November 22, 2010

A story

From time to time people ask me why I like OHC. And even though I do my best to tell them how much I love the outreach, the spiritual focus of the classes, the positive peer-pressure, and the mentorship...I usually feel that I've completely failed to really express my appreciation for this place. I mean seriously, how can you use a thing so limiting as words to communicate an experience?

A story can tell more than words...

Let me tell you just one.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a girl who had a beautiful relationship with Jesus. He was her very best friend. Through all the ups and downs of life, she leaned on Him, trusting contentedly that He knew best. She cheerfully accepted each day just as it came, knowing that He was the pilot of her life, and would lead her only to what was truly best for her. Spending time with Him was the sweetest and brightest highlight of her day, and morning and evening would find her hidden away in a secret place enjoying His company.

However this girl was a young girl... tender and sensitive. She was impressionable and easily wounded. One storm, harder than others she had experienced, knocked the breath out of her and left her struggling to get back up on her knees. A little doubt was presented to her mind that if Jesus was a loving friend, He would not require such a hard trial. As she entertained the evil thought, her sweet Friend began to seem like an enemy, and her heart hardened against Him. Instead of seeking His approval, she filled the emptiness in her heart with other friendships...

These friendships provided some support and affirmation, but it wasn't long until one by one they wounded her. Each wound hardened her more until she developed a virtual steel barricade around her. Especially toward men. She hated them. In her mind, it seemed that they were all out to get her--looking to deliberately break her trust. They seemed to only care for themselves.

In this mindset, she came to OHC.

And Jesus was at OHC.

Jesus was in the hearts and hugs of caring teachers. Jesus was in the preaching of humble speakers. Jesus was in the textbooks, and the scripture songs, and the simple hymns sung in rich stirring harmony that sounded like something fit for heaven. But most striking to the girl, was that Jesus was in the lives of young men. They read their Bibles, and seemed to experience the sweetness that she remembered from her own experience with Jesus. They were compassionate, patient, and gentle. They were friendly to her in spite of the fact that she coldly pushed them away, and often made cynical remarks about the shortcomings of their gender. They didn't just preach messages that came from the heart, they lived the words they preached.

The girl began to soften. The anger lost its hold on her, and she began to experience her friendship with Jesus again... As she learned to trust Him, the ability to trust others came too. And for the first time in years she began to experience the joy of simple unassuming friendship.

One day, on a canvassing program in Rogers, AR in the fall of 2010, some of these guys got a bright idea. A funny little bright idea that seemed to flow from one to another through suspicious looking whispers and sheepish grins.
These boys packed the girls up and sent them off to shop, run errands, canvass, do homework--anything as long as they were away from the house. Curiosity peaked...especially when on their arrival back home, the girls were graciously escorted to their rooms--and locked inside, with a guard at the door to boot! What on earth were they up to??

Was it a prank?

Guesses multiplied as fast as girls can think.
But no one was prepared for the surprise...

I don't think a girl can completely prepare herself for an unmerited display of unselfish kindness.
Soft music, candles, roses for each girl, a delicious meal, smoothies like only Hermano Arturo can make them--all for nothing?

No--not for nothing, they said.

"We just want to show our appreciation for our sisters."

I'm a pretty lucky girl to have friends that let Jesus live through them like that! And I'm a pretty lucky girl to be at a place like OHC.