BY SOPHIE KOPP
We were waiting by a pile of luggage in the rain the first time I met Julia.
Everyone on the Resonate Los Angeles mission team was with whomever they knew, not comfortable enough to talk to anyone else just yet. Somehow I ended up standing next to Julia Luo. I thought she was the same Chinese girl in my accounting class. She wasn't. Not only was she different from the girl in my class, she was different from anyone I'd ever met before. I understood she was different when, during the mission trip, I witnessed her arms wrapped around a mentally disabled homeless woman at an evening of homeless karaoke. This was a woman who had probably not been hugged for more years than you and I have fingers and toes. Holding her set Julia apart because no one else in the room would as much as sit by this woman. She and her lost mind had been ignored by all except Julia.
A year and a half ago, Julia moved to Moscow, Idaho from China. She got accepted into a top ranked school in China to study math and was ranked first in her class. Julia says that in China it's all about success. You work hard to move up in your job so you can work more and produce more so that everyone will have more. She was close to reaching ultimate success and could have reached it, but in the end she discovered she didn't want it. It wasn't satisfying. She moved to a small town in Northern Idaho to study economics and what she ended up discovering was an infinitely deep love.
Battling the language barrier and a difficulty making friends in a strange place made Julia question why she moved to Idaho in the first place. She was sad. I would be sad too if I couldn't speak the language and didn't know anyone. Honestly, I might give up. But Julia kept going and eventually lost enough to find just what she was looking for.
She was waiting for a friend, who was also from China, outside of her house when she thought she spotted her. But a woman that Julia didn't know was approaching. This woman, Maryani Budiman, was from Indonesia and ended up inviting Julia to church by the end of their conversation. Maryani introduced her to Leta and Michelle at church who introduced her to the bible and read it with her every Saturday morning. Those mornings with Leta is where Julia came to understand why striving for success was never satisfying.
Julia's understanding can be summed up in one passage from the bible which she lives by: If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. (Mark 8:34-35)
She knows that the only true life she wants to live is a life surrendered to Christ. To Julia, true life is about love. She laid down her ambition for success at Jesus' feet, turned around with light beaming from behind her and within her, and gave the love to others that she knows she is given.
"I am fulfilled by loving others."
Julia acts on her desire to love others through Resonate Church. She loves people there by listening to their stories, and she intends on telling her other home, China, about her encounters with Jesus here in America. She writes down the stories she hears with the intention of writing a book that will fund running shoes for children in China so that they may run freely like she can do now.
She didn't hold that homeless woman in Los Angeles because she was supposed to or because it would earn her favor from anyone or because it would help her achieve some goal. She did it because she saw someone who needed to be loved. And Julia had love from Jesus to give.