Updated: Aug 11
After a long hiatus, the idea of student chaplains seems to have made a return to Judah. On April 13, seniors Grace Garrison and Essie Brown both gave speeches during chapel. This marks the second time this school year that students have provided the main message of a chapel service.
Grace Garrison, one of these student speakers, brought an important message to the student body. She shared about the gentleness of Jesus. Jesus shows this tender attribute continually, both in Himself and in His relationship with us. Grace spoke about how Jesus possesses this attribute to a perfect degree and looked at the importance of this attribute in her own life.
Here is her message:
I needed to see the gentleness of Jesus from an early age.
I was born in Ethiopia, but because of difficult circumstances in my birth family, I was adopted by my parents and brought to America when I was six-and-a-half years old. Prior to coming to America, we struggled with poverty, not knowing what our next meal would be or whether we would have a comfortable bed to sleep in. During my time in Ethiopia, I slept on the ground, and some days we had no food to eat. My responsibility was to walk a few miles every day to get water for my family.
Then came a time when I experienced something devastating. I lost my birth mother to sickness. I couldn’t believe it. It was devastating to lose someone I loved so much. When my mother died, my birth dad could no longer take care of us. He said we had to leave for another place. I told him I could take care of my two younger siblings: Solomon and Aleigha. I didn’t want to leave my father. He knew we needed better care. He did the best thing for us.
When I came to America, everything was new. English was my third language, and learning it was hard. So was adjusting to new relationships and living in a strange land. I remember thinking, “Where am I?” Everything seemed so cool, yet scary and strange. I didn’t know the language my family spoke. I couldn’t believe the changes I was going through.
Jesus showed me immense gentleness throughout this time. My siblings and I could have been split apart. Being split up from them was one of my biggest fears. I wanted them to be with me wherever I was. Jesus showed immense gentleness when He gave me a family who loved me and taught me who He is. Jesus gave me peace in the chaos and gave me a loving family. Jesus kept us together. My gentleness comes from what Jesus has done for me.
In school, at Carrie Busey Elementary, my main challenge was that I had just started learning English. At this point reading anything was challenging. Math was also new to me, and I struggled to understand it too. Because of my age, I skipped preschool and kindergarten. I went straight to first grade without any school. With the help of my parents, my teachers, my tutors, and most of all Jesus, I eventually overcame these deficits to do well in school. I work hard and try my best.
Jesus was so gracious to me, and He never abandoned me. I saw the gentleness of Jesus in the people who helped me. I saw the gentleness of Jesus in my parents. They never gave up on me and kept showing kindness. They would practice math with me. They would sit on the couch and read with me. My parents did all that they could do so that I could improve in school. They are an inspiration to me. My mom loves helping people in need and has a willing heart to serve the Lord. My dad prays for people multiple times a day and cares for the needs of those around him. They are a part of how I know Jesus and His gentleness, because they both exemplify gentleness.
I saw the gentleness of Jesus in my first-grade teacher. She was so kind and knew what I was struggling with. She never gave up on me, even when I struggled a lot. I saw the gentleness of Jesus in my tutors who never quit on me. I could see the gentle way these tutors helped me. They helped me overcome some tough things.
I saw the gentleness of Jesus Himself. I was baptized at the age of ten by my dad. I knew then that I wanted to follow Jesus, and I wanted Him to be my Lord and my Savior. I knew that the stories in the Bible weren’t just fairy tales; the Bible is so real and so true. Jesus is so real and so true. It excited me to have Jesus in my life.
I struggled during COVID to grow in my relationship with Jesus. I thought COVID would give me time to grow in my relationship with God. But I didn’t use the time and opportunity as I had hoped. I didn’t use the extra time I had to focus on Jesus. Instead, I was wrapped up in myself and focused only on what I wanted for myself. I felt like the gentleness of Jesus was missing because of all the bad stuff going on.
But I would feel a gentle reminder. Jesus was pursuing me and showing me His never-ending love. I would feel Jesus’s gentleness touch my heart. I would feel Him pull me away from things that aren’t good for me, from things that would not glorify Him, and turn me in the right direction.
During COVID, I wanted so much to feel God’s love. That’s when I started journaling. I wrote about the problems that were happening, and I prayed for them. I wrote about the deaths being reported, and I wondered when it would end; I wondered about other world problems and personal issues I struggled with. I prayed for each one of these things I wrote about, and I asked God for His gentle reminder to guide me in the right direction.
Jesus nudged me with His gentle words, reminding me that I can pray for more than just what I want or hope for. I can pray by thanking Him for all the things He has provided me with. I can pray with a heart that is ready to listen. I can have a constant conversation with Jesus — about everything. When I wrote and prayed about the things that Jesus put in my heart, I began to feel joy.
During COVID, Jesus showed me how to be grateful for everything He has given me. Jesus taught me that gentleness does not come only through action, but also through a certain mindset — through the attitude with which I pursue what I’m doing. Jesus taught me that followers of Jesus don’t just act gently. They have gentle hearts, as Jesus does. Jesus said, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). How can we do something with a gentle heart if we do it with an ungrateful heart? We are so consumed with the thought of what others may think about us. We are stuck in our selfish thoughts of getting glory from others. But Jesus has a gentler way. And He will gently teach it to us, if we’ll take His hand and let Him lead us on.
In my journal, I had a page titled “Things I’m Grateful For.” I thanked Jesus for all the ways that He has blessed me. We have rough patches, but God uses those times to remind us of His gentleness. When we are lost, He picks us up, reminding us of His gentleness and turning us in the right direction.
I found something else during COVID that I enjoyed doing for the Lord: praising Him in music. I’ve never experienced such peace and calmness from music until COVID. I knew it was the Holy Spirit, a peaceful dove, moving at that moment. While in quarantine, I found this Christian group that I loved to listen to: Maverick City Music. The song I first heard was “Promises.” This was the gentle nudge from Jesus that I needed. A verse from the song says, “I put my faith in Jesus, my anchor to the ground, my hope and firm foundation, He’ll never let me down.” These words gave me so much peace and assurance. When I put my faith in Jesus, I want more and more of Him. I want others to feel the overwhelming joy and love that He gives.
I want the gentleness of Jesus that He displayed in the Bible. It’s present not only in the Bible, but also present in my life today. With His gentle heart, He heals the sick; He is light in the darkness; He is the way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper; He is the way, the truth, and the life. Thank you, gentle Savior.
Grace’s message is an important one to hear. It is a reminder that in every circumstance, Jesus will treat us with gentleness. He will be there to care for us and pick us up. As a de facto student chaplain, Grace had the opportunity to share this important message and to have a profound impact on the students and teachers of the school. Through the avenue of student chaplainship, other students might have this same opportunity to share and guide in years to come.
— Owen Jones, class of '23