Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Outgoing (05/05/11)
TITLE: Sent Ones
By Sharlyn Guthrie
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Lydia has Aspergers Syndrome –a form of autism. Noise and chaos are particularly troubling for her, and this made public high school traumatic. That is how she ended up at our Christian school. “I don’t believe God exists,” she tells Mrs. Andrew, the resource teacher. “I can’t see Him, so why don’t you stop talking about Him?”
“I can’t stop talking about Him,” my friend replies. “He is too much a part of my life. He loves you, too, Lydia. You’ll see.” But Lydia only sees the floor, her books and papers, the table and desktops. She isn’t looking for Jesus or anyone else.
Escaping the noisy lunchroom, Lydia chooses to eat in the library instead. Normally, this is would not be allowed. But an exception is made for her and the girls who tirelessly pursue her. Each day for two years now, two or three high school girls eat in the library with Lydia, tempering their chatter, laying aside their own plans, trying to show Jesus to a frightened girl who isn’t looking. Nobody tells them to do it; they receive little in return. But perhaps one day she will lift her eyes and see.
Conspicuous in her hijab, Noor looks small and lost among the other middle school students. Although she is Muslim, in Sudan she attended a Christian school, so when her family came to the United States mid-year, they sought out another. Her English is slow, measured, and she struggles to comprehend her classmates’ incessant chatter. The teachers give her extra attention and much grace. She is polite, pleasant, and sober.
One day I ask about her home in Africa. She tells about her friends, her school, and her teachers. “Noor means light,” she says, and for a moment I glimpse it in her smile. She skips to her car, motioning to me to come along and meet her family.
Communicating with Noor can be difficult and time-consuming, so it is no surprise to see her standing alone against the lunchroom wall on another day. As I pray for just the right words to cheer her, two girls leave their group of friends and approach. “Come sit with us,” they say, and one takes her hand. Noor follows, settling into the space they leave between them. As they engage her in conversation, her smile mirrors the day’s sunshine, reminding me of the meaning of her name.
Nothing about his appearance is remarkable; some even call him homely. He rarely has a bed in which to sleep, and He is despised and rejected by those He came to serve. Many are annoyed and angered by Him.
His closest friends are a ragtag band of disciples, wavering in faith and limited in affection. But Jesus never gives up on them –not even when they forsake Him on the night of His betrayal. He also blesses the poor; is a friend to the friendless; eats with tax collectors; and speaks with harlots and Samaritans. For these and other such offenses He is put to death. But Jesus, God’s Son, overcomes death, returning to his astonished friends with this command, “…as the father has sent me, I also send you.”*
As Jesus’ disciples we are “sent ones”. Our journey may be across the ocean, the continent, the city, or the lunchroom. It may result in immediate reward such as Noor’s beautiful smile, or it may be overlooked, seeming a waste of time. To a handful of adolescent girls –a courageous, outgoing band of modern day disciples- it matters not. Reaching out to lonely and rejected classmates with the love of Jesus is practiced daily with patience and grace. Some days they put me to shame. Every day they help me see Jesus more clearly.
To whom has the Father sent you?
* John 20:21 NIV
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