Carson Kreed Bowman became part of our extended family 20 years ago when Bryson was born. I’d already been christened “Mama Jan”, by Bryson’s Uncle Trent; and that’s how Carson referred to me over the years—when he’d greet me, he’d call me Mama Jan. Which was just fine with me because Mama Jan is my favorite title.
I was married to a preacher named Dan for 33 years until he was killed in a wreck, on his way to work, 8 years ago. I was completely blind-sided by his sudden death. His, and Carson’s, death point out just how uncertain life is and the speed with which a person can leave it.
After Dan was killed I became very bold in asking people if they knew where they’d go, and where they’d spend eternity, if they died today.
So when Carson called me in the year after Dan had died, I asked him that question. He was quiet—and Carson wasn’t always a very quiet person. But he was quiet and so I talked to him about what the Bible says about knowing where you’re going to go when you die.
These are some of the truths I shared with Carson. They all come from the New Testament book of Romans, but I’m not going to give you the specific reference for each one. I will, however, share them publicly on Facebook later if you’d like to see them there.
…everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23)
As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one. (Romans 3:10)
…the wages of sin is death (forever separated from God), but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
…God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8)
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. (Romans 5:1)
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:1)
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
And then I told Carson that I wanted to read him a prayer. It was the prayer that my preacher husband, Dan, nearly always closed a church service with. It’s called a sinner’s prayer. There are many forms of a sinner’s prayer, but they’re all for the same purpose—and that is, for a sinner to pray when they’ve decided they want to know Jesus for themselves.
I’m going to read you the prayer that I read to Carson:
Lord Jesus, I need you.
I open the door of my heart;
come into my life,
forgive me of my sins
and make me the person
you want me to be.
I ask this in your Name.
So I read this prayer to Carson and he was still very quiet. And I told him what my preacher husband used to say after he prayed the prayer. He’d say, “If you prayed this prayer and you meant it, in the sincerities of your own heart, then when you leave this place—if you get killed on the way home, then you’ll spend eternity in heaven with Jesus.”
Carson told me that he had repeated those words silently.
Now fast forward to February 2018. Carson’s mother, Judy, died.
Fast forward once again to July 20, 2019—6 weeks exactly before he was killed, Carson called me again. I saw on the caller I.D. that it was Carson Bowman.
I said hello
He said hey
I said hey
He said hey
I said hey
And he said hey
Then I said Hi Carson
And he said Hi Mama Jan
Then he said I WANT YOU TO TALK TO ME ABOUT GOD!!
And I said, “Okay”. And so I did.
He asked me, “How do you do God through Jesus?”
For several years now I’ve done an almost daily email & website & Facebook posting of a Scripture and one of my nature pictures. Carson received those emails for years and, as the administrator, I can see the back page of my platform and I can see who reads them. I’d felt prompted to use the Romans scriptures a couple of weeks earlier and had been pleased to see that Carson had read them.
In that conversation he told me how awful his mom’s funeral had been for him and how he’d wanted to die himself. Then I told him about what his Aunt June had told me. She said that Judy had told her, when she was so sick in ICU, that she knew Jesus and she knew where she was going when she died. She was going to heaven.
Carson asked me multiple times about God’s forgiveness and I told him that there was NOTHING that he or anyone else had done, is doing or could ever do that God wouldn’t forgive. All we have to do is ask.
And I’ll tell you one more thing that I told Carson: The most important decision you will ever make is whether or not you choose to invite Jesus into your life.