By Taylor Fiddyment
Annelise Shaw skillfully wrapped a blood pressure cuff around the little girl's small arm, pumping the air into it like she had done countless times throughout the day. She didn’t notice the little girl watching her intently, eyes bright with the excitement of the visiting medical team.
Alexandria was ten years old, traveling through Central America from Honduras with her family in search of a new life and schooling that would guide her to the dream of becoming an engineer. Her family had arrived at the U.S. border in Mexicali, Mexico and were biding their time at a house that hosted travelers and refugees called Casa de Alfa y Omega. Mexico Outreach’s Team Luke, the medical team, set up their mobile clinic in the courtyard of the house and offered basic medicines, wellness checks, wound care, and the service of an Optometrist (he’s the guy that gets you set up with glasses).
Annelise, as a biology major, was immediately interested in volunteering with Team Luke for the Spring Break trip to Mexicali. Some friends had encouraged her to go, sharing compelling stories from their experiences there and it all seemed exciting!... But she felt fear welling up thinking about going there. Weren’t the caravans supposed to be dangerous? Would we be anywhere near them? What will my parents say? I’m not equipped to help people in deep pain. I don’t even speak Spanish!
But God’s peace replaced the fear, and she knew it’s what she would do, come what may.
Not long after Annelise had done Alexandria’s health assessment, she began to notice the little girl hovering nearby. Before long, Alexandria was easily chatting with her, telling her about her dreams and her family, favorite animal, her favorite color (blue). With the help of the team translator, Annelise got to hear the girl’s story from her own perspective. Alexandria had been top of her class in school, loving school and proud of her hard work. But a teacher had begun to treat her poorly, favoring other students, and eventually became abusive. Hearing this story, seeing what lengths Alexandria’s family had gone to to get there, Annelise knew she had an opportunity to be the deliverer of encouragement to her new friend, so she took it.
“Alexandria, what that teacher did to you was unacceptable. You are a child of God and you deserve to be treated like one! But you cannot let that teacher’s actions discourage you from continuing your dream. You will be an amazing engineer. Don’t give up.”
It was only then that Annelise really stopped to look around. Each of these people had their own stories, their own dreams, their own struggles. They hadn’t chosen their situations, but each one of the people in this house was choosing to do something about it. They refused to be victims of their environment.
We never know the impact a single conversation might have on the life of another. As we know from math (my literal least favorite) if a line is shifted even a single degree from its origin, it can drastically alter the trajectory of that line. I wholeheartedly believe that God offers us the opportunity to help shift trajectories. And chances are, we will never get to see the effects of those conversations, as the potential for those lines are infinite! But as someone who’s trajectory has been drastically altered for the better, multiple times, by seemingly simple conversations and exhortations, I choose to believe it is powerful.
So, say YES. Whatever it is that you’re wrestling with. Whether it is making the decision to step out of your boat and follow Jesus for the first time, or leave every comfortable thing you’ve ever known and embark on an adventure, or simply put a hand on a friend and pray, tell that fear to be silent because we have the privilege of doing the good work of Jesus.
“And immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”
- Mark 1:18