The Iron Gate

The Iron Gate

By Don MacLafferty

A few years ago, God sent my wife April and me to live in a small mountain town. The place where I was working at the time was far away in the valley, and I had a long commute. We often wondered why God would lead us to live so far away from where I worked. Then one day, we were fascinated to hear that just a mile or so away from our little cottage lived a wealthy couple who had not been in church for over forty years. We were told that they lived on a big piece of property, with a big iron gate guarding the entrance. We were also told they didn’t associate much with their neighbors. I began praying that I would have a divine appointment with the man who seemed impossible to reach.

One beautiful Sabbath day, God awakened me early in the morning, and I went walking on the road that led up to the mountain. I was praying as I walked. Although I didn’t know exactly where he lived or what he looked like, I prayed for the man behind the iron gate. As I walked and prayed, I saw my neighbor talking to someone beside a well-manicured entry to a beautiful estate. My neighbor called out to me, “Hey Don, come over and meet your neighbor, Tom.”

Walking up the driveway, I realized that my neighbor was talking to a man beside a large iron gate. I couldn’t believe it! I was walking past the property of the man for whom I’d just been praying. God led me to walk by at the exact moment that he happened to be standing outside talking with my neighbor. What a rare moment!

Now, the Spirit of God told me to do something very bold. Walking up to the man, I introduced myself and then said, “Tom, may I ask you a question?” The man was a little surprised.

“What’s your question?” he responded cautiously.

“Are you ready for Jesus to come?” I asked. It was abrupt, and I could tell he was shocked by my boldness.

“That’s a good question,” Tom responded with furrowed brow. “I hope to be ready for Jesus to come. I would like my wife to be ready for Jesus to come also.” I then asked Tom if I could pray that God would help them both be ready for Jesus to come. It was an awkward moment, but Tom shrugged and said, “Sure.”

I prayed with Tom and my neighbor, then waved goodbye as I needed to get down the mountain and join my family of faith. I wasn’t sure that it was the best beginning for a friendship with Tom, but I knew it was what God had told me to say.

Later, I found out that after I had left, he asked my neighbor what I was doing out on the road so early in the morning. When my neighbor shared that I was looking for a place to pray, Tom told my neighbor, “Tell Don that if he wants a quiet place to pray, my property is open to him. Here is the combination for my iron gate so that he can come in any time and have a quiet place to pray and read the Word. I have lots of property, and he won’t be bothered by cars or traffic.”

When I heard this news, I was delighted! God had just given me the combination to the iron gate of the man whom I’d been praying I would be able to reach with the love of Jesus Christ.

From then on, each morning, whenever I was in town, I would go to Tom’s property to pray. I would sit on a pile of rocks overlooking his long driveway that went winding in and out of his property down to the river. Although I couldn’t see where he lived, I assumed that at the end of the long driveway was his home.

I did not see Tom again for many days. However, occasionally, in the early morning, I would see his car go by on the driveway down below me.

One morning, as I was praying at my favorite spot, his car went by in the early morning mist. The Spirit of God impressed me, “Run after that car, and make this man a very special offer.” I got up from my perch on the rocks and ran after him as fast as I could go. He pulled his car up to the big iron gate and stepped out to inspect something just as I came running up. He whirled around in the early morning mist, alarmed that someone was on his property. Recognizing me, his worried face relaxed. “Oh, it’s you,” he said.

“Yes!” I responded joyfully. “I’m here because you told me that I could come here anytime to pray in the early morning.”

“That’s fine,” he responded.

“You know, I saw your car going by and I was in prayer, and God impressed me to make you an offer,” I told him.

“What would that be?” he asked as he looked me up and down. I was wearing an old pair of jeans, an old pair of boots and an old T-shirt. He seemed to be thinking, What can this man possibly offer that I would have any interest in?

I drew a deep breath and began to share. “I am someone who wants to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ. And I want to know if you would meet me at 6:00 a.m. every morning for the next twelve mornings, and we will discover together more about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.”

He looked at me and half grunted, as he said, “Six a.m. for the next twelve mornings? No one has ever said such a thing to me. I don’t need to wake up at 6:00 a.m. I can’t imagine why I would want to get up at 6:00 a.m. I can do whatever I want to at any time of day!”

“Would you be willing to pray with me about this?” I asked.

Tom laughed. “I’ll tell you what, if God tells me while you are praying to meet with you at 6:00 a.m. for the next twelve mornings, then I will do it. But otherwise, no! That’s the last thing I would do.”

I immediately knelt right there on his asphalt drive. To my surprise, he knelt beside me. I then began to pray and poured my heart out, asking that God would be with Tom and that He would open the way for us to study His Word together. When I finished praying, I was getting ready to stand up, but then Tom began to pray. At the end of his prayer, before I could say anything more, he said, “I’ll see you in the morning at 6:00 a.m.” With that he jumped into his car and sped off down the road.

For the next twelve mornings, we met morning after morning. We would pray and then read the written Word of God together and discover what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. Each morning, it was simple: pray, study, and apply. I was excited to see if, at the end of our time together, this man would have a new experience with Jesus. However, as we concluded our twelve days, Tom told me simply, “Okay, well, it was good to meet with you.” And that was it. He went back to his life, and I continued with mine. I kept praying, but there seemed to be no more interest any time I reached out to him.

Months went by, and nothing more happened, and then out of the blue one morning, I got a phone call from Tom. He sounded very troubled. “Don, can you drive me to the hospital right now?” he asked. “My wife is just being transferred from one hospital to the next hospital. I think she is dying. Would you please come? I can’t think of anybody else I can call. But I remembered you. Would you drive me?”

“Absolutely!” I responded. Immediately, I jumped in my car and went to drive him to the hospital. As we arrived at the hospital, he asked, “Would you come in and pray with my wife?” We went into the hospital together, and I prayed over that precious wife of his in her hospital bed. I knew from the diagnosis that it was a very serious situation, and the likelihood of her living was not high. As we prayed together, I cried out to God that He would do for her what I could never do for her and that if it would bring Him glory, that she would be restored and healed. Then I left.

God is good. God chose in this circumstance to heal this woman as a testimony to Tom of His great love and power. Tom’s wife was restored to good health. Some days later, Tom contacted me. “You know,” he said. “My wife is asking questions about the Bible. Would you come and study the Word of God with us both?” And so, we began to study together. Sometime later, they were both baptized like Jesus was, fully immersed in water, as a testimony to all that they were giving their lives fully to Jesus Christ as Lord. They came up out of the water and began a fresh experience with Jesus that has lasted to this day.

Although April and I don’t live in that small mountain town anymore, I often think of this precious couple. People had told me it was nearly impossible to ever see this couple outside their property. When I met Tom, he appeared at first to be someone who needed nothing. He seemed beyond reach. However, while man builds iron gates, the Holy Spirit knows how to open those gates, for He knows the combination to reach every heart.

Don MacLafferty is president of In Discipleship ministries, a faith-based ministry that works with churches and schools all over the world leading in intergenerational revival and discipleship training. He is also assists as a volunteer with the General Conference Back to the Altar initiative. This story came from his recently published book, “God Still Lives.” You can read the entire book online by clicking here:

World Church Prayer Requests

November 24 - 30, 2023

  • Pray for the areas of political unrest around the world. Pray for ways to reach out to those who are hurting or suffering as a result of conflict.
  • Pray for the Urban Centers of Influence in North Africa. Pray that more will be reached through these practical centers.
  • Pray for the Egypt-Sudan field in MENA. Pray for believers to have courage to be shining lights to those around them.
  • Pray for your local pastor and elders, deaconess etc. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide your church leaders.
  • Pray for the family of your church leadership. Pray for God to protect them and strengthen them, and make them strong as a family unit for God’s Kingdom.
  • Pray for divine appointments, to share with others about the sweet peace they can have in Jesus.

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