Kingdom come the final v.., p.17
Kingdom Come: The Final Victory, p.17Part #13 of Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye
“I don’t know,” Raymie said, sighing. “If our goal is not to win them over, what is it?”
“To keep undecideds from being swayed by them.”
“And how does misleading TOL accomplish that?”
They rose to start heading back to work. Kenny said, “All I know is that if I don’t start playing their game soon, they’re going to know I’m not on their side. Maybe that’s not all bad. I can stick to what I know and what I believe I’m supposed to be doing—reaching the children right here.”
Abdullah knew he needn’t be, but he was nervous. He had allowed his beard to grow out, then trimmed it neatly before luxuriating in a long shower. Now he slowly dressed, eschewing the white robe he had worn for years in Israel and opting for more traditional Jordanian civilian wear. He pulled a blousy white top over billowing beige pants, slipped into open sandals, and carefully wrapped a pure white turban around his head.
Yasmine raised her brows when he emerged from the bathroom. “What is the expression?” she said. “All dressed up and nowhere to go?”
“Except today I have somewhere to go. And I couldn’t be more excited. Where is my Bible?”
“You are going to show up on their doorstep with the Scriptures in your hand?” she said. “No subtlety whatsoever? No easing into this?”
“I am going with the confidence of my Redeemer. I am nervous but unafraid.”
“I suspect I will be on edge until your return,” Yasmine said. “But I too believe that if you are following the leading of the Lord, He will abundantly bless you.”
Cameron was tooling around the COT acreage in a golf cart, checking on everything and everybody, when he noticed a man standing near one of the entrances, hands folded in front of him. Cameron slid to a stop and gazed at him from perhaps a hundred yards away. The man was dressed as a priest, and as soon as he noticed Cameron, he discreetly raised a hand.
It looked like Yerik. The priest had either walked the more than eighteen miles from the temple or had somehow been supernaturally translated here. Either way, Cameron felt it would be inappropriate to go skidding up to him in the cart. He parked and walked, hoping all the way that the man brought news of another special visit.
Yerik embraced Cameron. “Brother Williams,” he said, “I bring you greetings in the name of the Messiah and of His prince. The Lord bless you in your worthy work for His kingdom.”
“Thank you, sir. May I offer you anything?”
“No, thank you. Just a question. Are you able to accommodate Joshua and Caleb on the morrow?”
“Of course! Any idea when?”
Yerik smiled apologetically. “They will come when they will come. Same instructions as last time. No festivities. No introduction.”
“And we will never be given more advance knowledge, will we?”
“No, it is likely you will not.”
“I will inform the staff.”
“And I will pass along your acceptance.” Yerik turned away with a shy wave, and as Cameron watched, the man seemed to fade into the horizon after treading several steps toward the Highway of Holiness.
Never a dull moment.
Abdullah felt strangely conspicuous, striding about Amman under the blazing sun in gleaming clothes. Almost everyone he saw was wearing the customary white robe, and his getup elicited double takes and stares but, probably because he was carrying his Bible, always followed by smiles—which he returned. The closer he got to the address in question, the more excited he grew.
Abdullah peeked at the tiny slip of paper to be sure he was in the right neighborhood, and soon he arrived at a square, three-story building topped by towering antennas and satellite dishes. Inside he found a list of offices that included agricultural consultants, hydrologists, computer specialists, and communications experts. Ah, there it was. A downstairs suite was labeled Theological Training Institute. He took the steps.
As soon as Cameron had told Chloe, news of the next day’s visitors swept COT. Staffers immediately adjusted their plans and schedules. They dug out everything they could find on Joshua and Caleb, and within a couple of hours, the kids knew the stories and were acting out the adventures, building models of collapsible city walls, memorizing verses, and singing “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.” And, just like last time, Cameron knew the news had reached parents and everyone else in the surrounding communities.
Kenny ducked into the communications center and
e-mailed Lothair Jospin. “Interesting things in store. May be able to visit you. Big doings here at COT tomorrow, so may be unreachable. Back to you soon.”
On his way back to his post, Kenny ran into Qasim Marid, who pulled him off to the side and whispered, “You keeping in touch with Paris? They’re getting antsy.”
“Just did. I’ll keep them warm. I suppose you heard about tomorrow.”
“Who hasn’t?” Qasim said. “Can you believe I’m going to have to miss it again? I can’t believe it myself.”
“You don’t want to do that. Change your plans. What’s more important than this?”
“Nah, I can’t. Wish I could. Tell me all about it, huh? I made a commitment, and I have to follow through. I sure hope there are more of these. I’ll make the next one for sure.”
DOWNSTAIRS ABDULLAH found several glassed-in suites with smiling staff moving about. The area for the Theological Training Institute, however, bore nothing transparent. Where the windows should have been were solid walls and a thick wood door. TTI had been painted on it in huge block letters, but it was locked and there was no buzzer. A closed-circuit TV camera had been affixed above it, suspended from the ceiling. Its light glowed red.
Abdullah peered about, hesitant to knock. A woman from the next office smiled and beckoned him. He pulled open the glass door to her suite.
“May I help you?” she said.
He brandished his Bible and said, “I’m looking for the Theological Training Institute people.”
“Oh, the Lord bless your heart,” she said.
“And yours,” Abdullah said. “Do they hold regular classes or . . . ?”
“Oh no, sir. The only people I’ve ever seen go in or out of there are the two little guys who run it, I guess.”
“Well, one’s littler than the other, ’cause the one’s kinda pudgy, you know.”
“No, I don’t know. Do you know their names or whether they are present?”
“I’d just knock, hon. Their other visitors knock.”
“But I thought you said they were the only—”
“Oh, well, yeah, other than the ones who wear the same kind of clothes.”
“They don’t wear the robes of the righteous, if you know what I mean. I’m convinced they’re all naturals, and they wear . . . what do you call ’em?” She snapped her fingers. “Army fatigue things. Just like Mudawar and Sarsour.”
“You were asking their names. That’s their names. Mudawar is the chubby one, and Sarsour is the skinny little guy. Well, I mean, they’re both short, but you can sure tell ’em apart.”
“Chloe, you’re as excited as anyone,” Cameron said.
“Of course!” she said. “What could be better? You know, when I first heard these Old Testament stories, I was a child and loved Sunday school. It wasn’t until I got to be a rebellious teenager that I started resenting having to go and fighting with my mother about it all the time. Even when I pulled away from the church and from God, I still enjoyed the memories of those stories. I came to wonder and then to doubt whether they were true, but I couldn’t argue that they were great. And I never forgot them.
“There are still times when I regret how much God had to do to bring me to Him, but then He reminds me that He had pursued me the whole time. I didn’t want to die, didn’t want to leave you and Kenny, but to be with Jesus was, as Paul wrote, far better. This is just icin
“So you’ll not be taking the day off tomorrow?”
Chloe smiled and shook her head. “Cam, sometimes I wonder if heaven changed your mind at all.”
Abdullah wandered back out into the hall and studied the big wood door again. As he glanced about, he became aware of the quiet whine of the TV camera and smiled into it as it seemed to focus on him. He held his Bible up in one hand and opened the palm of the other, as if asking what he should do next. The camera stopped moving, even when Abdullah moved.
He knocked politely. Nothing.
He rapped loudly.
From inside: “May I help you?”
“If you are the Theological Training Institute, you may!”
He listened for any movement inside, and finally, the door was laboriously unlocked—it sounded as if in more than one place—and, like the woman had described, a skinny little man in ancient Jordanian army fatigues poked his nose out. “No classes today.”
“Just open the door, Sarsour,” Abdullah said with authority.
“What do you want?”
“I want to talk with you and Mudawar.”
“He’s not here.”
“Then I’ll talk with you. Open up.”
The short, dark man made a face and let go of the door. Abdullah swung it wide and entered a cluttered, claustrophobic space that clearly contained no classrooms. All he saw were three tiny rooms with a few chairs and desks and computers and phones. Papers and books were piled everywhere.
“Mudawar! The authorities are here again!”
“I thought you said Mudawar was not here.”
“Ooh, my mistake! You caught me in a lie. Whatever will become of me now?”
“So you are not a man of the truth?” Abdullah said. “Clearly you are a natural.”
“I am indeed.”
“But you are not a believer, despite what it says on the door.”
“What, you’re really here for theological classes? None are scheduled currently.”
“Another lie, this time of omission. You never teach theology, do you?”
“In a manner of speaking, sometimes we do, actually.”
“Antitheology would be more accurate.”
Mudawar appeared, also living up to his billing. He was fairer skinned that Sarsour, the same (limited) height, but heavy and oily. Abdullah had the urge to pull out a handkerchief and wipe the man’s face.
“This is getting old and boring,” Mudawar said. “We have been dragged before the judges before, even threatened to be deported to Israel for an audience with one of the apostles. We pled for the freedom to exercise our own free will and pledged to lie low. Have we not been lying low enough, or have your superiors not kept you up to date on our file?”
“My superior is the Lord Christ Himself.”
“Well, aren’t we important.”
“No, but He is. I come not to arrest or even detain you. I have come to offer my services.”
A smile played at Mudawar’s lips, and he pointed to a chair, nodding at Sarsour to clear it of a stack of papers. Abdullah sat, and the fat man settled in across from him. “Your services?” Mudawar said.
“I am a chaplain. I minister the Word of God to people’s hearts. I teach. I counsel. I pray. I advise.”
“And you are offering your services to our Theological Training Institute?”
“No, sir. I am offering them to this cell chapter of the Other Light.”
“Aah. I see. So there is no pretense here. You aren’t pretending to not know who we are, and neither are you trying to represent yourself as someone other than who you are.”
“Why would I do that? A man my age could never effectively infiltrate your organization, could he?”
Mudawar seemed to study him, squinting. He shook his head. “No, he couldn’t. Now tell me, uh . . . I didn’t catch your name.”
“Tell me, Khouri Ababneh, what value would your services be to us?”
“That would be up to you, and you may refer to me as Mr. Ababneh or even by my given name.”
“Oh! What an honor! I respectfully decline your offer, thank you for dropping in on us, and wish you a good day.”
“You will not be providing me office space, then?”
“I beg your pardon.”
“I see that you are crowded, but I also understand that you do not hold religious classes here. Perhaps you could clear a little more clutter and find me a space to—how do we say it?—set up shop.”
“This has been an amusing interruption, sir, but playtime is over. You may leave now.”
“Oh, but I am not leaving. If I am not provided an office here, I shall be forced to bring a portable table from home and establish myself before your door. Do not, however, expect me to double as your receptionist and inform the curious of your comings and goings.”
“What would you do out there?”
“Study and read and be available, offering the services I outlined. I will teach, counsel, pray. Whatever anyone wants.”
Mudawar laughed while his diminutive cohort stared, plainly puzzled. Whether he was confused by Abdullah or by Mudawar’s countenancing this affront, Abdullah could not tell.
“Well,” Mudawar said, standing and thrusting out his hand, “I have already clearly told you we are declining your offer.”
Abdullah ignored his hand. He pointed into the corner of the next room. “I would be perfectly comfortable right there, and I would be handy to you.”
“I am losing patience, friend.”
“Oh, I like that you call me friend, as you are the enemy of the One I serve. Would you not find it advantageous to have me in the next room the next time you send out a message to your adherents? You could ask whether you have accurately interpreted something you are criticizing from the Scriptures or even from tradition.”
Color began to rise from Mudawar’s neck to his moist face. “So the big boss has assigned you to torment us, eh?”
“No, actually to love you.”
“To love us. This from the same God who vaporized two earnest, sincere opponents in Egypt, just because they didn’t get in line with all the other sheep who trekked to Jerusalem for the—”
“Osaze, you mean.”
“You call it what you will. It will always be Egypt to me. And your so-called God of love—is He not the same one who obliterated one of ours who merely deigned to try to make love with one of His ‘glorifieds’? This is the same God who slew millions, if the stories of the Old Testament can be believed.”
“Mudawar, please sit and let’s discuss this.”
“There is nothing to discuss!”
“Oh, but there is. My first duty as your chaplain is to correct your view of God, especially if you see Him as merciless and unloving.”
“Well, that’s the way I see Him!”
“Do you have another moment for me, friend, as I would like to make what I consider a most interesting point?”
Mudawar sat heavily and sighed. “One more minute, but don’t call me friend.”
“Fair enough, though you may feel free to call me that. Here’s what I find intriguing: When I was a young man, younger than you, my problem was that I thought all the dire warnings of God’s judgment were wrong, because all I had heard about Jesus was that He was kind and loving and a pacifist, turning the other cheek, preaching the Golden Rule. Then came the end of His patience and mercy, His people were swept off to heaven, and He spent the next seven years trying to get man’s attention and persuade him that God was not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. And now, here you are, a hundred years later, unable to accept His love.”
Mudawar slapped his palms on the table, making both Abdullah and Sarsour jump. “I should have my head examined,” he said. “Sarsour, clear the corner of that office.”
“You heard me! Just do it. This old fool won’t be in our way, and who knows? Maybe he’ll come in handy. I will ask him to defend his God when we have aught against Him. He’ll just prove that God is indefensible, that there is neither rhyme nor reason to the maddening two sides of His character.”
“Oh, but there is,” Abdullah said. “He is loving and full of grace, but he is also perfect and just.”
“Yeah, yeah, save it. If you’re camping out in here, you’ll get plenty of time to spew your platitudes. I’ve got a newsletter to get out, so you’re going to stay out of my hair for the rest of today. Got it?”
“Certainly, but know that I am willing to proofread that for you and make sure you’re on track. I mean, you wouldn’t want to be guilty of raging against straw men, would you?”
“Sarsour, get him set up in there, and then shut his door.”
“Thank you, friend,” Abdullah said, offering his hand.
Mudawar gripped it lightly. “Yeah, yeah.”
JOSHUA AND Caleb arrived at COT midmorning the next day, greeting Cameron and striding directly to the spot on the athletic fields where the seemingly endless crowds could see and hear them. Their glorified bodies looked about the same age; Cameron guessed forty. They appeared fit and robust.
Cameron whispered to them, “I will, of course, accede to your wishes, but before you begin, the children would like to recite to you in unison what they memorized from the Scriptures yesterday. Would that be permissible?”
Joshua and Caleb looked at each other and shrugged. “Forgive us,” Joshua said, “but you must realize that even after all this time, we remain amazed at what we see in this new world. Life is not at all what it once was, especially in our day.”
“Especially the children!” Caleb said. “But yes! By all means, let us hear from them.”
Cameron cued the kids, and from thousands of young voices came: “ ‘The Lord’s anger was aroused on that day, and He swore an oath, saying, “Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the Lord.”’ ”
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