attention-to-details Sometimes you have friends you feel at home with the moment you meet them. You shake hands, and turn a corner into a forever kind of friendship you somehow just know will stand the test of distance and time and hardship. I don’t know how it happened, or why, but the second Brian reached out to shake my hand, I knew that’s what we’d be.

We spent two summers side by side, teaching kids and teens about the Gospel as camp counselors. Together, with eight other counselors, we worked through hundreds of chapel services, roasted marshmallows, and campers who had lost their toothbrushes.

After camp we kept in touch, even though life started looking a little different for both of us. I moved to Colorado and got married. Brian decided to follow his passions and moved to Afghanistan for a season.

On August 5, 2010, Brian was doing some work with a humanitarian aid organization in Afghanistan. His group was attacked, and many of them died, including Brian.

This news devastated me. All of a sudden I couldn’t understand why the world was still spinning, the sun was still shining, people were still working. I wanted to run out into the middle of a busy intersection with a megaphone and start yelling,

“Hey! Don’t you people understand we’ve just lost one of the most awesome guys here on earth? Why do you act like everything’s still normal?”

But I didn’t. Instead, I started looking for things to do to stem my grief. And I prayed. A lot.

Around this time the first child I ever sponsored through Compassion departed the program, so I began to look for another child.

For a long time I didn’t feel like I could sponsor any of the kids I saw, which is weird for me. I usually want to sponsor every kid I see.

After a couple months I saw one little boy on the “longest waiting” list. His name was Brian. So I clicked for more information. That’s when God’s attention to detail totally blew my mind.

This little boy shared a first name with my friend. He also shared a middle name with my friend. And he was born the first week my friend and I had started working together. I sponsored him and decided I would visit him someday, no matter what.

Someday came a lot faster than I expected when an invitation to join a sponsor tour showed up in my inbox after a couple months. I tried to put it off and told myself hundreds of excuses. Ultimately I booked the trip in a moment of insanity the day of the deadline, hoping it was the right decision.

When we received the trip itinerary, I thumbed through it, hoping we might visit Brian’s student center or something like that.

When I got to the last page about meeting our sponsored children, I cried. God was working in my grief. The day I would meet my little Brian would be one year exactly after my friend Brian died.

As the trip grew closer and closer, my mind filled with doubts. What if I got sick? What if I couldn’t eat the food? And, worst of all, what if Brian didn’t like me?

That question hovered in my mind for the entire trip, almost suffocating me with the implication that God might not be big enough to handle that particular detail. There was no reason so believe such a thing, but Brian was 7 years old. And 7-year-old boys think girls are icky. Right?

I was so nervous I almost threw up waiting in line to meet our sponsored kids. The pressure was intense: the pressure to be liked, the pressure for this to work, the pressure to honor my friend’s life and death through a new friendship.

And then they called my name. I walked through the doorway begging God to make this boy smile at me just once so the whole trip wouldn’t be for nothing.

Suddenly, this 7-year-old boy came barreling towards me and rocketed himself into my arms. The first thing I noticed was his hair. My little Brian had the same haircut as my dear friend.

I totally lost it, weeping and grinning all at the same time. He wrapped his arms around my neck and didn’t let go. All I could think was, Thank you, God.

On August 5, 2010, I lost one of my dearest and most treasured friends on earth. On August 5, 201,1 a little boy who shared his name and his haircut leaped into my arms and my heart forever.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ashley Mays and her husband live in Colorado Springs where she enjoys rock climbing, playing the guitar, and writing. You can find out more about Ashley on her website at: www.ashley-mays.com.

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  1. Sep 12, 2011
    at 6:29 am

    How cool! Amazing! Thank you, Ashley for sharing…. for opening your heart to Little Brian, to what God had just for YOU. I love his shirt. My 8 & 9 yr olds are star wars fans… really Lego starwars. Haha they will love the shirt!

    Our sponsored boy is 7 from Indonesia… I hope to meet him one day!

    Much love,
    Teena

  2. Deb
    Sep 12, 2011
    at 6:42 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. Precious!

  3. Lori Mills
    Sep 12, 2011
    at 7:11 am

    Beautiful! God’s love for us is beautiful! Thank you for sharing. :)
    Continued blessings!

  4. Candace
    Sep 12, 2011
    at 7:39 am

    God’s sweetness is amazing!!!!!

  5. Peggy Byrd
    Sep 12, 2011
    at 8:22 am

    How awesome, Ashley!. Our God is an AWESOME God! He worked His “Perfect Plan” in both of your lives according to HIs time and place. He knew both of you needed HOPE and LOVE and would make a perfect match. How wonderful is our God! Thank you for listening to God and not rushing in to pick another child! I am certain God has great “expectations” for both of you in the future. Love in Christ, Peggy Byrd

  6. Sep 12, 2011
    at 8:26 am

    What a beautiful story, Ashley. I enjoyed every line…even those that brought me to tears. Very nice writing, too. I’s so glad God gave you the gift of words!

  7. Crystal
    Sep 12, 2011
    at 8:59 am

    It’s so true! I just experienced a similar story, where God paid such close attention to my own Compassion kid. He is good!

  8. Sep 12, 2011
    at 9:07 am

    This story is so moving, Ashley. Thank you so much for sharing how faithful the Lord is even in our individual lives.

  9. Michael Patterson
    Sep 12, 2011
    at 10:35 am

    Beautiful Story Ashley!

  10. Tracie
    Sep 12, 2011
    at 11:10 am

    What a beautiful reminder that the God we serve is so big. Thanks for this story!

  11. Sep 12, 2011
    at 2:31 pm

    I’m so glad you shared this story with us — how awesome! This is exactly how God works to comfort us in grief –

  12. Sep 12, 2011
    at 5:37 pm

    i love “god-thing” stories. thanks for sharing! <3 :)

    p.s. my brother has the exact same shirt as little brian! thought that was so cute! :)

  13. Ken M.
    Sep 12, 2011
    at 6:35 pm

    I just watched the video of your trip to Guatemala. I love it. Your sponsored son, Brian, has a beautiful smile. Just watching the happiness and joy coming from him and seeing his face light up made me smile, too.

  14. Sep 12, 2011
    at 8:28 pm

    What a beautiful post! I love being able to see God in those little details; they’re little reminders of His love for me!

    Katie

  15. Sep 12, 2011
    at 8:57 pm

    This is such a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing Ashley! It’s amazing how God works and how He fills our hearts. Praying for more blessings for you and your sponsor child!

  16. Sep 12, 2011
    at 9:50 pm

    Wow, thanks, everybody, for all of your kind comments. Your words have been such a blessing to me today!!!!

  17. Sep 13, 2011
    at 8:08 am

    What a sweet and special story, and what a wonderful testimony to God’s faithfulness and provision for us. I love the picture of him running towards your open arms – so cool that someone captured that.

  18. Nancy Young
    Sep 13, 2011
    at 8:25 am

    Great Story! Thanks for sharing Ashley! My God bless you and Brian richly!

  19. Judy
    Sep 13, 2011
    at 4:26 pm

    What a wonderful story – Thank you for sharing !! Blessings to you and Brian !

  20. Sep 13, 2011
    at 5:58 pm

    Wonderful story! Thanks for sharing.

    Here is a link to a great message at North Point Community Church discussing the “what ifs” in life you talk about. See Amazing Stories part 2 Fighting Fear – http://www.northpoint.org/messages/amazing-stories

    Again, great story! Thanks

  21. Michele
    Sep 13, 2011
    at 8:33 pm

    Awesome! Jesus is so awesome! What a wonderful story of the Lord’s compassions that never fail! Abundant blessings to you and little Brian!

    Michele

  22. brandon warner
    Sep 14, 2011
    at 12:21 am

    Its amazing, I grew up in church and always believed in jesus but over the years have drifted further and further out of his path and on my own. Slowly I have begun to try and get my life back on the right path. This year my wife and I attended Creation fest northwest and we both rededicated our lives to the lord. We decided to sponser a child and one day I hope we are able to meet him, I just wanted to write and say that threw your story it just reaffirms to me that god works and has a plan for all our lives so thank you for sharing!

    Brandon

  23. Audrey
    Sep 14, 2011
    at 8:43 pm

    God is soooooo good. There are no concidences with God’s kids–God’s in charge! PTL!!

  24. Audrey
    Sep 14, 2011
    at 8:44 pm

    God is soooooo good. There are no concidences with God’s kids–God’s in charge! PTL!!

  25. Sep 19, 2011
    at 8:35 am

    Just read this and have tears in my eyes. God does do wonderful, special things, specially targeted for us, individually. He pays attention to us; He knows our hearts. And don’t you know that 7-year-old Brian had been praying, all those long months, for a sponsor who would love him? Two hurting hearts found further proof of God’s love, that day!

  26. patience antonio
    Sep 28, 2011
    at 10:40 am

    What a touching story. God is really concern about us and all that happen to us

  27. Mike Carderelli
    Oct 5, 2011
    at 6:33 pm

    I’m sure our Brian is in heaven praising God for how cool this is and how his death has brought you and little Brian together in this sponsorship. Blessings to you!

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