Kingdom come the final v.., p.10
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       Kingdom Come: The Final Victory, p.10
 

         Part #13 of Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye
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  Kenny stood and leaned against the table. “That’s a new one for me. I suppose they’d have to sincerely believe that to continue in their lunacy.”

  Ekaterina nodded. “Eventually that’s what changed my mind. I found that the more of my friends who found the Other Light attractive, the more repulsed I was by it. My hesitation over Jesus was all about me, myself, my pride, my ego. I didn’t want to give up the reins of my life. For my friends, it was that they had actually become the Lord’s enemy. They read the same Scriptures I did, heard the same stories, and came to opposite conclusions. They came to believe that Lucifer got a raw deal, that he hadn’t really done anything bad enough to be treated the way God treated him. They actually started praying to him. None of them ever claimed to hear from him, but the very idea terrified me. To be casting your lot with and praying to the enemy of God, locked away somewhere in the bowels of the earth for a thousand years . . . like you say, it’s lunacy.”

  “So that changed your mind?”

  “Well, sort of. That’s the best part.”

  TEN

  “NOW RISE, BRETHREN,” David said, “and let me bless you.” He mounted the steps and gathered the men in an embrace. “God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, so His way may be known on earth, His salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth.

  “Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore. Amen.”

  “Amen,” Rayford said. “And thank you.”

  “And now is there anything I can do for you, sir?”

  “For me?”

  David chuckled. “The king of Israel is speaking to you, servant of God.”

  “Forgive me. I do have a question about another close friend and confidant of ours.”

  “The Jordanian.”

  “Yes.”

  “As a natural, he will be of tremendous value to the efforts against the Other Light. He and his wife will be relocated to their homeland.”

  “I hate to lose them.”

  “Only temporarily. There are many centuries to go, you know. And I’m sure you’ve already learned to trust the Lord’s wisdom.”

  “Of course.”

  “That request was easy. Anything else I can do for you?”

  “Yes, actually, there is something.”

  “Name it.”

  Rayford began to tell David of the Children of the Tribulation ministry.

  “I know it well,” David said. “How can I help?”

  Rayford told him how the daily highlights were the stories from the Bible. “The children plead for these above refreshments, above games, above singing.”

  “Indeed?”

  “They love the stories and demand to hear them again and again.”

  “And . . . ?”

  “I can’t help but think what an unspeakable thrill it would be for them, for us, for everyone involved, if . . . oh, I can’t give it utterance. It’s too much to hope for.”

  “You of little faith,” David said. “You have not because you ask not.”

  “Very well. Just imagine if their heroes were there in person to tell their own stories one day.”

  “Who?”

  “Noah.”

  “Done.”

  “Really? Seriously? I—”

  “I have spoken. Who else?”

  “How many dare I ask for?”

  “Test the limit of your faith.”

  “Joshua.”

  “Done, and I shall send Caleb with him. Who else?”

  “You.”

  “With pleasure. I wonder what story of mine they might ask for. . . .”

  The men laughed.

  “I am more than grateful,” Rayford said.

  “Go in peace.”

  “Tell me, Kat,” Kenny said. “You’ve brought me this far.”

  “I found myself in my room, sitting on my bed, praying for my friends.”

  “And you were not yet a believer yourself.”

  “Not really, no. Ironic, isn’t it, to pretend to be still holding out, all the while knowing whom to plead with for the well-being of my friends? Funny thing was, Jesus, as close and ever-present as He had always been, wouldn’t speak to me. I had learned verses as a child. How could I not? So I knew the problem. The Scriptures say that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” I was hardly righteous, and so regardless how fervent, my prayers were anything but effective. So—”

  “They didn’t avail much.”

  She smiled. “They availed nothing. But the exercise was good for me, because while Jesus wasn’t speaking to me, He was impressing something deep within me. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the fact that I was no better than my friends, regardless the reason for their disbelief. In fact, I was no better than Lucifer himself. I can see by your look that you feel I’ve overstated it, Kenny. But think about it. I was guilty of the very thing that got Lucifer cast out of heaven. I wanted my own way. I may not have said I wanted to be God or imagined myself bigger or better than He is. But I wanted to be the god of my own life, and that usurped His right and His authority.”

  Kenny was moved. “Only God could have taught you that.”

  “My feeling exactly. I came to the conclusion that He may have been silent, but He was still communicating. I suddenly saw myself for what I was—a self-possessed sinner in desperate need of forgiveness and salvation. I knelt on the floor, and you know, that didn’t seem low enough. For my whole life I had held Jesus at bay. I lay flat on the floor, weeping, pleading for forgiveness, and committing myself to the Lord forever. He has been with me ever since, and I have never looked back or regretted it.”

  “And your friends?”

  “Two actually became believers. Three others I am still praying for, but they are totally enmeshed in TOL. I know God is sovereign, but in the flesh, I am nearly out of hope.”

  “He allows them to make their choices.”

  “And it seems they have.”

  Kenny was tempted to tell her of his and his friends’ plans to try to infiltrate and thwart TOL at some level. But for the same reason Raymie and the others were slow to embrace the idea of Zaki’s bringing in a new face, he decided to wait.

  Rayford couldn’t quit talking as he rushed up the causeway back toward his home. “Irene thought she would miss Indonesia, and of course she misses many people, but she has so quickly found a home helping with COT, which she just loves. Now to have to tell her that we have a new assignment—”

  “Closer to home than Indonesia, anyway,” Chaim said.

  “Well, that’s true, but then when I tell her that our heroes of the faith will be coming to share with the kids their own stories in person, well, she’ll want to be here for that and—”

  “Rayford,” Chaim said, “slow down. I am not 150 anymore. And could one of us get a word in? We were silent long enough in the presence of the prince.”

  “Yeah,” Rayford said, “sorry. Could you believe that? An audience with King David himself?”

  “We were there, partner,” Mac said. “Now just stop a minute and take a breath. We’re gonna scoot a mile past our valley and have to backtrack.”

  At the end of the day, Kenny found it hard to concentrate on what Raymie wanted. He had called the Millennium Force together at one end of the property, and all Kenny wanted was to report to his mother his enthusiasm for the new recruit.

  Zaki actually asked whether he should bring Qasim.

  “Are you serious?” Raymie said. “He’s who we’re discussing.”

  “We’re going to vote then?
Because you know what I’ll say. He’s ready. He’s perfect for the assignment.”

  Raymie held up a hand. “Zaki, let’s use a little discernment here and remember that you and I were the only ones among us who chatted with him.”

  “I know, but Bahira and Kenny trust us, don’t you? We liked him. I mean, if there are more formalities, let’s get him in here so everybody can be as sold on him as we are, and—”

  “I’m not sold on him, Zaki,” Raymie said.

  “Neither am I,” his sister said.

  “You weren’t even here, Bahira.”

  “I wish I had been. Then we could vote. And it would be two to one against. What was your concern, Raymie?”

  “Everything. He’s young, immature; he doesn’t look right, doesn’t comport himself appropriately. He talks too fast and too much. And frankly, I don’t like what he has to say. He didn’t do himself any good talking about his own conversion. He used all the right words, but they seem just rote to him. And he didn’t do himself any favors trying to summarize his own ministry. I don’t think he’s led one child to Christ in all the time he’s been here.”

  “To be fair,” Kenny said, still wishing they could wrap this up so he could make sure his mother hired Ekaterina, “he has been confined to the recreational division.”

  “Even rec counselors lead kids to the Lord occasionally,” Bahira said. “You’d almost have to work at it not to.”

  Zaki sat shaking his head. “You’re going to blackball this guy. I can’t believe it. How am I going to tell him?”

  “You shouldn’t have invited him in the first place,” Bahira said. “Then you wouldn’t have to tell him anything. You should have just suggested we get to know him and check him out without suggesting or implying anything. If he’s disappointed or offended, it’s only because you overpromised.”

  “Okay, I’m sorry if I thought he would be perfect for us. Guess he can call off his trip.”

  Kenny stole a glance at Raymie.

  “What are you talking about?” Raymie said.

  “He’s going to France in a few days, determined to infiltrate and bring us a report. Don’t you want that?”

  “He won’t be going under our auspices,” Raymie said. “And you’d better be sure he says nothing about us. Kenny has made some inroads with the Jospin brothers, and we have to be careful not to compromise that.”

  Zaki looked embarrassed.

  “What?” his sister said. “I know you. Tell me you didn’t mention the Jospins to Qasim.”

  “Well, I didn’t know! Who else was he supposed to try to observe there? If he’s not looking for someone, how would he even get in?”

  “Stop him,” Raymie said. “He mustn’t go. If he’s determined to infiltrate some TOL cell, there are plenty of others.”

  “You want to brief him first?” Zaki said. “Make sure he doesn’t give us away?”

  “No! I want him not to even think he’s going on our behalf, because he’s not.”

  Zaki sighed. “He’s not going to be happy.”

  “That makes two of us,” Bahira said.

  __

  Kenny’s mother was preparing to leave when he finally reached her.

  “I need to hurry,” she said. “You’re invited to your grandfather’s to hear of his audience with King David today.”

  “What?”

  “If you don’t know about it, you may be the only one. Grandma wasn’t supposed to say anything, but, well . . . it’s getting around. Can you come?”

  “Wouldn’t miss it. But I need to give you my impression of Miss Risto.”

  “No, you don’t.”

  “I’m sorry?”

  “I hired her,” his mother said.

  “Just like that?”

  “Yes. Is there a problem? We all loved her.”

  “So my interview with her was just a formality?”

  Chloe laughed. “Your interview? You think I couldn’t see how you two connected? Your report was a foregone conclusion.”

  “Then I can expect her tomorrow?”

  “Oh, she’ll be here. But you shouldn’t expect her. She’s been assigned to recreation.”

  “You’re not serious.”

  “Of course I am. Admit it, Kenny; she’d be a distraction for you. Don’t worry. She’ll still be in the vicinity. You can get to know her if you wish. Now, come on. Your grandparents are waiting.”

  ELEVEN

  IN HIS PAST, Rayford would have said he couldn’t believe his luck. But this was more than fortune; this assignment proved he was continually blessed by God. His leadership skills had been tapped and his muscles stretched by the decades he’d spent leading a development team in Indonesia. And now it became his charge not only to rebuild and develop Egypt but to lead the spiritual effort as well.

  That was not his strength, of course, certainly not his specialty. But he could not have done better selecting the team if it had been left to him alone. Admittedly, he would have wanted Chloe and Cameron on board, even Raymie and Kenny. But that would have crippled the COT effort.

  Rayford hadn’t worked with Bruce since just after the Rapture a hundred years before, but he knew him to be an excellent preacher and student of the Bible. And who better to teach and mentor Bruce than Tsion Ben-Judah and Chaim Rosenzweig?

  Bruce’s wife, who had been raptured, had a gift for organization like Irene’s. They would be of tremendous help to Mac, who would be in charge of technology, transportation, and logistics.

  It was clear to Rayford that Irene had mixed emotions about the move and the new mission. She loved the kids of COT and especially getting to work alongside her immediate family. “But I am happiest in the service of Christ and will go wherever He sends me.”

  As for Rayford, he couldn’t move fast enough. He was eager to hear of Abdullah’s assignment and would miss working with him. But the idea of seeing the ravages left on a nation from which the Lord had removed His hand and then having the resources to bring it back to productivity under His authority made Rayford feel one hundred again.

  Abdullah came by to help with packing. He explained that he soon had to get back to help Yasmine with their own. “I suppose you know we’re headed back to Amman. That will seem very strange. I cannot imagine how it must have changed in a century. Somehow I think that despite the passage of time, painful memories will be dredged up.”

  “I pray the Lord will use them to show you how far He has brought you.”

  “Even though I will miss all the children, and of course Bahira and Zaki, I like the idea of my new role.”

  “Tell me about it.”

  “The Lord appeared to me in the night, apparently just before He deposited Mac and your former pastor—”

  “Bruce.”

  “—right, on your doorstep. He told me sin was spreading, encroaching on my own homeland, and that He knew I would want to play a part in thwarting it. Rayford, I would have dug ditches if that’s what He’d asked. When the Creator God visits you, you tend to want to do what He says. One of my questions was whether I could take my family along. It has been so strange to work with Yasmine as a sister rather than a wife. And to have my children—it is bizarre to call them that at their ages—as colleagues rather than as dependants, well, that has been a joy. Alas, the children are to stay here and work with Chloe and Cameron. But Yasmine was free to choose.”

  “Really? It seems that would be a difficult decision for a wife, of sorts, and a mother. Plus, like most everyone involved with COT, she seems to love it here.”

  “She did not make her decision lightly. As she has always done, she sought the Lord. Within days, she told me that she and He had come to an agreement. It was all I could do to stifle a laugh. It was as if they had been negotiating. I wouldn’t dare negotiate with Him, but she has been to His Father’s house and has a glorified mind as well as body, and so I expect they are on different speaking terms than He and I. Anyway, they apparently agreed that I need looking after. And He told her be
fore He told me that my assignment would be dangerous. I suppose He worries that I have grown soft since the Tribulation.”

  “Haven’t you?”

  Abdullah laughed. “From flying you Trib Force crazies all over the planet for seven years to working at a children’s day camp? They seem equally demanding to me.”

  “Dangerous, eh?” Rayford said. “Surely the Lord doesn’t expect a man your age to pose as a member of TOL.”

  “Captain Steele,” Abdullah said solemnly, laughter dancing in his eyes, “I recall the days when a comment like that to a person of ethnicity was punishable as a hate crime.”

  Within a few days, Mac had flown everyone and their belongings about 270 miles west to the city of Al Jizah, south of Cairo, where the Lord had directed Rayford to a tract of land on which he was to build living quarters for the team.

  “You should have asked David to hit up Noah for the ark blueprints,” Chaim said as he watched the younger men do most of the work. In truth, much of it fell to Rayford and Mac as the other three met during the day and evening studying and planning their ministry attack.

  As soon as they had landed in Al Jizah, it became clear the area was wounded. Since the Feast of Tabernacles in Israel several days before, no rain had fallen in the entire nation of Egypt. Worse, it was obvious that God had shut off even the underground springs—deadly to a desert climate. Rivers had stopped flowing, and rapidly evaporating water lay stagnant everywhere. Citizens filled containers as fast as they could, trying to collect the last of the good water.

  Kenny Williams had begun looking for Ekaterina Risto after work every afternoon. They often sat together in the staff debriefing sessions. Today she was beaming, and when it came time for workers and volunteers to tell of anything interesting that had happened that day, Ekaterina was the first on her feet.

  “Kat Risto,” she said. “I know a lot of you, but for you others, obviously, I’m new here. I’ve been working in rec, and at first I was afraid I wouldn’t get a chance to do as much ministry as you guys who teach or lead worship. But today I told the story of Jonah, and a little girl—she said she was ten—asked me to pray with her for salvation.”

 
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