Volunteers in Florida Lead Dying Air Force Veteran to Christ

August 30, 2019 • United States
Bob Bushway, left, and his son Robbie. Robbie and his sister LaBelle prayed for decades that Bob would turn to Christ, and he did after Samaritan's Purse volunteers shared with him earlier this year.
Bob Bushway, left, and his son Robbie. Robbie and his sister LaBelle prayed for decades that Bob would turn to Christ, and he did after Samaritan's Purse volunteers shared with him earlier this year.

In the final months of his life, Air Force veteran Bob Bushway received Jesus Christ after the ministry of volunteers in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

Robbie Bushway can tell you how God moves in mysterious ways—just ask him. His father, Bob, had hardened his heart for years, yet came to faith in Christ thanks to a violent hurricane.

Air Force Master Sergeant Bob Bushway served in Vietnam where he saw and experienced the ravages of war.

Air Force Master Sergeant Bob Bushway served in Vietnam where he saw and experienced the ravages of war.

A 74-year-old Vietnam veteran, Bob was sick with lung disease and unwilling to evacuate when the fury of Hurricane Michael tore through the Florida Panhandle in 2018. Robbie and his sister LaBelle Street, both hundreds of miles away in Mississippi, prayed for their father’s safety. And they continued to pray for his salvation—just like they had been doing for decades. Over the last few years, in fact, Robbie says his entire church in Tupelo had been praying for his father.

The answer to those fervent prayers came in an unexpected way.

Months after the hurricane hit, his father still had large downed trees in his yard, which was the case for many in the hard-hit area near Panama City, Florida. Samaritan’s Purse volunteers had been in the area since the storm struck and were working to clean up Bob’s neighborhood well into the spring of this year.

That’s when Bob met some “kids” working at his neighbor’s house.

It was kids. Weird the way it happened, Bob later recounted in a text message to his daughter LaBelle.

Thinking they were from a tree company, Bob had asked our volunteers for help.

A few weeks ago a group of people [were] working on a neighbor’s yard. I asked if they could come over and give me a price to remove some of mine. Well they came over. They were from Samaritan’s Purse.

A Turn for the Better

Robbie said his father had grown up in the Catholic church, but had left religion all together after moving away from home. During his time in the Vietnam War, he lost many friends in combat. He’d also later experienced failed marriages and had lived in a way he thought could never be forgiven. He let suffering and difficulty form a wedge between him and God.

Samaritan’s Purse volunteers cleared away the trees in Bob’s yard in a matter of hours. But our team didn’t just move on. They kept returning to check on Bob, who was frail from COPD and emphysema. Robbie says his father was also weak from the stress of the storm.

Our team didn’t just move on. They kept returning to check on Bob.

It was during these visits that volunteers shared the Gospel with Bob, a message he was able to accept following all the kindness shown him. He prayed to receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior just a few short days after his yard was cleared.

He texted his daughter again: I guess they could see I wasn’t very well. They just took [me] under their wing and got Jesus involved in my life. Awesome experience. Life has definitely taken a turn for the better. I guess when the Lord is ready for me, he will take me. I am okay with that. I had a good life. When it’s time I will be ready. I have asked Jesus recently to forgive me for my sins, to come into my heart and take control of my life.

At the End, a Changed Man

Not even six months after his conversion, retired Air Force Master Sergeant “Bob” Bushway died August 6, 2019, at the age of 74. His memorial service was held at the Veterans of Foreign Wars outpost that he’d frequented since moving to Panama City. During the service, Robbie, his son, was able to remember the person his dad was and to share the good news of the person his dad had become in Jesus Christ.

Robbie Bushway, left, and Bob, his father.

Robbie Bushway, left, and Bob, his father.

The first few sentences of his obituary read like this: Just months before his death and through the ministry of Samaritans Purse, Bob came to know that his only comfort in life and death was that he was not his own. He belongs with body and soul, both in life and now in death, to his faithful Redeemer Jesus Christ. Jesus fully paid for Bob’s sins with His precious blood, and has set him free from the power of pain and death. His family grieves and will miss him deeply, but they grieve as those with Hope. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints”—Psalm 116:15.

Robbie says that for the last several months of his father’s life, they talked by phone about his new relationship with Jesus.

“He had always been a very anxious person, but now he had a calm and contentment in the way that he conversed with me,” Robbie said. “He would say ‘Did you know that Christ has forgiven all of my sins?’ ‘Yeah I do.’ ‘No. I mean all of them.’ I don’t think he could really fathom it because of a lot of the struggles that he had been through in his life.

“Whenever I spoke with him, he would tell me he was reading his Bible and praying every day. He’d say, ‘I really don’t understand much of what I’m reading but I can see myself in a lot of it.’ It was amazing. It was the seeds of many people over many years and then God used Samaritan’s Purse at just the right moment.”

His daughter LaBelle says she’s grateful that volunteers were willing to follow up with her father and ask him about Jesus.

“They went above and beyond,” LaBelle said. “They could have done all those repairs for him and that would have been nothing compared to the other thing they did for him–checking on him and just the few simple words ‘Do you know Christ? Let me introduce you.’”


We praise God for His saving grace to Bob. Samaritan’s Purse staff and volunteers continue serving in multiple locations right now, helping those in need and sharing with them the hope found only in Jesus Christ. Find out more about volunteering with us.

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U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of volunteers to provide emergency aid to U.S. victims of wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In the aftermath of major storms, we often stay behind to rebuild houses for people with nowhere else to turn for help.

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