Friday, April 6, 2012

How my young friend met Jesus.

With every disability, there seems to be skills and strengths that grow to compensate. I know one young fellow, who despite an inability to score high on IQ tests, had a deep appreciation for music and a passion for drama. With those strengths in mind, it seemed natural to bring this young man to a musical. Being Easter time, we brought him to an Easter musical, there were four of us that went to an evening performance; two staff and two young men from the house where we worked.

We decided to sit in the balcony, near an exit, since my young friend had never been to a live performance and we were unsure how he would respond. After he chatted with a few people sitting around us, the play began. My young friend was enraptured as he silently watched the story unfold. He was particularly impressed with the actors dressed up as Roman soldiers. He whispered a few polite comments about how awesome they were, as he sat between the other staff person and me.

All went well, that is until the story reached the Garden of Gethsemane and those same soldiers came to arrest Jesus. This young man was indignant, outraged, and wanted to make sure that everyone knew it. He spoke loudly, “They can’t do that. Don’t they know who that is? That is Jesus, they can’t arrest him!” The longer the scene went, the more agitated he became, until he stood up and tried to leave, “I have to go stop this! They can’t arrest Him!”

The other staff person and I kept the young man from leaving his seat and repeatedly tried to calm him down, telling him to relax and wait. There was more to the story. He seemed to buy that…at least until the crucifixion scene. At this point, I was concerned we might have to make use of that nearby exit. Thankfully, intermission came and we were able to spend that time easing his agitation—mostly with multiple trips to a nearby drinking fountain.

The second act started bleakly, but quickly moved to the resurrection. With spotlights, angels, theatrical smoke, and inspirational soaring music from the pit orchestra, Jesus arose from the tomb. My young friend was delighted. He stood up with his arms in the air, and with an urban, hip-hop cadence began to chant, “You go Jesus. You go Jesus.”

The musical finished, the actors took their bows and all filed to the foyer, lining up to greet the audience. At the appropriate time, we, too, slipped out and down a back staircase to avoid the crowds. I went to the lobby with one of the young men while the other staff person walked with our animated young friend. I looked back and realized I could not see the other staff person, so we stood to the side and watched for them.

After a while, I saw the duo approaching. The young gentleman was talking non-stop and gesturing wildly. When he saw me he blurted out, “Rob, Rob, guess what, guess what?!  I saw Jesus. He shook my hand, and he said hello, and he was nice and guess what, guess what? I. Met. Jesus!!”

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