James and I became friends in the summer of 2014. I spent the summer in Africa, and I visited his school for a day. We immediately stuck together because of our physical attributes. James is a burn victim who is missing his left hand and has scars all over his face and head, and I was born missing my right arm. These types of things make a language barrier easy to overcome.
I spent the day with James following him through his classes and distracting him from teachers who were, ironically, teaching about uniqueness. We would doodle, laugh, and help each other with challenges we faced due to a lack of fingers. We ended the day with a hug, and then I boarded the bus with the rest of my team. James chased the bus for what seemed to be 3 miles, an impressive feat. I can’t remember one thing James said on that first visit, or even if he said anything, but God allowed me to love on James just by being with him and sitting with him in class.
I’ve come to realize that God does the same thing with us. He promises that He is with us and even if we have nothing to say, his presence is enough. So often we look for obvious and verbal confirmation that we’re loved and cared for by God. I believe one of the purest forms of love is one that is content with just sharing space. A time that is joyful because it is in fellowship, something we are promised by our Father.
In 2015, James and I were reunited, and this time we talked! We shared our passions and we looked back at our time before. I learned James wanted to be a singer and asked him to sing something for me. Out of this burned and broken boy came a beautiful voice. That moment is burned into my memory. From brokenness came hope and beauty. This is so characteristic of our saving Lord, to use the least likely to create a great contrast and to show His power. God used a small boy in Africa to teach me some big things about Himself.
-William Schmid, a Journey Alumni