Of all the hundreds of children we worked with over our forty years of ministry, Lawrence Austin was one of the most memorable. When we came to know him and his family, his mother told us his story.
She said, “Being the only African American child in the school system in Silver City, New Mexico, is tough and Lawrence hated it so much that he didn’t try. I had to make him go every single day, but by the end of school he was doing no better than the beginning, so he failed. When summer was over and he had to start again I was expecting the same reactions as last year—a very sad little boy who would be trudging home every day with an unhappy face. But to my surprise he came home the very first day jumping up and down and shouting, “Mom! I love school this year!”
“You love school? Lawrence, what has happened to you?”
He shouted, “Mom, I found a friend!”
We had just moved to Silver City and our youngest son, Phillip, was starting first grade also. He just happened to land in Lawrence’s class. They started talking, and became such close friends that he spent many weekends at our house with our brood of seven. By the end of the three years he was making passing grades in all his classes, and also went to church with us every Sunday. He was one of ours. Then we moved to West Virginia, and it hurt us to leave him. But a number of years later we learned that Lawrence had stayed in school, excelled in sports, graduated and found a good job. The last time we talked to him several years ago, he was still doing well.
Why? All because he had found a friend!!
Remembering Lawrence has made me determined to be more aware of every opportunity to find a friend, because friendships are one of the best ways to fill the lives of lonely people and introduce them to the greatest Friend of All: Jesus Christ! Will you join me?
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants…..but I have called you friends. ( John 15: 13-15 NKJV)