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Drew Taylor, USMC, by Richard Maffeo

    I met 20-year-old Lance Corporal Drew Taylor* when he was a patient at our overseas Naval hospital. Over the previous several weeks Drew had noticed how clumsy he had become, bumping into walls and tripping over his feet. He had also been getting headaches so severe they awakened him during the night. His Battalion physician ordered a CAT scan. Then he ordered an MRI to confirm the diagnosis. That's when he was sent to our department where I work as a nurse.

    The surgeon scheduled Drew for emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain resulting from his cancerous tumor. During surgery the physician discovered the tumor had wrapped itself around Drew’s brainstem, making it impossible to remove.

…the tumor had wrapped itself around Drew’s brainstem, making it impossible to remove.
    The neurosurgeon told him only that he was being sent back to the States for further treatment to reduce the tumor. The surgeon told me, however, Drew would be dead in six months. He then asked if I would accompany Drew on the flight because he would need periodic intravenous antibiotic therapy until he reached the hospital in Texas. Believing the Lord was giving me an opportunity to share Christ with this young man poised at the precipice of eternity, I quickly agreed. It was not until later did I realize this journey was not designed so much for me to share my faith with Drew, but for Drew to share his faith with me.

    Air Evac flights from overseas are not usually direct trips from one airport to another. We traveled three days before finally arriving at our destination. During that time he and I talked about many subjects. We spoke briefly about his home life and he told me he had committed his life to Christ when he was a teen. But he seemed more interested in talking about his plans to return to college after his discharge from the Marine Corps. He also showed me photos of his fiancÚ. They planned to be married in nine months when his overseas tour was completed.

    As I listened, I thought about the doctor’s prediction and determined I would not let this opportunity pass without talking more deeply about eternal things. A short while later I posed a “worst case” scenario for him to consider.

    “What if the docs in Texas discover there’s nothing they can do for you?” I asked. “How do you think you will feel if they say you only have a year to live?” Drew turned his eyes from mine and stared into space for a few moments. Then he turned back to look at me.

    “Well,” he started slowly, “then I’ll just live until I die.”

    I don’t know why his response surprised me. Perhaps it was because I assumed he didn't have a strong faith since he had not seemed interested in talking about spiritual matters. Perhaps it was because I myself have difficulty dealing with imminent death. Whatever the reason, I pressed him further, “What do you mean, you will live until you die?”

"Whatever the Lord Jesus has for me to do while I am alive, I’ll do.”
    Drew paused for a moment and grew pensive. And then, with a firm and unwavering voice, he answered, “Whatever the Lord Jesus has for me to do while I am alive, I’ll do.”

    I leaned back in my seat and fell quiet as the conviction of this young man, twenty-five years my junior, washed over my spirit. I agreed to accompany him, expecting to teach him about Christ during our journey. Instead, he was teaching me important lessons about life and death, about service and faith, about how to “live until I die.”

    Drew never finished his overseas tour. He never returned to college. He never married his sweetheart. A few months after I left him in Texas he slipped into a coma. He died a few days later.

    The Lord Jesus said, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4 NIV).

    Lance Corporal Drew Taylor, USMC, worked faithfully for Christ during his very short day. I look forward to meeting him once again, at the end of mine.

*The name has been changed.

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Article copyright © 1997, Richard Maffeo. Used by permission.
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