Georgia Xavier knelt beside her bed. She ignored the fire growing in her joints. The matter at hand was more pressing.
“Lord, I come before Your throne tonight on behalf of my grandbaby. She plans to run away tonight. Please find her. Save my baby, Jesus.”
* * * * *
A teenage girl carrying a pink duffle bag entered the bus station. She looked around the room. An elderly woman sat near the back window and a man with a grizzled beard napped by the front door.
“How may I help you?” asked the clerk at the ticket counter.
“I need a ticket for the next bus.”
“It leaves in one hour. That’ll be $35.”
She retrieved a few crumpled bills from her pocket. The clerk handed her a bus ticket. She decided to sit by the back window so she could gaze at the stars.
“Excuse me, dear, do you have the time?”
She glanced at her watch. “It’s 7:30, Ma’am.”
“My name is Mrs. Withers. What’s your name, child?”
“I am Peace Anjanette Xavier. It’s a mouthful isn’t it?”
“Did you know that your initials spell the Latin word for ‘peace’?”
“I’m sure my mother had no clue.”
“If I may ask, where are you headed all alone?”
“I can’t take it here anymore so I’m running away.”
Mrs. Withers thought for a moment. “Do you have a home with someone who cares for you?”
“Yes, I live with my grandmother,” Peace said.
“Well, if you have the essentials, what more do you think you’ll find out there?” She stretched her hand towards the window.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Mrs. Withers leaned forward. “Try me.”
“What about a junkie for a mother? I lived with her until I was four. When she got caught tryin’ to sell me for drugs, the courts sent me to live with my grandmother. I never even met my father. You see, I was doomed from birth.”
Mrs. Withers remained silent.
“I knew you wouldn’t understand. Older people never do.”
“I beg your pardon. When I was a few years younger than you, I watched three armed men force my parents out of our car and into the woods one night. When I heard the gunshots, I jumped out and ran as fast as my legs could carry me all the way to my uncle’s house. Back in those days, when a Black man stood up for the cause of justice, the price was often high.”
“What did you do?”
“I moved in with my aunt and uncle. Not a day went by that I didn’t think about them. My despair turned to bitterness. I hated those men for what they did and my parents for standing up for a cause that left me orphaned.”
“You don’t seem like a mean old lady to me. What happened?”
Peace laughed. “That’s the same line Grandma tried to sell me. Can God change the last fifteen years of my life?”
“Don’t mock God, child. People doubt Him because He works in quiet ways sometimes, adding strength to our characters instead of our fists. He did rescue you from your mother.”
“I’m doomed anyway.”
“You’re not responsible for your parents’ decisions. Let go of this pain or your mind will forever be chained to their choices. God can break mental strongholds and bring true peace.”
Peace brushed back tears. “Do I have to wait ‘til Sunday to ask Him for help?”
“Heavens no! Come sit next to me. We’ll ask Him right now.”
Peace joined hands with Mrs. Withers whose grip was remarkable for someone her age.
“Lord, it’s just one of your children here seeking healing for the young woman with the godly name. Break the hold her past has created. Place upon her mind everlasting peace as only You can give. Grant her freedom in Christ’s name, for who the Son sets free is truly free indeed. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Mrs. Withers lifted the young girl’s chin. “Remember, it’s not always how you start out, but how you finish that counts. How will you finish, Peace?”
Peace exhaled deeply. She walked over to the pay phone at the opposite end of the room and dialed a number she knew by heart.
“Hello?” said the voice on the other end.
“Grandma, I’m ready to come home.”
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