Thomas Roberts lived almost his entire life as an atheist. But with death approaching, something inside his heart changed.
Roberts was dying of lung cancer. He had only days to live. He was wheelchair-bound and unable to breathe without being connected to an oxygen supply. He was a patient at the Palliative Care and Comfort Unit of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital.
He was in the hospital just waiting to die.
On Sept. 4, Roberts decided he wanted to be baptized as a Christian, and he wanted to be submerged in water, as he understood the Gospels to teach.
A hospital chaplain worked with Roberts’ doctor and hospital staff to see whether the dying man could survive without his oxygen tubes long enough to be baptized. When doctors gave the go-ahead, hospital staff made arrangements to use the pool at a nearby rehab center.
Surrounded by his wife, son, two sisters, a niece and a nephew, Roberts was lowered into the water with a chairlift, where he was met by the chaplain and a physical therapist.
The lifelong atheist was baptized. Just five days later, Thomas Roberts was dead.