Chapter 7: I Am A Friend
Eli stood at the door tapping his foot,
impatiently waiting for Ezri to get ready to leave. “Come on, Ezri! Let’s go!” he shouted out.
“I’m coming! I’m coming!” she called back. “What’s the big hurry?”
“Don’t have time to explain now,” replied Eli. “Just hurry up! I’ll fill you in as we walk to school!”
As Ezri finally was ready to leave and started walking towards Eli, Eli shouted, “Bye, Dad!” and sped out the door.
“Hey, Eli, slow down,” exclaimed Ezri as she walked several feet behind Eli. “I can’t keep up with you.”
“Can’t help it, Ez. I’ve got to hurry and find that kid who wanted to pound me,” Eli said over his shoulder as he walked briskly to school.
“You mean the monster?” asked Ezri in surprise.
“That’s the guy,” Eli responded. Ezri ran to catch up with Eli. “I’ve got to tell him about Jesus and how there’s One person who loves him and will never leave him.”
“But … I thought you were too scared to share your faith with anyone,” said Ezri. “You’re the guy who can hardly stand in front of the Sunday school class to tell how Christ came into your heart.”
“Yeah, I know,” Eli said, “but that all changed last night. It all happened when I began to pray to Jesus for His power and to be able to witness to that boy at school.”
Eli filled in Ezri about the whole story. Ezri startled several other kids on their way to school with an explosive, “Amen!”
When Eli came to the end of his story. “Well, if God promised it, then it’s going to happen, Eli,” said Ezri.
Encouraged, Eli had only one thing on his mind when he got to school: to find the big guy who had pounded him. He was determined to share Jesus with that guy—no matter what.
During lunch break, Eli and Ezri sat outside again. And, like before, Eli suddenly found himself spinning around as someone rammed into him.
“Hey, stupid, I thought I told you to watch what you’re doing,” Eli heard as he picked himself off the ground. “Can’t you stay out of the way?”
“Oh, hi. It’s you,” said Eli.
“Yeah, what of it? You wanna make something of it, punk?” growled the towering boy.
“Yes, I would,” Eli said calmly as he dusted off his pants.
“Bring it on, stupid,” retorted the boy. “Give it your best shot!”
“Hold on, man,” said Eli. “That’s not what I had in mind. I know you don’t believe me, but I know you’re hurting inside and that you’re angry at the whole world.”
“What are you talking about?” asked the guy. “You know nothing about me, jerk.”
“Maybe we do,” said Ezri. “You’re always angry. You go around bullying everybody. The fact is, you’re scared, hurting, and alone.”
A startled look covered the boy’s face as though Ezri had tossed cold water on him. He paused for a moment then quickly stiffened. “So who died and made you God, anyway?”
“She’s not God,” interrupted Eli, “but God has something to do with it.”
“What do ya mean, Freak?” responded the boy.
“Would you believe me if I said God told me to tell you He loves you?” asked Eli.
“No seriously,” Ezri said. “Eli told me on the way to school today that he prayed that God would give him the courage to tell you about God.”
“What?” replied the boy.
“In fact, I was scared out of my mind,” Eli added. “But God showed me that you’re hurting inside, that you’re hiding behind that bully mask of yours, and that you need help. I know your family is all torn up and that you’re dying inside because your dad left you.”
“HAS MY BROTHER BEEN TALKING TO YOU?” yelled the boy in anger as he shook his fist at Eli.
“Not at all,” said Ezri. “This is going to sound crazy because I don’t even know your name. In fact, I can hardly believe it myself, but God somehow showed us a bit of how tough life is at home for you.”
Eli added, “Going around beating up everybody isn’t the answer. I can’t understand your hurts, but I do want to be a friend. And I’d like to pray for you.”
The big guy seemed to shrink a little bit in size as he looked down at the ground in confusion. “Name’s Zach,” he said in a low voice. “And yeah, things are tough.”
“It’s nice to meet you Zach. And you don’t have to say a thing,” said Eli. “Just remember that God loves you. He loves you so much, He sent His Son Jesus to die for you!”
“That don’t make no sense,” the boy stammered.
“No. It doesn’t. Neither does the fact that I want to be friends with somebody who wants to beat me up,” said Eli. “I’d like to share God’s plan for you.”
“What’s that?” asked the boy.
Miracles do happen. In the next few moments, right there on the school grounds, Eli and Ezri shared Christ’s eternal plan of salvation with the boy, broken down into five simple truths.
- Eternal life is given through Jesus: John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
- Life eternal is a gift from God: Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”
- If we confess, He will forgive: 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us.”
- Forgiveness is free: Acts 10:43: “Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness.”
- Everyone can join God’s family: Romans 10:13: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Before the bell rang to end lunch period, Eli and Ezri convinced Zach to let them pray with him.
When they left to go to class, Zach was quiet. He didn’t say anything to either Eli or Ezri. Yet Eli couldn’t help but notice that Zach left without having beaten him up.
As Eli walked back to his locker, he felt a now familiar vibration coming from his T2U. Eli opened the locker and nearly buried himself in it so he could peak at the T2U. Once Eli popped open the cover, the words scrolling across the screen could easily be seen:
“Proverbs 17:17, ‘A friend loves at all times.’”
Eli paused for a moment. Then he remembered a memory verse he had learned in Sunday school. Eli peaked around, made sure nobody was looking, then pushed a side button. The T2U’s mini keyboard slid out, and Eli typed these words:
“Psalm 119:63: ’I am a friend to all who fear You.’”
- Have you ever been so excited about something you couldn’t wait to tell your best friend? What made you that excited?
- Have you ever been so excited about Jesus that you wanted to tell all your friends about Him? That’s what Jesus wants you to do. He wants you to be so excited about living for Him that you’ve just got to tell your friends about what He’s done for you.
- If you were in Ezri’s shoes, do you think you could be friendly to Zach—a boy who had done nothing but beat up her brother for several days? Why or why not?
- Making friends with others who don’t like us is tough. Being friends with others who may not look like us or act like us can be tough too. Do you think Jesus wants you to be friends with someone who may be mean to you? What might that look like?
- Is there anything God was speaking to you about as we read this story, which you want to pray about? Let’s pray together that we can be more like Jesus. Do you have any other things you want to pray about?