oh, what shall I do?”
“Patrick, it’s very sad to see you so,” she answered gently. “Look! here are those beads; they have been blessed by His Holiness the Pope; and they will help you to die happy.”
She placed them around the man’s neck, and then wishing him good-bye, went out. But how could a string of beads ease a dying man facing eternity with his sins unforgiven? Poor Patrick groaned aloud. “God ha’ mercy,” he cried; “I’m such a sinner; I’m not fit to die. What shall I do? Oh, what will become o’ me?”
Our little fellow heard his miserable words. “Patrick,” he called, “I know something that will help you, as it has helped me.”
“Tell me, tell me quickly,” cried Patrick; “if only I could find something to help me.”
“Here it is. Now listen, John 3:16. Are you listening?”
“Yes, yes; go on.”
“John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life’.” Again and again he had to repeat those words. Through them Patrick found peace in his dying hour, and with this password he entered everlasting life. Another soul brought to Christ in the hospital ward by means of a single text, blessed by the Holy Spirit.
Our little friend recovered. For a long time John 3:16 was his one text. God blessed his simple faith, friends were raised up for him, and he was placed in school. Now he is an earnest, hearty worker for the Lord.