Bill Hayden was an opposition leader, former Governor-General of Australia, and staunch atheist.
He was famous for refusing the Chief Scout position that would normally accompany the title of Governor-General because it required that he swear “to do my best to do my duty to my God.”
Yet, after a nearly fatal stroke late in life, his entire outlook on life was shaken to the core.
While in the hospital, Hayden had experiences that resulted in him wholly shifting towards the belief that God exists.
In that place, Hayden determined, “[There was] more to life than just me. I had to make a decision of myself for the good of others, before God. Felt that strongly.”
It’s amazing how all his years as an atheist and actively opposing something he didn’t believe in left him with the undeniable realization that the One he refused was, in fact, the One he was now accountable to.
Father Peter Dillon, the Catholic priest who baptized Hayden, said: “I think Bill’s been spending a lot of time in the service of people in government and in the general community, and he took a while to discover there’s a context for all of that. I think he’s been living a very Christian life. He’s got a name for what he’s been doing all along.”
But once Hayden realized it, there was no more denying the Truth.
His stroke happened in 2014, but his baptism wasn’t until 2018.
As you might imagine, there were quite a few things to rewire in his understanding of reality after 80-plus years of actively refusing the Truth.
Hayden told Father Dillon that the game-changing moment came during those gap years when Sister Angela Mary Doyle fell ill and went to the hospital.
For her amazing service, Hayden had always admired her well-doing. Something about that had always been working in his spirit to testify to Greater Things.
Father Dillon seems to be in tune to that.
Curiously, Hayden admits that he “always felt embraced and loved by her Christian example,” which even in his atheist days was something that fascinated him about her life.
God has worked the night shift through human dreams and subconscious for a long time, and it seems Hayden’s experience was no different.
“The next morning I woke with the strong sense that I had been in the presence of a holy woman, so after dwelling on those things I found my way back to the core of those beliefs — the Church,” Hayden recalls.
And on his baptism date, Hayden joined St. Mary’s Church near Brisbane for Mass as a soul won over to Christ — now officially public news.
This September 9, 2018 date is special to him, his wife and his daughter. “This took too long, and now I am going to be devoted. From this day forward, I’m going to vouch for God.”
Father Dillon is very hopeful not only about Hayden’s personal entrance into eternal life, but for the impact his story can have on dozens who hear of Hayden’s transformation.
“Most of us learn about God from somebody whom we admire and respect and I think that’s going to be the case for a lot of people when it comes to Bill Hayden.”
It is never too late for God to change someone’s story from dead to alive, from darkness to light.
Whether it’s a family member we’ve prayed salvation for over many years or a toothache that won’t go away, God sees us. He hears us.
He desires we continue to seek Him in faith, whether we see the answer yet or not.
Especially regarding salvation, let us not be “ashamed of the Gospel” because it is “the power of God unto salvation for all who believe” (Romans 1:16).
Just like Father Dillon mentioned, humans connect to stories. Let people see the testimony of your life and how Christ living in you is changing you into a citizen of heaven.
Study the Word and be faithful in prayer so that when the opportunity comes, you are “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 1:16).
And never, ever give up the good fight of praying for the salvation of someone you care about.
While God is on His throne and there is still breath in that person’s lungs, there is hope!