¡§This is my brother, Jonathan¡¨. They walked into the room together, one limping as he walked, the other patiently walking by his side. Matthew and Jonathan were brothers who would be attending my VBS class for the next few days. Jonathan was a 9 year old boy who suffered from a mental and physical handicap. He was just as bright as all the other kids in my class, yet it took him a little longer to formulate his thoughts and articulate them into words. When he walked, his right leg struggled to hold him up, as he limped from side to side. The simple task of walking was a battle for him, and climbing stairs seemed almost impossible. But he pressed on.
¡§Do you want to take the elevator, Jonathan?¡¨ ¡§No¡¨, he spoke slurred and slow- but with certainty, ¡§I think I can do it¡¨. And he did.
His brother, Matthew, was his best friend. Matthew was one year older than Jonathan, but he was his strength and support. One day, near the end of the stairwell, Jonathan took a hard fall in front of all the children. I could see the disappointment on his face. And then I saw Matthew run to his side and I heard, ¡§It¡¦s okay. You¡¦re almost there, Jonathan, you can do it!¡¨ I believe that that was the voice that got Jonathan through, and kept him going. They were inseparable, and I could see why.
All week, through my lessons, I noticed Jonathans eyes light up as we talked about the great love of Jesus. Although he smiled much, he spoke rarely. On one of the last night¡¦s of session, we talked about the value of knowing and loving the Lord. I¡¦m not one to ¡§push¡¨ children to salvation. In fact, I am cautious and not very trusting of inviting children to ¡§Pray the prayer of Salvation¡¨. My heart had even grown cynical towards the fact that a child can truly be saved at such a young age. I just wasn¡¦t sure that they could grasp and understand.
I was forgetting something- the great power of the Holy Spirit. I was forgetting that God calls US to have faith like a child. We are to be conformed to their methods¡Kthe simple trust and dependency that comes from no other example but a child. This child was about to teach me great things.
After the lesson, I invited anyone who wanted to know more about Jesus to stay back and chat with me ¡V at the great loss of missing craft time. Sure enough, everyone buzzed out the door and towards their next destination. As I was packing up my things and getting ready to go, I noticed Jonathan hadn¡¦t budged. He slowly stood up, and walked over to me.
¡§Miss Debbie¡¨, he spoke slowly, ¡§Can you tell me how I can love Jesus?¡¨
Everything within me melted. Here was a precious boy, who had already realized that there was something more to this life, and he wanted it. I smiled and joked, ¡§You sure you want to miss craft sweetie?¡¨ With all seriousness Jonathan replied, ¡§Miss Debbie, this is more important¡K¡¨
And so we sat, and talked. We spoke of Jesus, and our need for Him, as humans who were born with sin. ¡§I do bad things all the time- do you?¡¨ he asked me. He understood. We spoke of the cross, and the beauty that comes when Jesus comes and takes away the sins of the world. We talked about the suffering of Christ, and how he died in our place. ¡§Did Jesus go to hell for us when He died so that we wouldn¡¦t have to?¡¨ Now he was grasping even more theological truth than I was even prepared to answer ?º
He was absolutely ready to accept the Lord, and by the end of the 20 minutes, I was sure that he had completely grasped the power in the love of Christ¡Kthe Lord was doing a great work in this little boy¡¦s heart.
I prayed for him, and then with all beauty and simplicity he prayed, asking the Lord to come and take over, to come and change him. ¡§Will Jesus even change my emotions?¡¨ he asked, ¡§because sometimes I¡¦m not very brave¡¨. I have no doubt that Jonathan will walk with the bravest of men.
The transforming power of God in a life cannot be mistaken for anything else. ¡§Miss Debbie,¡¨ he said, ¡§I was so happy when Jesus came into my heart that I stopped breathing for a second!¡¨ It was clear that he had been touched, his bright face was filled with joy.
As we walked out of the room, to meet up with his brother (I had never seen them apart before this very moment), he walked quickly! ¡§Matthew!! Guess what?!¡¨ ¡§What, Jonathan?¡¨ ¡§You tell him, Miss Debbie!¡¨
¡§Jonathan trusted in Jesus today, Matthew. He asked him into his heart.¡¨
¡§Have you ever done that, Matthew?¡¨ Jonathan asked very seriously. ¡§Um¡KNo, I never have¡¨ ¡§Well, why dontcha?? Why dontcha right now??¡¨ This time it was the voice and hand of Jonathan that was leading, and it was a beautiful sight.
Sure enough, Matthew decided right there and then that he wanted to take some time to hear more about Jesus, and by the end of our chat he had also decided that this was a step he wanted to take in his life. He followed Jonathan into an irreplaceable relationship with the Most High God.
Walking back to meet his dad, Jonathan walked faster than his legs could manage, he couldn¡¦t wait to tell his dad what had happened. The whole way back was filled with questions, he wanted to know more and more.
¡§Miss Debbie, can my dad read my bible to me everyday, since I can¡¦t ready very well? Miss Debbie, I won¡¦t have my bible till I get home, is it okay if I don¡¦t ready it for a week? Miss Debbie, I did something bad today, is Jesus going to be able to forgive me again?¡¨
His faith and his passion, at the age of 9, put me to shame. I learned a lot from Jonathan, although I was the one that was supposed to be there to teach him- but oh, how often truth is revealed to us in the most humbling of ways.
I learned that my complexity many times keeps me away from the simplicity found in the deep love of Christ. I learned that many times, I trust my tactics and the methods of evangelism over the mighty and indescribable power of the Holy Spirit. I learned that, in order to enter the kingdom of God¡K
We must ALL become as children. There is no other way.
Debra Rashid is a mental health counselor at a local hospital, working with at-risk children and youth. She is currently studying to get her Masters in Counseling at Liberty University. Debra wants to take this education into the inner city, where her passion lies, and use it to bring change about in the lives of urban youth. She is currently the director of an inner city mentorship program. She hopes her passion in writing will spark others to reach the world with the love of God that has been shown to her.