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



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 Jonah."

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.

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 on 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


"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 up."

"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 journey."

"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 him."

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 


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 shoulder.

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,


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


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


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

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


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 watched.

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 receiver. 

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

"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


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 us. 


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 ahead. 

"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 restrooms.

 "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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