Here’s a fun fact for you–I have a freckle on my left eyeball. This fact is seemingly insignificant unless you know a certain claim I made as a fourteen year old girl. Falling into the not so uncommon category of insecure, shy, and awkward, I spent a good deal of my time in middle school staring in the mirror. Perhaps my friends and I thought that the longer we stared, the less awkward we would look with our acne and braces and butterfly hair barrettes. Alas, the only discovery I made from wasted time was the fact that the said “eye freckle” existed. What a funny thing to notice! “One day, whoever I marry will notice that I have a freckle on my eyeball!” I exclaimed to my friends, sitting cross legged at slumber parties and social gatherings. “Then, I will know they are my soul mate.” Oh, what funny creatures we are at fourteen years old. Wasn’t I amused when a friend looked at me my Sophomore year of college and exclaimed, “Audrey, did you know you have a freckle on your eye?” Thus, I found my Soul Friend: Stephanie Vergara.
Tonight I received a Skype call from Steph. She’s currently in Guatemala on an eleven month journey with The World Race. Eleven countries in eleven months. She’s my hero. That sounds so shallow and empty, but how can I truly convey how grateful I am for a friend I so admire? A professor once told me that it is most difficult to write about people you care about and easiest to write of death and destruction. I believe this to be true. How can I describe our many discussion filled nights on joy, sorrow, pain, and Christianity? Our nights of mischief, pranks, and adventures in the mountains and woods? Together, for four years, we have lived, worked, played, and served together. For goodness sake, I smelled her rank tuna fish every night for dinner my entire Senior year of college.
At the beginning of the summer I injured myself while running, and found myself unable to even walk up our rather steep hills at camp. I prayed, yet, my prideful heart didn’t truly believe that God would heal me. Instead, I grumbled in my spirit, angry that people had to help me walk up hills and angry that they constantly asked how it was feeling. What a prideful little thing I was! It was Stephanie that encouraged me to believe that our God is a God of healing. One night, days before we took her to the bus station to begin her adventure overseas, she came to camp and asked if she could pray over my hip. Of course. Later that evening she asked again. “How is it feeling?” “The same,” I remarked. She reached out and prayed over me again. We were under the big camp tent in the middle of worship. I stood, making my way to go share my testimony in front of the campers, and she looked at me plainly. “God has healed you. It might still hurt for a little bit, but it’s healed. He’s just waiting on you to believe it.” When I returned from the stage, she was gone and a note lay in my seat. Four days later I felt no pain.
Bonhoeffer wrote that “God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of a man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.”
Through my many nights of doubt–of sitting on benches outside of my apartment asking God, “Why?”–Stephanie has been there asking as well. She has always accepted my questions, uncertainties, and frustrations about Religion, The Church, and even God with an open mind and a non-judgemental spirit. Through her actions, however, I have always been pointed back towards truth–back towards Christ. She walks with the homeless, feeds the hungry, and loves on all. Tonight, as I broke bread and ate supper with my family, I couldn’t help but smile with satisfaction at merely knowing she was breaking bread with other believers across the globe. We are united, as Bonhoeffer writes in Life Together, by the fact that our souls both belong to Christ. It is through Christ that true community is formed. It is for the purpose of edification and encouragement that our bond is formed. Here’s to my Soul Friend and the adventures she is having.
[Check out what God is doing through Stephanie at http://stephanievergara.theworldrace.org/]