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Opinion: Can we love like Joe?

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Joe Tuia’ana was driving his teenage daughter to a basketball game in Lehi when he was crossing the I-15 overpass just north of Lehi High School. 

He saw a young man standing on the overpass above I-15 who was just about to jump. Joe pulled over and asked his daughter to call 911 as he said a prayer in his heart. 

“I was completely overwhelmed with fear, I was walking nice and slow, and I had a feeling to just open my arms to this guy,” Joe said to KUTV news. 

According to the news report and Joe’s statement, as Joe walked slowly toward the youth, “few words were needed — what Joe said was needed was love.”

“I asked Jesus to soften his heart, to let him know that I loved him,” Joe said.

When Joe got close, he repeated over and over, “I love you, bro. I love you bro.” 

Joe heard the boy say, “Help me.” With unusual strength, Joe hauled the boy into the safety of his arms and just held him. No words were spoken at that point. 

This story touched my heart. I knew that if I had seen the boy on the overpass, I would not have been strong enough to get the boy back to safety. A strong man like Joe was needed to come upon the scene right at that moment. 

The event made me wonder how many people do we know, who are struggling, just need to know they are loved? How many teens are desperate to hear words of encouragement from their loved ones and friends? 

To me, Joe demonstrated unusual humility as he prayed for help and found the answer was “just love him.” 

How many of our personal relationships would be improved if we “just loved them?” 

In Victor Hugo’s classic masterpiece Les Misérables, before singing the final chorus, the characters Fantine, Valjean and Eponine, proclaim in song: Take my hand and lead me to salvationTake my love, for love is everlasting, and remember the truth that once was spoken: To love another person is to see the face of God.

Maybe that young man who was rescued from death in Lehi a few weeks ago saw the face of God, in the form of the helping hands and loving heart of Joe Tuia’ana.

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