Tabitha is one of our short story writing contest winners. She is the daughter of Rev. Lau Chin Kwee from the First Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore.
Thirteen-year-old accidentally kills boyfriend. This particular headline in the newspaper stood out amongst the others. It talked about a girl who had accidentally killed her boyfriend in a fit of rage after a heated argument.
“Why did these things have to happen so frequently?” Steffi sighed deeply as she asked herself this question. The ring of the telephone interrupted her thoughts. Picking it up, she recognized the voice as that of her fellow teacher counselor, Nancy.
“Have you read today’s newspaper?” she asked. Steffi replied yes, where after Nancy said “I got a call to go talk to that 13-year-old girl but I’ve got an appointment. Would you like to take it up?” The 17-year-old suddenly felt a surge of fear in her. She had talked to many teenagers before but not a murderer. But still, this was an opportunity not to be missed. She agreed at once.
Later that afternoon, Steffi strolled into the Girls’ Home located along the beach away from the city. After a while, Steffi was introduced to the 13-year-old girl, Lucy. She silently said a prayer that God would help her say the right things. The introduction was quick with weak smiles from both sides. Steffi brought Lucy to a quiet place and they sat down.
The awkward silence was soon broken by Lucy who said in a somewhat impatient tone, “So, who exactly are you and what are you here for?”
Steffi’s experienced ears immediately detected the hostility in Lucy’s voice and she replied softly but firmly, “I’m a friend and I want to help you. You can talk to me and I will listen no matter how long it takes.” Steffi paused then continued, “Would you like to tell me what happened?”
Lucy smirked and smiled a crooked smile. “You call yourself a friend? Ha! Firstly, I don’t even know you and then, all my friends have already left me. Not a single one’s left.” Steffi thought she sensed a hint of bitterness in Lucy’s voice but Lucy carried on. “Don’t pretend to be nice, okay? If you’ve got nothing else to do but to try and get information out of me, then please leave!” Lucy’s tone was sarcastic.
Steffi was totally stunned by that remark but she managed to keep calm and assured Lucy, “Lucy, I may not know you and all your friends may have left you but I’m not here to put you down. I seek your good.” This was said from the bottom of Steffi’s heart.
“Why do you care for me? You know that I’m a murderer. Everyone hates me because I’m the worst criminal around here. No one bothers to talk to me. Why do you want to associate yourself with me? No one can help me. I can never be redeemed of this crime,” Lucy said somewhat dejectedly. “If my parents don’t love me, who else would?” Lucy’s face remained straightened. She refused to pity herself but instead chose to harden her heart to things.
Steffi looked at her straight in the face and said, “I know of someone who would love people worse than you.” Lucy stared as Steffi blurted out, “Jesus.”
Lucy’s eyes suddenly fired on hearing that word. She stood up and shouted,” If you are going to talk about this, get out!” Shocked, Steffi got up and left. Without looking back, she walked straight out of the home towards the beach.
The green-blue waves gently washed ashore, each one trimmed with countless white bubbles. The seagulls in the distance circled against the brilliant blue skies dotted with small, white, fluffy clouds. The powdery, white sand eased between Steffi’s toes as she walked on. Her steps were heavy. The palm trees swayed gently in the breeze. The peaceful surroundings were a total contrast to what had happened minutes ago.
As Steffi looked towards the horizon, she prayed, “Lord, touch Lucy’s heart. Let her know You and find peace and forgiveness in You. Use me Lord.” This simple, unselfish prayer reached God’s heart. The tears of love Steffi shed were seen by Lucy, who from the home had a clear view of Steffi on the beach. Beyond the tough exterior, Lucy’s broken heart was clinging on to the words “I am a friend.” She longed to acknowledge the need for a friend but the pride that had been in her for so long refused to give in. Overcome with these mixed feelings, Lucy broke down crying. Her heart cried out to no one in particular, hoping someone would hear her. Unable to take the strain, she went to the fence and screamed,
“Steffi! I need a friend!” Those words, wrung out from the deepest depths of her heart, brought Steffi running back to the home, a word of thanksgiving in her breath. She found Lucy, whose tears flowed unashamedly and hugged her. Between sobs she poured her heart out.
“Why would Jesus love a person like me? I mean, I would like that but I’m so…wicked…inhumane…so cruel…and sinful. I’ve heard that He is high and grand, lives in heaven. There are so many other ‘better’ people than me in this home, I don’t stand a chance…. I’m hopeless!” Steffi could not believe that these were words said by the person who had earlier asked her to keep quiet and leave. She shook her head and said,
“A doctor is for the sick, not the healthy. Jesus didn’t come for righteous people but for sinful, undeserving sinners in total hopelessness, just like you! He died on the cross for our sins. The murderer on the cross beside Jesus was saved too. You may seem unworthy of Jesus’ love but do you know that when Jesus was on earth, He ate with tax-collectors who constantly cheated and even let a prostitute wash His feet? After He left, He even caused an anti-Christian to be converted,” Lucy listened carefully, holding on to every word as if it were a precious gem. A small ray of hope shone in her eyes. Though small, it was clear. Encouraged, Steffi continued, “God chooses whom He wants to save. It’s all His will. Lucy, you’ve got to believe that Jesus can cleanse you of all your sins no matter how deep or horrible they are. I know it is one of the worst crimes…to murder. But God can help you.”
“But why does God have to?” Lucy’s inquisitive spirit perked up. Steffi thanked God.
“He doesn’t have to but He loved Man a lot and was gracious enough to give some of them eternal life. Such invincible grace made him willing to come to earth to die for our sins.” Lucy looked puzzled but Steffi continued, “Yes, yes, I know. We do not deserve this, right? We deserve to go to hell. That’s why we can never understand God’s love. It’s too great. Can you imagine how sinful we are compared to God’s perfection?” Lucy nodded as the words sunk in, “Have faith that Jesus can make you right with God and repent of your sins.”
Steffi looked at Lucy but Lucy’s gaze was buried in the middle of the wide, blue ocean, as she whispered, “God, I’m sorry for all the wrong things that I’ve ever done. Steffi said. You can help me. Please save me and help me never to displease you again because I know You love me and don’t want me to do wrong. I love You. Please love me too….” Her voice trailed off as she ended with that simple plea. With wet cheeks, Lucy hugged Steffi. A new sense of life flooded Lucy.
As Steffi thought of God’s mercy, she said, “It’s not going to be easy, Lucy, but persevere on till the second coming of Jesus. I’ll pray for you.” The sisters in Christ sat, Lucy’s hands clasped in Steffi’s, looking towards the vast ocean…a symbol of God’s love, wide and deep. Love conquers all.