Justine Meets The Queen of Sheba in a Refugee Camp in Congo

Justine Meets The Queen of Sheba in a Refugee Camp in Congo

by Matthew Kohrell

Justine was sitting in a makeshift prayer chapel in the refugee camp outside of Kinshasa Congo wondering what would the future bring her after she came to America. Would her dream of becoming a nurse be possible living in a place where people speak English and not French? How would things work out for her? Where will she live? Will the flight be safe? So many anxious questions flooded her mind. Justine was so lost in her worries that she did not notice the woman come in the little chapel.

“Mind if I join you?” the woman asked.

Justine was startled out of her shell and looked to see who the woman was.

“Sorry if I disturbed your prayer. Is it okay if I sit with you?” the woman asked.

Justine calmed herself after seeing the woman meant no harm. She knew women have to be careful in the refugee camps. She looked in the woman’s eyes and smiled shyly, “Yes, please do.”

The woman smiled, “Great, I always enjoy talking with God’s people.”

Justine was curious, “How do you know if I am one of God’s people or not?”

“Well for starters, why else would you be sitting in a prayer chapel that looks more like a hut?” The woman replied.

Justine chuckled a little, “I see your point. Do you want to pray or something?”

“Prayer is always good, but actually I would like to share a bit with you today.” The woman responded.

“Maybe that is what I need. I am so nervous that I can barely keep calm. Maybe talking will help me not focus on changes so much.” Justine shared.

“What is making you so nervous? Is it the new life that awaits you in America?” the woman inquired.

Surprised the woman knew Justine was going to America, she asked, “How did you know I am going to America?”

“Oh, there are many things God showed me before I came here to this chapel.” the woman reassured.

“God showed you? When? How?” Justine’s curiosity was peaked now.

“He showed me a few minutes before he sent me here from heaven to speak with you.” the woman explained.

“From heaven? How is that possible? And by the way, who are you?” Justine pressed.

The woman smiled, “I guess that is a lot to take in. I was in heaven and God sent me here for a short time just to talk with you. You can call me Sheba, but we can leave my title out of it for now.”

“Nice to meet you Sheba.” Justine reached out to shake her new friend’s hand.

Sheba took her hand and held it for a moment looking Justine in the eyes, “Nice to meet you too, You should know that everything you are worrying about is going to be taken care of. Even as we speak, the caseworker you will meet is arranging your apartment and has asked a woman from Congo living in your new city in America to help greet you at the airport.”

Justine sighed a sigh of relief, “That is good to know. My big worry is if I can reach my dream of becoming a nurse. Would they want someone from Congo to become a nurse there?”

“From what I understand the city you are going to has people from all over the world and the hospitals hire people who are from all over the world.” Sheba reassured her.

“I just feel like I have nothing to offer even to God. I have no money, no college degree, no family yet.” Justine confided.

“Perhaps I should share with you about an experience I had while I was living on earth. I had a chance to meet and visit a man named Solomon who was the King of Israel. I went there with the wealth I could offer seeking wisdom from him because he was known for his wisdom. He explained many things to me about God and living for God. I learned so much from him and I decided to follow the God of Israel. I didn’t feel I had much to offer after I saw how wealthy Solomon was, but I offered what I had. When I left to return to Sheba, Solomon gave me more than I had brought for him, but the biggest thing was the teachings about God.” Sheba shared.

“So how does that apply to me?” Justine asked.

“It is in the principle that it applies to you and your situation. The principle is that when we come to God with what little we have, he can take us to be more than we were when we came to him.” Sheba clarified.

“But I have only the clothes I am wearing and a few other clothes. I have nothing.” Justine interrupted.

“Remember what the angel told Mary the mother of Jesus my friend, that nothing is impossible for God. God can take your empty hands that you offer to him and bless you. Step by step he will guide you to your dream of becoming a nurse.” Sheba encouraged her.

“The steps seem so big for me right now.” Justine exclaimed.

“The first step is to get on the plane. When you arrive to your new city, God will show you the next step and each step after step by step.” Sheba replied.

“Yes, it is close to time for me to leave on the bus to the airport. Step by step, I need to remember that.” Justine sighed.

“Yes, remember step by step with God my friend.It is time for me to return” Sheba encouraged,

“Wait, you said something about your title. What is your title?” Justine pressed.

“Oh, of course. It is no big deal in heaven, but on earth I guess it would be. I was the Queen of Sheba.” Sheba confided.

“Queen? Oh my, so I have been talking with royalty?” Justine felt slightly embarrassed.

Sheba explained, “I am not a queen anymore my friend, but I have so much more in heaven than I did on earth. However, in many ways your journey on earth is just getting started. I need to go now my friend. It has been nice chatting with you.” and with that Sheba was gone.

Justine heard people yelling outside the chapel. The bus had come, so she went out and got on the bus to take the first step toward her future.

Thank you for reading my story. I was away from writing my stories for a few weeks because it is allergy season and the allergy meds make me sleepy. 🙂

 

Pah, A Young Refugee, Meets Abraham in the Refugee Camp

Thank you for reading my story today. I would love to hear what you think via leave a comment. Today’s story introduces a bit more background for Pah who is in Billy’s Study Group.

Pah, A Young Refugee Meets Abraham in the Refugee Camp

by Matthew Kohrell

The refugee camp was all Pah knew in this life due to  his parents fleeing the genocide of his people in Burma when Pah was only 3 years old. He had no memory of Burma, so the camp in Thailand was the only home he knew. His parents tried the best they could to make life decent for him, but living in a hut with no running water or electricity made it hard. Medical care was poor which was why at the age of 18 Pah was by himself. His parents had died of sickness easily taken care of in a place with modern medical care. His eighteenth birthday had arrived and all Pah could think about was his parents were gone. It was hard to believe there could be a future for him even as he went to the community center in the camp for his appointment.

Pah entered and saw a woman sitting at the makeshift desk of a board on top of two chairs. The woman seemed nice enough introducing herself, “My name is Julia. Nice to meet you Pah. I am with Church World Services and am here to help you with the arrangements here to get you on your way to America.”

Pah sat silent for a moment. Thoughts of his parents raced through his mind as well as doubts about starting a new life in America. He shyly spoke up, “Thank you. I do not know what will happen when I arrive to where it is you are sending me. Please tell me more.”

Julia wanted to encourage Pah, “I can understand your feelings Pah. The city is a nice place and someone will be waiting at the airport for you when you arrive. They will take you to the home of your aunt and uncle. That person will also take care of everything for you to get your new life started like taking you to the doctor and getting you into a school. You will taken to the airport tomorrow to leave for your new home. I will be going now Pah, but perhaps we will meet again someday.”

With that Julia left the building and Pah did not see her again before he left. He looked around for her but couldn’t find her. The next morning, Pah was sitting in the community center waiting for his ride to the airport when a man came in and sat down next to him. The man was much older but seemed kind to Pah.

“Hello young man. So you are off to America today. Are you excited?” the man asked.

Pah was hesitant to speak, but forced out, “I am not sure sir.”

The man smiled and stuck out his hand to shake Pah’s hand, “Pah, you do not need to call me sir. My name is Abraham, but you can call me Abe if you like.”

That got Pah’s attention, “How do you know my name?” he asked.

“I know a lot of things about you Pah. You see I am here to talk with you because God loves you and wants you to know he has a reason for you to go to America.” Abe reassured him.

Pah was curious but also still startled by what Abe had just said, “Why would God care about me? I am only a refugee boy.”

Abe’s paternal instincts kicked in, “I understand son. Don’t say you are only a refugee boy. God knows you and sees you. God loves you Pah.  It must be hard for you to go by yourself. I know that your parents passed away. In fact I met them after they passed away.”

Pah was shocked, “How could you meet them after they passed away?”

“Because I was in heaven up until fifteen minutes ago. All I can tell you is they are both in a wonderful place. By the way, my name is Abraham. My son is Isaac. I am here to share something with you Pah.” Abe replied ever so calmly.

“I heard about an Abraham in the bible but……” Pah was unsure how to respond.

Abe shared, “I am that Abraham Pah. Pah I understand the feeling of being uncertain about following God when you don’t know anything about where he is leading you. There was a time long ago that God told me to leave the house of my father but God didn’t tell me where to go. He only said go to the land that I will show you. In some ways you have it easier than that. You know someone will take you to the airport and that someone will meet you at the airport where you are going and take you to your aunt and uncle’s home. I had no idea of where God was going to lead me to.”

Pah was really curious now wanting some reassurance God would work things out for him, “So did everything work out okay?”

“That depends on what you mean by okay. For anyone who follows God everything works out okay, better than okay eventually, if not in this life, then for sure in heaven. I made mistakes along the way but God never gave up on me. You can read about my life in a book in the bible, in fact the first one in the bible, Genesis. God was faithful even when I made some poor decisions. Living for Jesus on earth, there are ups and downs, but he is always faithful. It is a life-long journey. Your new life’s journey will begin when you get in the van that will take you to the airport. If you ask him, Jesus will be with you every step of the way and guide you.” Abe explained.

Pah’s spirit began to lighten as worry started to fade about his trip, “Maybe if Jesus wants me in America, my plane ride will be okay. I have never been on a plane before.”

Abe chuckled a bit, “Well it is a lot faster than how we traveled when I lived on earth, but yes, if Jesus wants someone to go somewhere, he will make sure it happens.”

A van pulled up in front of the community center and a friendly British man got out wearing a cap that had Church World Services on the front. He read the list of names for those going to the airport that day. When he saw Pah’s name on the list, he yelled out, “Pah we need to go.”

Pah walked to the van and quickly looked back and noticed Abraham wasn’t there, so he got in the van and quietly prayed to himself, “Jesus please help me get there safe.”

 

 

Jessica Learns God Empowers Women During Study Group

Thank you for visiting my blog and reading my stories.

In this story we return to The Harbor Coffee Shop and Jessica’s story continues. If you haven’t read the first story about Jessica, I would suggest reading that one- Jessica’s Encounter at The Harbor Coffee Shop.

Also there is a first story involving Billy’s Study Group.

Jessica Learns God Empowers Women During Study Group by Matthew Kohrell

Tuesday afternoon and time for Billy’s study group to meet at The Harbor. His students were making a lot of progress and were close to finishing their GEDs or had finished them which meant talk was beginning to focus on what they wanted to study in college. Jose had grown a lot and had overcome his low-self worth due to the bullying he endured. Pah’s confidence level had risen considerably to the point that he did not think of himself solely as a refugee but now began to see himself as God’s child with a future. Justine came in beaming because she had already started the process of getting enrolled in Nursing College after getting her GED. As a teacher Billy was in tune with his students and felt good about how Jose, Pah and Justine were doing and feeling, but he was concerned about Jessica. Something was up with Jessica that he couldn’t quite put his finger on, but he instinctively knew not to pressure her or it might shut her down. Jessica had thrived in her new environment, but the past still haunted her and dragged her down.

They all got their favorite coffee drinks and sat down to start group. To break the ice, Billy threw out a question, “So what do you see yourselves doing in five years? It’s good to have goals.”

Justine jumped in barely able to contain her joy, “I will be starting Nursing School next term. My hope is to be working in a hospital hopefully in pediatrics.”

Pah shared, “I talked with an adviser at the community college about the computer department. I hope to start there and then transfer to the university.”

Jose was smiling widely, “Well, I have seen how much difference a teacher can make thanks to you helping us Billy. I plan to start at the university in the fall and I want to be an education major. Hopefully in five years I will be in my first year as a high school teacher.”

Jessica was having one of those days that she wished she could just curl up and hide. Occasionally the thought that she was freed from her past was more head knowledge that hadn’t sunk in yet and feelings of despair would come over her and today was just one of those days. She just wanted to sit quietly and secretly wished she could just disappear into one of the big chairs on the other side of the coffee shop.

Billy noticed Jessica was having an off day, “Hey kiddo you don’t have to share. It’s okay we can get started on today’s lesson.”

Jessica reminded herself of a bible verse she loved that she could do all things through Christ who gives us strength and spoke up, “It’s okay Billy. I have a few things on my mind. I have a dream but am not sure if it can happen. My dream is to one day be used by God to reach hurting people. I am not sure how it can happen and the other day a man at church told me that maybe I can’t because…..”

A voice from the table next to them interrupted Jessica before she could finish her sentence, “Remember Jessica that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.”

They all turned to see who the woman was that broke into their conversation. Jessica realized the woman had just spoken the bible verse that she had reminded herself of a few minutes before. “Who are you? What message do you have for me?” Jessica asked while also recalling her encounter with Mary Magdalene.

The woman came and sat at their table, “My name is Deborah. You can call me Deb if you like and Jessica we need to chat.”

Jessica took a drink of her caramel frappe knowing this was another appointment sent by God and mustered the courage to ask, “What do you want to tell me? We can talk here in front of my friends.”

“Very well,” Deb replied, “Jessica I know about your conversation with Mary Magdalene and how that impacted you and your life. I know that you have experienced many positive changes in your life since then, but another thing I am aware of is that you feel inadequate, am I right?”

Jessica held back the tear that was about to trickle out, “Yes, uhm. You are correct.”

“Well my friend, I am here to talk with you about that. As a woman I understand the feeling of self doubt in a world of men but I know something else too. I experienced first hand how God empowers women and works through women.” Deb encouraged her.

“How did you experience that?” Jessica meekly asked.

“I realize the Old Testament isn’t as popular to read as the New Testament but there are treasures in the Old too. Try reading the Book of Judges chapters 4 and 5 and you will see something you would not have thought possible. God raised me up to guide the people of Israel and we ended up having peace for forty years after that.” Deborah explained.

Jessica looked up Judges 4 and 5 on her bible app and read them. Then she looked up at Deborah, “Wow, so at a time only men were supposed to lead, God worked through you.”

Deborah continued, “Yes, he did work through me, but throughout the history of God’s people whether Israel or the church there have been countless women God has worked through. Think of Mary Magdalene who you met. Jesus delivered her from being an outcast and empowered her even making her the first witness of his resurrection. Jessica I know you have been through ordeals most people cannot fathom, but God is greater than your past. He not only can but will give you the strength to rise up to serve him by reaching out to hurting people.”

Jessica couldn’t hold back, “But I still remember what happened to me. I feel like I have scars. I think I can reach hurting people but I don’t know how with all of scars I have on the inside.”

Deborah took Jessica’s hand to reassure her and looked her in the eyes, “Dear one, someone else has scars and his scars are there to heal your wounds. You know who and what I am talking about.”

“Jesus has scars from when he was crucified, Is that what you are talking about?” Jessica asked.

“Exactly,” Deborah confirmed, “and it is by his wounds we are healed, spiritually, psychologically,  and emotionally. He frees people from oppression, darkness and traps in life to live for and with him and then to share him. Jessica God has freed you. You are free. God is with you. If God is for and with you, who can stand against you?”

“I guess no one when you put it that way. It is hard to remember being my size.” Jessica responded.

“Your size is not the issue. It is God’s size that is the issue. How big is God?” Deborah challenged her.

“Oh yeah, well God is, well, eternal.” Jessica smiled as she answered.

Deborah confirmed, “Yes, he is eternal and has all power. He will guide you step by step Jessica. First step is finish your GED. The second step he will show you soon. As for me, it is time to go back. Goodbye my dear one.” Deborah left the table and was gone.

The group sat there dazed for a few minutes until Billy spoke up with that sparkle in his eyes, “See kiddos, just as I always tell you.”

The group looked at each other rolling their eyes a bit and went back to studying.

Thanks for reading. Please let me know your reactions or thoughts by leaving a comment.

God Bless

 

Refugee Brothers Meet Joseph at the Airport

For those of us who profess to be Christians, there is an undeniable truth regarding a part of the birth of our Lord Jesus. It is the fact that Jesus began his earthly life as a refugee along with Mary and Joseph after the angel warned Joseph to flee with Mary and Jesus because Herod’s soldiers were coming to kill the baby Jesus. Jesus spent his first years on earth as a refugee. In honor of that, today’s story is about Joseph the earthly stepfather of Jesus meeting some refugees in the airport on their way to their new city.

 Refugee Brothers Meet Joseph at the Airport by Matthew Kohrell

In the chaotic hustle of life God can reach us through divine appointments anywhere such as what happened for some refugees sitting in the Chicago airport. For most people airports represent vacation, trips home, or business trips. As the people rush from gate to gate, airports are not places one would expect to find a meaningful connection with another human being because the passengers are only looking for their connecting flights, trying to grab a quick bite of food, or busy on their smartphones or tablets frantically communicating online. Nevertheless, airports tend to be symbols of excitement for some, and homecomings for others, and just part of the routine for others. Sitting in an airport waiting for a flight to a place, language, and culture one has no familiarity with is an entirely different matter. Such was the case for Hamid and his brother Khudidah and their families waiting for their last flight to a completely unknown city. It was the last leg of their journey after fleeing from the killers that had chased them from their homes. The choice was simple. They could escape and flee to the mountain hoping they would be able to one day relocate or they could stay and face almost certain death. Now four years later, they were on their way to a city in America.

Fortunately Hamid and Khudidah could speak English which helped them as they traveled and they hoped would help them when they reached their final destination.. All they knew was it seemed their new city was in the middle of nowhere but at least it was far far away from the troubles they had fled. While their wives and children slept in the uncomfortable seats at their gate, Hamid and Khudidah talked about what they hoped for their families. They couldn’t sleep more from the stress they felt. Their wives and children could sleep but mostly from the exhaustion of the long journey.

As Hamid and Khudidah were talking, a man came and sat down in the seat across from them. Those hard plastic seats in the Chicago airport were not in a spacious area, so across from them was almost like sitting right in front of them. The man had a newspaper he pretended to read while waiting for a chance to chat with the two brothers.

After he sat down, Hamid continued sharing his concerns with his brother, “My big worry is for the kids and our wives. I have no idea of how things will be there. What are the schools like? Our wives don’t speak English. Will they be okay?”

Khudidah tried to reassure his brother, “Remember what Nasser told us? His kids love the school and the teachers where they go. There are free English classes our wives can go to. Nasser will be waiting for us at the airport there. He said that our housing is taken care of and our apartments will be in the same building his. I really think everything will be okay. And remember the most important thing…”

Hamid interrupted, “Yes, I know. Those evil people are not there.”

Suddenly, the man put his newspaper down, “Pardon my interruption, but if you don’t mind, I would like to chat with you a bit.”

The brothers were surprised that such a well dressed man would want to speak with them. Khudidah being the oldest spoke up, “What do you want to talk about?”

The man replied, “I realize this is a difficult time for you and I just want you to know that I understand what you are going through right now.”

Hamid jumped in, “How could you possibly understand what we have been through and what we have lost?”

The man didn’t hesitate, “I am glad you asked. You see a long time ago I had to flee my homeland with my wife and a new baby boy because men were coming to kill the boy. We had to go the Egypt, but we did not have the help you will receive when you arrive in Lincoln.”

Khudidah responded, “What do you mean the help we will receive? How do you know what the help is?”

The man shared with them, “I know because God has showed it to me. When you arrive at the airport there, your brother Nasser will be there, and so will some American friends of his. You will have apartments for your two families. The school will be ready for your children with wonderful English Language programs. Nasser has been busy to make sure you will have what you need in the apartments. I wish my family and I had had that kind of help when we fled.”

Hamid was curious, “What kind of help did you have?”

The man explained, “Not much really, I was awakened by an angel warning me to take my wife Mary and our infant son Jesus and run to get out of Bethlehem because the king had ordered all male children 2 years of age and under to be killed. We left right away on camels with only the clothes we had with us to go to Egypt not knowing anything except that God wanted us to go.”

Khudidah was curious too, “So who are you?”

The man finally introduced himself, “Oh yes, pardon me. My name is Joseph and I was the earthly stepfather of Jesus.”

Hamid had to know more, “So you are saying your the stepfather of Jesus? Wasn’t he supposed to have been born about like 2,000 years ago? How is it that you are here?”

Joseph look Hamid right in the eye, “God sent me here to talk with you Hamid. God loves you and your family. I am here only for this conversation and then I will return to heaven, but not until I have shared some things with you.”

Khudidah couldn’t believe it, “Did you just get out of the hospital or is this just a joke to have fun with us?”

Joseph reassured them, “This is no joke and I assure you I am quite well. If God had not sent me, how would I know your father and mother were killed by those evil men. How would I know your daughter hopes to see snow so she can make a snowman. There many things God has showed me.”

The two brothers sat for a moment in a stunned silence not knowing what to say or how to respond. The man seemed so kind to them but this all was so strange to them.

“Please let me continue my friends,” Joseph broke the silence, “I know your life has been a nightmare the past four years, and it wasn’t so easy before that either. I know you are from a minority religion and group where you come from. I also know that your people have a history of cooperating with those who call themselves Christians in your home country and that your people and Christians helped each other while being oppressed.”

Hamid spoke up, “So you are trying to make us Christians?’

Joseph replied, “I know you are not ready for that right now even though I wish you could experience the great love Jesus has for you. I shared what I did to let you know that God knows about you and your lives and your people. Also that because Jesus spent the first years of his earthly life as a refugee in Egypt, he understands what you have been through and are feeling.”

Khudidah pressed Joseph, “So that’s all you wanted?”

Joseph wanted to put their minds at ease, “No, I also want you to know that where you are going will be a good place for your families. You and your families will be safe there. I understand you have been through a lot and many changes already, but there will be more changes in the coming months. You will be okay. People will help you. I hope one day you will come to know my stepson Jesus.”

Hamid had to ask, “Why do you keep calling him your stepson?”

“Because God is his father. Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit. It was a miracle birth.” Joseph explained.

Khudidah asked, “So you took Mary and Jesus as your own?”

Joseph let him know, “Yes, I married Mary because I loved her and she had said yes to God’s plan. I accepted Jesus as my stepson to be the protector for both of them. There is much more to the story, but I see it is time for you to board your flight. You will meet others who can explain more for you my friends. Safe travels”

Joseph left and the two brothers looked at each other for a moment not knowing quite what to make of what just happened, but they quickly snapped to it to wake up their wives and children and board the plane. Once on the plane, Hamid looked at Khudidah and said, “I think everything will be okay after all, but maybe we have some things to think about now.”

So my dear reader, how will Hamid’s and Khudidah’s story be in their new country? Please share your ideas.

More importantly, in reality how what the real life stories of refugees be like in their new land? The answer to that question could very well be up to those of us in the places they come to.

If you follow my blog, you will receive a notice to know when I post a new story. Also if you have a comment, please share with me by clicking leave a comment.

 

Rooms- A Personal Story from me on my other blog Jesusluvsall.wordpress.com

In thinking about rooms in my life and what rooms mean, I wonder what rooms come to mind for my readers. When I think of rooms, to be honest, some rooms evoke pleasant wonderful memories, but some rooms I would prefer to forget and leave millions of miles behind me even though they are etched […]

via Rooms — Jesusluvsall’s Blog

Love Justice International

Not a story today, just wanted to share that I am excited that my Love Justice Hat came in the mail Saturday.

IMG_1005

Why does a hat excite me? Because of the work Love Justice does. Love Justice intercepts children and young women who are victims of human trafficking/sex trafficking. Love Justice doesn’t just intercept and rescue the victims, Love Justice also has several group homes for the victims because many cannot go back to their families. The victims become not only survivors, but thrivers in a home where they are loved and cared for by Christian house parents who dedicate their lives to raising and caring for the ones who cannot go back ‘home’.

Sex trafficking/Human Trafficking is among the most hideous crimes. I think of what Jesus said when he said it is better for someone who has harmed a child to have a millstone tied around the neck and cast into the lake than to face him on judgement day.  I also think of how he told his disciples not to keep the children away from him because he cares for them and then he blessed them. Surely Jesus wants us to rise up against the trafficking of children.

On Saturday I wore my hat while I was writing my next story about a man meeting Peter while he was fishing. I will post the story tomorrow.

IMG_1006

I feel blessed to support Love Justice even in small ways like buying a hat. I am not rich, but gladly donate what I can.. If you would like to know more about Love Justice and the work they are doing, you can click on this link- https://www.lovejustice.ngo/

Thank you for reading my stories and THANK YOU for reading this posting about Love Justice. Please pray for them and their homes today.

Witnesses of The Passion Week of Jesus- A Grieving Single Mom Meets Mary The Mother of Jesus.

Mary has been an example of faith to me for a long time. I think her story can resonate with many people whatever their church affiliation is. I admire her courage to say yes to God’s plan and her devotion to our Savior Jesus.

Grieving Single Mom Meets Mary The Mother of Jesus by Matthew Kohrell

“Grieving is a process that differs for each person, so there is no one way to grieve that is the right way. You will find your way through the process.” Marlys tried to find reassurance in those words as she left her grieving support group, but she wondered if anyone could really understand the depths of her loss. She was weary of cliches she was hearing from acquaintances at church, people she only knew in passing. Emptiness was her constant companion and it was relentless in causing her agony. Still after group, for some reason she thought it might be helpful to stop for a caramel frappe at The Harbor, so she drove over after her support group.

Cindy and Jessica knew Marlys from church, so when they saw Marlys approach the door they looked at each other and nodded the mutually understood need. Jessica went to the backroom to pray while Cindy chatted with Marlys as she took her order.

“Marlys it is good to see you here,” Cindy sought to reassure her friend.

Marlys mustered a slight smile, “It is good to be here Cindy, How are you?”

Cindy didn’t want to press too hard, “I am good. I am glad you are here. Do you want your usual?”

Marlys nodded yes and then stepped back to wait for her frappe.

Cindy finished the frappe, turned around and handed it to Marlys, “Here you go sweetie.”

Marlys managed to whisper a simple thanks and went to sit down by the window. It seemed safer to just sit alone and stare out a window looking at many things but actually not focusing on anything at all. She was lost in her thoughts and memories of her late husband Dan and her son Joshua. Dan had died of cancer several years ago. She had moved on with her life as a single mom of two, her son Joshua and her daughter Anna. It is one thing to lose a spouse. Losing a child is a pain too terribly deep to handle at times especially for a mom. She could still vividly remember the night when her Joshua was born and holding him in her arms for the first time. She treasured the memories of his first steps, his first words, when he learned to ride a bike, his first day of school, graduating high school. He was just about to begin college when that drunk driver hit Joshua while he was riding his bicycle to work a few months ago. Marlys was deep in in her mind oblivious to all around her when there was a gentle voice trying to get her attention.

“May I join you Marlys?” the kind voice asked.

Marlys turned to see the woman. The woman had kind eyes and a gentle spirit about her. Marlys nodded yes as she looked down a bit.

The woman looked into Marlys’s sunken hollow eyes. Marlys’s spirit was broken and it showed through her eyes. “Marlys I know you just came from the support group. I am here to chat with you if that is okay.” The woman explained.

Marlys was confused, “How do you know I was at the group? How do you know my name? Who are you?” Marlys asked not in a demanding way but more from a sort of dazed curiosity.

“I know you were at the group and I know your name because God told me. My name is Mary. I wanted to talk with you because I can understand what you are going through,” Mary replied.

“How can anyone understand me?” Marlys was skeptical and  felt it wasn’t possible.

“I can understand because I have experienced the death of my husband and my son,” Mary confided.

“How did it happen?” Marlys asked. She was beginning to feel a slight glimmer of hope.

“My husband Joseph died of natural causes years before my son died. My son was executed as a criminal even though he was innocent.” Mary shared.

“A criminal? Who was your son?” Marlys wanted to know.

“My Son is Jesus the Son of God and I am Mary the Mother of Jesus. My son Jesus was crucified for our sins. The religious leaders conspired for it, The Roman governor agreed to it. But the charges were baseless.” Mary explained.

“So you are saying you are Mary the Mother of Jesus?” Marlys inquired more out of a desire to clarify.

“Yes, I am and I am here for you Marlys because my Son Jesus loves you. He knows you are hurting. He also knows you are his faithful daughter. I am here because as a mother I can understand what you are going through.” Mary elaborated.

“It’s just that I feel so empty, so hollow. I don’t want Jesus to think of me as a failure, but when I go to church, I feel nothing. The pastor is kind and his wife is too. I just feel numb.” Marlys was able to finally confide in someone.

“I understand Marlys. I felt so empty myself. More so when my son Jesus was crucified, My husband Joseph was a good man and took me as his wife even though I was pregnant with God’s son. He was older than me and had been sick for a while, so it was not a surprise when he died . Life was difficult but Jesus was old enough to take over his earthly step-dad’s carpentry business, so that made life somewhat easier.” Mary shared.

“My husband Dan had a great life insurance policy, so I could focus on my kids after he died. But my Joshua. He had so much life ahead of him. I can’t handle this.” Marlys was finally starting to feel she could express feelings for the first time.

Mary continued, “I know. The death of someone young is hard especially the death of one’s child. No matter how old they are, for us moms, they are always our children. My son died when he was in his early thirties and at what seemed to me to be the height of his ministry.”

Marlys was feeling a calmness in her spirit for the first time in months, so she expressed, “I don’t know why, but I feel I believe you when you say you are Mary the mother of Jesus. Can you tell me more?”

“Certainly,” Mary replied. “Jesus had been active in public ministry for about three years when his passion week happened. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Even when he was a baby a man named Simeon warned me that a sword would pierce my own soul too. I had seen the religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees, oppose Jesus. But when he was arrested, it surprised me. I was there at the cross and watched him die. He was barely recognizable because of the severe beating they inflicted on him. I wanted to comfort him but all I could do was stand there so he could see I was there. I wanted to hold him, to hug him like I did when he was a boy, but he was up on the cross and I couldn’t reach him. Even if I could reach him, I would not have been able to because of the soldiers standing there. Even in his suffering, he was such a good son. While he was dying he gave me over to the care of John his close friend and follower. In those days a widow needed to be cared for by someone because we did not have anything like life insurance. Even as he was dying he showed he was truly God’s son when he asked The Father to forgive the people who did it to him. When he took his last breath and died, a sword of suffering cut through my soul and spirit. I couldn’t believe that my beautiful son who healed people had just died. Strange things were happening all around us that afternoon, but my son Jesus was my only focus. When he died, all of us thought it was over. He was supposed to be the Messiah, the promised one. He was supposed to be the Savior of the world and there he was dead. The grief was so sudden and overwhelming that I could barely walk. John and my friend Mary Magdalene had to help me walk.”

Tears were flowing down Marlys’s face as her lips quivered, “You do understand how I feel. Death is so horrible. My beautiful boy is gone.”

“But not gone forever my friend,” Mary reassured. “Jesus was dead but not done. He died on a Friday before sundown. On the third day, Sunday morning, he arose from the dead. He defeated death. He was alive again and forever more. The good news is that he will share that eternal life with anyone who believes in, trusts in him. And I more have good news for you Marlys.”

Faith was bubbling up in Marlys. For the first time in what seemed like eternity, Marlys felt hope. She jumped at Mary’s comment, “What good news?”

“Your son is in heaven. He has no pain. He only knows the wonderful joy of being with Jesus in heaven. And because of your faith in Jesus, one day in the future, you will see your son again.” Mary encouraged Marlys.

“Oh yes, I can see my Joshua again.” Marlys responded. “I feel sorry for not remembering that. I am so sorry for being in such a fog. I am, I mean I don’t know how to tell Jesus.”

Mary stopped Marlys by tenderly taking Marlys’s hand. “Dear, Jesus understands you. Remember, he is our sympathetic high priest. He lived in this world. He was there when Joseph died and helped me through that experience. He understands you. There is one more thing my dear.”

“What is it?” Marlys asked.

“You still have a purpose in this life. Your daughter needs you. You have friends here. Let them in. God has more for you in this life and when the time comes, many years from now, you will see your son again and also your husband. I need to go now dear. I think your friend is coming over. Bye for now.” with that Mary was gone.

“Hi Marlys, Can I join you?” Cindy asked.

Marlys looked up to see Cindy’s soft brown eyes that reminded her of Mary’s eyes. “Yes, please.”

From the author- I hope you have a blessed Good Friday and Easter and I hope this story blesses you as a part of the observance of our Lord suffering, death, and resurrection.

Thank you for visiting my site and reading my story. If you would like to follow my blog, please click on follow to the side of the page.

If you want to share this story, you can click on one of the options below.

 

 

Witnesses of the Passion Week of Jesus- Joel Meets the Roman Centurion

This week I will post a few more times with each story relating to the death and resurrection of Jesus. This first story is about the Roman Centurion who said of Jesus, “Truly this was the son of God.”

Witnesses of the Passion Week of Jesus- Joel Meets the Roman Centurion by Matthew Kohrell

Wednesday afternoon, so Joel was following his usual routine of having coffee while reading and preparing for ministry that evening. As student ministries director at church, Wednesday evening kept him busy with the youth group on top of his work with college students. Trying to think about his message for the week of remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus, Joel wanted to convey the authentic experience, but was struggling with how do it.

“Do you need anything else Joel?” Joel looked up from his laptop to Jessica’s welcome interruption. He had come to appreciate her work volunteering for the group and her gentle spirit. “Maybe another espresso, I need some inspiration too. Prayers are always welcome.” Joel replied.

“Well espresso is on me. Inspiration can come from Jesus and prayers are free of charge.” Jessica grinned as she spoke with her trusted friend.

“Thanks little sister. Now I need to get back to work. I want to impress on the group this evening what it was really like when Jesus suffered.” Joel confided in his volunteer. As Jessica walked back to the counter, Joel prayed for insight.

Jessica returned with the espresso and teased her friend, “Any inspiration yet?”

“Not yet, but this will help, thanks.” Joel responded lightheartedly.

Joel bowed his head for a moment asking the Lord to help him with what he wanted to get across to his group tonight. As he was praying, a man came up to him. “Excuse, you are Joel the youth director, aren’t you?” Startled Joel looked up to see a man who looked like he could play any sport he wanted or perhaps be a federal agent of some kind and definitely not a man anyone would want to mess with.

“Uh, yes, why do you ask?” Joel hesitantly asked.

“I have never been one to mince words. My name is Marcus and I have come to share with you about the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus.” Marcus introducing himself.

Jessica walked over to greet the man knowing something important was about to happen for Joel. She had seen the encounters happen since her own one with Mary Magdalene. “Can I get you anything sir?” Jessica asked.

Marcus replied, “Same as Joel. Nothing like a shot of espresso to get going.”

“Sure thing. Joel, I think inspiration is about to happen.” Jessica giggled a little.

Marcus looked at Joel, “Let’s get right to the point Joel. My name is Marcus and I am here to share with you my first hand account of what happened to Jesus. In the bible I am referred to as The Roman Centurion and my only quote  was when I said, ‘Truly this was the son of God’ I wasn’t only there to see it. I was in charge of his crucifixion.”

Joel sat up in his chair. Marcus had his full attention. “Go on. I am listening.”

Marcus continued, “I never enjoyed crucifixions. There was no honor in executing people at least for me. I had fought in battles throughout the Roman Empire. At least in battle the opponents can try to defend themselves. With crucifixions it was taking a lamb to slaughter. First we were ordered to whip Jesus with something called the cat of nine tail. It was a gruesome way to be punished. Pilate was hoping that would be enough but it wasn’t. The calls were for Jesus to be crucified. After he was whipped, we forced a crown of thorns on his head. Jesus was beaten beyond recognition and blood was trickling down his face as we led him out to Golgatha.Because he was so weak after being badly beaten, he fell and could not carry his cross. We made prisoners carry their own crosses to their own executions, but he couldn’t, so we forced a man named Simon to carry it for him.”

Joel was transfixed by Marcus’s description and Marcus was intense about his memories, so they didn’t notice Jessica set the espresso down for Marcus until she started to walk away. “Oh, thank you.” Marcus quickly told her. Jessica returned to the counter.

Marcus went on, “The thing that caught my attention was that as my men drove the large nails into his wrists and feet, Jesus cried out in pain, but he never cursed at us or spit at us. Those were normal reactions of men we crucified. Even when my men hoisted up his cross and set it into place, he cried out in pain but didn’t swear at us. The things he said while he was hanging on the cross really got to me especially when he cried out go God saying, ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do’. It was the first and only time I saw someone being crucified asking for God to forgive the people doing it to them. When Jesus died, I was so moved in my spirit that I risked it all by expressing, ‘Truly this was the son of God’  a risk because for any Roman soldier to say anyone else but Caesar was God could mean punishment, but that was exactly what I came to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. As he was dying and after he died, strange things happened. An eerie darkness came over the land. As soon as he died, an earthquake shook the land. There was definitely something way beyond normal about the man we had just put to death and I knew it. I also know for sure he was dead. Roman soldiers always made sure of it by breaking the legs of the ones being crucified, but when we came to Jesus, he was already dead, so we only pierced his side.”

Joel took a deep breath, “I can’t even imagine being there. Oh how he suffered for us.”

“But it doesn’t end there.” Marcus asserted. “We rolled a huge stone in front of his tomb. There is no way anyone could come take the body away because I posted guards there who if they failed in their duty, they could be put to death. Jesus was dead and buried forever in that tomb as far as I was concerned, but then on the 3rd day, early in the morning, something happened. That huge stone was rolled away. The tomb was empty. Jesus had come back from the dead, not a ghost, but alive again. The word is resurrected. I hope my first hand account helps you Joel. I need to go now. See you again.”

With that Marcus was gone and Joel sat there stunned by what had just transpired. Jessica walked over and kindly asked, “How is the inspiration?”

“It is strong now, but what just happened?” Joel was shaken up a bit.

“These kinds of things have been happening here lately Joel. Can I share with you about when I first came in here as a customer and met a woman named Mary?” Jessica gently asked.

Joel nodded yes and motioned for her to join him. Jessica continued, “I was so nervous the first day I came in here…………”

For Jessica’s Story of meeting Mary Magdalene here is the link- Jessica’s Encounter at The Harbor Coffee Shop

Thank you for reading my story. If you want to follow my blog for updates when I post a new story, you can click the follow button on the side.

If you want to share a story, you can click one of the share buttons at the bottom of the page.

Billy’s Study Group Discusses Discrimination with a Man Name Cornelius

This story was inspired by an actual real life encounter I had in a park one day many years ago when I told a little boy at an outreach event “Jesus loves you”. He looked down at the ground and said, “The kids at school call me brown boy.” We talked about the love Jesus has for all people. I will never forget that conversation.

Billy’s Study Group Discusses Discrimination with a Man Named Cornelius.

Billy had a spring his step as he walked to the door of The Harbor. The reason? It was Tuesday afternoon which meant it was time for his GED study group. What began as study time with Jessica had grown to a diverse study group of four students. Jose was an 18 year old Hispanic who loved music and could play several instruments his favorite being guitar. Justine was a 22 year old woman from Congo who was too old for high school but needed a high school diploma so she could go to Nursing School. Pah was a 21 year old refugee from Burma whose English was quite good but he did not have the opportunity for high school in the refugee camp. Of course, Jessica was there ready and eager to learn. They were all waiting for Billy as he walked in and even had his cup of coffee ready from him.

“Well good afternoon kiddos,” Billy greeted them.

Jessica, Jose, Justine and Pah all greeted Billy with bright smiles. He was more than a teacher for them. He was also a mentor for them as they were trying to build their lives. The connection Billy had with them was obvious from the smiles around the table and also in the questions they would ask during conversation time. The questions would range from help with important papers, advice on dating, and questions about life in general.

That day the conversation turned to why each of them had not graduated high school yet. Pah shared that there was no high school in his refugee camp. Justine confided that the high school was too far away for her to walk to in Congo. Jessica shared about how her family life made it impossible for her to finish school. Then it was Jose’s turn. Jose was still young enough to go to high school, but he in no way wanted to go. He simply shared, “I never want to go back there.”

Jessica did not want to let it go at that, so she pursued it further, “Why don’t you want to go back?”

Jose took a deep breath and out it came. He spilled it all. “I was bullied in high school. The kids called me brown boy because I was the only hispanic in school. I never want to go back to that place.”

Billy quickly jumped in, “Listen to me kiddo, you are a good young man. You are God’s creation. Don’t pay attention to what bullies were saying.”

Jose looked down, “I am not sure about this God’s creation stuff with the way I have been treated.”

A man was sitting next to them and had been listening to their conversation. He looked at them and politely interrupted the conversation, “I know for a fact that God loves diverse people and cultures. God loves everyone in the world.”

Jessica and Billy smiled at each other with that knowing look people give each other who share a secret. They both knew another encounter was in process.

Jose shrugged his shoulders and said to the man, “How would you know.” It was more of a statement than a question.

“Well, I know from first hand experience. You see, I was the first Gentile Peter visited when the church was first starting. My name is Cornelius. You don’t need to introduce yourselves. I already know your names, Jose, Justine, Jessica and Pah and of course your teacher Billy.”

Justine was surprised, “How do you know our names?”

“God has told me many things about the five of you and he has sent me here to share with you about how much he loves people from all cultures,” Cornelius explained.

Pah was curious, “Even refugees?”

“Especially refugees and anyone who has suffered” Cornelius reassured him.

“If he loves us so much, why do we have different skin colors that make others treat us badly?” Jose challenged.

“God loves variety. Just look at how many different flowers there are. They don’t look the same but they all add beauty to our world. God is an artist and he paints with diverse colors. But let’s get to the real issue. The issue of discrimination.” Cornelius responded.

Jose jumped on that, “Yes, why is there discrimination if God created us all?”

Cornelius saw the moment was right and leaned forward, “Excellent question my friend. It is because of sin in the hearts of people. Think about it. God created the diversity when he scattered human beings at the Tower of Babel. He wanted us to go out to all the world so he confused the languages to make people go to all of the world. So if diversity is from God, then discrimination cannot be from God because after all, Jesus himself said that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son. So discrimination cannot be from God. It comes from the sinful hearts of people.”

Jose’s curiosity was peaked, “So you said you are a Gentile. What is that all about?”

Cornelius thanked Jose for the question, “Basically when the church first started, it started in Jerusalem and throughout Israel among the Jews. The Jews called anyone who was not Jewish a Gentile.”

“So why was that a thing back then?” Justine was into it now too.

“Jews viewed anyone who wasn’t Jewish as being unclean spiritually so they did not want to enter our homes or associate with us very much.” Cornelius explained.

Pah had to know, “So how did you hear about Jesus and how did the church grow throughout the world?”

Cornelius smiled knowing the time was now for his message, “I wanted to know about Jesus and know more about the faith. I prayed and asked God to send me someone. God wanted Peter to come to my house, but Peter hesitated because I was a Gentile and Peter did not want to be unclean spiritually so God spoke to him in a vision three times to not call unclean what God calls clean. Peter came to my house and explained about Jesus for me and my household. I faced discrimination in those days. Some Jews would even talk to me because I was a Gentile. Most of the time I would not be welcomed into their homes and they certainly did not want to come to my home. It was pervasive everyday everywhere I went. Because Jesus told Peter to come to my house, it broke the ice so to say and the church began to break out of the barriers.”

Cornelius paused to drink some of his cappuccino and let his words soak in a little and then continued as the study group was glued to his words, “Paul wrote in his letters that there is no Jew or Greek, meaning Gentile, no male or female, no master or slave, no rich or poor in the church. The only identity is Christian brothers and sisters. If someone professes to be a Christian then prejudice has no place in their hearts. That was a revolutionary concept back in those days. Think about this, about 2000 years before the Civil Rights Act in America, Paul wrote that in Jesus there is no dividing line”

Jessica had one final question for Cornelius, “So what did Jesus look like? Most pictures I see have him as white.”

Cornelius thoughtfully replied, “He looked like most men did that were from that part of the world. Don’t let artwork affect you.”

Jose had a pressing question, “So if I visit a church, it shouldn’t matter that I have brown skin? Kids at school called me brown boy.”

Billy asserted himself, “Let me jump in here. Jose you can come with me and we will sit together. I will be proud to have you sit with me. Everything Cornelius has said is true. There is no place for discrimination. If you come with me, you will see that the people will love having you there. As far as the kids at school, I am sorry that happened to you. They have a problem not you. But Jesus taught we should pray for those who harm us. We can start praying for God to change their hearts.”

Cornelius left with one last thought, “Before I leave, let me just encourage you that at the end when all of humanity is before Jesus, the bible says people from every tongue, every tribe will be there. Jesus wants people from every culture, language, race and ethnic group to be in his family. Back to your studies now.”

With that Cornelius was gone and Billy took it from there, “This has been a great conversation and in fact it leads to the social studies segment for this week. Let’s read about the Equal Rights or Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.”

If you see a name highlighted in blue it indicates the character was in a previous story. You can click on the name to see the previous story that introduced the character.

Next week all stories will deal with the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Jesus as we experience Good Friday and Easter week.

If you like the stories, you can follow me via email by clicking the follow button.

If you have a person from the bible you want to see in a story or an issue please share in the comment section.

Retired, Billy Finds a New Purpose

(Note from the Matthew Kohrell the author- If you see a name highlighted in blue, it means that person is introduced in an earlier story. You can click on the name to bring up that story to know more about that character)

Early morning was Billy’s favorite time of the day because he could go have a cup of coffee and do his crossword puzzle. It got him out of his house and gave him a brief respite from feeling lonely in an empty house. It gave him time to not dwell on being retired and feeling like he had no purpose other than to look at everything in his house that reminded him of his beloved wife Claire. She had died the year before in an auto accident when that drunk driver hit them. Billy did his best to hide that emptiness from others with his quick wit, impish grin, and a look in his eyes that said, ‘I am up to something’.

As with any retired teacher, he thought about his former students and struggle with loss of identity. No one called him teacher anymore. Walking the halls of the high school interacting with students along the way seemed like a distant memory now. But it was time to go for coffee. He grabbed his newspaper muttering to himself, “everything is online now, but there is nothing like waking up to get my newspaper from the front porch, the good old days.”

Jessica had just finished setting out the coffee urns on the coffee counter when Cindy arrived. It might seem a small thing to others, but it meant the world to Jessica, with everything she had overcome, that Cindy trusted her to open the shop in the mornings and come in to get things ready. “Good morning Cindy. Coffee is ready for you if you need one,” Jessica greeted Cindy with a smile when she saw Cindy enter.

“Good morning kiddo. How are you this morning.” CIndy replied.

“I am okay…..” Jessica managed to half whisper.

Recognizing that look on her face and tone in her voice, Cindy knew something was on Jessica’s mind. “Okay kiddo, what’s up. I know something is bothering you.”

Jessica knowing she couldn’t hide things from Cindy admitted, “Well, it’s just,… well you know I have been helping with the youth group?”

Cindy stopped and looked Jessica in the eyes, “Yes, what about it? Is there a problem?”

“Well not with the group, but I feel like a phony.” Jessica confided.

“Why do you feel like a phony?” Cindy wasn’t going to let go of it.

“Well, you see, I don’t know how to say it.” Jessica was looking down at the floor as she spoke.

Her maternal feelings were coming out now so Cindy walked over and put her hand under Jessica’s chin lifting her head up, “Remember what we talked about Jessica. You are a child of God, a daughter of the most high God. Don’t look down and away. Tell me what it is.”

It was another time of trying to cope with her past, so with her eyes watering up, Jessica confessed, “Cindy with everything that happened to me, I never graduated from high school. I feel like a phony trying to help the kids in youth group.”

Cindy responded like she always did by giving her a hug and reassured her, “It is your faith in Jesus that is the example Jessica. We can figure out the high school thing later but for now we need to open up. Can you unlock the door?”

“Sure thing,” Jessica quickly went to the door and to no surprise there was Billy standing there waiting with his newspaper under his arm. Jessica unlocked the door.

“Good morning Billy. Cup of coffee again?” Jessica greeted Billy with a shy smile.

“Top of the morning to you Jess.” Billy replied. Being the grandson of Irish immigrants, he loved to try to sound Irish.  “Yes ma’am a cup of Joe. Best way to start the day.”

Feeling she could maybe speak with the older man, Jessica joked, “Hey Billy, you know there are a lot more crosswords online than in the newspaper.”

Billy quipped back with a laugh, “No ma’am. Don’t start on me like Megan. I don’t need online. There is nothing as good as waking up to the newspaper on my front porch. The smell of it, the feel of it in my hands, and the pleasant surprise the delivery boy got it on the porch and not in my bushes. Don’t try to get me online.” Billy laughed some more.

Billy got his cup of coffee and sat down. As soon as he sat down, another older man walked in and right over to Billy. “Mind if I join you? I see you have the paper too. Maybe we can help each other with the crossword.” he asked.

Billy looked up at the man, “I never need help, but you can have a seat and let me know if you get stuck my good fellow.”

They sat there for a while doing the crossword until the man cleared his throat in the way it lets people know one is about to speak, “So my name is Zech, what is your name?”

Billy stuck out his hand, “The name is Billy my good fellow. So are you from around here?”

“Just visiting for this morning. I have quite a ways to travel after our coffee,” Zech explained.

“So how do you spell your name? It is a little different sound than I am used to for Zach.” Billy was curious.

“Actually my name is Zechariah, but I use Zech, Z-E-C-H, for short.” Zech explained.

“Zechariah? Sounds like a name from the bible.” Billy mused.

“Exactly where I got the name. So what do you do for work?” Zech inquired.

“Don’t work anymore. Retired teacher and currently professional coffee drinker and crossword puzzler, but of course, not for pay.” Billy grinned as he answered.

“Do you think there is more to life than drinking coffee and doing crosswords?” Zech asked.

“Whoa now my good fellow. We barely just met. Don’t go trying to push me like others do.” Billy still grinning tried to put Zech in his place.

Zech quickly replied, “Billy there isn’t much time until the other regulars come, so I will get right to the point. The way you like it from what I understand. God sent me here to talk with you to tell you that you still have a purpose in life. It is time to start.”

That got Billy’s attention, “What do you mean God sent you? No tricks now. Talk straight.”

“I know a lot about you Billy. I know that you miss the school and the students. I know that you miss everything about being a teacher. I also know that you feel life has passed you by and you feel lonely. Oh, and one more thing, I know that you didn’t pay enough attention to Simon when he talked with you and Megan a few days ago.” Zech laid it on the line.

“You seem to know a lot about me..” Billy gruffly retorted.

“We both know the things I just shared, but there is one thing I know that you need to know.” Zech calmly replied.

“Okay, out with it then. That Simon fella told me someone else would come. Out with it fella.” Billy backed down.

‘Billy, Jesus loves you. He still has a plan for you. Life has not passed you by. Your late wife loves Jesus and is with Jesus now as we speak, but you need to let God help you get going again.” Zech encouraged him.

“Well now, that is quite a message. But listen now my good fella, I am no spring chicken. How is it that a 65 year old man is supposed to get going again?” Billy asked thinking that would stump this intruder on his morning coffee.

Zech not being thrown off was ready, “I speak from personal experience Billy and I was just as skeptical as you are now. When I was living on earth and was older, an angel once came to me to tell me my wife Elizabeth and I would have a baby. I didn’t believe him or course, but we did end up having a son. Maybe you heard of John the Baptist.”

Billy replied, “Oh, my. So God sent the father of John the Baptist to me. Now I have seen it all.” Billy laughed at that one.

“Don’t take this moment lightly Billy,” Zech admonished. “I scoffed and ended up not being to talk until the baby was born because of it. You have a purpose Billy. You will have a practical way to show the love of Jesus, but first you need to come back to Jesus. It isn’t too late Billy. If God could work through me and my wife for us to become parents for the first time at an age people can’t, then God can work through you.”

Billy eyes were wide open now, “I am sorry my friend. So tell me, what is this purpose?”

Zech looked Billy square in the eyes, “It is right under your nose here in the coffee shop. Someone needs your help, patience and understanding. It will start there. You will have the opportunity to help someone who will go on to have a wonderful future serving God, but she can’t see it yet. She needs someone who can believe in her until she can believe in herself. She has no father, no family. You will discover more about why. Will you help her?”

Billy was moved as he thought of young women in difficult circumstances. It made him think of his daughter living in Europe teaching. His paternal instincts were coming to the surface, “Of course I will. Who is she?”

Zech smiled recognizing the change in Billy, “She is about to come over here. Be gentle with her. To her this is one of the hardest things she has had to do since she came to this town. It is time for me to go, but remember, we love because Jesus first loved us. You need to come back to Jesus too.”

Billy was tearing up a bit now, “Of course. It is time for me to get back to church. It is just hard to go without Claire.” Billy wiped his eyes and then realized Zech was gone. He snapped to when Jessica came to his table.

“Billy, Cindy told me you were a high school teacher,” Jessica shyly tried to start a conversation.

“Oh, yes, I was. Why do you ask Jessica?” Billy gently responded.

“Well, you see. I am not sure how to say this. I never had a chance to go to high school. I don’t want to say why.” Jessica half in tears trying to be strong.

Billy knew this is what Zech was telling him about. “Jessica, I would be happy to help you. I’ll tell you what. I’ll come back here this afternoon and we can talk about his here. I can help you study when you are off work and we can study right here.”

“Thank you Billy, Thank you!!!” Jessica surprised both Billy and herself with the spontaneous hug she gave him.

 

Written by Matthew Kohrell

You can get email updates for new story postings by clicking the follow button at the bottom of the page. 🙂