Dying Atheist Cancer Patient Had One Final Wish: To Be Baptized

A man who lived his whole life as an atheist finally gave his life to Christ and was baptized during his final days.


Thomas Roberts passed away on Sept. 9, 2019, due to lung cancer. He was wheelchair bound and needed oxygen tubes to breathe, but his last wish was to be baptized.

Corey Agricola, chaplain at the University of Alabama Birmingham Hospital, and the palliative care team ensured Roberts’ desire was fulfilled as he had just days to live. Agricola discussed with Roberts’ physician, Dr. Ashley Nichols, so that Roberts could be taken off oxygen long enough to be entirely submerged underwater.

“Dr. Nichols made it clear he would only be able to be off oxygen for a few seconds, which meant we couldn’t roll him down the ramp in the pool wheelchair, so we had to use the chairlift to place him in the pool,” the chaplain said.


Agricola said Roberts’ baptism was “the greatest day of my career,” which spanned 20 years of ministry. Standing in the poll, the chaplain read Romans 6:4-11 and before he baptized him, he said, “Thomas, you never thought you would preach a sermon in your life; but you preached today,” Agricola before baptizing Roberts. “You made an impact on people who you do not even know.”

He added, “We thank God for the good and perfect gift of this day. This is one of the greatest days of your life, Thomas, because we are celebrating your new life.”


Roberts was surrounded by his wife, son, two sisters, niece, and nephew. Gina Gibson, one of Roberts’ sisters, said her brother’s baptism brings her “complete comfort and peace” because she “know[s] where he is going now.” She added, “I don’t have to worry about it,” she continued. “Now there will be great joy just knowing where he is going. He is at peace. He was born again. You could see that on his face after the baptism. He was born again.”


David Gibson, Roberts’ nephew, praised the team at UAB for their help and kindness, “You moved everything around — all of the departments worked together to make it happen,” he said. “I give all the glory to God, but you guys rocked it.”

Luke 15:7, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”


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