Kingdom come the final v.., p.25
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       Kingdom Come: The Final Victory, p.25
 

         Part #13 of Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye
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  Rayford would not have been surprised to find it was noon, as long as he had been talking, as uncomfortable as he felt, and as tired as the young Rehema looked. She was fairer-complexioned than most in the compound, despite her dark brown eyes and hair so black it could have been dyed but clearly wasn’t.

  Rayford’s watch, however, read 0700 hours. By now his people would miss him, wonder about him, worry about him, pray for him. Where had they gone that he had been unable to see the vehicle and that Ishmael’s troops had also missed them? It wasn’t like them to venture out after settling in for the night.

  Rehema appeared weary. Rayford was too, of course, but worry and earnestness fueled him. “When does your shift end?” he said.

  “Oh,” she said, “we’re twenty-four hours on, twenty-fours hours off, and I only just began before we apprehended you.”

  “You’re not serious. You’re stuck with me until midnight?”

  She nodded.

  “Poor girl. You’re going to know more about me than I know about myself, because I plan to talk until I cannot go on.”

  She chuckled. “That will keep me awake. Keep me out of trouble. But I am supposed to be talking to you, propagandizing you, selling you on the inevitability of our cause and the certainty of our victory in the end as evidenced by all the work you see being accomplished on the screens. This will continue for centuries until we are invincible.”

  “Oh, dear one,” Rayford said, “you have already lost. Victory is ours. You have so little time, really. Follow your heart and mind, change your course, join the forces of the one true and living God before it is too late.”

  Rehema turned and faced Rayford. “You are a nice and well-intentioned man. But it is you who are out of time.” She looked at her watch. “In fewer than seventeen hours, your God will have been shown incapable of delivering you from our hands in time for your meeting. Then we will know whose god is worthy.”

  “I already know, and so do you. And now I will tell you about my daughter and my son.”

  “Oh! I’d love to hear about your children! I have a son too.”

  “Surely not. You’re much too young. I would not have guessed you were even married.”

  “I did not say I was.”

  “How old is he?”

  “Four.”

  “And you wish him to live to be only one hundred?”

  Rehema set her jaw and looked away. “Tell me of your children,” she said.

  Abdullah sat across from Mudawar in his office, leaning toward him earnestly. “So you feel, as you have expressed it, that you ‘owe me one.’ ”

  “Yes. You earned it. You deserve it. One for your side. What will it be?”

  “I have no idea what you have in mind. You know my heart’s desire: that you and Sarsour come to faith.”

  “Come now, Abdullah. That would not be a favor; that would be surrender, defeat. And we both know it’s not going to happen. Now take advantage of my largesse. I was thinking more in terms of your borrowing our list of recruits. Big sale, today only, limited time only, while they last! You get one shot at communicating with the very people you’re so worried about. That’s fair, isn’t it? I don’t fear that, and—like I say—you’ve earned it. Of course, I would have to see what you’re saying to them before I allow it to go out.”

  “I would be a fool to pass up that opportunity, so I accept and thank you. But there is one more thing.”

  “Try me.”

  “I confess I did not absent myself yesterday for your benefit.”

  “Really? Well, it worked to my benefit nonetheless, so our deal is still valid.”

  “The truth is I thought I recognized someone in the entourage and didn’t want him to see me.”

  Mudawar sat back and seemed to study Abdullah. “The one from Israel?”

  “That’s the one.”

  Mudawar nodded. “You know him?”

  “I believe I do.”

  “From?”

  “We go way back. I am a friend of his family.”

  “And you’re telling me they are unaware that he works for us.”

  Abdullah could not speak, could not move. It’s true then.

  “Well,” Mudawar said. “This is a complicator. If you know him, you know where he works, and it should be no stretch for you to understand now that he is a mole, a double agent if we were using spy vernacular. He has his people believing he’s infiltrating us, while in reality it is the other way around.”

  “You know I will have to expose him,” Abdullah said. “I cannot allow such damage to the kingdom and to the people I love.”

  “Oh, Master Ababneh, are you really so naïve? Do you believe that after all the time you have spent in our offices, coming and going and doing us favors, that you retain an ounce of credibility among your own? Do you not suspect that with our closed-circuit cameras and our hidden still cameras that we can build an airtight case for you yourself having flipped?”

  “Don’t be ridiculous! I am well past one hundred years old. A natural my age has a built-in pedigree with the Lord. The fact that I remain alive testifies that I am His and He is mine.”

  “And thus you are incapable of sin? Oh, it will surprise believers, horrify them even. But how will you explain it? You don’t wear the robe of the righteous. You don’t speak Hebrew, at least not when you are with us. These cameras have sound, you know.”

  “But everything I have said in here would implicate you, not me.”

  “Everything? You don’t think we could find something, anything, in all the time you’ve been here that might portray you as our friend rather than our enemy? Anyway, you can tell the world that we let you set up shop here, knowing full well who you were and what you were about. Who in his right mind would believe it? You hardly believed it yourself!”

  Silently Abdullah was praying desperately. Had this idea been his own and not the Lord’s? Had his foolishness damaged the work of the kingdom?

  “Now, why don’t you work on the message you’d like to send to our list, and I’ll take a look at it when you’re finished.”

  Abdullah stood quickly, afraid that if he said anything more he would multiply the damage. When he opened the door, Sarsour—who had plainly been standing close enough to hear—quickly moved away. Abdullah walked to his desk, his knees weak, sat, and buried his head in his hands. He couldn’t believe this was happening and that he had helped perpetuate it.

  Would the Lord want him to actually take Mudawar up on his offer? The idea of communicating to the very audience TOL targeted was too good to pass up, but would Mudawar find a way to use it against him? Of course he would.

  Abdullah’s mind was too jumbled to even think about crafting a message. Soon it would be time to make his daily run for Mudawar’s coffee and Sarsour’s snack. Should he continue to do that, to serve his enemies out of love while they stabbed him in the back?

  Chloe was miserable, trying to function while her mind was entirely on Kenny. She knew Cameron believed him deep down too, but Cam’s detached manner frustrated her. She would not be happy until Kenny was vindicated.

  During the morning break, Ekaterina dropped in. As soon as the women saw each other, they both dissolved into tears.

  “Pardon my saying so, Mrs. Williams,” Ekaterina said, “but you look as bad as I feel.”

  “This is like a death in the family,” Chloe said. “And we’d better have no more of those.”

  “I’m sure glad you told me about that picture before it showed up in my e-mail last night.”

  “Who sent it?”

  “Who knows? Anyway, I came by to tell you that I’ve asked Mattie for the afternoon off. I can’t work, can’t concentrate. I’m doing more harm than good here.”

  “You’ll be even more miserable at home, Kat. What will you do?”

  “If I tell you, will you promise not to tell anyone else?”

  Chloe nodded.

  “Anyone?”

  “Whatever you say, Kat.”

/>   “I have to see Kenny.”

  “Well, good. I think that’s good. Does that mean that you’ve decided—?”

  “It doesn’t mean anything. I still don’t know what to think, but I owe him a face-to-face.”

  As Abdullah slowly made his way toward the street coffee vendor, nothing was making sense to him. He had somehow painted himself into this corner, and the Lord seemed silent. Did that mean He was disappointed in Abdullah? He hadn’t felt that way for years.

  He jumped when Sarsour touched his shoulder and whispered, “Can we talk, around the corner?”

  “Certainly, son. What is it?”

  They found a small table under a shade tree. Sarsour looked deeply troubled, his face clouded over. He kept peeking around, as if to be sure no one was watching. “Mudawar told me to follow you, keep an eye on you. I suppose he was afraid you were leaving to inform on us and that you would be gone for good.”

  “It may come to that, Sarsour. I suppose you heard our conversation.”

  The young man looked down and nodded. “I knew you were coming back. You didn’t take your Bible. Plus you have never let anything get in the way of your being kind to us, not even this. Returning with Mudawar’s coffee will be like heaping coals of fire on his head, will it not?”

  Abdullah couldn’t hide his surprise. “You’re quoting Scripture to me now?”

  “I told you how I was raised. Until I left home my parents took me to worship all the time.”

  “You hated it.”

  “Most of it. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn a few things.”

  It was clear to Abdullah that Sarsour had something on his mind. He kept furtively glancing about, taking a breath as if to speak, then seemingly thinking better of it. “What is it, son? You can talk to me.”

  Sarsour suddenly sat forward and rested his elbows on the table, burying his face in his hands. “I visited my parents last night.”

  “Yes?”

  He nodded miserably. “Just as I was about to knock, I noticed through the curtain that they were praying.”

  “Really?”

  “They knelt beside each other at the couch. I can’t tell you the effect it had on me. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t seen this frequently all my life. They both love the Scriptures, and I often saw them reading. But standing there at the front door and seeing them like that, I was overcome with the knowledge that they were praying for me.”

  “How did you know?”

  “I don’t know. I just did. I felt low. Ashamed. Mr. Ababneh, I felt worthless and guilty.”

  “About what?”

  Sarsour lowered his hands and snorted. “You know my profession and you ask that?”

  Abdullah put a hand on Sarsour’s shoulder and smiled. “Well, we both know that I know you’re worthless and guilty. I’m just wondering what brought this truth to you.”

  The young man took a deep breath and let it out. “It had been a long time since I felt God had spoken to me.”

  “And now you did? What was He saying, Sarsour?”

  “Nothing specific. I just felt His presence.”

  “Of course you did. Your parents must have been praising Him. You know what the Bible says about that; He inhabits the praise of His people. He was there.”

  Sarsour nodded. “I know. That just made me feel worse, so I turned to go. One of my parents either saw me or heard me, because suddenly the door opened, and my mother called out to me. She said, ‘Sarsour, have you ever felt like an answer to prayer?’ Well, I sure hadn’t, and I didn’t then, but of course I went inside. What else could I do? Even my father wept when he saw me. I asked them what was going on.

  “My mother said they had both been troubled in their spirits about me all day. I laughed and said that was nothing new, but she said no, it was something deeper and more specific, as if I was going through some new crisis. How could they have known?”

  “What was your crisis, Sarsour?”

  “Just everything that happened yesterday—the visit, your disappearing, our pretending not to know that the man from Israel was an infiltrator.”

  “What?”

  “Oh, surely you know, Mr. Ababneh. You are friend of the family. We do have a plant at that Children of the Tribulation ministry in Israel, but it’s certainly not Kenny Williams.”

  “Who is it?”

  “Qasim Marid.”

  Abdullah fought to keep his composure. He wanted to leap and shout, and he couldn’t wait to clear Kenny’s name. “You know I cannot sit on this information, Sarsour. This will cost you your job. Why are you telling me this?”

  “Because I have had enough, and God is speaking to me. You know, for a long time I really thought the Other Light was a valid alternative. At first they seemed like honest, honorable people. But to mislead you as Mudawar has, and to tell you outright lies as he did this morning, well—that combined with what happened to me last night. This is not working for me.”

  “What happened to you last night?”

  “Just seeing my parents praying, knowing they were praying for me and then having them confirm that . . . I didn’t say much to them, but I couldn’t wait to get back to my place and see if God was still trying to talk to me.”

  “And?”

  “He was. Of course. He always has. I had just shut Him out for so long.”

  “What was He telling you?”

  “You know, sir. He wants me. And when I overheard your conversation with Mudawar this morning, it was the last straw. I couldn’t believe it when he told me to follow you this morning. I was going to anyway, but that would have tipped him off that something was up.”

  “We’d better get back before he comes looking for you,” Abdullah said.

  “I don’t care if he does. I’m not setting foot in that place again without being a believer. I was hoping you’d pray with me.”

  Kenny had sketched out some handicraft projects for the kids that would help drive home the current lessons from the life of David. It hadn’t been easy to concentrate. There had been times when he slid off his chair to the floor, moaning in frustration and crying out to God for relief. A knock at the door made him wipe his face and straighten up.

  He peeked out to see Ekaterina. Thank You, Lord.

  Mudawar was amused to see Abdullah and Sarsour return together, delivering his coffee. “So much for you being assigned to surveillance again,” he said. “How long did it take him to spot you?”

  “Not long after I tapped him on the shoulder.”

  “What’re you saying?”

  “I want to help him with his missive to the TOL membership.”

  “You? What would you say?”

  Sarsour glanced at Abdullah, who was packing up his stuff. “I’d say that if the number two man in our cell headquarters can get his mind changed about Jesus, anybody can.”

  “You’re not serious.”

  “Dead serious.”

  “I knew this would happen!” Mudawar pointed at Abdullah. “This is all your fault! Like an idiot, I let you in here, and now this. Well, I suppose you know you’re fired, Sarsour.”

  “I had an inkling I might not still qualify for a job I wouldn’t want.”

  “What will you do? You can’t do anything else.”

  “Maybe I’ll get a job at COT. I’m guessing they’re going to need to replace Qasim.”

  Kenny had not felt awkward in front of Ekaterina since the day they had met. Until now. They sat across from each other.

  “It’s only been half a day and I miss you,” she said.

  “I know. Me too.”

  “I’m so sorry, Kenny. If you’ll have me back, I’m here.”

  “You believe me?”

  “Of course. I can’t believe I ever doubted you. Nothing in your life or character jibes with that e-mail. If I’m wrong and you wrote that, well, then I’m a fool. I love you.”

  She rose and approached him, but before he could stand, she sat on his lap and buried her head in his chest. “I
just want the truth to come out so everyone will know. You know the others are suffering too.”

  “The others?”

  “Raymie, Bahira, Zaki.”

  “Not Qasim?”

  “Don’t talk to me about Qasim.”

  “Why?”

  “Because if you’re innocent, he’s guilty.”

  “I’m glad someone else recognizes the obvious.” Kenny’s implanted phone chirped. “Let me answer this, hon,” he said, shifting.

  She stood.

  “Well, yes, hello, Mr. Ababneh. Good to hear you too. . . .”

  THIRTY-TWO

  “REHEMA, I need you to call my wife and assure her and the others that I am well. And, of course, I need to know the same is true of them.”

  “And why would you think I would do that for you?”

  “Because I would do the same for you. You are a mother. You have family. You may see yourself as an operative of the rebellion, but I know better. I can see in your eyes that you know the truth. I have told you everything I know about God and Christ and faith and prophecy, about the world as it once was and now is, and about my family. You know God is real, and you know He will somehow get me out of here in time to get back to my people and my assignment.”

  Rehema pressed her lips together. “That would persuade me.”

  “Would it?”

  “Of course.”

  “But you’re not otherwise convinced?”

  No answer.

  But she asked for his wife’s number and turned away to call.

  Irene Steele was, of course, puzzled by and suspicious of the call from the young woman who identified herself as Rayford’s guard.

  “He’s wondering where we’re hiding?” Irene said slowly, carefully considering whether she should reveal anything. She decided she could do Rayford no harm. “Tell him that he will find us where he left us. We will wait in plain sight.”

  “You are crafty people, Mrs. Steele,” Rehema said.

  “If you wish to think so. But it strikes me that God has blinded your compatriots, as we have not moved since my husband left us. And would you remind him that we must be on the road to Siwa by no later than one in the morning if we wish to fulfill our obligations there?”

 
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