By Maria Fontaine
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While most of my ministering is done through writing and prayer, once in a while Jesus sends me someone to talk to face to face! I love this personal interaction, when I can plant seeds of truth or water the ones that are already growing.
On this occasion, it was a 12-year-old named Michael who never failed to smile and wave enthusiastically at Peter and me whenever we were on our porch and he was in his yard. We always waved back just as enthusiastically, trying to show him that we appreciated his friendly gesture. I began to pray for him regularly.
We’d never had a chance to speak with him, but we’d had some conversations with his mom, who is a single mother with three other children. She explained how they’d been through quite a lot of difficulties in their lives, but she’d done her very best at raising the children to be happy, sweet, and well-adjusted.
When I heard that they were having to move suddenly, the Lord put it on my heart to meet briefly with this young man and express to him how his reaching out to us through his smiles and waves had been an encouragement to us. I figured it would be a way to witness to him and might be my last opportunity.
I phoned his mom and asked if it would be all right for him to come over to our porch so I could express my appreciation for what a nice young man we thought he was. She readily agreed. He came over smiling, but was quite shy. I tried to put him at ease right away, and within a couple of minutes we were laughing and talking as though we had known each other for a long time.
I’m pretty sure he wondered what the big deal was and why I wanted to talk to him. I explained that his habit of waving and smiling when he saw us had touched our hearts and was very encouraging for us. I explained to him that helping others be happy is a very important reason why we’re here on this earth. Even though it only took him a couple of seconds to wave and smile, it showed that he cared about others, even older people.
Michael seemed like such a precious young man and seemed to appreciate my words of encouragement.
I told him that I had prepared a little letter for him in case I wasn’t able to see him before he left. But now I could give it to him in person. So, we read the letter together and he was very appreciative. Here below is my letter to him. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best I could do in the short amount of time I had. I prayed fervently that it would speak to him and be the right thing for him. I think the Lord used it.
Hi, Michael. Thank you for being such a nice neighbor. My husband and I are going to miss you. We’re going to miss your smile and your wave. Your mom told us you are a caring, loving, and positive person. We agree.
I know that it’s difficult to move. It’s difficult to change schools; it’s difficult to leave your friends and to have to make new friends.
My suggestion to you is to try to focus on the positive, because there are always good things that can come out of things that seem bad to us.
Most of all, remember that you have a heavenly Father who is the best father in the whole universe. He will never leave you, and He loves you very much and is going to help you have a wonderful future. He’s so happy when you love Him and thank Him for His blessings. He’s so happy when you are kind and good to others.
And Jesus, God’s Son, wants to be your best friend. He is with you all the time. You can talk to Him every day, and He will help you. Talk to Him in your heart. For example, you could say, “Dear Jesus, I’m very sad because I have a big problem and I don’t know what to do. Will You please help me? And when I’ve done everything I can do, if that’s still not enough, will You please do what I CAN’T do?”
And when He does help you, be sure to thank Him. Jesus will never let you down. He will always love you unconditionally and care for you in every way.
Remember me as the woman who prays for you. You have wonderful potential, Michael, and a beautiful future. You are here in this life to help others to be happy. As a result, you will be happy, too!
I will pray that you will have the strength and motivation to go the right direction in your life. I will pray that each day you will make decisions to do good and right things.
I will pray for you that you will be trustworthy and honorable.—That your mom and others who know you will admire you greatly for your integrity and moral strength, and that you will be known for your kindness, your warmth, your friendliness, your loving nature, your understanding, and your compassion on those who are hurting.
You’re a very special young man, Michael. When I see you next time, I hope we can have a long conversation together and get caught up on all your news. I know that, ultimately, everything is going to work out well for you! Look for happy things to happen in your life!
With warm wishes from your friend.
After thinking more about this encounter, I realized again what a major impact we can have on a young person’s life through our kind deeds and words of encouragement.
You may have your own story of someone who tuned in to you when you were young. Perhaps they paid attention to you when they didn’t have to or they said something that made you want to do your best or be your best and live up to the potential that they saw in you.
Along these lines someone told me the other day that a teacher had commented to them, “I believe you can do anything and be anything that you want to be if you work at it.” He said he always remembered that, and it was a significant motivator in his life to do his best at learning the things he needed to learn in order to pursue the things that are important to him.
Young people really do need encouragement, and when they get it, even a little bit, it can be very significant in their lives. Certainly, if at the same time we can get them connected to Jesus, the one who can be their best friend, this is the greatest thing we can do for them. Many teens don’t have positive role models; the people they see and hear from the most are often movie stars or musicians or older teens. Sometimes their parents are good examples, but they often need more than that.
It doesn’t take much. If you can think of a young person that you know or have met to whom you could express a little genuine encouragement, it might make all the difference in the world for them. Ask the Lord and see who He brings to your mind. If you don’t know of any, pray that the Lord will bring someone across your path who you can be a help and mentor to.
Originally published May 2018. Adapted and republished April 2021.
Read by Debra Lee.