By David Pam McQuel
And the girl walked forward at the end of the sermon. The young preacher had his eyes shut when he felt someone pulling at his shirt. At first he ignored it, then the pull was a little stronger.

Just for a second he lost concentration, then he ended the prayer. And he looked down and saw this beautiful girl.

The congregation in that little assembly stood still, and watched.
What does she want? Everyone wondered.

But with the preachers gifted compassionate smile he bend down and asked.
Hello girl, what can I do for you?
She lifted her face, and she’s been crying. “I want Jesus in my heart today.” Sobbing.

The you preacher froze, didn’t know what to say or how to say it immediately. He has been preaching for five years and two months, he has had hundreds of people sit under his ministry and yet this was such an extraordinary moment he has had just a few times.
He could feel the heat of her desire. He could sense the urgency and hunger. He imagined he heartbeat.
“What’s your name?”

“Who invited you to Church? Are your parents here?”

She was a little bit shivering. He got more concerned as if forgetting her request.
“Are you in any trouble?” He enquired more ardently.

And the congregation went dead silent. A few ushers moved forward to help attend to the girl so the preacher can disperse the people. But the preacher gestured with a hand wave to mean hold on.
He explained to the congregation that children are equally important. That they will all wait, until they girl is served. And everyone nodded affirmative.

Turning back to the girl, he asked one more time slowly.
“Maria, what do you want?”
“I want Jesus in my heart.” She said, eyes locked on the cross on the pulpit.

Maria’s mum goes to church just a few times in a year. Her dad is a well sort after civil engineer, totally irreligious. While Maria’s mum never applies her faith to life, church is more of a social gathering and charitable club.

The family moderately wealthy and lack nothing. As young as her 9 years are concerned, she has lived them in luxury. She has had all the toys, the best clothes, she has had the best birthday parties and gifts and vacation in amazing places.

But the past one year has been different. She has been completely indifferent towards life. Nothing appeals to her. She had a birthday without a special dress, without a cake and refused to attend outdoor events and parties of her elite peers.

Reason? She just feels empty.

In the last few days, there has been so much intensity in her non disposition. Her parents were concerned. Her mum was clueless. They tried to find her some help, including from a shrink.
Maria was non responsive.

Her mum will just watch and sob. Then take another glass of whisky to numb the fears.
A few days ago, 5 days to be precise. Maria on her way back from school had an encounter. There was a traffic build up, because of a minor road repairs.

Her bus happened to wait by a group of middle school teenagers. They were walking home from their public school, something she has always been told to be the place for poor and hopeless kids.

They could not afford good uniforms, expensive school bags or snacks. Their uniforms were not really neat and designed. But one of the girls caught her attention.

She was disabled. Her left leg was distorted backwards and she had to use a staff to hang the leg on and walk with much difficulty. It was heartbreaking.

However, Maria noticed another thing. Not only was this disadvantaged girl having fun with her friends, she was they one making everyone laugh to tears. She was happy, beautiful, well braided hair and totally unconscious of her physical condition.

Maria, was spellbound.
How can she be so very happy? She has so much to be sad about. She has so much to complain about. She has nothing to smile about.

Yet here she was, sitting in an air-conditioning bus, luxurious seats, executive school and sits in classrooms better than university lecture halls, yet never been half happy as that disabled teenager.
She has never seen her parents that happy. She has never seen anyone in their family friends home electrify that kind of happiness.

She thought what a useless life I live. She kept wondering for the last five years, what’s the secret of such exuberance?

And this Sunday morning she walked out of the house and had no interest in the routine expensive breakfast that has become heart ache for her.
“Mum, just a walk in the neighborhood.”
“Alright baby.”

As she wondered on the meaningless of life, walking between the plush lawns of the luxurious estate, she came across a church. It could seat 150 people. She sat in the middle row.

She noticed this church was different. Families sit together with their kids. In her mum’s church, their is a children’s church, a teens’ church and a separate service for seniors.

Among other things came the sermon. Then she was gradually eyes-glued on the young preacher.
For a moment, the disabled girl came back to her mind. The sermon’s title brought her back.

“Good morning brothers and sisters. Today we are going to take a journey to finding what I call True Happiness.”

Then like a master surgeon he dissected through his message what Maria thought was a surgery into her family’s vain glory. In 30minutes, he skilfully cut through what does not bring happiness. And Maria thought to herself all through it, “How can this pastor know my family so well?”.

She saw that her family was doomed. Their family pride was doom and their source of arrogance was vanity. They can never fine true peace and happiness going on like that.

When the next 15 minutes run out, young Maria knew what she wanted. Jesus in her family, but most importantly Jesus in her life.

Before the pastor prayed, she was ready. Before he could end the prayer, she was at the altar all by herself, pulling the preacher’s shirt.

Tears have washed her face, a heart was broken and ready for the new Master.
That day she found Jesus, she found everlasting life.

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