Sharing Faith Beyond the Grave
By Shannon Woodland
The 700 Club
CBN.com -The cemetery is known by many as ‘the end of the road’, a ‘final resting place’, or a ‘stepping stone to the great beyond.’ Stephen Schimmel sees it very differently.
“It’s natural. God put in you and me the desire to say, ‘Hey, what am I doing here? What's my existence all about?’ ‘There has to be a God.’”
In 2004, Stephen began the uphill work of changing the words on his parents’ grave markers to reflect the work of the cross. “My big complaint with today's thinking is that the world is in darkness. And what I mean by that is almost every single tombstone you've seen in history says, ‘born-die.’ I’d said, ‘I have enough of that. My parents did not die. My parents went to heaven and they're alive in heaven.’”
Stephen quickly went to work. He says the Holy Spirit directed him in choosing the new inscriptions for the gravestones. He also prayed with his wife, Rosalba, and asked God to move on the hearts of the people who would be making the decisions.
Stephen’s wife Rosalba adds, “When we pray and he wants something, I say, ‘Sweetheart, slow down. Give it time.’ (He says) ‘No! The Lord knows me! He made me. He knows what I want.’ and he’s insistent, insistent.”
Stephen met with an inscriber, who warned him of the problems he would encounter. Still Stephen pressed on. He then wrote a letter to the cemetery director requesting the changes, which included New Testament scripture, virtually unheard of at a Jewish cemetery. “I wrote up some very, very bold language; not realizing that my zeal could get in my way.”
It did, and things dragged on for months. There were many correspondences between Stephen and the cemetery director before a decision was made. Stephen’s persistence was fueled by his saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He wanted people who came to visit the cemetery to consider God’s plan for each one of them.
“We were designed to be created in the image of God and we lost it. Now God's trying to bring us back into that image and that's called salvation. And He does it through His Son who paid the price for all the sins that we committed and by doing so we now have everlasting life and we're now brought back into His image by an act of mercy and grace.”
Finally, Stephen got permission to change the inscription on his parent’s grave markers and have them set in place.
“EVELYN SCHIMMEL, ENTERED MARCH 4, 1914, LEFT SEPTEMBER 14, 1983. EVELYN IS NOT DEAD BUT A LIVE WITH HER HEAVENLY FATHER.” PSALM 51:5
“NORBERT SCHIMMEL, ENTERED SEPTEMBER 2, 1904, LEFT FEBRUARY 16, 1990. NORBERT’S DUST IS HERE BUT HIS SPIRIT LEFT TO BE WITH THE ETERNAL LOVE OF HIS CREATOR.” PSALM 118:19-26.
“They both say one thing in common. ‘I went to be with the Father and have His eternal love. They all say it differently. In the case of my father, I want the people to know that it's just dust. Why do I want people to know it's dust? Because Norbert’s no longer there. Norbert’s in heaven. His soul went to heaven and there he doesn't have to be smart anymore. He doesn't have to be the successful businessman that people want to see in him. It doesn't matter. He's now completed.
“Everybody who looks at those tombstones, hopefully, will take that message and start researching the Truth. Hopefully those tombstones the Spirit of God will minister to them personally. So that's why we did the tombstones. There’s life after death.”
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