Maja emailed me a month ago to tell me that she was bringing her entire family to my house for dinner this weekend….all the way from Birmingham! Actually, her family traveled to Marine boot camp in South Carolina to pick up their son, Jordan, and then bring the family down to visit with us and take in an Auburn football game (their Alma mater). It was so good to wrap my arms around Maja and her children. They have had such a huge impact on our lives. She took care of Mitch and me when we lived in Alabama and prayed for us as Mitch served on staff at the church.
I don’t want Maja and her family to believe that I only think of them in terms of “the family that lost a daughter to a tragic car accident”. They are so many things to me (laughter, love, God, community, Truth, honesty, service) ….but when people ask me to tell them of a moment when I have seen the Gospel most clearly in the life of another, I always tell them the story of Maja.
The very day of the car accident, Mitch and I were on vacation in Tennessee, a three hour drive north from our home in Alabama at the time. We got the phone call from our pastor that Maja and two of her daughters were in a horrible car accident and one of the girls didn’t survive. We were shocked and deeply hurt for the Clayton family. We rushed home and were told by phone that the Claytons wanted their church family at their house as soon as possible. As soon as we got in town, we parked among many cars in the driveway and made the familiar walk to the Clayton’s garage door, where everyone enters their warm home. Maja answered our knock and I’ll never forget the image that I saw. She had one arm in a sling, enormous abrasions and cuts on her head and limbs, and some stitches an various parts of her body. Do you know what she did upon seeing us in her garage? She lifted her hands to the sky, looked up and said, “To God be all the glory.” Then, she embraced us and cried hard tears in the crook of my neck. We soon entered her house where we found many of our church members. The value and authenticity of community was powerful. Here was a group of people that wanted to help the Claytons bear their burden. And here was a family that knew exactly where to run for support upon losing their child/sister.