Ten Minutes in Heaven

The door opened, and he moved slowly onto the train. As he did so, people moved back, staring at a face marred by a long stapled wound across his cheek, tattoos covering his face and head, piercings through his lips. His look showed disdain like a caged wild animal. He stepped in front of me and as our eyes met in that briefest of moments I detected not hate, but invitation. By now the train was quiet, perhaps others waiting to see what would happen with this angry young man. For some reason I turned to face where he stood and smiled. Surprising me, he returned the gesture. I tried to say hello, but he shook his head, and said something in Spanish. Beside me sat a teenage girl with eyes wide pretending to read her book. “Do you speak Spanish?” I asked. She nodded yes, and so I asked her to tell him, ‘my name is Kevin.’ She pointed at him, as if to say, you mean that creepy guy over there? I urged her to please tell him my name, and so she spoke. In return, she nearly whispered, “he says his name is Juan.” So a conversation began between us, passed along through the voice of a young girl. I told him I was a minister. He nodded his head, and pointed to the ceiling smiling. “Tell him God loves him.” I said. She did, and in return he moved closer looking into the frightened little girls’ face. Lifting up his shirt to me, he spoke to her. “I got this last week during a knife fight,“ her faint voice quivered. Across his stomach was a ten inch stapled wound where he had gotten sliced. Then he rolled up his sleeve and showed me a similar wound on his forearm. Others in the train stared in unbelief. “God has a plan for you, Juan, and it’s not to die in a fight.” He smiled and nodded his head again, seeming like he wanted to believe my words, but straining for a faint light to hold his fractured world together, like the metal staples on his wounds. The train was approaching Grand Central Terminal, and sadly I told him I needed to get off. But before I could move, he inched closer to me, and embraced me, but it wasn’t a man hug, more like a lover’s goodbye. Into my ear he kept repeating over and over, “gracias… gracias… gracias, señor Kevin.”
The doors opened, and I walked out. It was a while before I got my composure. It occurred to me as I watched the train enter the tunnel that it doesn’t take very long to bring to another human being the true riches of Christ. For perhaps ten minutes our lives ran parallel, and in that frame of time God appealed to a man running hard toward annihilation. Heaven had come to that subway car. The onlookers heard words pass between us, but it was the unlikely connection of an older white dude to a hardened gang member that spoke of a love that transcends all cultural idioms, and places the true message of God in reach of everyone.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Cathy Dvorak says:

    Kevin, thank you for this inspiring post. You truly are a blessing to the people you meet. Sometimes it is difficult to find the light of God shining in a person’s eyes and yet you make it seem so simple.

    1. kevinjyoung says:

      Thank you Cathy. I love to trust the Lord day to day for those moments where He breaks into the present and reveals Himself not only to someone I speak with, but to me as well. My life mission states: I’m a nobody telling anybody about Someboby who loves everybody.

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