I wasn’t even looking to be brave. I wasn’t expecting a conversation,
fresh off of four days of not leaving my apartment with a bad cold. I was expecting a quick jaunt to the xerox, to make copies, then to my old apartment to get a few things, then back to my new apartment to continue getting ready. Turns out, He had other plans. Plans to answer prayers. Plans to restore my hope here, now—for this new season and this old, wounded place where my weary heart is trying to resettle once more.
And so, He had a whole crowd of college students also seeking to make copies, waiting for one or two copiers in the back to get it done. So the owner instructed me to sit down, and I sat beside one of those college students, a young girl studying on the couch. She made room for me, then continued to flip through her notebook and the copies of the notes that she made. And in ten seconds of bravery that really wasn’t yet bravery—it was just my curiosity—I asked, Apka homework? Your homework?
My notes, she answered in English. Actually, I have a big exam on June 18th. I have much tension about it.
And that’s when the bravery had to come. I knew I had to claim His name over her, over this exam. But I also knew deeper things were stirring in her heart, and I wanted to claim His name over those things too. Little did I know…
Well, I follow Jesus, and so I will pray to Jesus for you, to ease your tension and to help you do well on your exam.
And His name shattered something in her. Something shifted in her dark eyes, set beside a dark birth mark that added to the shadows on her sunken, tired face. A heaviness lifted for a moment from a stranger willing to see her. To really see her. They darted up at me, back to the papers she, absentmindedly now, flipped through, checking and rechecking and rechecking. Back and forth they went, with the pages, with her thoughts, with her heartbeats. Back and forth, the walls shook, ready to topple.
Actually, I am facing many problems just now.
And with that, her heart opened up just as smoothly as the notebook she flipped through.The walls fell. She told me her story. Within the past year, she has lost her mom and her dad. She has a little sister who tried to commit suicide. I’m not brave enough to commit suicide, she sighed. What would my sister do? Everything I do is just for her.
She talked me through her guilt, how she wronged her mother when she couldn’t take care of her, how she often lied to her father—except for the morning that he died.
And I told her how Jesus paid for those wrong things that we all have done. I told her that her mom is not mad at her—and neither is God.
Actually, I feel, that when my parents died, my god died also.
I told her how Jesus died. But how He lives again.
I didn’t have many words beyond those. I just kept telling her that I would pray for her in Jesus’ name. I gave her my number, in case she wanted to get in touch. She told me how she knows of Jesus, how Jesus followers came to her village, how sometime she even prays to Him: I don’t know you, but please help me, she says as she passes a Catholic church with a statue of Jesus outside. But her uncle says, Don’t follow their ways, and so she hesitates to trust. Actually, it is very hard for me to trust anyone.
We shared silence for a time. I continued to wait. She continue to flip the pages. Finally, she got up and left, but she smiled as she did. She said she’d hope to see me again.
I haven’t told many friends what happened to my parents, but somehow today I have told you everything…
It wasn’t me, I say, hesitating a moment. It’s Jesus.
He made me brave to claim His name. And when I did, everything about those moments with that girl changed. Her questions about America, about me, stopped in their tracks, and my questions about her family brought out the hard things, broke down the walls she hides behind.
The walls that we all hide behind.
Jesus breaks the walls. Just claim His name. Just call upon Him.
I got to be a small answer to that girl’s desperate pleas. And she was an answer to my own secret heart cries to be used—cries that for so long have felt unheard, unanswered, undone in the face of what others are doing. But this time, He chose me to sit on that couch. To wait over an hour for a few copies. To ask this girl about her homework. To hear a story that will haunt me and keep me on my knees and on my feet for a world full of stories just like hers—of heartbreak and walls that keep many out. But cannot keep Him out. Nothing will keep Him out of their stories, if we’re just willing to be a little brave and claim His name.