CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
"Jamie"
(November 1982 to April 1983)

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I mentioned in Chapter Eight that I was concerned about a girl named Jamie. Jamie, you may recall, was a friend of mine from a couple of years back who was always getting into trouble. She was three years younger than me and I had a "crush" on her. Most of the people that I knew eventually began to hate her, and so I began to act as if I hated her in order to conform to peer pressure. I cussed her out and gave her "the finger" on a city bus one day in front of my friends. I didn't really hate her because I still had a "crush" on her. She eventually went to a place to get help because her mother couldn't handle all of the trouble that she was getting into. Jamie returned to school shortly after the start of my Senior year in high school. She was in 9th grade. When I heard that she would be coming to my high school, I was excited because I would have a chance to talk to her about Christ and to tell her that I had changed. I wanted her to know that I was sorry for how I had treated her.

I didn't see Jamie for the first time until November. It was after school hours and I had just finished cleaning an upstairs classroom as part of my janitorial job. I started walking in the hallway heading to my next destination. There was no one else in the hallway until I saw Jamie and one of her friends come around a corner and walk toward me. I got a little nervous because I knew that my chance to talk to her about Christ was approaching! However, things didn't work out as I wanted them to.

I started to smile at her, but she saw me and started yelling at me and shouting, "You [expletive deleted]-hole!" as she walked by. I smiled at her as she walked by, and I even tried to laugh a little; but I didn't say anything. She was cussing me out the entire time that she walked by. I couldn't get a word in. After she had walked past me, she said loudly to her friend, "That guy's an [expletive deleted]-hole!"

I didn't blame her for cussing me out in light of what I had done to her. I knew that I deserved it. After all, I had cussed her out on the city bus a year before in front of my friends. How could she know that I was any different than I was then? Even though I didn't talk to Jamie at that time, my concern for her increased. (This concern for people was called a "burden" by the people in my church. Whenever a Christian was strongly concerned for someone, and was wanting that someone to find the answers in Christ, they would say that the Christian had a "burden" for that person.) I began to pray for her all the more. However, I never saw Jamie in the halls, and I didn't have her in any classes. I knew that she was around, but I never had the opportunity to talk to her. Days went by, then weeks, and then months. No chances to talk to her came my way.

My concern for Jamie occupied my mind more than almost everything else. There were two reasons why I thought about her so much. First, I felt bad for the way that I had treated her, and I wanted a chance to correct what I had done. Second, I still had a "crush" on her.

On one particular night after school, Trisha and I were cleaning the school offices. She cleaned the offices every night, and I was told to help her on this particular night. She stopped working, and opened up a filing cabinet.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Looking at everyone's records," she told me.

I walked over to the cabinet, and saw that she was looking through the disciplinary records of the student body. She began pulling out the records of the people she knew in order to see what they had done.

"Look at this!" she said, pulling out one file. "Assault! Assault! Assault! There's like five or six assaults in this record!"

I started going through the files myself, pulling out the people I knew. Many of them had committed some very serious acts. I looked up most of my friends. Most of my friends didn't even have a file, but I did find that a few of my friends and former friends had lengthy records.

I started to feel guilty about looking through these files because I knew that I had no business looking at them. "I shouldn't be doing this!" I thought to myself. But I kept doing it. Curiosity is both a powerful and dangerous emotion. Trisha and I would find somebody's file, and then we would tell each other what that person had been caught doing.

I decided to look up Jamie's file. I found it. It was rather lengthy. I became sad when I read it because I knew that her life didn't have to be the way that it was. I began thinking, "Jamie, your life can be different! Jesus can change your life!" While it is true that I had no business going through those files, this was the one good thing came out of my inappropriate behavior. My reading what Jamie had done only increased my "burden" for her. I wanted more than ever to tell her about Jesus.

Sometime during the winter, "Brother" Mark spoke to the youth group about "fasting." This was a form of prayer in which one would not eat food for a period of time. Fasting, I learned, was a form of "spiritual warfare" that aided in overcoming the devil. Praying was effective, but fasting and praying was more effective. I started to pray and fast for Jamie. I made a commitment that I would pray and fast every Friday. I did this for several straight weeks starting in January or February. I found that when I was fasting, I was able to concentrate better on the thing that I was praying and fasting for.

Time continued to go by. I still had not spoken to Jamie by April, and the school year was almost over. I was starting to get frustrated, because my chances of talking to Jamie were slipping away. God, however, had not let my prayers go unheard. He was about to answer my prayers in a rather interesting way.

I walked home from school every night after work, and I always took the same route. I always crossed 28th street at the Taco Bell, and then walked past a bowling alley to a foot trail that went through a field to a wooded area. The natural scenery made the walk more enjoyable than the boring streets would have. On one particular night in April, however, there was an unanticipated change in plans. I started to head into the woods as usual, when I felt an urgent feeling to not go that way. Something was telling me to walk the street. I didn't listen to this feeling at first, and I continued to walk into the woods. The feeling became stronger. I felt a strong urge to turn around and walk the street. I turned around and headed back to the street. But then I thought, "This is stupid! It's just a feeling!" Then I headed back to the woods. The feeling then became stronger than ever, and it wouldn't go away. So I turned around again, and started walking the street. I walked down the south side of 28th Street until I came to the intersection of Byron Center and 28th Street. I started walking southward up the east side of Byron Center until I felt an urge to cross the street. "What's going on?" I thought to myself. By this time, I figured that God was leading me somewhere, but I wasn't sure where. I decided to follow the urges that I was feeling. I wasn't totally sure that it was God leading me, but I was acting upon the urges just in case. I crossed the street, and started walking up the west side of Byron Center.

Within minutes, I saw the reason that I was being led this way! I knew instantly that it was indeed God leading me through these urges, for coming toward me from the south was Jamie! She was with a friend. Suddenly I realized that God was giving me my chance to talk to her! This was the first time that I had seen her since the incident in the hallway in November. I had prayed and fasted, and now was the time for the answering of my prayers! "I'm not going to blow this!" I told myself! I suddenly became very excited.

When Jamie walked by, she did not cuss me out as she had the last time. She smiled at me and said, "Hi." She obviously knew by this time that I had changed, or else she would have cussed me out again. (Of course, by this time it was very obvious to the whole school that I was a Christian. I carried my Bible to school, witnessed to everyone that I could, and was very open about my faith. She obviously knew of this change in me.)

As she and her friend walked by, I said "Hi" back and I pulled out two tracts. I turned around and started to walk with them.

Jamie took the tract and started to read it. We all stopped and started to talk.

"Can I give you one, too?" I asked Jamie's friend.

She shook her head and said, "I go to church all the time."

"So what?" I responded. "I went to church when I was younger, but if I had died then, I would have gone to hell."

"Hmmm," she responded, indicating that I had gotten her to think. She took the tract and started to read it. I then told both of them about Jesus Christ, and about the changes that he could make in their lives.

We eventually went out separate ways. They continued to walk north, and I went on south. As I began to walk alone, a big smile came over my face. God had heard my prayers and he had answered them in a rather unique and dramatic way! He had given me the chance to show Jamie that I had changed, and he had given me the chance to share the gospel with her. She didn't accept Christ that day, but I knew that the seed was planted. "Someday," I told myself, "she just might give her life to Christ!" The excitement continued to build up inside of me! I couldn't stop smiling! Suddenly I started to run down the sidewalk, and I leaped for joy and shouted out with excitement! I didn't care that I was on a busy street and that there were all kinds of cars driving by that contained people who were seeing me act in a very strange manner. I never even thought about all of the people driving by! I didn't want to stop cheering and jumping.

I was so excited that God had heard my prayer!

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