When Brianna Lockard was 19, she got what she thought might be the flu and became very dehydrated. She went to the ER where a nurse thought she needed a CT scan. They couldn’t find an infection, but because that nurse ordered the CT scan, Brianna found out she had a tumor in her pancreas. She had the tumor removed and then 1/2 of her pancreas removed six months later. But for those six months she didn’t know if she had cancer, or if she was going to live long enough to turn 20.
“For that six months, I didn’t know if it was cancer, so I thought a lot about what would happen if I did die,” says Brianna.
“So I thought I needed to get right with God first. I realized that faith wasn’t about the rules, but about a relationship with Jesus.”
It was a very humbling experience for Brianna to know that God was watching out for her; between the feeling of needing to go to the ER for her dehydration, and the nurse thinking she needed a CAT scan (which is an unusual test for dehydration), she could see God’s hand in her life.
That’s why she can now be bold about her faith.
“Knowing Jesus has made me more sympathetic and more willing to get involved in people’s lives. I feel more compelled to help people now, more compelled to speak up for my faith. I understand more what I’m supposed to do.”
The hardest thing, Brianna explains, is that initial hurdle; the first time you help someone, or the first time you stand up for your faith.
You’ll fight with yourself about what you should do. You’ll tell yourself that it doesn’t matter, or that someone else will help. You might be scared, or you’ll try to talk yourself out of speaking up or helping someone. But if you just do it the first time, you’ll be different. After that, you feel so rewarded and you want to do it more.
This happened to Brianna when she was driving home from Baltimore after her classes at Johns Hopkins. As usual, she saw many homeless people on her drive. But being a college student, Brianna didn’t have a lot of cash she could hand out to them. She tries to give what she can, but this day, she felt God calling her to do more. She felt God telling her to be the difference for someone. She told God that if the man she always saw by the Right Aid was there, she would stop and help him. And he was there, so she stopped to see how she could be the difference.
As Brianna recounts:
“He was in an old Navy uniform, and I was in my ROTC uniform, so I started talking with him. He told me his story; that he was discharged from the service for drugs and he didn’t have a place to live. He was such a kind person, and very open to what Jesus was telling me to share with him. I remember how Pastor Drew keeps talking about how more than anything, people need to hear about Jesus. So I kept telling him how much Jesus loves him. I prayed with him, and held his hands, and he was crying. I prayed that he would find God’s plan for his life, and be able to get the resources he needed.”
Brianna continues, “Two months later I saw him again. He was cleaned up, he started rehab, and started doing odd jobs for money. He looked so much better and so happy. We prayed together again that he would be able to see what God has done in his life.”
Since Brianna stopped and prayed with this man, she feels stronger convictions to keep doing what God is calling her to. And she says it gets easier each time she does it.
“Now I can see where God has put people in my life who need help—people trying to find their way and who need the love of Jesus. I’m much more open about my faith now. More willing to share it,” said Brianna. “I just want to inspire other people to take that first step. That hurdle is the hardest, but once you do it, you’ll see how much more meaning and purpose your life can have.”