When 78-year-old José Ramón de Alfredo heard Tim Westergren, an Alliance international worker in Spain, speaking English at a coffee shop, he was intrigued and approached him. José Ramón had lived in England for nine years when he was a young man, so he spoke English fluently.
A Guilty Man
The two became friends, getting together frequently to exchange books and have coffee. Not long after they met, their conversations turned toward faith. José Ramón was a God-fearing, Roman Catholic man, but he was wracked with guilt and terrified of death. He didn’t know how he could stand before the Father and withstand His judgment.
As José Ramón opened up more, Tim learned that he felt guilty about his distant relationship with his children. They saw each other from time to time and he was proud of them, but their relationship was broken because of his irascible character.
Tim began sharing Scripture with José Ramón to lead him toward the freedom of Christ’s forgiveness. “You can know peace with God,” Tim said. “You can receive forgiveness.” But José Ramón continued to reject this message, saying, “You don’t know how bad of a person I’ve been. I’m just a bad man.”
Two years later, José Ramón was admitted to the hospital twice. Tim visited him both times, explaining to him again the assurance he could have in Jesus. Tim read 1 John 2:1: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (“advocate” translates as lawyer in Spanish).
“If you’re in Christ, you don’t stand alone before the Father,” Tim said. “And when the devil accuses you, say, ‘Yeah, I’m guilty, but talk to my lawyer.’” José Ramón embraced this truth and received an overflowing assurance of forgiveness that calmed his fears.
Reconciliation and Peace
While Tim and his wife, Marilyn, were on vacation two months later, José Ramón was admitted to the hospital a third time before passing away from complications with pneumonia.
At the funeral mass, José Ramón’s daughter shared that for most of her life she would have been glad when her father died. Now, she was truly sad–and grateful for the time she had with him–because he had sought reconciliation with all his children. “I was able to establish a new relationship with my father,” she said. “He was a changed man.”
“At the very end of his life,” Tim says, “José Ramón found peace with God, which calmed his anxious fears about death.”