One of my oldest and best friends has never uttered a word.
Margery was born with severe cerebral palsy. So severe is her condition, she has never spoken, walked or even fed herself. She has spent her life completely dependent on the care of others. Abandoned by her family, she bounced around from home to home.
Years of rejection by family and the system made Margery bitter and angry. This made her violent. She would thrash and bite and kick anyone who tried to help her.
Her life changed dramatically long before we ever met. For reasons not entirely clear to me, she started attending our church.
Margery quickly befriended the pastor’s wife, a no-nonsense retired school teacher from the Southern United States. Miss Olivia offered a love that Margery had never known. It was the love of Jesus Christ. Miss Olivia became the first real friend Margery ever had.
After service one Sunday morning, Margery pointed to the picture board attached to her wheelchair. It took thirty minutes for Miss Olivia to figure out that Margery wanted to accept Jesus as her Savior. The two prayed together that morning.
Two months later, Miss Olivia visited Margery at her group home. A staff member noticed Miss Olivia and confronted her. “What have you done to Margery?” she demanded.
Miss Olivia was startled. “What do you mean?”
“Something happened to her and we want to know what. Until a couple of months ago, Margery was mad. She fought us every day and we have the cuts and bruises to prove it. We hated her. Suddenly, she started smiling. We’d never seen her smile before. And she stopped fighting. Now she works with us. We want to know what happened to her.”
Miss Olivia smiled. “Two months ago Margery met Jesus,” she said.
I met Margery several years later. The woman I met was mischievous and playful. One Sunday morning she pushed her wheelchair in front of the bathroom door and locked me inside. All I could hear were howls of laughter as the bathroom door banged against her chair. We’ve played practical jokes on each other ever since.
Margery and I have been friends for twenty-one years. That makes her one of my oldest friends. It amazes to me think how none of this would’ve been possible if not for the transforming power of Jesus Christ. He gave her forgiveness, joy and a home.
That’s family in the Undiscovered Country.