Robert Surgenor ~ Cleveland, Ohio

It was a cold February night, but less than seventy feet away was a molten, boiling, lake of fire! Behind fire-brick walls, and heavy water-cooled steel doors, a 500-ton mass of seething molten steel bubbled at 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit. It was fed by a tremendous flame that required 700 gallons of oil per hour. This was an open hearth furnace -- the very heart of steel making.

            Over the years, God had spoken to me through two motorcycle wrecks, three near disasters while piloting a plane, and a near drowning in the Atlantic Ocean. But, like many brought up in a Christian home, I did not want God’s ways (Job 21:14).

            My mother objected to me going to the mills for work, but it was “big money.” However, during my first month I witnessed the gory death of a fellow worker. As my father, the melter foreman, took his remains away, I thought, “If that were you, Bob, where would your soul be?” Immediately I pushed the thought out of my mind.

            In the course of twenty years, three men had fallen into the pits -- a fifteen-foot drop in back of the furnaces. Two were burned alive, but I survived. A brush with death was nothing to laugh at. God was speaking to me again. Mother cried, and pleaded with me to quit, but money, sin, and fun were my gods.

            Then one day, a swinging overhead crane hook just narrowly missed my head. I was shaken! Fellow workers on the scene shouted in jest: “Hey Surgenor, if that thing had hit your head, you’d be shoveling coal in hell right now!” Their laughter pierced my heart! I had heard the Bible enough to know that there is no shoveling coal in hell -- just a flame that torments its victims. A steady, piercing flame on the soul! A place of no comfort, water, or hope! But their words of jest were like arrows from Almighty God in my heart. They stuck, and I couldn’t get rid of them.

            Looking into the furnace through a wicket hole, preparation was made to draw out a sample of molten steel for testing. As my eyes beheld the white-hot roaring flame and the steel lake of fire, my soul trembled. A voice said, “He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy.” It was a Bible verse I’d learned in Sunday School many years before, and now God was bringing it to my remembrance to awaken me (Proverbs 29:1).

            After the shift, I went home from the steel mill a young man convicted of sin, scared of going to hell, and wanting to be saved. A few days later, on February 10, 1952 I was humbled, broken, crying and trembling for fear of meeting God in my sins. At that moment, my dear wife who had been saved just six days before pointed me to the Savior. I trusted the Lord Jesus Christ who died for me on the cross.

            The Lake of Fire is a real place you deserve to suffer in, forever, for all of your sins. As a helpless sinner, you too can be saved because, “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Are you saved?