It was after dark, and Ben and I were just leaving his team’s goodbye party when we heard a strange sound coming from the street – it sounded like wailing. I glanced over and tried to comprehend what was happening: a young lady was walking barefoot up the busy street, her head tipped up to the dark sky, tears streaming down her face, sobbing uncontrollably. She kept walking, and started to veer into oncoming traffic. A taxi swerved, narrowly missing her.
No one was with her, and no one stopped to help her. I didn’t think she was drunk, but she didn’t seem to care if she lived or died. I couldn’t just watch her get hit by a car, so I caught up with her and tried to talk to her. She looked like a college student, but didn’t speak English, or at least was too disoriented to try. So I switched to her language, using whatever phrases I could think of: “Can I help you? Are you OK? What’s the matter?”
I’ll call her Wendy. At first she ignored me, and I felt really awkward to keep following a stranger and trying to pry into her personal life. But something wouldn’t let me leave her alone. About 50 yards up the street, Wendy collapsed on her knees, just inside the lane of oncoming traffic.
I knelt down next to Wendy, between her and the passing cars. Ben stood guard a little ways up the street to make sure cars would veer around us. All she had in her hands were her cell phone and keys. I have never seen anyone in Asia walking barefoot so it was obvious she had quickly fled some situation.
She kept telling me not to worry about her, and saying I could leave, but I didn’t think she should be left alone. I told her I thought she needed a friend, and asked if I could be her friend. Wendy could hardly speak through her sobbing, but she nodded. She let me give her tissues and I put my arm around her and just stayed with her. After 45 minutes, Wendy finally calmed down enough to let me walk her back to her dorm at the nearby campus.
I found out later what was going on. Her boyfriend had just beat her – he had never hit her before, and she was devastated. She left him, but had no close friends to turn to. Wendy felt so alone, hurt and hopeless that she was ready to die. So she walked up the street with the intention of killing herself. But I got in the way at just the right time and wouldn’t leave her alone.
Later, she thanked me for keeping her out of danger. She was so grateful I showed up right then. I’m amazed at God’s goodness to put Ben and me in her path just in time! (Wendy’s doing much better now, and I have a friend there who is going to stay in touch with her.) I pray she someday comes to know it was God who saved her life that night, not just some American girl who wouldn’t leave her alone. And I pray Wendy someday comes to know true life in God, where she will never have to be hopeless or alone again!
I feel like this is a beautiful picture of what God was doing through us all year – bringing students across our path who were without hope and stumbling along through the dark. In so many friends’ lives He used us to walk with them and show them the path of life, pointing them to safety. I’m amazed at His goodness!