Though former atheist Thomas Roberts was dying of lung cancer, bound to a wheelchair, and fully dependent on oxygen, he had one request in his last days: to be baptized.
The wish would require extensive work, but Robert’s care team at the University of Alabama Birmingham Hospital made it work, according to UAB News.
“It was a major effort by a lot of moving pieces and different teams to pull this off,” Corey Agricola, chaplain at UAB, said. “If it had not been for the team, this could not have happened.”
The team first sought approval from Roberts’ physician, Dr. Ashley Nichols, to remove his oxygen tubes so that he could be fully submerged under water.
“Dr. Nichols made it clear he would only be able to be off oxygen for a few seconds, which meant we couldn’t roll him down the ramp in the pool wheelchair, so we had to use the chairlift to place him in the pool,” Agricola said.
Once the rehabilitation pool was available, the team worked together to make his wish a reality.
Roberts’ wife, son, two sisters, niece and nephew attended the baptism and watched as Roberts was lowered into the water.
“I have served in the ministry over 20 years and seven of those at UAB. This is the greatest day of my career,” Agricola told Roberts and his family. “Thomas, you never thought you would preach a sermon in your life; but you preached today. You made an impact on people who do not even know you.”
“UAB and this team—this place was so accommodating and amazing,” said Davin Gibson, Roberts’ nephew, after the baptism. “You moved everything around—all of the departments worked together to make it happen. I give all the glory to God, but you guys rocked it.”
Six days later, Robert passed away and went to be with the Lord.
“I don’t know what could be a better gift than the feeling of peace,” said his niece Brooke Carr, “and that is what we have now.”
Photo courtesy: Daan Stevens/Unsplash
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine. She blogs at mikaelamathews.com.