Tuesday, April 17, 2018

(ToM) The Hitchhiker

This story is one from a soldier that is enlisted in the Army 
and is fighting overseas in the Middle East during an unnamed 
war not too far into the future. This story is a recollection of his testimony that occurred shortly before enlisting.

I was somewhere in the middle of the desert when I recalled 
the words that He had told me. "All that the Father gives Me 
will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly 
not cast away."


I remember feeling dehydrated even to the point of death. But 

my concern was that if I died out here in the midst of the 

coyotes and vultures that I would be able to see them again. 

My prayer wasn't just for water out here in the middle of some

hidden oasis. My memories alone brought the refreshment of 

deep peace and inner joy that seemed to emanate from the 

center of my being despite what the harsh afternoon sun was 

doing to my body. And this feeling of happiness was no 

mirage. Just like the persons of Jackson and Emmitt were 

no figment of my imagination either. 

They were real. And no matter how many unseen forces 

tried to erase or replace my memories and thoughts of our 

time together, I held my faith intact. Or as I had come to learn 

over the past couple weeks, He was the one holding me and 

forever would I believed. This new relationship hadn't 

come without its share of bitter trials and setbacks, but as I sat 

up from my resting spot and proceeded to march down the 

off beaten dirt trail, I remembered another kind of scene that 

they had picked me up at. I oriented my backpack that was 

across my back, adjusted my combat helmet on my head, and

laughed at myself as I remembered several months before 

when I was traveling down a desert stretch similar to the one 

I was going down now when they stopped beside me in a car.

"Hot dog, I've never ridden in a Cadillac before.", I said

"Is that so? Well, hop in!", the short oriental man said, 

grinning from ear to ear.

Youth. It gets you on the road and takes you down it 

further than you intended to go. And without any brains, 

the worst off you are. That was me. I had left home a month 

before, looking to see the world. Most teenagers my age go 

with the motivation to conqueror the world, strike it rich, 

or other poorly calculated endeavors. For me, it was just to 

see what there was to see. I was born in middle America to 

parents that owned a large tract of property on the outskirts 

of the city. The land itself could have been made perfect

for farming, but my parents never intended to use it for that

purpose. They planned to work until they could save up 

enough money to build on to the land. My mother wanted 

to open her own retirement home after she retired from the 

local bank as a teller. My father, an attorney, was happy to 

oblige. With two sibling sisters that had gone off to college 

three years previous to me taking off, their dream was closer

to fruition.


My parents weren't happy about me leaving home, 

but they consented with their blessing and encouragement 

for me to keep my heart and attention toward God and what 

He wanted to do with my life. They didn't go to an organized

church. Instead, my mother and father spent time going to a 

rotating circuit of house churches. Every Sunday, my parents, 

and those involved in the house churches took turns going to 

each other's houses to worship and partake of communion. 

My father, though a lawyer during the week, served as the 

Pastor for these believers in the communities they traveled to. 

My grandfather was Amish and a lay minister as well during 

the time my dad grew up. By the time my father reached 18, 

he had met my mother in their shared Amish community. 

And a year later they were married. Dad said he had 

felt God calling him to ministry early on. And by the

time he and my mother decided to raise a family, they felt the 

need to move outside the village. Their destination in middle

Iowa wasn't far too different from the surroundings of the Amish

community where they had grown up. Mother took a job soon 

after arriving in Iowa at a local bank. Father, who was working

on his law degree, took a job as a paralegal in another law office 

to make ends meet with mother.

Upon visiting the Amish people, I saw the hard work they were

subject to, and I was always glad that we weren't made to farm 

the land we lived on. It would have been back-breaking to us. 

But we could have done it. Instead, my sisters followed in the 

same vein of higher education as our father, and I was left alone

after graduating high school to ponder my next move. And I 

chose the road. 

I had saved up about $500 bucks before taking off. Before 

leaving home, I had thought a lot about being spared the 

manual labor of farm work. In many ways, I had gotten off 

better than I deserved. I never really had to work hard for the 

money I earned compared to my parents, and it was offsetting 

to me. In one sense, the embarking on my journey was a way 

I could prove to myself that I could "do it." My final 

meditations before I left home the Sunday morning to hit the 

road were that if I was able to survive the little discovery 

voyage, I desired to embark on, that I would enlist in the 

military and see the world! 

I may never march in the infantry,

Ride in the cavalry,

Shoot the artillery.

I may never fly o'er the enemy,

But I'm in the Lord's army!

Yes, sir!

I'm in the Lord's army!

Yes, sir!

I'm in the Lord's army!

Yes, sir!

With the top down to the Cadillac, Jackson, (as he was to 

make himself known as later) kept his focus straight before 

him and to the road while he drove the convertible at 70 mph 

as I leaned over and peered at the speedometer. The other 

man, who appeared to be in his mid-20s was a different story. 

With his singing with full gusto, he let his body do the talking 

too as he went over each verse of the song. Between lines of 

the song, he would look back to me as I sat in the backseat 

letting the wind of the road blow my long, sun-bleached hair. 

These were the most peculiar people I had met since my 

travels started, and I was not the least bit concerned. They 

didn't seem drunk or high on any drugs. They just seemed 

legitimately serious about what they believed. At least Emmitt 

did. He was the only one who had spoken since I had gotten 

in the car. The one driving, called Jackson, only lowered his

sunglasses and looked at me before I entered the vehicle. 

Beyond this, he had not said a word. Up to this point, it was 

Emmitt and I as we yelled over the car 's engine and wind 

to allow ourselves to hear each other.

"Yeah, I had been reading some of the minor prophets in the 

Old Testament the night before, and when we drove up on 

you today, I told Jackson here, that we had found our 


My name is Brent. But I'm thankful for the ride", I said. 

Emmitt was certainly an eccentric character with his singing 

and unpredictability, but as I finished introducing my name 
and thanking him, he half turned in the passenger seat and 

spoke gravely to me in a tone of seriousness that changed 

the atmosphere in the car.

"I am Emmitt, Brent. Welcome to the Whale."

It was undoubtedly an antique. It was a 1968 Cadillac 

convertible to be exact. With horizontal headlights that I 

wasn't going to see shine until the end of our trip together, 

it was a beast. Or a Whale as Emmitt referred to it as. 

We had gone several miles until Jackson slowed the car 

down to 40mph and pointed his arm up to the sky, causing 

me to wonder what was going to happen next. He then 

turned the car onto the side of the highway and braked the 

car until it came to a stop. Getting out of the car, he motioned 

for me to follow him to the trunk as he took out his key to 

open the lid. As he opened it, I saw (besides suitcases) a 

single metal briefcase lying in the center of the trunk. A

few seconds later, Emmitt appeared around the car and 

made his way to the middle of Jackson and I. With an air 

of delicate precision he reached over into the trunk and 

carefully opened the briefcase, exposing the contents inside 


It was gospel tracts. The whole briefcase was filled 

with Bible literature, neatly organized and labeled for 

different places.

"These are for where we're going," Emmitt explained.

As I looked at the entire collection of tracts, I glanced 

behind me and wondered if what I was seeing was supposed 

to be a joke.

One particular tract was a picture of two scared hands 

reaching down from the sky over a banqueting table with 

the words, "Are you hungry?" written at the top. Another 

was a tract of a road pole with four signs stuck out from it 

reading, "Jesus," "Sin" "Heaven," "Hell." And there were 

more. They had many other sample tracts for different 

occasions and stops too. ATMs and restrooms. One even 

espoused the blessings of being filled with The Holy Spirit 

which I assumed they wanted to leave at gas stations due 

to the illustration of a gas meter on empty.

Suddenly, the thought came to me that I had fallen in line 

with some cult, but as Emmitt talked to me later that day in 

the car after we got back on the road, I eased on that notion 

and tried relaxing again. I wasn't sure what my future held in 

store with this crew, but for the time being, I would wait it out 

and count my blessings. Riding in a Cadillac convertible beat

walking with a 20-pound backpack strapped across my back 

anyway. The ride was supposed to last as far as it took until we

reached the city where we could buy amenities for the trip. But

for then a black 1968 Cadillac convertible was the means to an 

end. Even if the ones I shared the ride with seemed strange.

"We don't always have time to engage people with the gospel 

at the places we go. So the tracts speak for us." Emmitt's tone 

had changed from its exuberant excitement that I sensed 

previously in the day. Whether calmed by the sheer energy he 

had spent earlier or not, he spoke with an evenness and 

authority that seemed to herald my attention.

"I grew up in a Christian home. I believe a believer's life 

will speak for itself.", I said

"Amen," Emmitt said.

For the next several minutes we rode in silence.

Eventually, we rode out of the long strip of highway and 

came upon a few signs telling of approaching hotels and

restaurants. Soon, we drove past the welcome sign telling 

us that we had entered the Las Vegas city limit.

Soon, Jackson leaned over to say something in Emmitt's ear 

and gave him a cellphone. What he spoke was then related to 

me in the backseat.

"Jackson has requested that we dine together. I'm going to 

place a carryout order for some Chinese and Jackson has said 

that once we get settled in a hotel room that he will go pick it 


"You're welcome to abide with us tonight, Mr. Brent, if you 

so desire. Our departure time will be early in the morning in 

which case you can stay behind or continue with us on our


"And where is it you are going?", I asked

"Hollywood, California," Emmitt replied

"That sounds good. I'll go too.", I answered.

At the hotel, when Jackson came back with the Chinese 

food, I tried paying him for it, but he shook his head and 

handed me a small New Testament that he apparently had 

anticipated giving me beforehand. With The Bible already 

opened as he put it in my hands, my eyes quickly fell upon a 

verse that had been highlighted to stand out to me. It was a 

verse in Romans that said,  "Owe no man nothing but to love 


When I looked back up, Jackson was standing there looking 

at me with his sunglasses on. Any thoughts I could have taken

from watching his facial reactions did not register with me. 

He just stood there, and after a few seconds He said with a 

smile and a shrug, "Besides, you're our guest."

So it was settled. We had agreed that the next morning we 

would all pile back in the Whale and go to Hollywood.

And that night I was to learn more about who it was that I 

had taken the company with. The conversation started after 

Jackson returned with the take-out food. 

He entered the hotel room with the food but left and came 

back again with a large mixing bowl. Emmitt, who was in the

room too, sat in a chair with his hands folded and kept a 

solemn expression. Jackson took the bowl and went into 

the bathroom, and a few seconds later I heard water running. 

When he exited the bathroom, he was holding the bowl that 

now had water in it, and he had a towel draped over his 


Just when I was about to walk over to the Chinese food 

and take my plate, Emmitt stood and said, "Mr. Brent, 

please have my chair, sir."

Stopping in mid-step, I looked at the table that held the 

food and watched Emmitt hold out his arm and hand toward

his chair. Then I crossed the table and sat down in the seat

stretching my arms over my head with a sigh.

"Before we eat dinner together, I like to set an example to 

our visitors of Christ's servitude to His people." , Jackson said 

from the archway of the bathroom.

"Afterward, we'll eat and get some rest." 

Then as Jackson walked over to where I was sitting, 

Emmitt took out a small New Testament and began reading 

the account of Jesus washing the disciple's feet. After 

Emmitt's reading, Jackson asked me if I was a Christian.

"Are you saved, Brent?" 

"My family is Christian. I believe in God and think The 

Bible is a book that should be read. And I think if more 

people followed what Jesus commanded them to do the 

world would be a better place. In my whole lifetime, my 

father and mother have sincerely modeled to me what Jesus 

said about love. They seem to know Him. My relationship 

with God isn't so personal as theirs is. If you're asking me if 

I'm saved or other spiritual questions like that, I tend to have 

more questions than answers."

Jackson was sitting on the side of the bed listening to me 

now. And he must have sensed I was getting uncomfortable 

by my body movements because I kept shaking my leg as I 

crossed it over my leg. Letting out a long breath that seemed 

even loud in my ears, I said, "I guess the honest truth is I 

don't know if I'm saved or not." 

"Well, before we do anything else I'm going to ask Emmitt 

if he will read some verses. Afterward, you can decide if you 

want your feet washed or not. Is that okay?"

"Sure", I said

It was then that Emmitt started reading scripture verses 

that I would later learn to be what Christians referred to as 

"The Roman's Road".

The reading about sin and its consequences and eternal 

life lasted for a couple of minutes which ended with a passage 

from the tenth chapter of Romans.

After he read the passage, Jackson spoke again: "Have you 

done what these verses say you must do to be saved, Brent?"

"Yeah, I think so. Maybe a couple of times, but only in 

passing or at church just to appease my parents. I don't think 

I was all that sincere about it though.", I said. 

"Well, Jesus is sincere about it, Brent. He loves you and 

promises to save anyone who calls upon His name."

At that, Jackson sat the water bowl down on the ground he 

was holding in his lap and waited. Time seemed to draw still 

and narrow for a moment in the room. Silence encompassed 

us and for a brief moment seemed to flood in my head. The 

vacuum type feeling of nothingness only lasted an instant until I

blurted out, "I'll pass."

"But I don't mind you washing my feet." I continued.

I kicked my shoes off in a gut reaction and shrugged my 


Jackson approached, laughing, and began the process of 

washing my feet as he dipped each foot in the basin and dried

it with the towel beside him.

He did the same thing to Emmitt, and afterward, Emmitt 

reciprocated the act to Jackson. 

Afterward, we ate dinner together and talked about our lives. 

I related my story of growing up with two sisters and being 

raised on farmland. As it turned out, Jackson and Emmitt 

were traveling to California to participate in what they called 

a drama. Jackson was an actor, and Emmitt was his agent and 

road assistant. They had come from North Carolina and were 

traveling for days until they 

had spotted me hitchhiking beside the Nevada highway. I 

explained to them about how my journey was sort of a 

self-test I was putting myself thru to see if I had what it took 

to join the military and its rigors of hard training.

"How are things going so far?" Emmitt asked

"Good enough. The main thing is conserving what finances 

I have and finding adequate shelter during the night to sleep."

I expect to get a job soon if I stay out here too much longer 

though. Or I guess I'll enlist when I get bored of the cacti 

and asphalt. Or tired of sleeping under overpasses." 

Yawning, I stood up and walked to the bathroom. As I did, 

Jackson rose and said he was going to go for a prayer walk 

outside. When I returned from using the restroom, Emmitt 

was asleep in one of the two beds in the room. Lying down 

on the floor beside that bed, I covered up with an extra 

blanket and soon fell asleep as well.

For the next few hours during my sleep, I had the most 

fantastic dream. And while the dream was a story that I had 

heard many times in my home and at church, this time it was 

different because I was in it! My dream consisted of the story 

of Jesus and the events leading up to his crucifixion. It started 

with Christ in the garden of Gethsemane with His disciples, 

and I was there! I remember it began with Jesus going off by 

Himself to pray and Him telling the rest of His followers to

stay awake and pray in order not to fall into temptation. 

While He went off alone, I was there, and I heard the words 

that He spoke to God. I remember from home and church the 

words that he spoke concerning God's will to either let the cup 

of suffering and death pass from Him or let the Lord's will be 

done, but during my dream, I heard other words that He spoke 

too. And while I was there with Him in my dream, (before he

returned to the disciples the first time), I heard Him say to 

God, " Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that 

Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him 

authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to 

as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal 

life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus 

Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. 

I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 

And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with 

the glory which I had with You before the world was."

After He got thru praying this, He walked back to His 

disciples who were asleep under a tree and awakening them; 

He asked them if they could not watch and pray with him for 

an hour. He then warned them that the spirit of men is willing, 

but their flesh is weak and to pray that they don't enter into 

temptation. As He walked a distance away again, I trailed 

behind Him and heard Him continue His prayer to God.

"I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of 

the world. They were yours; you gave them to me, and they 

have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you 

have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words 

you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with 

certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you 

sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, 

but for those, you have given me, for they are yours. 

All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory 

has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no 

longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. 

Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the 

name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 

While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe 

by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one

doomed to destruction so that Scripture would 

be fulfilled.

"I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am 

still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of 

my joy within them. I have given them your word, and the 

world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more 

than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out 

of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They 

are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by 

the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, 

I have sent them into the world. For them, I sanctify myself, 

that they too may be truly sanctified." 

As He finished, He stood up from the boulder he was 

praying over, and I could see blood had started to appear on 

His face from the struggle He was in. He walked a few yards 

back to where He had left His disciples and again they were 

asleep. This time He didn't say anything to them but walked 

back to the large rock and draped Himself over it and 

continued to pray these words:

"My prayer is not for them alone. I also pray for those who 

will believe in me through their message, that all of them 

may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. 

May they also be in us so that the world may believe that 

you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave 

me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you 

in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. 

Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved 

them even as you have loved me.

"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me 

where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given

me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

"Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I 

know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made 

you known to them, and will continue to make you known so 

that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself 

may be in them."

As He got up from the rock again and made His way back to 

the disciples, He walked right passed me as I stood there 

watching  Him approach His disciples. As much as I had 

observed and heard, I did not make an effort to say anything 

in the process of this dream. I just stood and listened and 


When He came to His disciples, He said to them,

 "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is 

at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands 

of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand." 

As soon as He said that, I remember my dream taking a 

different set of events. It was like that moment in the garden 

was temporarily frozen in place, and then dozens and dozens of

pictures came flooding into my conscious and mind. Images of 

evil flew across my awareness including snakes, violent

brutality, and videos of wicked men cursing the name of God. 

Suddenly  I heard the loud blaring sound of a horn in my dream

with a bright flashing light going on and off.

Before I awoke to the real horror that was about to take place in 

my life, the last images that I saw in my dream were those of the 

Man, Jesus Christ, being beaten, ridiculed, spit upon, crucified, 

and speared while hanging on a cross. 

My coming awake from this dream was joined with a 

jolting scream, as I hollered aloud and frantically jumped 

up from the floor to find the hotel room empty of both Emmitt 

and Jackson. As I looked, I could see the bright light of 

something flashing thru the window, and as I walked to the 

door there was a note taped to the peep-hole that read, 

"He is able to rescue all those that come to Him and I will 

in otherwise no way cast them away."

As I read the note and was about to look through the 

peep-hole to find out what the commotion was about outside,

the door suddenly swung open and hit me in the face. 

What happened next was two men in black camouflage 

came rushing into the room and tackled me to the ground. 

The last thing I remember was something heavy crashing 

down upon my head until I lost conscience and fell into 

a deep sleep. But this time it was without any dreams.

When I came to, I was tied to a chair with my hands 

handcuffed behind my back, duct tape covering my mouth, 

and a black hood over my head so I could not see. 

When my assailants realized I had come awake, they removed 

the hood from my head, and the room came into my vision. 

There were two of them as I had remembered before being 

knocked out. They were still dressed in black camouflage and 

had their faces covered with masks. One of the attackers was 

sitting across from me in a chair, holding a large dagger while

the other one was pacing back in forth in the room ranting 

different things in Arabic.

After a few moments, the man with the dagger scooted up 

close to me in his chair and spoke with broken English:

"The men who you were with last night. Where are they?"

"I don't know," I said

"We are their trackers. And if you don't tell us where they are, 

we will kill you." he continued

"I told you. I don't know. They were here last night, but 

when I woke up they were gone, and you all were outside."

Suddenly, the man who had been pacing started going irate 

shouting Allah Ackbar over and over again. 

He made a few steps toward my direction and pointed his 

finger at me and shouted, "infidel" The man with the dagger 

looked back at him and said something in Arabic that I didn't 

understand. He then put the dagger in his right hand and drew 

back as if to stab me, and then the sound of the hotel room's 

phone interrupted him from killing me. It was a very loud ring 

that caused the man to pause from thrusting the dagger in me. 

After a couple of seconds of hesitation, I motioned my head 

toward the phone as if to provoke the terrorist to answer it.

It rang again. The terrorist looked at the phone and back at me. 

And before the second ring finished its sound, he sat the 

dagger down on the bed and went to pick up the phone's 

receiver and answered it with 


A couple of moments later he looked back across to me 

and picked up the phone and made his way toward where 

I was. But before, he reached down and picked up his dagger 

that he had sat on the bed and put it to my throat.

"Tell him who you are!" the terrorist barked

Closing my eyes and with sweat starting to form on my 

face, I answered the phone:

"This is Brent," I said

"Mr. Brent. The promise you read on the door is still true. 

Tell the men you are with that you will bring them to us. 

The address to where we are is in the glove compartment of 

the Whale."

It was Emmitt! He didn't get a chance to say anything else. 

Nor did I have time to say anything to him. The terrorist took 

the phone away from my face and hung it back up on its 


"You will die if you do not tell us where they are!" he 


"He wants me to drive you to where they are located," 

I replied

Taken aback, the terrorist walked away from me and 

spoke quietly to his partner; still in Arabic but this time 

much more softly than they had been before. 

After a few moments, the lead speaker walked up to me 

and got in my face and said, "You will die because we are 

going to kill you.

Alla Ackbar!" At that, they untied me from the chair and 

released my hands from the handcuffs. They stood me up, 

and now both of the men were confronting me to the face:

"Where are the men we are after?"

"He told me their address is in the glove compartment of 

the Cadillac."

At this, the men burst into crude laughter and one pushed 

me against the hotel room's front door.

"How about I gut you like a fish right here?"

This time it was the other man who had been pacing before.

Then the man who had been the lead speaker put his hand 

on the other's shoulder and said in English, "We slaughter 

them together. I will ride with him in the convertible, and 

you drive behind."

Spitting in my face, the leader's associate opened the door 

and walked out to their vehicle which was a black SUV.

Grabbing me by my jacket, the other shoved me outside 

the hotel room and walked me to the Cadillac. Relieved, I 

found the keys still in the car's ignition as I approached. 

Surprisingly, instead of the terrorist getting in the driver's 

seat, he walked over to the passenger side door and 

commanded me to drive. Once inside the car, he opened the 

glove box to find a piece of paper with an address written on 

it. Taking out his phone, he entered the address in the GPS, 

and after a few moments the directions came up.

"This way. Go!" he said, motioning with the dagger to 

the road.

Once we were mobile and back on the highway, I didn't 

have time to think of the things that had or were taking 

place. It's hard to describe, but the best way I can put it 

would be to say that I was living in the moment and not 

giving thought to what had happened. The only thing that 

mattered to me was getting to the next step (whatever that 

might be.) 

I was always a non-emotional person. Living with two 

sisters inoculated me from any overt feelings that

I may have ever experienced during times of pressure or 

trouble. Sure, I felt things just like any other person, but 

having female siblings and their tendency to go overboard 

with emotions made me hold back on any that I may have 

had of my own. Given the present circumstance, I would say 

this was to my benefit. We weren't on the highway long before 

the terrorist's GPS program sounded. From the message of the 

GPS, I heard that we had 31 minutes to go before we reached 

our destination. From our surroundings, I could tell we were

entering a more rural area of the city. Things were getting 

more spaced out as we traveled. And as we approached an 

off-ramp (Which the GPS was telling us to use as an exit), 

I noticed the only attractions displayed for this exit included 

one gas station and a church.

I wondered to myself where it was we were going, but as 

we continued to the stop sign at the end of the exit, the only 

signs that showed were those of a gas station to our left and 

church to our right. As we were paused at the stop sign for 

what I thought was an abnormal amount of time, I was 

almost ready to ask the terrorist which way we were to go 

until he slapped me upside the head and pointed to the right. 

So slowly I turned the car to the right, and we drove on for 

another mile until the GPS signified that we were 

about half a mile from our destination. As we continued, 

the road we were on became more narrow than what we had 

previously driven on. Eventually, we came upon a broader 

and more open area that was full of mostly desert except for the

occasional patch of grass with accompanying cacti. Then cars. 

It was a parking lot. And automobiles were starting to line 

each row of spaces. I could see a large building in the distance 

which I assumed was the church. But to the left of this building 

was another tract of land which was elevated and sloping 

upwards. And as we drove closer, I could see a crowd of 

people gathered on the hill all slowly ascending upward. As 

we drove nearer to where the parking pavement ended, the 

crowd of people on the hill shifted and there in the middle 

of them was Jackson! He was laying on the ground with what 

appeared to be blood covering his whole body and a cross 

beside him. When I saw this, I remembered what Emmitt 

and Jackson had told me in the hotel room the night before 

about Jackson being an actor, and I instantly knew what was 

taking place. They were carrying out a dramatization of 

Jesus' crucifixion. The Muslim in the car with me, however, 

was growing more vehemently hostile as these things were 

going on. I had not noticed before, but my attacker now had 

a pistol pulled and said to me:

"You will get out of this car and walk slowly ahead of me

up that hill." He was pointing the gun at me at toward the 

direction of the hill as he spoke.

"And if you do anything else, by the name of Allah, I will 

put a bullet in the back of your head." he continued

Suddenly my attacker's phone rang, and he retrieved it 

from his shirt pocket. After a few moments, the Muslin 

started yelling loudly in Arabic and started slamming his 

fists on the dashboard. After this fit of rage, I uneasily 

glanced at him and noticed he was looking at his passenger 

side mirror intently. I also looked at my driver's side mirror in 

turn and quickly saw one of the greatest reliefs of my life. 

In a marked patrol car that was slowly making its way behind 

the black SUV was contained the other Muslim. The SUV was 

now parked as we had been for a few minutes and the police

car was several yards behind it and still moving slowly toward 



Very quickly, the Muslim lowered his gun and pointed it at 

me from the level of the seat, and I thought I was a goner. 

Instead, he said to me in almost a whisper:

"Put the top back on this car now and once we're covered, 

drive slowly  back out the way we came in!"

It took a few moments for the convertible's top to come 

back in place over the car but once it did my attacker then

commanded me to roll up the windows as well. As I started 

rolling up the windows, I became painfully aware that our 

glass was tinted to the point where no one would be able to 

see through them at all from the outside. As I turned the key 

and started up the car again, I had a faint hope that the police 

car which was now parked a little more parallel but still yards 

off had followed us from the hotel. But all those wishes were

dashed as we drove past him and he did not even look over to 

us as we went past. 

At this point, fear swept over me, and I felt a sense of 

dread that I had not felt since all this transpired. Meanwhile, 

my attacker was on the phone with whom I assumed was his

counterpart in the SUV who had warned him of the cop behind 

us at the church. Now we were about to enter the main road 

again coming off of the church property, but before I could 

turn on to it, the black SUV swiped in front of me and went 


"Follow him! Now!" the Muslim growled

To which I complied and stayed 2 or 3 car lengths behind 

as we traveled down the highway. I kept my eyes on the road 

as my attacker kept talking on his phone in Arabic. We drove 

down the interstate for approximately 15 or 20 miles when the 

SUV put on his turn signal to exit on an off-ramp. I glanced 

at the sign which read of a single gas station located off the 

exit. My rider again barked for me to follow the SUV and 

sure enough the gas station was where the sign said it was. 

We pulled in to the parking lot and passed the gas pumps 

and approached a separate building which identified itself as 


"There! In front of that building!" My attacker said.

By this time, the SUV had parked beside a gas pump and 

the other Muslim had proceeded to fill up the SUV with gas. 

His colleague, however, proceeded to get out of the convertible 

and walk into the men's room to use the bathroom. 

Sitting alone in the car now and watching the other Muslim 

with his mask off filling up the SUV with gas was unnerving. 

Every few seconds he would turn back and look at the 

convertible but what was unsettling was the fact that the one 

who had gone into the bathroom had not come back out yet.

In fact, it had to have been more than going in there just to 

urinate. And as my flight or fight adrenaline started to build,

I uttered a prayer to God for him to make a way in all of what 

was happening. The assailant who had gone to the bathroom 

had wisely taken his gun and the keys to the car. So driving off

was an impossibility. Running away or screaming for help I 

thought was useless due to the other Muslim in such proximity 

and his potential to just kill me with what I presumed would 

have been a gun too. But as the Muslim at the SUV finished 

pumping gas and started walking up to the building to go inside

and pay for the fuel, I noticed something above the 

floor-board, below the steering column. It was the trunk lid 

engagement. I had only a few seconds to decide. The Muslim 

had just entered the store. And after I gave the bathroom door 

one more glance, I sprung into action. I popped the lid using 

the button in the car, quickly opened the car's door, ran around 

to the rear of the convertible, and as fast as I could put myself

inside the trunk and closed the lid after me. Then I waited.

It wasn't long until I heard a commotion outside the 

convertible which again was Arabic. It was the voices of 

both attackers this time, and I could tell they were near the 

convertible. They went on for 2 or 3 minutes and then were 

silent. Suddenly, I heard a loud banging against the side of 

the convertible as if someone had struck it. Then I  heard the 

sound of two car doors closing and tires peeling off on asphalt. 

I assumed it was the Muslims giving up on their search or at 

least going off to hunt my whereabouts elsewhere, but I dared 

not make a sound anyway. And so it went for several 

hours in fact. I hardly ever even moved inside the trunk. 

Instead, I huddled up in a fetal position and even found time 

to pray to God. One of the strangest things at the time I found 

myself talking to Him about was how thankful I was that He

provided a way of escape from the Muslims. By now several 

hours had passed, and I knew it was getting near night due to 

feeling the temperature drop.  I wondered when somebody was

going to get curious about the abandoned convertible and I 

prayed to God that someone would come by. Not seconds after 

my prayer I heard the hum of an outside engine idle outside the 

trunk. I then began to shout for help from inside the trunk. 

And it wasn't long until someone found the trunk

engage from within the convertible and I was free. 

It turned out the person who freed me was one of the 

spectators of the passion the church had put on hours 

earlier in the day. He had stopped with his family at the gas 

station coming home from the grocery store and saw that 

the convertible had been abandoned after taking his young son 

to use the bathroom. The weird part is that for the entire time I 

was in the trunk there were two shifts of gas station attendants 

on duty inside the store. And not one of them noticed the

convertible abandoned just a distance from them.

And more importantly was how amazing the irony of details 

which came together during that nights dinner with the family 

who freed me. I shared everything from how I left home, 

embarked on my journey, fell in company with Emmit and 

Jackson, the dream, the kidnapping, and finally the culmination 

of landing myself in the trunk of a ‘68 Cadillac convertible 

which I had learned and come to affectionately call 

"The Whale". Gathered around the dinner table that night, 

we all had our share of laughter over these things. And I

finally had the assurance that the One I now had a personal 

relationship with would truly never leave me nor forsake me.

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly

of a huge whale, so the Son of Man will be three days and 

three nights in the heart of the earth. -Matthew 12:40


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