About six years ago, I went to the Poconos for a winter retreat with my church. It was a small, simple gathering of about forty kids.
We were not yet teens but slowly coming to realize ourselves as more than just children.
Since I was new to the church, a few friends of mine gave me a basic overview on the kids of our youth group. I can still remember a few random faces and the descriptions that went with them:
"Oh, that's so-and-so. He's such a pussy; he wet
the bed at last year's retreat." or "That's
the kid that kicked so-and-so's butt cuz he bothered his sister."
"Who here loves Jesus?"
Everyone raised their hand; some even shouted small cries of their devotion.
"Then those of you that really love Jesus please come to the front of the room...and suffer his fate."
A confused and scared silence congested the air of the room. No one dared make a sound, even a cough, for fear that everyone else may look at him. It seemed as though everything had been frozen in a heavy fog that engulfed the room. Watches seemed to have stopped. Eyes ceased to blink. The only thing that moved was the flowing perspiration as we all waited for something to happen. The pastor clenched the stake high above his head.
"Who here is willing to place their hand out for
this stake to puncture it? Who? WHO?!"
Her face was streaked with the rivers of tears, not emotional tears like
that of all of ours had been, but spiritual tears
flowing from her dull eyes. She slowly peeled her arms from her
sides and lifted them to the man before her.
Not much changed the next day. She didn't miraculously lose
her physical defects. She was still made fun of...mostly by the
kids that weren't at the last night's service. And I'm sure that
if I asked any of the kids that were in that room the final night if they
ever made fun of anyone ever again that they would all say yes.
But the fact of the matter is, that occurence will stay with all of us,
the teachers, the kids, everyone, for the rest of our lives.
And perhaps we should all stop being so
judgmental, so ready to accuse or ridicule or hate, and stop
modeling ourselves to be like the Romans. Because as much as
it surprised us all, the only one of us that approached the
pastor with a sincere courage was that "retard,
that ugly retard" girl.