Kingdom come the final v.., p.13
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       Kingdom Come: The Final Victory, p.13
 

         Part #13 of Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye
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  “And we don’t know when he’s going to show up, Dad. In his own time, I suppose. We’ll sure be ready.”

  “Well, we’ll be thinking of you regardless.”

  Kenny searched himself for any ill motive in telling Ekaterina his misgivings about Qasim. She fell silent and seemed to cloud over as he spoke.

  “Do you wonder about him spiritually?” she said finally.

  “I don’t know what to think. Raymie is dubious because Qasim’s conversion story is so cut-and-dried. And he doesn’t seem to have been successful in ministering to kids at COT—actually leading them to Jesus, I mean—despite all the years he’s worked there.”

  “I wasn’t going to say anything,” she said, “but now that you mention it, he never initiates conversation about the Lord. It’s always about him. And when there’s work to be done—I mean real work, not playing with the kids—he always seems to disappear. Carrying stuff, putting equipment away, preparing a field . . . you just can’t find him. He always has some alibi. Like tomorrow even. I said something innocuous about seeing him tomorrow, and he said no, he was taking the day off because some special speaker is coming and he’s sure it’s going to be crowded. He said, ‘There’ll be enough parents to help. The staff wouldn’t even have to be there.’ ”

  “Special speaker? That’s what he said?”

  She nodded. “I’m not even sure he’s right; is he? Do you know of a guest coming tomorrow?”

  “You didn’t hear?”

  “No.”

  “He didn’t tell you?”

  She shook her head.

  “You seriously don’t know.”

  “Can you think of one more way to ask me, Kenny? Just tell me.”

  He did.

  “No! Not the Noah.”

  “Do you know another?”

  “Qasim had to know that, right?”

  “We tried reaching everyone. I’m amazed he didn’t tell you. And I’m shocked he could stay away. How could he?”

  The entire Rayford Steele development team was traveling in a huge motor coach currently encamped just outside Siwa in the west of what had been known for aeons as Egypt. It was now Osaze, of course. Rayford had taken the call from Chloe late, making sleep impossible. He didn’t want to awaken the others, so he tiptoed out, slipping on his sunglasses against the moon, the light from which reminded him of noon sunshine from his former days.

  Rayford was strolling near the Siwa oasis when it was as if God turned the water back on. He felt the rumble in the ground and heard the movement of the springs and even a small waterfall. “What is it, Lord?” he said. “The last holdout repented? What?”

  But God was silent. Rayford knew well that the Creator took His own counsel, had His own schedule and agenda and clock. If it was time, it was time, and no one else had to know or understand.

  “Thank You, Jesus,” Rayford said. “This will certainly make our work easier. Dare I ask for the freedom to return to Israel for the day tomorrow?”

  The sound of the motor coach door slamming made Rayford turn.

  Tsion approached. “Ah,” the professor said, “I hoped that rumble meant what it did. Look at that water.”

  Rayford told him what was happening at COT the next day.

  “We’re going, are we not? Surely the prince expected that when he acceded to your requests.”

  “The Lord is not saying,” Rayford said. “Should I take your interest as His blessing?”

  “That’s on you,” Tsion said. “But you can be sure the rest will want to go. How about we put out a fleece? See if Mac can get us there by the crack of dawn and back as soon as it’s over, and if he can, we’ll take that as divine permission.”

  “Works for me,” Rayford said.

  “All right,” Ekaterina said slowly, “I have lost my enthusiasm for the unique personality of Qasim Marid. I suppose I know what to say when he asks to take me out again. But whatever will I do with my spare time now?”

  “I have some ideas,” Kenny said, smiling.

  “I thought you might. Would you start by walking me home? I don’t want to be late to work tomorrow.”

  Ekaterina’s parents’ place was about three-quarters of a mile from Kenny’s, giving them more time to chat.

  Kenny took her elbow as they walked. “I was struck from the first by your obvious passion for the Lord,” he said.

  “Me too,” she said. “I mean about you.”

  “It’s something I have to work on,” he said. “How bad is that? I’m living in the millennial kingdom with Jesus right here on the throne and ever-present, and still I struggle with the flesh.”

  “We’re not in heaven yet. The glorified-mind-and-body people seem to have no distractions to their devotion.”

  “The undecideds trouble me more.”

  “Tell me about it, Kenny. I was one for way too long.”

  “If it’s hard for me to be as devout and consistent as I want to be—with my heritage and my work—I can’t imagine what it’s like for those who stubbornly want to insist on their own way.”

  “They’re easy targets for the Other Light,” she said. “What a name for the resistance, huh? They really worship the Lesser Light. The Way Lesser Light.”

  They fell silent as they neared Ekaterina’s home. She reached up and intertwined her fingers with his. “So is it my turn?” she whispered at last.

  “Your turn?”

  “To tell you my first impression of you.”

  “That’s your call.”

  “I found you courtly.”

  “That’s a quaint term. And you liked that?”

  “I quickly became infatuated,” she said. “Is that too forward?”

  “Not for me. But I don’t understand. We hardly saw each other after that first day.”

  “That was all it took for me. I was so glad you didn’t ignore me after that, even though we worked in different areas.”

  “Ignore you? If you were infatuated, I don’t know what to call what I was. What I am. I just know I want to spend a lot more time with you, Kat. I want to really get to know you.”

  “Well,” she said, gazing at him, “it seems we have plenty of time for that. For one thing, I am going to be putting in for a transfer to a more direct-ministry-oriented department. I mean, I like rec and I’ve had my ministry opportunities. But I’d feel more comfortable now in an area that doesn’t have Qasim in it.”

  “It’s unlikely my parents would put you in my area. My mother was on to us from the first day.”

  “Oh, how embarrassing! It showed?”

  “According to her.”

  “Mothers know these things. But I want to learn from you how to make reaching these kids an everyday thing.”

  “Well,” Kenny said, “if our relationship is going to be educational, we ought to start on the way to work tomorrow, wouldn’t you say?”

  “Just tell me when to be ready, Professor Williams.”

  FIFTEEN

  CAMERON WILLIAMS was up two hours before anyone was expected on his property, which now covered eighty acres and was threatening to have to expand yet again. Daily he and Chloe and Kenny and a couple hundred other staffers hosted the children at what had become known as the biggest day care center in the world.

  But of course it was more than that. Besides that the kids all seemed to revere and, yes, love him and Chloe—which he accepted gratefully from Jesus as recompense for their giving up their small family in service to Him during the Tribulation—COT had become the most effective salvation ministry anyone was aware of.

  Cameron sang and prayed as he strolled the grounds, checking on everything from parking areas and gates to buildings and open areas. Everything seemed in order for their special visitor. Predicting within a few thousand how many might show up was another thing. Only one staffer had informed him and Chloe that he wouldn’t be there, giving no reason, just asking for the day off. Who knew? Maybe he wanted to be there as a spectator. Why else would a person not want to be w
orking today?

  “Lord, may this be more than a spectacle. May children come to You because Your servant is here.”

  Cameron turned at the sound of an engine and saw a van pulling onto the property a hundred yards away. As he squinted into the rising sun, he followed the cloud of dust until the vehicle skidded up next to him and the tinted driver’s window lowered.

  “We’re lookin’ for the circus, buddy,” Mac McCullum said. “We in the right place?”

  “Hush, Mac,” Irene called out from a backseat. “Cam, I called Chloe on the way in, and she’s already started on breakfast. She said we’d find you out here, but I’ve got to get back and help her. Hop in.”

  Things were different between Kenny and Ekaterina by the time he arrived at her place that morning. He was struck that they seemed to look at each other differently. She looked him full in the face, her eyes not wavering from his.

  “Let me introduce you to my parents,” she said.

  “They’re up already?”

  “They’ve got places to go today,” she said. “A celebrity is in town, in case you didn’t know.”

  She led him inside, where Mr. and Mrs. Risto immediately rose, smiling, from their places at the table. After introductions, Mr. Risto said, “I hope it’s okay that we come today. We haven’t asked anyone.”

  “I’m sure you won’t be alone. But you realize we don’t know when he’s coming.”

  “We’ll just stand by and wait for Ekaterina’s call. Now please join us for breakfast.”

  “Oh, thanks, but I can’t. I’m sorry, but my grandparents and their friends have just arrived from Egy—Osaze. They’ve asked me to join them.”

  “Oh,” Ekaterina said, “you’d better hurry then. I’ll be along.”

  “No, they’ve invited you, too. You haven’t eaten yet, have you?”

  “Are you sure?”

  “Absolutely. Please. They’re waiting for us.”

  The Ristos smiled their blessing, and Kenny and Ekaterina were off.

  “So this relationship is new just since we’ve left?”

  Rayford said, leaning past Chloe to taste her baked vegetable casserole.

  “It’s not even a relationship, Dad, as far as I know. They barely know each other, though I think Kenny could be sweet on her if given the chance. When I called him, he said she was walking with him to work this morning, that’s all. I told him to bring her along.”

  “Tell me about her,” Irene said.

  “All I know are the basics, Mom,” Chloe said. “She’s Greek, was kind of a late convert, and she’s fit in well here in a short time.”

  “And Kenny’s got designs on her?”

  “That’s a quaint way to put it, but yes, he and most other naturals his age. She actually went out with one of the other guys on staff.”

  “Yeah?” Cameron said. “Who’s that?”

  “Abdullah’s boy Zaki’s friend. Qasim something.”

  “Marid?”

  “That’s it.”

  “He’s the one who’s not working today.”

  “What? He sick or something?”

  “Just asked for the day off.”

  “Does he know what he’s missing?”

  “I told him, Chlo’.”

  When Kenny and Ekaterina walked in, everyone’s response was Kenny’s worst nightmare. It was painfully plain that they had been talking about whom he was bringing to breakfast. Everyone had gone mute and studied Kat, reading way more into this than it was worth—at least yet.

  “Sorry,” he whispered, but Ekaterina immediately took the initiative and introduced herself to everyone. Of course, she knew Kenny’s parents and grandparents, but she was most solicitous of Tsion, Chaim, Bruce and his wife, and Mac.

  “You don’t got an older sister, do ya?” Mac said, eyes dancing. “Like about eighty years older?”

  Ekaterina threw her head back and laughed. “I’ll keep an eye out.”

  “Kenny,” Bruce said, “I haven’t seen you in forever. You know you’re named after me, don’t you?”

  “Yes, sir.”

  “And that I performed your parents’ wedding?”

  “I know that too, sir. Good to see you.”

  “You don’t need to blush, Kenny Bruce,” Bruce said. “I’m not suggesting anything.”

  “Bruce!” his wife said.

  “I’m just saying, you know where to reach me.”

  Fortunately Ekaterina was elsewhere and hadn’t heard this exchange. While Bruce’s wife was scolding him, Kenny added, “We’re just friends.”

  “Yeah,” Bruce said, chuckling. “That’s some radiant friend. You two couldn’t look more enamored with each other if you were posing for wedding pictures.”

  More than ninety minutes before COT was scheduled to open, the crowds began to arrive. Cameron pressed into service everyone available—including his father-

  in-law and all his friends—helping people park and find places to sit. He hadn’t thought of grandstands, but most families brought blankets and began spreading them all over the athletic field. Crowd control was going to be Cameron’s biggest headache. On the other hand, only the children had been invited; he didn’t feel obligated to the rest. They were on their own.

  So far, with the first few thousand, people seemed in wonderful moods. They apparently knew there had been no announcement of the patriarch’s schedule, and they appeared content to wait as long as necessary. Cameron decided to start the children’s ministries as usual, breaking whenever their guest arrived. It wouldn’t pay to just have everything held in abeyance for who knew how long.

  He and Chloe had discussed whether to try to arrange for food for the multitudes, but that didn’t seem their responsibility either. Chloe had wondered aloud whether the Lord would feed them as He had at least twice done during his first-century ministry. But it was obvious He had acted in another way. Every family had brought baskets of vegetables, fruit, cheese, and bread with them.

  Cameron announced to the staff that they should head for their respective areas and start the day as usual. “We’ll let you know if and when we’re reconvening.”

  Before Ekaterina headed for the rec center, Kenny said, “When Noah gets here, save me a seat and I’ll find you.”

  He felt self-conscious as he began teaching his lesson for the day, because while a parent or two often looked on during a normal day, he had never entertained this many. There seemed as many adults as children. Well, at least they would find out what went on at COT every day. Maybe it would give them even more confidence to keep sending their kids.

  But the children were as distracted as the adults, including Kenny. It had been a long time since he last felt this disorganized and scattered, and he found himself continually praying silently that the Lord would speak through him in spite of himself.

  That settled Kenny, and the kids started paying better attention too. He led them in songs and choruses before preparing them to shift to the recreation area for games. But just as he and his aides were getting them lined up, it became clear that the very atmosphere had changed.

  Where there had been a loud hum of activity throughout the Williams acreage, now silence pervaded. No one spoke; no one moved. Everybody turned as one and stared toward the main entrance, where a lone figure strode purposefully onto the grounds.

  He wore a colorful robe with a wide blue sash, and his white hair and beard contrasted with his robust appearance.

  Cameron was struck that there wasn’t a hint of danger to Noah despite his having no entourage or even security. Noah looked like a man on a mission who knew why he was here. How Cameron wished there had been no proscription against introducing the man. He had instructed the entire staff to teach a New Testament passage about Noah to the children that morning. He only hoped they’d already gotten to it, because here came the man about whom the Scriptures said, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household,
by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”

  On cue, the staff led the children to the athletic field, and when the crowds intersected the path of the most famous sea captain in history, he merely looked down, kept walking, and repeated, “Excuse me. Good morning. Excuse me. Excuse me. Thank you.”

  SIXTEEN

  RAYFORD DIDN’T know if the man’s natural voice was so powerful he didn’t need amplification or if the Lord merely allowed everyone to hear Noah as if he were standing next to them. But Rayford assumed the latter. Noah didn’t even seem to raise his voice, and yet every throaty, raspy syllable was crystal clear.

  “Greetings to you,” he began, “my young and old and glorified brothers and sisters in the faith. And if you are a youngster who has not yet committed your life to the Messiah, I pray that my story will aid you on your journey. To those of you who have not spoken Hebrew all your lives, it may interest you to know that my name in the now universal language is Noach. If that jangles in your ear, think of me by whatever name you have been familiar with relating to my story from the Scriptures.

  “I have been called a hero, but as you will see, I was but a man, frail and weak if, I pray, faithful. Now, children, I may not look like I lived 950 years. That is because, when God granted me my glorified body, he set me back to midlife and the relatively spry age of just five hundred, when I was married and the father of three sons. Why did we live so long back then? For the same reason you will live long. The world actually exists now, as it did then, under a canopy of water that blocks the most harmful effects of the sun. When that condition no longer existed, life spans were greatly reduced, as history shows.

  “Now, I am most known for what?”

  “The boat!” someone cried out.

  The old man laughed. “Yes, the ark and the animals and the flood. But did you know that many revere me for something else? No? No one? I was the first to appreciate the juice of the grape as much as the meat, the fruit, of it, and devised a way to pull the liquid from it and make a drink of it. You are too young for wine just yet, and one of my great regrets is that I embarrassed myself because of it as well. Worse, I sinned against God and humiliated myself, and this was after proving my faithfulness through obedience. Guard your hearts that you do not stumble the same way.

 
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