What follows is an ongoing story. Please read these previous posts before continuing if you haven’t already:
THE END (of the beginning)
July leaves and August enters with miraculously answered prayers! Although, this wasn’t entirely unexpected…
A month prior, our dear friend, pastor Rod Wilton, had invited my wife and me to fast with him and his church through the first week of August. For the next thirty days, we prayed for God’s grace to do this because it would be the longest fast either of us had ever attempted. As we prayed, God gave us a spirit of peace and, when the fast began, we were enabled to join in. The experience was amazing and produced the most intimate and passionate times of prayer my wife and I have ever known.
Dear readers, I know it’s been a long time since my last M&M installment, and I deeply apologize. Thus, to be sure everyone’s on the same page, let me quickly recap events thus far chronologically:
July 1st ~ We begin to pray for the faith to fast through the first week of August.
July 23rd ~ Mekhi shares his burdens. God blesses us to bear them together. I share the Gospel with Mekhi for the first time.
July 24th ~ Mekhi brings Kayla over for us to pray for her to stop having nightmares about her late baby sister, Hope. Mekhi asks me to share the Gospel with Melanie.
July 29th ~ Melanie laments Mekhi’s recent downward spiral into depression and alcohol over the loss of Hope and continued unemployment. Mrs. linville shares and encourages her with the Gospel. I pray for a miracle.
August 3rd ~ God answered. Mekhi dreamed.
The doorbell rang. It was around 9:00pm. I was tired from a 13 hour shift. I didn’t want to answer the door. God graciously, but forcefully, pushed me. God gets all the glory. Mekhi was standing in the hall and motioned for me to come out. As I did so he stepped back, put his hands over his face, leaned against the wall and slid down with a groan of defeat. I was nervous. We’ve had 2-3 hour long conversations while standing in that hall. How long would THIS conversation last if he was already taking a seat? At a loss and curious to find out why he’d summoned me, I sat against the wall opposite him. He confessed his recent frustrations, which I already knew a little about from Melanie, but then he went deeper. He opened up and got vulnerable. It was surreal and somewhat like deja-vu, except I hadn’t dreamt this before, no, something else…I had prayed for it!
Mekhi was a persuasive speaker, largely due to the passion with which he speaks. I don’t like vanilla ice cream, but in five minutes Mekhi could have me unconsciously nodding in agreement with how great vanilla ice cream is if he wanted to. Now imagine that type of passion pouring over you, but sorrowfully. His life has been hard and painful and he didn’t spare many details in describing it to me: where he’d come from, where else he’d been, how he got here, and why he wanted to leave, but couldn’t. His trust was completely unexpected and his vulnerability completely uncharacteristic. For me, only one explanation sufficed. God was working on Mekhi and I was witnessing a miracle! I sat patiently and listened, honored and delighted, cautious to note the details, focused (by God’s grace) despite my exhaustion. All of this backstory was not merely venting, as I might be tempted to assume; no, Mekhi was leading up to something and I needed to be ready when it arrived. It didn’t take long. I was warned by the sudden choked pauses in his story. I saw the tears well up that he fought back down. And then he said it: “I miss her, Mr. linville. I know she’s in a better place, but why did it happen? Why? I can’t stop thinking about her; who she might’ve been. I’ve been dreaming of her, about her laughing. Nothing else. We’re just there, laughing together. Melanie says I’ve been laughing in my sleep; laughing so hard it wakes me up. Then I realize she’s gone. That I can’t laugh with her…” He paused, the Spirit smacked me over the head indicating an opportunity to glorify Christ, so I said the first thing that popped into my head.
I heard myself talking, but I could barely believe that it was me. I told Mekhi that Hope was with Christ and that he could be with Christ too, right now. God became flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus Christ! I invited him to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior, and explained what that meant. He looked at me so intently that I could feel the war raging inside of him. When I finished my invitation, which only took a few minutes, the following silence was almost deafening. Mekhi kept staring at me and I held his gaze, praying desperately for his soul. I knew this was his defining moment. I knew that he was about to become my brother in Christ; that this was what all his previous hardship was for. All the difficulties of his life culminating upon this one eternal point in time. I knew God was about to rescue another lamb from the slaughter.
I was wrong.
The call came only two weeks ago. It was our neighbor, Ross, who called us. “Mekhi is gone.” The police investigation was conclusive: he had been stabbed. The knife had pierced his heart. Even more shocking than is: Melanie had wielded the knife.
At only 23 years old, Mekhi was gone. He is gone! Gone! Gone!! GONE!!!
Immediately, my mind rushed back seven months. Recalling that fateful night, sitting on the floor with Mekhi, holding his gaze, praying, a war of eternal consequence raging in his eyes. I knew God was doing a work within him; but it wasn’t what I expected. Just as though it were yesterday, I remembered how He abruptly looked down and said, “I can’t get with God yet, but I feel Him, and I know He’s just right there, but I can’t until I figure a few things out.” NO! I had screamed in my mind, but remaining silent. Something inside me had broken. I remember fighting against Mekhi’s decision to wait, but he was resolved. When we had finished, I prayed for him aloud, and we parted ways. I couldn’t sleep that night, knowing in my spirit that a horrible divergence had occurred right before my eyes, yet with all my heart, I hoped that I was wrong.
Between August and November, the month we moved out, we grew as close as family with M&M. We were always in each other’s apartments. Baby linville and Kayla were cousins in all but blood. My wife watched over Kayla and Melanie watched over baby linville as their own. Mekhi not only got a job, but several. His hard work and determination even got him some promotions! They eventually bought an old car from a friend and even gave up alcohol (which had been a huge monthly expense). We studied scripture as one big family and I was blown away when Mekhi turned two Jehovah’s Witnesses away after an in depth theological debate of John 1:1-3.
Mrs. Linville made progress with Melanie in teaching her life lessons from Scripture as the opportunity arose and slowly began to see a real conviction of sin reveal itself.
When the time came to leave The Mill behind, there were sincere tears, even from Mekhi, relinquishing his blithe persona. We moved in with some members from Treasuring Christ Church and focused on the task before us: preparing for our training in Virginia. We didn’t forget about our friends; indeed, it was difficult to since Kayla’s school and the police still had us down as M&M’s primary contact. As time came between us, these calls became more frequent, until we had to ask to be removed as contacts since we also couldn’t get ahold of them. All things considered, we couldn’t help but realize the implications of these calls: M&M had heard the gospel, and had received it with joy, but as soon as their faith was tested, it proved unfounded. Jesus speaks of this in Luke 8:13, “And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.”
For this to be the end of Mekhi’s story is the definition of tragedy. His is the epitome of hopelessness. Nevertheless, I have hope, for I speak from assumption, inferring his heart from actions as we watched them unfold through the grape vine. I pray he really met Christ; that he figured out what he needed to and denied himself, took up his cross, and followed Jesus. Or perhaps he saw things clearly during his final hours in the hospital. I will continue to hope, but, should the contrary be true, I know my God to be just and Mekhi’s condemnation will be seen as utterly right, for God is faithful to His promises. Now we turn our attention toward Melanie, currently being held in Wake County Detention Center. My wife has sent her a letter in attempts to encourage her that all is not lost, that she is not lost, if she still holds fast to Christ. We cannot judge her, and are forbidden to do so, just as we are desperate to love her, and are commanded to do so.
Even though we soon depart for the opposite side of the globe, we are blessed to live in an age that allows us to still communicate instantaneously. Melanie is not lost, and my wife rejoices in the opportunity to continue to reach out to her, even from across the ocean. We have also been greatly encouraged by the members of Treasuring Christ Church who are already organizing efforts to begin visiting Melanie in our stead. The story is evermore! That is why this small chapter is merely the end – of the beginning.