Serial Novel: “Not for the Righteous” by Daniel Whyte III with Meriqua Whyte


Copyright 2014. Torch Legacy Publications. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner, except for brief quotations included in a review of the book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

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Not for the Righteous - CoverRev. Charles Mitchell goes on a road trip to uncover the true spiritual state of America’s churches. Along the way, he confronts false teachers, corrects erroneous doctrine, and helps lost souls find the light of Jesus Christ. Travel along on this enlightening and inspirational journey.

EPISODE #1

Chapter 1

When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them,
They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick:
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
– Mark 2:17 –

Fifty-eight year old Rev. C. L. Mitchell, pastor of Morning Glory Baptist Church in Rochester, New York, picked up the remote control as he eased into his La-Z-Boy recliner. He switched his back massager on high. That feels real good, he thought as the massager vibrated through every muscle of his back. He flipped to the Christian news channel. Rev. Mitchell had been having back problems the past few weeks and came home early on this Thursday afternoon to get some needed rest. He kept up with the news events even more so now than he did before. His wife, Ernestine, joined him  in their small den next to his home office after pulling the drapes shut and dimming the lights, creating an atmosphere more conducive for rest and relaxation.

After listening to the news for a few minutes, Rev. Mitchell said, “There you go. Listen to this.” He turned up the volume on the television.

Two more Christians were murdered for their faith in Nigeria. A husband and wife and their two children were enjoying a quiet evening as a family when militants broke into their home, dragged both parents into the front yard, and shot them at point blank range. What a tragedy for their young children to have to witness.

“That was the international news; this is the national news,” Rev. Mitchell said switching the channel in time to hear:

Homosexuals, it seems, have gained another victory as a homosexual couple sues Tina’s Wedding Bakery for refusing to bake a cake for their upcoming wedding. This same couple sued the Redeemer’s Church a few months back because the pastor refused to marry them in his church even though they had been attending the church for a while.

“And not too far from us,” Rev. Mitchell said switching the channel once more to the local channel. They listened for a few minutes.

More people have joined the rioters in downtown New York City. The cry of racism is reverberating in the air like never before. Much looting has taken place, and more police have been called in as a precautionary measure as things are predicted to get out of hand. So far, twelve have been injured – five of them seriously enough to warrant their going to the hospital for treatment; this includes two police officers. The tension is rising each day and as one rioter says, ‘MLK may be for peace marches, but we are for war. This racial mess has been swept under the carpet for too long. It’s time for some serious changes.’

Rev. Mitchell was getting ready to switch the channel when a special news flash caught his eyes: The body of the missing sixteen-year-old, Ariel Irving, has been found. Some fishermen were out fishing before daybreak today; the body, somehow, got entangled in one of their nets. The body was badly mutilated. From the coroner’s report thus far, the victim had been raped and strangled to death, then apparently thrown into the river where the current dragged her body out into the  sea.

“When is this all going to end?” Ernestine said flabbergasted.

“End?” her husband exclaimed. “These are all signs of the end times. Things are climaxing for Jesus’ return. And guess what? Nobody’s warning the people.”

They listened to more happenings in the news, switching from the local to the national to the international and Christian news channels. Reports on the economy was no better. Analysts are predicting a world-wide economic collapse—one they fear could take years to recover from.

Ernestine Mitchell took note of her husband of thirty-three years. She observed the familiar furrowing of the eyebrows casting a shadow over his already deep-set eyes whenever he received disturbing news. Not only had they been married for thirty-three years, but he had also pastored the Morning Glory Baptist Church for thirty-three years.

She looked around the modestly furnished den of their 3-bedroom suburban home. Nothing lavish, but a comfortable place offering them temporary reprieve from the occasional chaos and mayhem of the outside world.

“There’s a rapid spiritual decline taking place in this country,” her husband continued, “and not just in this country, but worldwide. We need some modern-day reformers. We need some modern-day prophets, and some preachers with backbone.”

“That’s right,” Ernestine agreed.

“I know I’m right. We have a bunch of compromising preachers without any convictions whatsoever and still expect to see blessings fall out the sky. Oh, how we have been deceiving ourselves,” Rev. Mitchell said. “Pass me that phone. I better talk to Pastor Ridley.”

Chapter 2

Turning the massager off, he adjusted a pillow behind his lower back while muting the television.

“Thank you,” he said as his wife handed him the phone.

“Pastor Ridley, just the man I want to talk to. What do you think about what’s happening in our world today, my brother?”

“Brother, I’m looking for Jesus to appear any moment now,” Pastor Ridley said.

“I am too. I mean, who would want to continue living on this earth with wickedness so prevalent? I believe more demonic spirits have been let loose,” Rev. Mitchell said. “No place on this earth is safe anymore.”

“For those who talk about life on the moon and living on the moon in the future, now is a better time than ever to go live on the moon,” Pastor Ridley said with a laugh. “That’s a safer place than here on earth.”

The men discussed the dire political, social, and economic situation in the country for an extended time until Rev. Mitchell said, “The really sad thing about all this is our pastors are sitting back fat, dumb, and happy allowing all this evil to go on without saying a word. Rather than address the issue as to why we have all this evil around us and giving the people hope, they are using the pulpit to preach everything but the Gospel.”

“If God does not intervene, we are going to self-destruct,” Pastor Ridley said.

“Amen to that, my brother.”

“As we are talking, I’m thinking of the verse where Jesus says: ‘I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’,” Pastor Ridley said.

“There you go. I could not have chosen a more fitting verse,” Rev. Mitchell said. “That’s exactly what our preachers are doing: using the pulpit to preach to those already saved, and thus we have Christians sitting in our pews suffering from spiritual constipation because they are taking in and taking in the Word and never giving out the Word. And not only that, but we have sinners sitting in the pews right next to these Christians, believing they are saved, some searching for the Truth, but never getting the Truth because the pastors are preaching everything else but the Gospel. Why are they afraid to preach the Gospel?”

“The harder the look on their faces, the harder I preach,” Pastor Ridley said with a laugh as Rev. Mitchell joined in.

“What did God tell the prophet Jeremiah when He told Jeremiah to go tell the people of the impending judgment to come upon them? ‘Be not dismayed at their faces.’ God was so serious, He repeated the same thing to Ezekiel: ‘And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house’.”

Pastor Ridley picked up where Rev. Mitchell left off: “And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious.”

“A-men,” Rev. Mitchell said. “And that’s not all God said. He warned the prophet: ‘But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee, Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house.’ I believe some of these pastors are living in rebellion themselves.”

Rev. Mitchell adjusted himself in his chair. “I believe that God is giving this world space to repent, but people just aren’t taking advantage of His grace. Our preachers have dropped the Gospel baton and people are dying and going to hell in a handbasket.”

“I ask the same question young David asked: ‘Is there not a cause?’ ” Pastor Ridley said.

“Why don’t you join me in praying for a world-wide revival starting in this country. We’re long past due for one,” Rev. Mitchell said.

“Sure. Let’s contact area preachers to join us in this worthy cause.”

Later that night, Rev. Mitchell’s son, Ronald, gave him a call. Ronald was doing missionary work in the country of Cameroon, Africa.

“Dad, be praying fervently for us. The Islamist militants have expanded their coasts beyond the Nigerian border into Chad and Cameroon. The Chadian forces have been successful thus far in keeping them at bay. I believe things are going to get worse. Some of our believers have stopped coming to worship services for fear of losing their lives. But I do thank God for those whose faith have been strengthened in spite of the impending danger.”

“Of course, son. Let me pray with you now,” Rev. Mitchell said. After the ‘Amen,’ Rev. Mitchell shared with his son the conversation he and Pastor Ridley had earlier.

“You’re right. It’s past time for a world-wide revival. I’ll certainly be praying along with you that Christians would get their hearts right so God can open up the floodgates of Heaven and have a huge downpour of His Holy Spirit to fall upon us.”

“When last have you spoken with Dasani?” his father asked.

Ronald Mitchell and Dasani Boone were engaged to be married. The wedding had been delayed as Ronald was unexpectedly called over to Cameroon by his mission board to replace Brother Mike, an older missionary who had been with the board for over forty years. Brother Mike had fallen ill and had returned home to the United States where he was hospitalized for some weeks. His doctor advised him to retire from field work and to work in one of the offices.

“I spoke with her minutes before I called you,” Ronald said. “I miss her so much.”

“Your mother calls her every other day to encourage her. She shared with your mother that she was learning the French language so she’d be ready to join you.”

“Aha! So that’s the surprise she said she had for me,” Ronald said with a chuckle.

“Oops! I think I just let the cat out the bag,” Rev. Mitchell said with a chuckle as well. “Don’t worry. I won’t say a word.”

“I won’t say a word either, Dad. Give Mom my love. I guess she’s already asleep.”

“Yes, she is. We love you, son, and we’ll certainly continue to pray for you.”

 

Chapter 3

Rev. Mitchell laid in his bed thinking and meditating on the Word of God until the early hours of the morning. Sometimes, he did his best thinking during those hours as his side of the world was asleep, and silence became his companion.

“Dear God,” he quietly prayed, “I am grieved at the worldliness of the church. I am grieved at the increasing toleration of sin in the church. We have denied the power of prayer so much so we cannot call down the forces of Heaven to tear down the strongholds of the devil and the evil spirits that are running rampant in the church and in the lives of Christians. Oh, God! Send a man to break up the fallow ground in our hearts as preachers. Send a man who has permanently put away his stony heart, and in whom You have placed Your Spirit, to break up the fallow ground of the church and make us fruitful once again so we can begin harvesting souls for Your Kingdom.”

Rev. Mitchell drifted in and out of sleep. He saw visions of destruction and chaos, such as he’d never seen before. Fire falling from Heaven. Natural disasters happening in all corners of the world. People dying from unknown diseases. Suddenly, the scenes changed and he saw humans running back and forth searching for the Truth, but never coming to the Truth, because Satan had blinded their eyes, minds and hearts. He saw thousands of pastors of all nationalities sitting around a table of an extremely large circumference, confused as to what was going on around them. Then, he heard a voice speak over the chaos:

“Charles Lorne Mitchell, you’re the man I’m sending to go break up the fallow ground in these pastors’ hearts and in the hearts of Christians. You’re the man to set the sparks aflame for revival. The Gospel is not for the righteous, but for sinners. Tell these pastors that. Tell them what to do with their position of influence in their respective communities. Remember, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Rev. Mitchell flicked his eyes open with a shudder and pushed himself up on his elbows. His wife was still asleep. He looked around his bedroom. It was in darkness except for the thin streak of moonlight forcing its way through the crack between the curtains.

I must have been dreaming. He tried to return to sleep, but he could not shake the recurring words: “You’re the man I’m sending. You’re the man.”

EPISODE #2

Chapter 4

Unable to return to sleep, Rev. Mitchell went into his study and sat in front of his computer. After an intense time of prayer and communion with God, and after spending some time reflecting on his dream, he answered the call. “Yes, Lord, I am the man. I humbly accept that call.”

He spent the next few hours visiting churches of various denominations on the Internet. He watched a few videos and listened to some audio recordings to get an idea of what was happening in pulpits across the nation.

 

“So are you ready to take a church tour with me?” he asked his wife at the breakfast table after sharing with her his dream.

“Sure,” she replied.

Rev. Mitchell and his wife discussed and mapped out the best route to take for the trip. He left her to secure hotel accommodations and to check into a possible flight to Washington State. “Let me give Pastor Ridley a call while you take care of that. I would like for him to come with us.”

“I would count it an honor to accompany you on this spiritual journey,” Pastor Ridley said. “Next weekend will be a perfect time for us to pull out.”

“Your wife is welcome to come with us, too,” Rev. Mitchell said.

“Nisha and I were talking about taking a vacation a few days back, so I know she’d love to travel,” Pastor Ridley said. He and his wife, Nisha, had been married for twenty-seven years and had been blessed with two sons, both now married, and one daughter who was still living at home.

“I’ll be renting a van so you both are more than welcome to ride with us,” Rev. Mitchell said.

Rev. Mitchell and Pastor Ridley spent the next few days solidifying things at their churches for the three months they would be out of their pulpits.

The first leg of their journey took them to the Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church.

“As you know, I have a mixed congregation at Morning Glory — white people, black people, Hispanics, Asians, everybody. I wanted to visit Mt. Nebo first to see how far along we’ve come as black people in our preaching and worship,” Rev. Mitchell said. “We are so steeped in tradition as a race. I want to see if much has changed. I grew up in the old black church where emotionalism reigned. If you did not shout, do the holy dance, and cry, ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!’ about a hundred times real fast, then you were not saved.”

“I remember my grandmother dropping a few coins in her lily white handkerchief and saying, ‘That’s my dues; that’s my dues. I got to give God His dues’,” Pastor Ridley said laughing. “How in the world did we get ‘dues’ mixed up with ‘tithes’?

“If the preacher did not whoop, holler, and break out in song at the end of his preaching, then we did not have church. If he did not get the people all worked up, then he did not preach,” Rev. Mitchell said chuckling.

“I can’t tell how many times I overheard some of the people—the sisters mainly—talking and laughing as they walked out of the church saying, ‘He sure did preach, didn’t he?’ ‘Now what did he preach on again?’ ‘I don’t know, but it sure was good, and didn’t the choir rock that place?’ ‘They sure did.’ Those dear people would go home no more enlightened than when they came in,” Pastor Ridley said shaking his head. “How did you get out of that form of worship, my brother?”

“My pastor at the New Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Rev. Dr. Earl Jackson, invited this learned pastor, Bro. Myron, to preach at a revival,” Rev. Mitchell said. “I’ll never forget Bro. Myron. He stood behind the pulpit like he was glued to the floor, and he never moved from that spot until after he delivered his sermon. But his booming voice made up for his lack of movement. He pronounced every word clearly and distinctly. The pianist did not know what keys to play or when to play to accompany Bro. Myron’s preaching style.”

Pastor Ridley and the two wives laughed.

“You could’ve heard a pin drop in that place. The people endured his preaching. A few of them walked out of the auditorium saying ‘he’s lecturing, he’s lecturing.’ I thank God for his lecturing because he showed us clearly from the Word of God how to be saved using the ‘Romans Road’. For the first time, I saw myself as a sinner and that I was on my way to hell. But I also saw that only Jesus could save me from going to hell. He gave the invitation—”

“And it wasn’t ‘the d-o-o-r-s of the church are open’,” Ernestine said with a laugh.

“You got that right,” her husband said. “I responded to the invitation and asked Jesus to save me. I’ll never forget what he said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’”

“Amen!” Pastor Ridley said.

“Rev. Dr. Earl Jackson had really gotten saved a few weeks earlier while attending a pastor’s conference; that’s where he met Bro. Myron who showed him the true way of gaining salvation through Jesus Christ. Rev. Jackson’s desire after he came to the truth was to steer the church in the right direction and away from the false way he had been teaching them out of ignorance; that’s why he had the revival. All three preachers preached the only way to Heaven was through Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. The revival served as a springboard for the changes he wanted to make in the church. Some left the church, but thank God for those who stood with him after they saw the Light,” Rev. Mitchell said.

“But you know, once you hear and accept the truth you should be eager to share the Truth,” Pastor Ridley said. “And many Christians are sitting smugly in their pews not wanting to share the Gospel with the lost.”

“Why do you think Christians do not want to share the Gospel with the lost?” Ernestine asked.

“Wish I could answer that question now, but Mt. Nebo is on this street,” Rev. Mitchell said putting his blinkers on before making the right turn. “Remind me to answer that after we are finished with our mission here.”

 

Chapter 5

Rev. Mitchell, Pastor Ridley, Ernestine, and Nisha quietly slipped into a pew beside a lady in her mid-twenties and a little boy who was about seven years old. He greeted them with a wide grin, and continued singing with all his might. The older mothers seated off to the right and the older fathers seated off to the left stamped their feet and clapped their hands rhythmically to the beat of the song. Yes, the Mitchells and the Ridleys were back in the traditional black church. Nothing much has changed, Rev. Mitchell thought, seeing that after about thirty minutes of the song, the pastor, Rev. Shillings, still had not taken his place at the pulpit.

He finally showed up in a long flowing white robe with red trimming accompanied by three “armor-bearers.”

“Good morning, everyone,” the pastor greeted the congregants in a rather shaky voice. “Turn in your Bibles to Ezekiel chapter thirty-seven. The topic of my message today is, ‘Shall These Dry Bones Live Again?’ The Lord God Almighty took Ezekiel down into the valley of dry bones. And in verse three we read, ‘And he said unto me, Son of man,’ I repeat, ‘Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.’”

By then some of the parishioners were already shouting and saying amen. But over what? Rev. Mitchell thought. The pastor has hardly said anything—yet. Ernestine glanced at the little boy sitting next to her. He glanced up at her each time he clapped along with the other congregants.

“And in verses four and five,” the preacher continued, “we read some more: ‘Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live.’”

With that, the pastor shut his Bible and did not make reference to its pages anymore as he continued preaching. “Are you living in a valley of dry bones? Are they so dry they are bleached to the sinews? The valley of dry bones is so dry, huh! that if it got any drier it could start a fire. Huh! I ask you again, church: Are you living in a valley of dry bones? The dry bones of depression. The dry bones of no money. The d-r-y bones of no job. The dry bones of bad health. The dry bones of no friends. Y-e-e-s. The dry bones.”

Twirling once to the left then to the right, Rev. Shillings sang out: “Is it a deep valley or a shallow valley? Makes no difference. It’s still a valley. Huh!”

Many of those in the auditorium jumped to their feet clapping and shouting as they echoed the pastor’s words. His “armor-bearers” kept flashing their white handkerchiefs at him encouraging him to preach or sing—whichever he chose. The organist tapped a few keys here and there.

Twirling to the right and then to the left, Rev. Shillings continued. “God said, ‘Prophesy upon these bones,’ and I’m here to bring you a word of prophecy. Them bones shall live again. You  shall live again. Ezekiel touched the dry bones and they lived again.”

Rev. Shillings sang the rest of his sermon. More people stood to their feet shouting and clapping and swaying rhythmically as the organist and the other musicians punctuated the preaching. After about ten minutes of sing-song preaching, Rev. Shillings raised his hands to quiet everyone. “All right, let the Spirit move,” he said. The musicians stopped playing and things gradually quieted down.

“The Lord wants me to prophesy and to tell you this morning that breath shall enter into you and you shall live again. The d-o-o-r-s of the church are now open.” With that, he sat down while the musicians picked up the tempo as people came forward to join the church. One lady ran down the aisle with her hands outstretched to heaven. “If any are in need of prayer, please come forward.”

The little boy sitting next to Ernestine excused himself and went forward. Ernestine, with interest, followed him with her eyes. He whispered something to one of the deacons standing in front of the stage. She saw the deacon praying with him.

 

Chapter 6

After the pastor dismissed everyone, Ernestine and Nisha struck up a conversation with the young lady who introduced herself as Shantrell, and the little boy, Hennesy, as her son.

“It was so refreshing to see the enthusiasm in Hennesy’s face as he listened to the preaching, and to see him go up front for prayer,” Ernestine said.

“Oh, he goes to the front every Sunday for prayer,” Shantrell told them. “And I thank God he loves coming to church.”

“What did you whisper in the deacon’s ear?” Ernestine asked Hennesy when he returned. “Or is it a secret?”

“I asked him to pray for me to go to Heaven.”

“I keep telling him because he’s coming to church every Sunday he’s already going to Heaven,” his mother said.

Turning to Shantrell, Nisha asked,  “If we show you what the Bible says about how a person can get into Heaven, would you listen to us?”

“Well, sure,” Shantrell answered. “But, isn’t going to church all you have to do?”

“Let me show you what the Bible says,” Nisha said. Opening her Bible, she turned to John 3:16. “Jesus spoke these words: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Nisha said, “God loves you so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for your sins. All you have to do is believe that Jesus died for your sins and it is only because of His death and resurrection that you can go to Heaven. The Bible says to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Believe that you are a sinner; believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins; believe that He rose from the dead; believe that the only way to get into Heaven is through placing your faith and trust in Him — not church attendance. You can pray right now and ask Jesus to save you and to take you to Heaven to be with Him when you die.”

Hennesy and his mother both prayed and asked Jesus to forgive them of their sins and to come live within their hearts. Ernestine gave them a gospel tract. “This will explain in more detail what I just told you about. Read your Bible starting in the book of John, and pray and ask God for understanding.”

“You know,” Shantrell said after giving Ernestine and Nisha a hug, “I’ve been coming here for about eight years now and all I’ve heard from Rev. Shillings and the pastor before him is if I joined the church I would go to Heaven. They used the verse about ‘assembling together’; it’s in Hebrews somewhere.”

“That verse is referring to what you should do after you get saved. You ought to come to church so you can hear the Word of God and grow in your faith.”

While their wives spoke with Hennesy and his mother, Rev. Mitchell and Pastor Ridley spoke with Rev. Shillings. They explained to him their reason for visiting his church.

“Can I ask you something?” Rev. Mitchell asked Rev. Shillings.

“Sure,” Rev. Shillings said after they were seated in his office.

“Rev. Shillings, what would a person who’s lost have to do to go to Heaven?”

“Oh, he just needs to join up with a church and attend faithfully each Sunday and pay his tithes and offerings,” Rev. Shillings said confidently. “You know the verse over in Hebrews says ‘Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.’ Jesus is coming back and we all had better get ready.”

“What if I showed you from the Bible how one can get saved and thus go to Heaven? Jesus Christ spoke these words Himself.” Rev. Mitchell read John 5:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

“All you have to do is believe on Jesus Christ and you will have everlasting life and be able to live in Heaven with God when you die. Just believe Jesus died for your sins, that He was buried, and that He rose from the dead, thus giving us eternal life. Church attendance has nothing to do with it.” The men shared with him more from the Word of God about the way of salvation. “Would you like to pray and ask Jesus to save you?”

Rev. Shillings thought about what he had just heard. “I can’t deny what I just heard and read from the Bible,” he said. “Do you have a card or a phone number? I’d like to talk with you more about this.”

Rev. Mitchell, Pastor Ridley, Ernestine, and Nisha talked about the church services and the pastor’s message, but ended up rejoicing over Shantrell’s and Hennesy’s salvation.

“How many unsaved people are sitting in the pews each Sunday searching for the truth, looking for hope, wanting to know how to get to Heaven, but the pastors themselves are ignorant of the truth?” Rev. Mitchell said as they drove to a restaurant for dinner after leaving Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church.

“How many pastors are preaching something other than the Gospel Sunday after Sunday to the people who come to hear them?” Pastor Ridley shook his head sadly.

EPISODE #3

The High Hill Non-Denominational Church

Chapter 7

As they sat down to a scrumptious meal at Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse, Ernestine repeated the question she had asked earlier: “Why do you think some pastors are not using their pulpits to share the Gospel? They have the perfect opportunity to do so.”

After swallowing the piece of cheese bread he was chewing on, her husband answered. “I would have to go to the book of Timothy where Paul admonished Timothy to preach the Word in season and out of season because the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine and will heap unto themselves teachers or preachers having itching ears. That time has come. These preachers would rather have man’s approval than God’s approval.”

Pastor Ridley took over. “Some of these pastors want their reward now. They are not willing to wait until Jesus returns to get their reward. They covet more the praises of men.”

“I hate to say this, but I believe some of these pastors are just not saved themselves,” Nisha said. “Some of them are just ignorant of the Gospel having never been taught that belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven.”

“That’s exactly right,” Pastor Ridley said.

“We have a group of compromising pastors who refuse to take a stand for anything,” Rev. Mitchell said. “I think it’s in Jeremiah twenty-three where God tells Jeremiah, woe to those pastors who destroy and scatter the sheep. He also says over in Ezekiel chapter thirty-three, I believe, that He has set us as watchmen over the wicked or the unsaved, and if we do not warn them of the judgment to come, their blood will be on our hands.”

“Those are some frightening words,” Ernestine said with a shudder.

“You’d better believe they are,” Rev. Mitchell said. Taking a sip of his drink he continued. “I believe if we could share those words of Ezekiel and Jeremiah with every pastor and preacher and drill it into them so that it touches the core of their being, then we will have an ongoing revival in our churches.”

“I say ‘Amen’ to that, my brother. Why don’t we begin praying now for a nationwide revival and for the spiritual eyes of pastors to be opened, and that they will re-examine their vision to make sure it lines up with the Great Commission, and that they will begin fulfilling that vision,” Pastor Ridley said.

“And also that they will feel Jesus’ heartbeat and can say as Jesus said: ‘I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’ and preach thus saith the Lord,” Rev. Mitchell added.

After prayer followed by the ‘Amen,’ they heard a quiet ‘Amen’ echoing their’s. The four opened their eyes to see a waitress, Julia, standing quietly with a pitcher of water.

“Just what I need after that extra sweet peach cobbler which is not going to help me lose any weight,” Rev. Mitchell said to Julia with a chuckle as she refilled his water glass. “How much sugar do ya’ll put in that pie?”

Julia laughed. “That’s a secret I won’t tell.” After refilling all the glasses, she quietly said, “I don’t mean to use up your dinner time, but I couldn’t help overhearing snatches of your conversation throughout the evening, and I must admit, I am a Christian, but I haven’t been sharing my faith as I know I should. In fact, I’ve gotten so caught up with my problems and my agenda that I’ve lost the sensitivity I once had for the lost. And now a fear comes over me whenever the thought comes to me to tell someone about Jesus.”

“You know, the Bible does say God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,” Ernestine said. “Fear is of the devil because he does not want us to witness to the lost. He does not want them to get saved and go to Heaven.”

At Julia’s request, they prayed with her that God would remove her fear so she could freely share her faith with the lost. After completing their meal and leaving Julia a large tip, they headed on home. The Mitchells received a phone call from their son later that night.

“Dad, you and Mom please pray for us. It seems someone has contaminated the village’s water system. Some of the villagers have come down with severe stomach aches accompanied with flu-like symptoms. Two have died so far and it’s not looking good for the rest who have been infected by it. A group of doctors from America and England have flown in already. They are looking into finding a cure.” Not only was Ronald working as a missionary delivering the Gospel to a tribe in Cameroon, but he also was a medical doctor which was an asset as he ministered to them.

“We are praying for you and we will continue to pray for you,” Rev. Mitchell assured his son.

Ernestine spoke with their future daughter-in-law the next day.

“Ms. Ernestine, I’m so scared. What if he falls ill himself? I feel so helpless. I wish I was over there with him,” Dasani said.

“Maybe God’s preparing you to join him in Cameroon by testing your faith,” Ernestine said.

 

Chapter 8

After a powerful Wednesday night prayer service with his faithful members, Rev. Mitchell shared with them the new mission God had entrusted to him. “Be patient with me over the next few months as I carry out this task. And please be praying for  traveling mercies for me and my wife and for Pastor Ridley and his wife as they will be traveling with us as well.”

Their next stop was at the High Hill Non-Denominational Church where Pastor Lyons was the senior pastor. High Hill was set on a hill at the end of a winding road with trees lining both sides of the road. Seven stained glass windows glistened from the side walls. Seven chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Three more chandeliers hung over the podium and choir box. An organ stood off to the right. High Hill Non-Denominational Church was located on the wealthier side of town. A sixty year old grandmother, Mrs. Leela Caverty, sat in the pew in front of them. Her grey curls were visible under an impressive white hat. She was slightly bent over at the shoulders. Mrs. Caverty slowly reached around to extend a trembling arthritic-looking hand to them as they took their seats.

“Today, I would like to speak to you on the power of positive thinking,” Pastor Lyons said in a soft, well-polished voice. “I believe Jesus wants us to think positively, and to talk positively. Positive thinking will take you a long way. Positive thinking will make your days go better. When you wake up in the mornings and before you even climb out of bed, think how good life is for you. Think: I’m going to have a great day. And just in case you begin to feel you’re a nobody, tell yourself: I am somebody. I am somebody. Repeat those words three times with me: I am somebody.”

The reserved and pristine-looking crowd obeyed his command with quiet enthusiasm as they repeated the words: I am somebody.

“Tell yourself,” Pastor Lyons continued, “I will have a great day today, for no weapon formed against me shall stand. None of Satan’s cohorts will be victorious against me today. I will come out the victor!”

Mrs. Caverty nodded her head slowly over and over as she muttered, “I will have a great day.”

“Jesus was a positive thinker,” the pastor continued. “He, through Paul, tells us, ‘Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, pure, lovely, of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’ In other words, if there is anything positive about anything, think on those things.”

Heads were nodding all over the auditorium.

“Think on the positive. Don’t think on the negative as this will rob you of your joy; it will leave you feeling downcast; it will rob you of your peace and leave you disturbed. I am reminded of this song I heard about a week ago. It’s a simple song and some of the words go like this: Don’t worry, be happy. The songwriter then goes on to say something like this: if your bills are high and you find you can’t pay your rent, don’t worry, be happy. If you can’t put much food on the table, don’t worry, be happy. In other words, think positively and when you think positively, you are exercising faith, not only in yourself but in God. Don’t think defeat. Think success. Have a winner’s mentality and not a whiner’s mentality. This will take you a long way in life. Do you receive it? I know you do.”

The people broke out in stately applause as their pastor walked from the podium to the back of the church where he greeted the members as they exited the building.

Mrs. Caverty turned around to greet the Mitchells and the Ridleys. “I’m so glad you all could come,” she said in a shaky voice. “This is my first time seeing you all here. I’ve been coming here for many years now and Pastor Lyons’ preaching always encourages me. Did you enjoy his preaching? Were you encouraged?”

The Mitchells and the Ridleys reluctantly nodded their heads and replied pleasantly, “Yes, we did.”

Mrs. Caverty moved slowly out of her seat. Her steps were a little unsteady, but she stepped with purpose. The foursome walked out of the auditorium and into the foyer behind her where they engaged in further conversation. After sharing with Mrs. Caverty a little bit about the purpose of their visit, and at their insistence, Mrs. Caverty joined them for lunch at her favorite restaurant—Grandy’s.

 

Chapter 9

From their conversation, they found out that Mrs. Caverty had two sons and two daughters: two were living in other states and the other two were living in another city. She had seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. “Yes, I have been blessed, indeed. I get to see them during the holidays. In fact, my oldest son will be coming to get me this Friday so that I can spend two whole weeks with him and his family in Albany.”

Mrs. Caverty had been attending High Hill Non-Denominational Church for twenty years. She was proud of her pastor. “Sometimes I come to church not feeling too great, but Pastor Lyons always encourages me with his positive and upbeat sermons.”

As they talked, Rev. Mitchell switched the conversation by asking, “Mrs. Caverty, if I were to ask you what will I need to do to get saved so I can enter into God’s Heaven, what would you tell me?”

After thinking about the question, Mrs. Caverty answered. “Oh, be positive in your thoughts and in your words. Always look for something good to do for others. Always think the cup is half full.”

“If you don’t mind, may I please share with you Ephesians chapter two and verses eight and nine?” Rev. Mitchell said as he took his pocket Bible out of his inner jacket pocket. He turned its pages and read: “’For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.’ We’re not saved by good works, and no amount of positive thinking will get us into God’s Heaven. As you can see from what I just read, we’re saved by God’s grace, which is shown to us by the shed blood of Jesus upon the cross. Jesus died so we could be saved from our sins and thus have a home in Heaven. You are saved through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is God’s gift to us. Do you love to receive gifts?”

“Of course, I do. I’ve received many gifts down through the years,” Mrs. Caverty said with a smile.

“Now when someone gives you a gift, you can either accept it or refuse it,” Rev. Mitchell said. “God is saying the same to us. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us all as a gift for us. If we accept God’s gift, which is His Son’s death, burial, and resurrection, as the only way to enter into Heaven then we will go to Heaven. If, however, we refuse to accept God’s gift, then we will not go to Heaven. Will you accept Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection as God’s gift to you, Mrs. Caverty?”

“You know, in all my seventy-six years upon this blessed earth, I have never heard anything like that. I knew about Jesus dying, but I never knew why He died, nor what I had to do about His dying, if anything. So does this mean that positive thinking without Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection does not work, meaning it won’t get me into Heaven?”

“Let’s just say after you receive God’s gift, which is His Son, Jesus, as Savior and Lord of your life based upon His death, burial,  and resurrection, the positive thinking will naturally flow because your faith is now in Jesus Christ and not in yourself. However, Jesus is the one who saves you, Mrs. Caverty, not your positive thinking and good works. The positive thinking and good works come because you are saved. Would you like to accept God’s gift of salvation to you by believing that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and then asking Jesus to save you, Mrs. Caverty?” Rev. Mitchell asked.

“Why, yes. Of course. It would be dumb of me not to accept such a costly gift, which costs me nothing.” Mrs. Caverty prayed and received God’s gift to her by asking Jesus to forgive her of her sins; she thanked Him for dying on the cross for her sins, and asked Him to come into her heart and to save her soul so that she could live with Him forever. “I do thank you for taking the time to share that with me. I must share it with Pastor Lyons. He must have gotten mixed up somewhere in his teachings. Maybe he missed the salvation class in his seminary training.”

A smile graced Mrs. Caverty’s face as they spent the rest of their dinner time explaining to her more about her salvation. “As soon as I go home I’m going to call all my children and grand-children and tell them what I just did.”

Ernestine gave her a few Gospel pamphlets which further explained salvation according to the Bible. “You can share these with your family when you visit them next. By the way, do you have your pastor’s telephone number?”

“Yes, of course. I have it memorized,” Mrs. Caverty said.

“May I have it, please?” Rev. Mitchell asked. “I would like to give him a call and maybe visit him.”

Mrs. Caverty gave it to them. “He would love to hear from you all since you didn’t get a chance to visit with him after church,” she said.

 

“How many grandmothers and grandfathers are sitting in the church pews with one foot in the grave having the false assurance that they are going to Heaven?” Ernestine asked after they took Mrs. Caverty home.

“I’m just glad we were able to present the Gospel to her before she dies,” Nisha said.

 

Ernestine gave Mrs. Caverty a call on Monday promising her she would stop by on Friday morning around ten before she left for her two-week visit with her son and his family.

 

After picking Nisha up on Friday morning, Ernestine called Mrs. Caverty to let her know they were on their way over to her place. A woman answered the phone.

“Hello.”

“Good morning, this is Ernestine Mitchell. I was calling to speak with Mrs. Caverty to let her know we were on our way over there. Would it be possible to speak with her?”

“This is her daughter-in-law, Zonya. I’m afraid she won’t be able to speak with you. She passed away in her sleep some time throughout the night.”

“Oh, no! I’m so sorry to hear that,” Ernestine said sympathetically. Ernestine shared with Zonya how she met Mrs. Caverty. “We’re still coming over. Is there anything we can do for you? Maybe stop by the store and pick something up?”

“No, but thank you for asking. She called us on Sunday night real excited and she did mention speaking with a Rev. Mitchell and his wife and friends and how she got saved. She read something to us with some Bible verses on how we can get to Heaven. We told her we would speak with her more when we got there. But we did not even get a chance to talk with her again. Whatever she was sharing with us,  I could tell it made her very happy.”

“We can explain to you what she was trying to tell you once we get there,” Ernestine said. “I can tell she was a special person.”

“Yes, she was,” Zonya said. “She was up in years and we kind of expected her to leave us soon but not this soon. You know, we were looking forward to having her spend the next two weeks with us. She was such a kind-hearted person—easy to get along with. My children are going to be so disappointed. We are all going to miss her.”

Ernestine felt the sadness in Zonya’s voice as she spoke.

While at Mrs. Caverty’s place Ernestine and Nisha shared the Gospel with Zonya and her husband, Max. “We have no doubt that your mother is in Heaven right now. We shared with her from God’s Word how to be saved. She accepted Jesus as her Savior on this past Sunday. If you wish to see her again then you will have to accept Jesus as your Savior, because unfortunately she cannot come back to this earth to be with you, but thank the Lord you can go and join her in Heaven when you die. The Bible says to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”

Max and Zonya both asked Jesus into their hearts.

Ernestine gave her husband, Rev. Mitchell, a call on her way home.

“To think if we had not stopped by High Hill and shared the Gospel with her she would have died without Christ and gone to Hell. We have a big task before us as Christians and some of us are not doing our part to fulfill the Great Commission,” Rev. Mitchell said.

EPISODE #4

Chapter 10

Rising Star Chapel

It was a lazy Sunday morning. Even the birds chirped lazily from their nests. Except for the sound coming from the television in Rev. Mitchell’s office, all was quiet in the Mitchell’s home.

Ring! Ring!

Ernestine Mitchell hurried to answer the phone. “Hello?” she said glancing at the time on the clock on her bedside table.

“Hello, Ernestine. This is Nisha. John wanted me to call to let you know he had to go to one of the church member’s homes. He left about thirty minutes ago. The husband passed away a couple hours ago. He went over there to encourage the wife and to help get things in motion for the funeral. They’re an older couple and she’s weak herself.”

“I am so sorry to hear that,” Ernestine said. “Who is it?”

“It’s Baxter and Tammy Granderson. They’ve been a part of the church for many years.”

“The names sound familiar, but I will be praying for the family,” Ernestine said.

“John also wanted me to tell you and Rev. Mitchell to go on ahead and hopefully we’ll meet up with you at the airport. If not, we’ll reschedule our flight and join you as soon as we can,” Nisha said. “I’m going to miss visiting Rising Star Chapel with you. Their pastor is an advocate for social change. He’s been in the news many times. If a racial disturbance takes place anywhere in the country, you can best believe he will have something to say.”

“I’m going to miss not having you with us, and I’ll be sure to pass the message on to C.L.”

 

Ernestine tied the bow on her blouse and was picking her jacket up when the phone rang again. Who could that be now? she thought as she picked up the receiver.

“Hello, Mrs. Ernestine. This is Dasani. I know you’re getting ready to go to church, but I just had to call you. I’m worried. I tried calling Ronald three times this morning and I keep getting his voice mail.”

“That’s weird. It’s not like him not to answer his phone,” Ernestine said.

“When I spoke with him around twelve last night our time, he said the doctors had found out the strain of bacteria that was added to the water system causing the people to get sick. They called in some chemists who were working on treating the water. He’s been very busy caring for those affected by the contaminated water,” Dasani said. “He seemed disturbed when I spoke with him, but all he kept saying was to pray for them. I’m very worried.”

“Well, when we spoke with him on Saturday morning he assured us that all was well,” Ernestine said. “It’s going to take us an hour to get to Rising Star Chapel. I’ll try calling him on the way, and I’ll definitely call you back if I hear from him. In the meantime, all we can do is continue to pray for his safety. We love you, Dasani.”

Ernestine walked out the bedroom toward her husband’s office. “C. L., honey, we’re going to be late for church if we don’t leave now. And I just spoke with –”

Rev. Mitchell raised a finger. He was listening intently to the news. Ernestine waited by the door.

“That’s what I’m talking about,” he said with a smile after the news reporter went off the air. “Tennessee has voted against the abomination of same sex marriage.”

Ernestine smiled. She stepped aside as her husband came through the office door heading for the living room. They each picked up a suitcase as they would drive from the church directly to the airport to board their plane for Chicago.

“C. L., Nisha called and said she and John will meet us at the airport,” Ernestine said as they snapped their seat belts on. “Dasani called also. She’s been trying to get in touch with Ronald all morning. I’m beginning to worry about him myself. We just spoke with him yesterday morning and all was well.”

“Try calling him now,” her husband said.

“No response,” Ernestine said after a few tries. “What could have happened between yesterday and today?”

“I haven’t heard of anything new happening over in Cameroon. Maybe we’ll hear something a little later if anything has happened over there,” her husband said. “Let’s pray for his safety right now.”

 

Chapter 11

After riding in silence for a few minutes, Rev. Mitchell said, “This is going to be one interesting year politically speaking. Two candidates running neck and neck for the presidency, but none of them appealing—at least not for any true Christian. My words to Christians are: Cast ye not your vote this season.” Glancing across to his wife, he said, “I may run for the presidential office myself. Do you think I stand a chance?”

“Sure. You’d win with flying colors.”

“Naw. That would be a step down from my office as a preacher of the Gospel.”

“After we finish visiting all these churches, what’s your next move?” Ernestine asked.

“I’m still praying about it; but as of right now, the plan is to have a huge conference, invite pastors from all over the nation, including the pastors from these churches we’ll visit. The aim of the conference will be to challenge pastors to use their pulpits to preach the Gospel, that is, salvation through  Jesus Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection. For as they know, the Word of God says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”

“You could call the conference ‘Going Back to the Basics.’ You could make it an annual event going forward to keep the soul-winning fires burning in the hearts of these pastors and Christians in general,” Ernestine suggested.

“You got something there,” Rev. Mitchell said. “We simply just need to ‘keep the main thing the main thing’. I just believe that every church ought to see at least one person walk down the aisle each Sunday for salvation. That soul could be from witnessing or soul winning done throughout the week by the members of the church or the pastor himself, or from the pastor’s own preaching on  that Sunday if he preaches a clear presentation of the Gospel and gives an invitation. Did you know there are many churches who don’t even keep water in the Baptismal pool anymore because they have not baptized people in years and evidently don’t plan on baptizing any?”

Upon reaching their destination, Rev. Mitchell whistled as he pulled into the Rising Star Chapel’s parking lot. “They have a packed house today. Anything special noted on the marquee?” he asked after finally finding a parking spot.

“No. Nothing special,” his wife answered.

The spirit of the people was exceptionally high. “I hope this is how the spirit is here all of the time,” Rev. Mitchell said to his wife as they entered the auditorium.

After about thirty minutes of preliminaries, singing some upbeat songs, welcoming of visitors, mentioning of events for the upcoming week and month, and taking the offering, the senior pastor, Pastor Borders, took his place behind the pulpit.

“As you know,” he began, “the political climate is getting hotter and hotter as we draw closer to the voting day. Now what this president did is totally against nature. There is no such thing as ‘marriage equality’ when it comes to a man wanting to marry another man, or a woman wanting to marry another woman. Even if God had not said anything about this matter, nature itself tells us this is an abomination. Folks, it turns my stomach just to think about it: one man getting romantic with another man. That is just disgusting! I don’t even want to say what’s really on my mind. I believe these so-called gay people deep down know that what they are doing is wrong; and to think our president is endorsing this thing. On top of that, he expects us, the citizens of America, to accept this mess. Over my dead body.”

After taking a sip of water, he continued. “And on top of that, racial issues seem to be getting out of hand. I don’t care which way you look at it, racism is still alive in America. Don’t let anybody, including the media, fool you.”

This last statement sent the crowd in a frenzy as shouts of agreement accompanied with whistles and clapping, echoed across the auditorium.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. is turning over in his grave. It seems that all he marched for was in vain. As a black man, ‘I am for peace, but they are for war’, and we cannot sit idly by and let these abominations take over our country. You mark my words, folks, America is slowly turning into a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah. And just as Sodom and Gomorrah were suddenly destroyed, America will suddenly be destroyed as well. America, if it continues to endorse this foolishness will be ‘suddenly destroyed and that without remedy’. You mark my words. It is a shame and a disgrace the image we’re presenting ourselves as before the world. This makes me want to turn my American citizenship in. I mean seriously now.”

Pastor Border’s tone of voice switched from low to high. His speech took on a cadence that arrested his listeners’ attention.

“We have become a modern-day Rome and are destroying ourselves from within. I say to terrorists, don’t waste your time nor your weapons on us because we’re already destroying ourselves from the inside-out. Isn’t that right? The church family erupted into shouts of  “Amen”.

“We need more pastors to use their pulpits to address the sickening political situation in this country. Our office is higher than that of the president’s, so let’s use our authority to deal with these negative issues in our country. Folks, cast your vote. Let your voice be heard. We cannot afford to sit idly by any longer and not say something. Be like the widow in Luke who kept coming to the judge; she would not stop until he took revenge upon those who were troubling her. We must keep speaking out! We must not shut up!

“Lord, give us some MLKs. Now, I cannot even suggest who you should vote for. Just pray.”

People cheered and clapped and re-echoed the pastor’s words throughout the auditorium.

Rev. Mitchell took his wife’s hand and led her out the church building.

 

Chapter 12

On their way to the airport after leaving the church, C. L. said to his wife, “I’m told that is the content of his messages each Sunday. What Pastor Borders was saying is right, but it’s a shame we are using the sacred platform and the church worship hour to deliver political messages. This meeting should have been held on a week-day. No telling how many unsaved people were present.”

“As unstable as the political climate is, people will be more receptive to the Gospel because the Gospel gives them real hope,” his wife said in agreement.

“Let’s pray for God to open up the spiritual eyes of  pastors and Christians all over this world so they will see and use every opportunity to share the Gospel because there are yet many to be reached,” Rev. Mitchell said.

“You know,” his wife said, “ever since we started this campaign, I’ve been wondering why those who say they are Christians show little or no evidence of their faith. I mean, why do Christians fall away from the faith? Why do they leave the church?”

“I believe it’s because they were never shown a picture of their pitiful, degenerate state. They were never given a picture of their true heart condition. The Bible says, ‘the heart is desperately wicked, who can know it?’”

“True,” his wife agreed.

“I believe it was Martyn Lloyd-Jones who said, ‘A gospel which merely says come to Jesus, and offers a marvelous new life without convicting of sin, is not New Testament evangelism.’ You have to let the unsaved person see, know, and feel the guilt of his sin. We have to show him where he is coming from and where he is headed because of his sins, then he will be convinced of his need for a Savior.”

“So what you’re saying is, the person who does not see himself as a sinner will not see the need for a Savior?”

“Exactly. If you don’t see yourself as a sinner, thus in need of a Savior, as far as you’re concerned, Jesus either died in vain, or He died for some other person who has committed more sins,” Rev. Mitchell said.

After thinking for a while, Ernestine said, “So that’s why I had such a hard time sharing the Gospel with Francine Beckman. Remember her? You spoke with her husband while I was talking with her.”

“I remember them, which reminds me I need to give him a call this week. Remind me to do that once we get to the hotel.”

“I will,” Ernestine said making a note of it on her notepad. “Francine kept telling me she was a good person, and how she was always looking for ways to help others; how she gives so much money to charity each month, etc. She is convinced that because she has not killed anyone or robbed a bank, that she is not that bad of a person. I even showed her the verses, ‘all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,’ and ‘for by grace are you saved through faith; not of works lest any man should boast,’ but she would not budge.”

“To use Ray Comfort’s words, we are producing a ‘bumper-crop of unregenerate believers’,” her husband said shaking his head. “Pastors are quick to preach on God’s love, His mercy, and His grace, but are very slow in speaking about His holiness, His judgment, and His wrath; therefore, both the saved and the unsaved are getting a lopsided view of who God is.”

EPISODE #5

Chapter 13

Spring Hills Baptist Church

The Mitchell’s plane touched down at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport giving them about four hours before their next visit at the Spring Hills Baptist Church. After picking up their rental car, they wasted no time checking into a hotel and getting something to eat. They wanted to spend most of their time resting in preparation for the evening services.

“After tonight’s service we’ll have a whole week to get rested up and vacation a little. Hopefully the Ridleys will be able to join us. I’m going to watch a little TV right now,” Rev. Mitchell said.

“Alright, I’m going to try calling Ronald again.We may have better luck this time.” Ernestine sighed as she hung up the phone after the fifth try. She turned her attention to the news.

“That’s probably why he hasn’t answered his phone,” her husband said after the reporter came on with news from Africa. “The Islamist militants have entered Chad and are headed towards  Cameroon. The Chadians have joined forces with the Cameroonians and are fighting to ward the militants off, but they are moving in closer causing many casualties,” Rev. Mitchell said after listening a bit longer. “Remind me to call the mission board first thing in the morning to see if they’ve heard from him and the other missionaries.”

“He did mention some kind of underground tunnel in case they had to make a run for it,” Ernestine reminded her husband. “Hopefully he and the other missionaries are hiding there.”

“Yeah. That’s all we can pray and hope for,” Rev. Mitchell said as they turned their attention back to the news.

“How can anyone hate Christians?” Rev. Mitchell asked. “I mean, the Bible says the fruit of the Spirit, or in other words, the product of the Christian life is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, goodness, faith, temperance. How can you justify hating people to the point of taking their lives in the vilest way when all they’re doing is showing forth love, joy, and peace?”

“The only answer I have is because our good works convict them for their evil ways,” Ernestine said. “I’m going to call Dasani.”

“After you get off the phone with her keep trying to get Ronald. But, let’s pray for their safety first,” Rev. Mitchell said.

 

Ernestine spent her telephone time encouraging her future daughter-in-law to trust God for the safety of her future husband and the other missionaries and Christians in the area.

“This is a difficult time for me,” Dasani said. “I can’t help but to think the worst. I have been looking forward to his return so we can get married, have a family, and so we can work together in the ministry. When I hear news like what’s happening over in Africa and other places, I can’t help but to wonder if my dreams will ever become a reality.”

“I understand,” Ernestine said. “But you can look at it in one of two ways: either as the devil trying to get you discouraged, or as God testing your faith in Him. If I were you, I’d see it as the latter. The Bible does tell us to ‘have faith in God.’”

“I guess my faith is a little shaky right now,” Dasani said.

“Well, I’m going to let you go. We have about thirty minutes before we leave for our next church service. C.L. has already dozed off. Give your parents our love, and Lord willing, we’ll see you soon,” Ernestine said. She immediately placed a call to her son hoping he’d answer this time.

On the third ring someone picked up but remained silent.

“Hello, Ronald?” Ernestine said. Her hands shook as she nudged her husband to awaken him. She placed the phone up to his ears. Rev. Mitchell, thinking Ronald was on the other end, joyfully said, “Hello, Ronald, we have been worried about—”

He was interrupted by the voice of someone speaking a foreign language.

_____________

“They sound like Americans,” the person who had answered Ronald’s phone said. Rev. Mitchell listened even though he could not understand what the person was saying. “I don’t know where those infidels posing as doctors have fled to; but they have been here. This phone is evidence. I thought if we waited around for a while whoever it belongs to would return for it. They can’t be too far away,” the Islamic militant said as he swung his gun over his shoulder while adjusting his dagger in its holster.

“We’ll stay here for a while. They’ll return to get their medicine,” the second man said.

Ronald Mitchell and a fellow missionary-doctor, Dr. Cauley, who was working with him had received urgent news from a little boy who had run from one of the nearby villages to warn them that the Islamist militants were headed their way.

Without wasting a second, Ronald ran his hand along the right side of the bookshelf that served as a cabinet for the medical supplies. There was a slight click. He tugged at the cabinet. It swung open to reveal a passageway leading to an underground room.

“Go in,” he told the little boy and the three patients—a mother and her two-year-old and another lady—who had come in for treatment. “Go as far as you can go and do not come out until I come get you. MMMS.” MMMS—May Meet My Savior—was the agreed upon code among the Christians that danger was eminent and may lead to death. It also meant that they were to go to the office to go in hiding. He pushed the cabinet back in place after handing them one of the flashlights he kept in his emergency bag.

Ronald and Dr. Cauley, going in opposite directions, ran throughout the village covering as much ground as they could knocking on doors, passing the message to those they met: “MMMS. MMMS.”

Soon Ronald headed back to the office followed by a small group of mostly women and children and a few elderly people. Others were already waiting when he arrived. Dr. Cauley had gone off to warn the men who were out in the field working. He had not returned yet. “Lord God, please let them get here in time,” Ronald silently prayed as he pulled the cabinet open and guided those waiting into the tunnel. As the last villager stepped through the opening, Ronald took one last look through the front door of the office. He heard shouts in the distance. The militants had arrived. “Dear God, please protect Dr. Cauley and the others. And please keep us safe.”

Locking the office door, he picked up his emergency bag and hurried through the tunnel opening, pulling the cabinet up behind him.

 

Chapter 14

Rev. Mitchell listened to the foreign voice over the phone. His lips parted as he forced himself not to think the worst. He kept his thoughts to himself so as not to upset his wife.

“Hello. Get Ronald. Get Ronald,” he said a couple times. He ended the call when he could no longer hear the person on the other end.

“What’s going on?” his wife asked.

“I’m not sure. I guess he left his phone and one of the villagers picked it up,” he said.

“Or,” his wife said, “the Islamists may have attacked the village and taken—”

“Don’t let that be the first thing you think,” Rev. Mitchell said.

“What else am I to think? We haven’t been able to reach him for about a week and he’s always answered every call we’ve made to him. Remember he said the Islamists had attacked Chad and, more than likely, they would move into Cameroon. And you tell me not to think like that? What else am I supposed to think? I’m worried, C.L.”

Rev. Mitchell hugged his wife tight. An uncomfortable thought gripped him. They probably attacked the village. They may be holding Ronald hostage. They may have killed him already…

____________

After that morning’s social gospel preacher, Rev. Mitchell and his wife breathed a little easier that evening as they took their seats in the auditorium of the Spring Hills Baptist Church. Ernestine counted about thirty people who were in attendance. About ninety percent of the worshipers were in their late forties to sixty-plus age group. The energy level was low and the people were more laid back.

“Turn to Colossians 3:18-20, and I’ll give you just three points to make your home a happier one,” Pastor J.C. Alexander said as he took his place in front of the microphone after two ladies sang.

As old as these folks are, if they are not happy in their marriages yet, they will never be happy, Ernestine thought as she turned the pages in her Bible.

“I won’t keep you long tonight because I know you have things to do and places to go,” Pastor Alexander said.

Places to go? Where does this crowd have to go after the sun goes down, but home to their rocking chairs to wait on their grandchildren? Clearing her throat, Ernestine chided herself for thinking negatively.

“Point number one to having a happy home is for wives to submit themselves to their husbands. In other words, do what your husband wishes for you to do. You may be thinking, ‘Well, Pastor, my husband is a difficult man to please. He’s been difficult for all forty years of this marriage.’ God wants you to submit anyway, because you are doing it for the Lord. And if you want to avoid continual arguing, it’s best for you to just submit. Maybe if you submit, he won’t be so difficult.”

At this age you should have already accepted your husband as he is with all his idiosyncrasies. Oops! I’m doing it again. Ernestine quietly reprimanded herself. She glanced around quickly to see the reaction of the other people to the pastor’s preaching. There was none.

“Point number two: husbands are encouraged to love their wives. You may be wondering, how can I love my wife the biblical way? You love her as Christ loves the church, and that is, unconditionally. You love her when she is sweet and loveable, and you love her when she is not sweet and loveable. You love her when you feel like it, and you love her when you don’t.”

“Amen,” a feeble high-pitched voice said.

“Point number three to having a happy home,” Pastor Alexander continued, “is for children to be obedient to both parents.”

Hardly any children here, Ernestine thought glancing around again. Probably none at home either.

“I remember,” the pastor continued, “as a child I used to choose which parent to obey depending on the situation. I was good at playing the game of loving one parent and hating the other. If my mother let me do what I wanted, I would love and obey her that day; if my father let me do what I wanted, I would love and obey him that day. By the smiles on your faces I can tell some of you know what I am talking about.”

A chuckle escaped the lips of a few of the old-timers. Whew! There’s life in this crowd after all, Ernestine thought.

“I remember hearing my father telling my mother one day, ‘we have to stick together in raising our children.’ My heart dropped and I got a little concerned because I knew I could not work one or the other to my advantage much longer,” Pastor Alexander said.

Good for you, Ernestine thought. She remembered when Ronald tried to play her against his father. He would come to her with, “But, Mom, you know how Dad is.” Or, “Mom, could you please talk to Dad about such and such?” She learned to respond with: “What did your father say?” or, “Let’s go ask your Dad.” That would squelch any sneakiness he may have had in his mind to do.

In exactly twenty minutes Pastor Alexander was closing the services with prayer.

“Not bad preaching for newlyweds,” Rev. Mitchell said on their way to pick up something to eat.

“You’re right. That message is for the younger crowd. The pastor should be encouraging them to go out and tell someone about Jesus and bring that person to church. If he continues delivering those three point sermons that are not appropriate for that crowd, then they will be closing their church doors soon. Those folks already have one foot in the grave and are getting ready to pass off the scene. Then who will continue the work there?” his wife said.

“You are right. That church can be easily revived if they get back to some serious old fashioned soul-winning,” Rev. Mitchell said. “May the Lord help us recapture the vision and mission He gave us before His ascension into Heaven. If we keep witnessing to people and bring them into the church, then our churches will never die out.”

 

Chapter 15

Upon returning to their room, Rev. Mitchell immediately turned on the news channel. After about fifteen minutes of viewing, a special news report broke in.

Islamist militants have defeated the Chadian forces and have moved into Cameroon, killing people as they crossed the border. Their last attack was in the tiny village of Ngoila, Cameroon. It is reported that six men have been killed and five are being held hostage. One is a native; four are Americans. We have yet to identify the Americans. Stay tuned for updates.

Rev. Mitchell and his wife looked at each other. Tears immediately sprang into Ernestine’s eyes. Rev. Mitchell did the only thing he knew to do at that point—he bowed his head and prayed. They spent the rest of the evening listening to the news, while praying during the commercial breaks.

The Mitchells gave Dasani a call to see if she had heard anything from their son. She hadn’t. Rev. Mitchell shared with her as gently as he could what they had heard on television.

“The Americans have not yet been identified. At least whoever they are, they are still alive. Just keep praying,” Rev. Mitchell said to her. “God is in control.”

Shortly after talking with Dasani, the Mitchells received a call from Pastor Ridley.

“Rev. Mitchell, I’m so sorry we could not join you there in Chicago tonight. We’ve been busy consoling Mrs. Granderson and the rest of the family. They want to have the funeral on next Monday. The oldest son wants to get it over with and hire someone to live in with Mrs. Granderson to help care for her. He told me in private that he does not expect her to live much longer. But if nothing happens, my wife and I will join you next Wednesday. If I’m correct, you’ll still be in Chicago, right?”

“We’ll be here until next Monday, then we’ll leave for Indiana. We’re just going to spend the week here and vacation some. I plan on taking my wife sightseeing and shopping and things like that. If you could redirect your flight to Indianapolis for Monday night or Tuesday, we’ll pick you up at the airport. Just give me a call and let me know when you will arrive.”

“Sounds good to me,” Pastor Ridley said. “So how did everything go tonight?”

Rev. Mitchell shared with him their experience at Spring Hills Baptist Church.

“Sounds like another church that will be closing its door soon if they don’t begin doing some heavy soul-winning,” Pastor Ridley said.

“I plan on meeting with the pastor and sharing with him our vision while encouraging him to get his people back on the soul-winning trail,” Rev. Mitchell said. “I would say about ninety percent of them are elderly so they can’t hike it door to door like we used to, plus safety is another factor. I’m sure they do not know how to even turn on a computer, so that method would not work for them unless they can get a group of dedicated young people to help them.”

“They could commit themselves to praying daily for lost souls to be saved,” Pastor Ridley suggested. “And they could get the phone book out and from the comfort of their home call people, share the Gospel with them, and invite those within close proximity to visit the church. The church could also print fliers explaining salvation with an invitation to attend the church. The members could hand the fliers out themselves as they go about their daily lives. Those old folks would be happy for something worthwhile to do. God will bless any effort made to witness to the lost.”

Rev. Mitchell shared with Pastor Ridley the latest news about his son.

“We’ll definitely join you in prayer for his safety as well as for the others,” Pastor Ridley assured him.

EPISODE #6

Chapter 16

New Covenant Bible Church

Ronald Mitchell hurried behind the others through the tunnel into the underground room to see, after a quick count, thirty pairs of fear-filled eyes looking at him for assurance that all would be well. The Ngoila villagers had come to trust him, not only with providing for their spiritual needs and their health needs, but also for their physical protection. They had become more and more fearful of the Islamist militants as news of their atrocious behavior spread across their borders.

Dear God, he prayed silently as they felt the ground shaking above them, please protect us. Use me to be an encouragement to these who have trusted you as their Savior through our work here. I pray for the protection of Dr. Cauley and the other villagers. I place everything and everyone in Your hands.

He immediately turned his attention to those whom he had been doctoring before they were forced to take refuge. When he was done, he shared with them Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

“Meditate on these words, and remain in constant prayer throughout this time,” Ronald said as he led them in prayer. He searched around in his emergency bag for his cell phone intent on calling Dr. Cauley and Mr. and Mrs. Howard who also worked with them. Where could it be? he thought as he mentally retraced his steps. I last used it when the mission office called to solidify the shipment of Bible lessons for our new believers class and the medical supplies we’re running low on. I thought I had placed it back in my pocket. Unless I set it down on the table. I remember I was examining a patient when the call came in. I hope it’s still on the table.

For about a half an hour, they waited with fear as they felt the trembling of the ground again. He had no doubt the village was being burned. After about an hour and a half of silence, Ronald signaled to one of the villagers, Allatoli, a robust man of about five feet ten inches. He had received Christ as his Savior a few months before Ronald arrived in Ngoila Village in Cameroon, and had come to be an asset to Ronald as he helped take care of the needs of the villagers.

“I’m going to go and check things out and try to find my phone. It will help keep us abreast of what is going on outside of the village. You watch over things down here. Keep it quiet. There’s enough food, bottled water, blankets and other things for a few days. Use it wisely,” Ronald told him in his best French as he handed him one of the flashlights.

“You speak as though you’re not returning any time soon,” Allatoli said.

“They may have ransacked the village, but they should be gone by now,” Ronald said. “Plus, Dr. Cauley and most of the men are still out there. I have to find out where they are and whether or not they are safe.”

The men looked into each other’s eyes. Placing a hand on each other’s shoulders, they said simultaneously, “God be with you.”

Ronald felt his way through the tunnel using the walls as his guide. His heart rate increased the closer he got to the exit. He stood by the exit and listened. All was quiet. He cautiously pushed the door open wide enough to stick his head through. He did not see anyone. He slid the door open wide enough to slide through. As he was sliding the cabinet back in place a hand clamped down on both his shoulders with a force that caused his knees to bend under him.

“Aah!” Ronald said falling to his knees. His hands were immediately yanked behind his back and tied together.

Ronald raised his head to see an Islamist militant clothed in the familiar black robe and black veil standing in front of him holding up his cell phone. He had a cold look in his eyes. He gave a command in the Arabic language, which Ronald had not quite mastered yet. He pulled Ronald to his feet and shoved him forward.

Fear immediately took hold of Ronald. What will happen to me now? What if he goes down into the tunnel? What will happen to the villagers?

Ronald shook his head in disbelief as the Islamist marched him through the village. The recently finished church and school buildings were aflame; there were dead and bloodied bodies lying on the ground. When Ronald reached the end of the village he saw four Islamist militants standing guard over Dr. Cauley, missionaries Frank and Beverly Howard, and many of the other villagers who were waiting in a huddle on their knees. One of them held the familiar black Islamist flag on a tall pole. It flapped in the wind that blew across the village. Ronald sighed as he and Dr. Cauley exchanged glances. Ronald’s heart sank when he noticed three of the Islamist militants heading back into the village. He had guessed correctly where they had gone when he saw them return with the villagers who were hiding underground. Allatoli walked ahead of the villagers. They joined the others kneeling on the ground.

The four Islamists had a brief meeting among themselves. After about fifteen minutes, they pulled Ronald, Dr. Cauley, and Mr. and Mrs. Howard away from the group. They dispersed the villagers, sending them back to their homes. Ronald and the other missionaries were taken to an underground prison. They exchanged stories as each tried not to think about what might lay ahead having heard of the beheadings and other barbarous acts of this heartless group.

“Remember Paul and Silas when they were in prison,” Dr. Cauley reminded them. “Let’s pray and sing praises to our God who can deliver us if He chooses to. If they crucified our Savior, why should we live an easy life?”

 

Chapter 17

News of the kidnapping reached American shores. Ernestine was at a loss for words when she initially heard the news.

“At least we know he’s still alive,” she said to her husband. “It’s strange how we, subconsciously or consciously, believe tragedy will visit other families, but not our family. With all that has been happening to Christians around around the world, especially over in the Middle East and Africa, I never once thought of any harm coming to Ronald.”

“Yes, I know what you’re saying,” her husband said. “I’ll notify the church family and have them begin a twenty-four hour prayer vigil for their release. That’s all we can do right now.”

After a week of vacationing and trying not to allow the news of their son’s capture put a damper on things, they continued on their mission. The next leg of their journey took them to South Bend, Indiana, where the Ridleys joined them.

“I really don’t have a church on schedule to visit,” Rev. Mitchell said. “I’m just going as the Lord leads me. Right now, He’s leading me to randomly meet with a few pastors and share with them our mission, and get some idea of what the spiritual atmosphere is like here in South Bend.”

Rev. Mitchell chose Pastor Halsen Coperly of New Covenant Bible Church. All three men had a great time fellowshipping together.

“I’ll pray for a God-blessed journey,” Pastor Coperly said. “I’m behind you one hundred percent. Here’s my private cell number; call me if you think I can be of any help to you.”

The Mitchells and the Ridleys decided to stop in and worship with the members at New Covenant Bible Church. They arrived at 10:55 to find a few deacons in the vestibule greeting the folks as they hurried in for the 11:00 worship service.

“Good morning,” Rev. Mitchell said extending his hand towards one of the deacons. The sandy brown haired deacon turned to greet Rev. Mitchell, but his smile and the twinkle in his eyes froze as did his slightly extended hand when his eyes met Rev. Mitchell’s. Deacon Larsen, as his name badge indicated, shifted his stare from Rev. Mitchell to Ernestine and then to Pastor Ridley and Nisha. They could sense the cold spirit that emanated from him.

“You folks must have the wrong church. Your church is up the street about another three miles,” Deacon Larsen said with a straight face.

The Mitchells and the Ridleys were taken aback, but picking up immediately on the kind of spirit the deacon had, Rev. Mitchell said, “I believe we have the right church. Isn’t Halsen Coperly the pastor here? Oh, yes! There he is taking his place in the pulpit.”

Deacon Larsen reluctantly stepped aside as Rev. Mitchell and his party walked by him on into the auditorium seating themselves in the third to last pew. Heads began to turn as whispers floated across the auditorium.

After the reading of the announcements and the welcoming of visitors only a few people greeted the Mitchells and the Ridleys with genuine words of welcome.

“Let’s go,” Rev. Mitchell whispered to them as the last prayer was being said. He was trying to get out of there before Pastor Coperly had a chance to make it to the main exit. They were unsuccessful. They quickly shook his hand under the scrutiny of Deacon Larsen and a couple other deacons.

“Talk about a warm welcome,” Ernestine said as they pulled out of the parking lot. “That’s one church service I am glad to leave.”

“The Bible says, ‘If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?’” Pastor Ridley said.

“This is the twenty-first century and racism is still prevalent in our churches,” Nisha said. “That is so sad.”

“They have another set of problems they have to deal with before they can even think of witnessing to the lost,” Rev. Mitchell said. “Why share God’s love with the lost, bring them in from a world full of hate only to deposit them in a church full of hate?”

“I sensed genuine love from Pastor Coperly when we met with him, and even today as he shook our hands,” Pastor Ridley said. “I would have never thought he pastored a church like this.”

“Many times, as it is in this case, it’s not the pastor who’s racist; it’s the members. And being that the members, namely the deacons, are the final deciders, the pastor’s hands are tied. He is like a puppet on a string being pulled back and forth,” Rev. Mitchell said. “I could not subject myself to that.”

Rev. Mitchell’s cell phone rang. It was Pastor Coperly.

 

Chapter 18

“Rev. Mitchell, I want to thank you all for coming to worship with us today. That was quite a surprise. I won’t beat around the bush; I apologize for what took place at the church. I saw how the people ignored you all. I saw how some refused to shake your hands. But I do thank you for staying around for the preaching.”

“I won’t beat around the bush, either,” Rev. Mitchell said. “Racism is still alive among Christians. You have your work cut out for you.”

“When I left my former church back in Georgia and took over this church, I never thought I would run into racial conflicts all the way up here in Indiana. I’ve been dealing with it for the three years I have been here. Simply put: they will not budge.”

“It’s that bad, huh?” Rev. Mitchell said.

“Yes. If you and Pastor Ridley can spare a couple hours, I’d love for you both to stop by my office on tomorrow, say around eleven. I’d love to talk with you more about this.”

“Sure,” Rev. Mitchell said. “We’ll be there.”

The next day, Rev. Mitchell and Pastor Ridley listened as Pastor Coperly shared with them his pastoral experience in Georgia before moving up to Indiana. They were not shocked at his words.

“I had been the pastor there for seven years before the Lord started dealing with me about reaching out to those poorer people—mostly blacks and a few whites and Latinos—in the neighborhood just behind the church. We were an affluent all-white church, and I would say about ninety-five percent of the members wanted to keep it as such. A few blacks visited us every now and then, but each was a one-time visit. I could not understand why they never returned for a second visit. The deacon in charge of the Thursday night visitation program assured me that he had someone to visit them and they had no desire to return.

“But something about the whole thing greatly disturbed my spirit. I had the secretary—bless her heart; the deacons gave her such a hard time—but I had her to give me the addresses of those blacks who had visited the church. I paid them a visit myself. They all told me, ‘Pastor Coperly, we did not feel welcome at your church.’ One gentleman said his wife took their little girl to the restroom, and one of the church members told her that their kind was not welcome at the church.

“My heart was crushed. Come to find out, this spirit was present in the hearts of all the deacons except for one, and they voted him out. I started praying asking God to give me wisdom as to the best way to go about handling this sinful situation. One Thursday, just before visitation, I told those present that we were going to visit the poor neighborhood behind the church. Why did I say that? The head deacon who was also in charge of the visitation program looked me in my eyes and said without flinching, ‘If you ever bring one of those blacks in here to worship with us, you won’t be pastor here anymore—and see if I’m playing with you.’

‘“‘Brothers,’ another deacon said, ‘We can take them visiting the church by happenstance, but don’t you bring them in intentionally.’ My family and I fell under the constant scrutiny of that deacon-led church going forward. Those women used their ungodly attitudes to ostracize my wife from fellowshipping with them. The next two years were miserable ones for us as we tried to integrate the church.

“One black family visited us and I got to talking with them in my office after the morning services. The husband told me the best thing I can do is not to force it; just to make sure my heart was right with God about the whole matter and if it is to happen, let it happen naturally. He said racism is a heart issue and only God can change a person’s heart. I took that wise counsel and let the matter rest; but it was too late. One of the deacons saw me invite the family into my office and he kept up with how long they were in my office down to the very second.”

The men chuckled as Pastor Coperly continued.

“I received a letter through the mail telling me that if I did not stop talking extensively with the ‘unwelcome’ whenever they ‘stumbled’ into the church, I needed to leave, or … They never explained the ‘or’.”

Rev. Mitchell and Pastor Ridley raised their eyebrows.

“I had been looking for another church to pastor so this threat only expedited my move. I did not want to get tarred and feathered,” Pastor Coperly said with a chuckle. “Within two weeks my family and I moved out here to Indiana. You might be thinking, well, you’re in a similar situation, so what’s the difference?” Leaning back in his chair, he continued speaking.

“I believe God placed me in a similar situation because He was not quite done with the work he wanted me to do. I have learned a lot since I’ve been here, and I am a bit wiser as far as how to handle racism in the church as a pastor. I’ll be having a three-day conference this week, Wednesday thru Friday. Our theme is ‘Winning All to Jesus.’  Emphasis on ‘All’. You probably saw it in the bulletin. Our theme verse will be I John 4:20: ‘If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?’ If you’re both up for a possible fight, I’d love for you to close the meeting out on Friday.”

Rev. Mitchell chuckled. “You’re really stirring the waters now. Do you know what that might lead to?”

“Oh, sure. A few pieces of pieces of hate mail, being ostracized, a possible church split,” Pastor Coperly said.

“Maybe even getting tarred and feathered,” Pastor Ridley said.

The men laughed.

“Seriously, though,” Pastor Coperly said. “I’d rather have a handful of people who love all people than a house full of people who hate those of a different race. So, are you gentlemen up to helping me as I follow God’s leading in changing the heartbeat of New Covenant Bible Church?”

Rev. Mitchell and Pastor Ridley nodded their heads yes.

EPISODE #7

Chapter 19

Winning All to Jesus Conference

Rev. Mitchell and Pastor Ridley left Pastor Coperly’s office excited about the upcoming conference. As they pulled up into the hotel’s parking area to pick their wives up to take them out to lunch, Pastor Ridley said, “Are you going to be using the van later this evening between seven and ten, maybe eleven? I’d like to take my wife out to dinner. She’s a good woman and has stuck with me and supported me ever since I’ve known her. I just want to show her how much I appreciate her.”

“You can have it for as long as you want,” Rev. Mitchell said. “Ernestine and I vacationed all last week, so this week we’ll just enjoy some quiet time in the hotel. I told her she and your wife can go shopping if they want to.”

 

After lunch, both couples went to their individual rooms for some rest and relaxation. The Mitchells kept the television on the news channel hoping for some good news about their son.

“Why do you think these Islamists are so viciously killing Christians?” Ernestine asked her husband.

“It’s a sign of the end times,” her husband said. “I’ve been thinking about it more and more and I believe they are trying to take over the world.”

He paused to listen to the news reporter. “I believe Isaiah summed up for us what is taking place and why things are happening as they are. He says the Lord has spoken. God says to His people: you have rebelled against me; you do not consider; you have forsaken me and have provoked me to anger. God says you have gone backward. He also says because of this strangers shall come in and devour the land and overthrow it. These militants want to take over, not only America but the whole world.”

“You have a point there,” Ernestine said. “God completely destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin. If a similar sudden destruction is to fall upon America, not just for its endorsement of homosexuality, but for all its other sins, then someone should be warning our president and other governmental leaders and pastors who are pushing this issue, and also warn Christians who are persisting in living in their sins.”

“Yes. Somebody ought to. I believe God has also allowed sudden natural disasters to happen to America to warn us that if we don’t stop our sinning sudden destruction is going to come upon us,” Rev. Mitchell said. “God is telling us to put away the evil, and promises that if we are obedient, we will eat the good of the land. On the other hand, if we refuse and continue to rebel, we will be devoured with the sword.”

Ernestine shook her head as she thoughtfully repeated the words ‘with the sword.’ “These Islamist militants are killing their victims with a sword in this age of guns and other weapons.”

“Isn’t that something?” her husband said, turning his attention back to the news.

They both listened as the reporter gave a follow-up report on the latest in Cameroon.

Reporting live from Chad. The four Americans being held hostage have been identified. They are Dr. James Cauley, Mr. and Mrs. Frank and Beverly Howard, and Ronald Mitchell.

A gasp escaped Ernestine’s lips at the mention of her son’s name. She gripped the edge of the couch; her husband reached over and squeezed her hand as they listened.

If you have young children, please send them to another room as the video clip we are about to show may be too graphic for them.

Rev. Mitchell moved over closer to his wife and placed his arm around her shoulders. The video clip showed Ronald and Dr. Cauley stripped of their shirts revealing severe bruises from beatings they apparently had just suffered. Fresh blood was still trickling down their backs and arms.

Ernestine hid her face as one of the militants started to severely beat Mr. Howard. Rev. Mitchell’s arms tightened around his wife as anger seethed through him. The clip showed Mrs. Howard trying to cover her face with her hands, but one of the militants snatched her hands away from her face and yanked her head back forcing her to look. Tears streamed down her face.

They are asking the American government for $3 million  for the release of the four Americans now held hostage. They were working with the residents in the Ngoila village in Cameroon. This is Melissa signing off. Please stay tuned for updates.

Rev. Mitchell’s countenance took on a steely frame. “There is no excuse for this. There is no excuse for this,” he muttered as he muted the television.

 

Chapter 20

Rev. Mitchell held his wife until her sobbing subsided.

“Why, C. L.? Why?” she asked between sniffles. “Dr. Howard is an elderly man. Couldn’t they at least have spared him the beating? He is going to die.”

C.L. continued to hold his wife as his mind started to race with possible ideas for the release of his son and the other missionaries. Three million dollars? I must have a meeting with the president!

“Ernestine,” he said to his wife after a few minutes, “this mission journey may take longer than I anticipated. I believe we were planning on making two more stops before we stop off in Washington, D.C. I sense an urgency to head on up that way right after this conference. Call the car rental people and let them know we’ll need to keep the van a bit longer. Then call or email somebody—anybody—in the White House. Tell them who we are, in relation to the hostages and see if you can schedule a meeting with the president, if not in person, at least by telephone.”

Ernestine immediately got on the phone.

_________________

After the beatings, the missionaries were transported to a jail cell, which was partially hidden underground. The walls were made of concrete. Light filtered through slits just below the roof along the walls. The room was damp and a sewage-type gutter running the length of the  dirt floor alongside one wall explained the nauseating smell of urine and feces. When they got to the jail, they separated Mrs. Howard from her husband.

The three men stumbled into their cell as the guard shoved them in. Ronald and Dr. Cauley caught Mr. Howard just before he crashed to the floor. His face winced in pain as they tried to make him as comfortable as possible laying him on his stomach so as not to apply any more trauma to his sore back. Their wounds from their beating hurt badly. Their shirts and three blankets—more like tattered rags—landed on the ground behind them. The men rested as they wondered what would be their fate.

“I believe they are going to release my wife back to the mission ground,” Mr. Howard said weakly.

“What makes you say that?” Dr. Cauley asked.

Mr. Howard smiled faintly. “I studied Arabic as my third language. I understood everything our captors said to each other. They are asking the president for $3 million in exchange for our release.”

“Really?” Ronald said. “Did they mention a deadline?”

“I did not hear them mention one,” Mr. Howard said. “But I am sure they will.”

“So there’s hope for us getting out of here then,” Ronald said thoughtfully.

As the day drew to a close a chill entered the air. The men threw their shirts and blankets around them as best they could. Mosquitoes buzzed around the sewage; other insects hovered around. The metal door clanged open. Someone pushed in a makeshift tray with crusted chunks of bread and a jug of water.

“Not very inviting, but something to eat,” Dr. Cauley said with a chuckle as they rationed out the food evenly, asking God to use it to strengthen and nourish their bodies.

They conversed far into the night breaking up the conversation with prayer and songs of praise. “If it worked for Paul and Silas, I believe it will work for us,” Dr. Cauley said.

Before falling off to sleep, Mr. Howard asked the question foremost in their minds, but one they dreaded to ask: “In case the $3 million deal does not come through and we end up losing our lives, what is the one thing you gentlemen would want to have accomplished?”

Ronald spoke first. “I was engaged to be married before I was called to replace Brother Mike. I would love to marry my fiancee, begin a family and we both continue this great work on the mission field here in Ngoila in bringing the Gospel to those who have not had the privilege of hearing it. As we pray for our release, join me in prayer for the strengthening of Dasani’s faith also.”

“My wish is similar to yours,” Dr. Cauley said. “This is the longest I’ve been away from my wife. Five months. I was supposed to go home on furlough for three months. She had to return home because of failing health. Her body has gotten stronger, but we did not want to take a chance and bring her back over here. I really miss her.”

“I told my wife if we got separated for her to try to get in touch with the Missions Board and make arrangements to return home to the United States. Knowing her, she’ll hang around trying to keep up with my whereabouts,” Mr. Howard said. “Like I told you more than once, I’m ready to die; I’m ready to meet my Savior. I’m not too crazy about how I may leave this earth, but I’m ready to leave. I say with Paul, ‘I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.’ Amen.”

“Amen and Amen!” Ronald and Dr. Cauley said.

 

Chapter 21

Although burdened for his son’s uncertain plight, Rev. Mitchell looked forward to the conference at the New Covenant Bible Church with Pastor Halsen Coperly. He and Pastor Ridley left their wives at the hotel to spend the evening in prayer for them and for the conference.

“I feel better leaving you here in case someone decides to tar and feather us out of the church,” Rev. Mitchell said to his wife as he kissed her goodbye. “Pray for anointing as we preach, and that a lasting work will be done for all eternity.”

Two other black pastors who were in their early forties, a young black man in his mid-twenties, and a black couple with their pre-teen daughter and teenage son, were a part of the crowd that attended the meeting on this last night of the conference. As Rev. Mitchell and Pastor Ridley entered the auditorium, they sensed the spirit of resistance. Deacon Larsen, who was standing by the door, eyed them as they walked by him.

After the preliminaries, Pastor Coperly took his place before the microphone. “Some of you have been trying to squeeze out of me the name of the pastor who will be preaching tonight. I have an extra surprise for you: you will be hearing from not one, but two speakers tonight; and I must add, you’re in for a special treat.”

He shared with the attendees how he met Rev. Mitchell and Pastor Ridley. “I feel our meeting was more than a chance meeting; I strongly believe it was ordained of God. If you have your hearts right with God, you’ll see why I said that. All three of us share a similar vision and that is to see all people accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Without further delay, I turn the pulpit over to Pastor Ridley from Binghamton, New York. After that, you’ll hear from Rev. Mitchell also from Binghamton, New York.”

“Pulling from our text tonight in I John 4:20, I’ll answer for you this question: Who is my brother?” Pastor Ridley said. “Your brother is anyone, male or female, who, believing that Jesus Christ died on the cross for his sins, has asked Jesus Christ to save him from his sins.

“Your brother could be the homeless man on the street.

“Your brother could be the poor beggar standing before your place of employment with outstretched hand begging you for a dollar to buy himself a hamburger.

“Your brother could be the blind man, or maybe he’s the man who stutters as he speaks.

“Your brother could be the illiterate boy; he cannot read and thus feels insecure and shies away from people.

“Your brother could be the man in prison; he made one mistake and he has to pay for that crime for years to come.

“Your brother could be the young girl who got pregnant outside of wedlock.

“Who is my brother? Your brother is the black man who you hate because of his color. Or, he may be the Latino or the person from a Third World country.

“How can you say you love God whom you have never seen, yet, you hate your brother who you see every day? God says if you say that, you are a liar, a hypocrite, a phony, and a fake.

“Whether you like it or not, these are your brothers in Christ, because they, like you, realizing their pitiful condition have believed in the death, burial, and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, and have asked Him to forgive them of their sins and to save them from hell. It makes no difference who they are. The Bible says in John 3:16 that ‘whosoever believeth in Him (Jesus Christ) should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ That ‘whosoever’ can be the black man, the white man, the Latino man, the yellow man, the brown man, the albino—whosoever.

“As I close tonight, I invite you to ask yourself: Do I really love my brother, or am I a liar? Who do I classify as my brother anyway? Only you know. But before you answer those questions, I invite you to pray this prayer with David: ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts; And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.’”

EPISODE #8

Chapter 22

New Covenant Bible Church

As Pastor Ridley closed out his message with prayer, Rev. Mitchell took his place behind the mic.

Three people walked out. Deacon Larsen sat stiffly on the back pew, his face flushed with anger and embarrassment; he kept looking around. Two visiting black pastors uttered hearty ‘Amens.’ A young black man stood to his feet clapping vigorously. He was joined by a black husband whose wife kept dabbing at her eyes with a white handkerchief. Some of the white attendees sat stiffly. A few ‘Amens’ could be heard scattered across the auditorium. The spirit in the auditorium seemed to be changing to a more welcoming one.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” began Rev. Mitchell, “I come to you tonight with a heavy heart. It saddens me greatly to think that we humans have become so arrogant that we believe we know more than the God who created us and who made possible the only way for true salvation, so much so that we have the audacity to believe we are in a position to decide who is worthy of salvation and who is not; who is worthy to come within the four walls of this church, sit on our padded pews and listen to the Word of God being preached. How arrogant can we be!

“Being that my brother and the other pastors, tonight and on the previous nights, have so eloquently expounded on 1 John 4:20, I am going to take the liberty to shift over to Romans chapter ten as my text tonight.

“The Bible states that all of us are sinners, and since all of us are sinners, then all of us are in need of a Savior. Jesus came to call, not the righteous, but sinners to repentance. We all have to come to Jesus through the same door, and that is through the door of Romans 10: 9, 10 and 13: ‘That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.’ ‘For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ There’s that word whosoever again.

“As the pastor before me explained, whosoever means the black man, the white man, the yellow man, and the brown man. It makes no difference; all must come to repentance.

“The problem comes when we begin to pick and choose who we want to share the Gospel with, who we want to fellowship with, who we want to worship in our church, and who we want to come to repentance.

“Our mentality as Christians should never be, ‘I do not want to fellowship or worship with that kind.’ Guess what? Jesus died for that kind as well. And if that is your mentality, then your heart is not right with God.

“Verse 12 of our text says: ‘For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek — between the black man and the white man; between the rich man and the poor man; between the educated and the uneducated — for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.’

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Is your heart right with God tonight? Do you see all men as God sees all men—in need of a Savior? Some of you need a spiritual heart transplant, and here’s how you get one. First, confess your sin of hating your brother or sister in Christ, and after confessing this sin to God, repent by going to that brother or sister and apologizing to them for hating them. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. Don’t leave here tonight without getting your heart right with God by changing your heart attitude towards those who are different from you.

“You say, Rev. Mitchell, I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll get my heart right tomorrow. Just give me one more night in my sin. I beg of you, don’t let the devil get the victory tonight. The Word of God says tomorrow is not promised to anyone.

“Remember: the Gospel is for ‘that kind’; it is for ‘whosoever.’ For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Won’t you get your heart right, tonight, first by accepting Jesus Christ as Your Saviour? And if you’re already saved, but are harboring the sin of hating your brother or sister because of his or her skin color or because of his or her status in life, then confess it as sin and ask Jesus Christ to deliver you from that sin.

“Come to the altar if you feel you must, but after you’ve confessed that sin, go to the person and ask his or her forgiveness. Get it right, tonight.”

 

A quietness fell over the crowd as one by one some excused themselves to kneel at the altar. Some made their way across the auditorium to set things straight with those they needed to get their hearts right with.

Deacon Larsen marched up to the pulpit and he stuck out his hand to shake Rev. Mitchell’s hand. No words needed to be said. He had a similar exchange with Pastor Ridley.

“Thank You, God,” Rev. Mitchell whispered as he watched Deacon Larsen make his way to the two other black pastors, the young man, and the black family.

“Thank You, God,” Rev. Mitchell whispered again as he looked over the auditorium to see others apologizing amidst tears and hugs as they made their hearts right with God and with each other.

How can you say you love God whom you have not seen, yet hate the brother who you see everyday?

 

Chapter 23

“God definitely sent you my way,” Pastor Coperly said to Rev. Mitchell over the phone the next morning. “Old Deacon Larsen caused me more problems than anyone else. God got a hold of his heart. I see great things ahead for our church.”

“Praise the Lord,” Rev. Mitchell said.

“He called me late last night after the meeting full of ideas on how to integrate the church. I started to tell him to slow down, but I could not bring myself to do so,” Pastor Coperly said with a laugh. “God is good. Where are you headed from here?”

“My plan was to make about four more stops, or continue on this mission for as long as I felt the Lord leading me. He’s leading me to take a little detour right now.” Rev. Mitchell shared with Pastor Coperly the situation with his son and his plan to hopefully meet with the president.

“I’ll certainly make that a matter of prayer,” Pastor Coperly assured him.

 

The Mitchells and the Ridleys departed Indiana en route to Washington, D.C. Ernestine, with Nisha’s help, spent much of their driving time trying to solidify a meeting with the president through phone calls and emails. Rev. Mitchell and Pastor Ridley prayed intermittently throughout that leg of their journey.

After seeing that their wives were settled in their hotel rooms, Rev. Mitchell and Pastor Ridley took a leisurely prayer drive around Washington, D.C.—around the White House, in particular. On this prayer drive, they prayed for God’s wisdom to fall down upon the president and other governmental leaders. They prayed for his protection as well as for the protection of his family. They prayed for the protection of Christians all over the world. They prayed for favor in the eyes of the president as they would plead Rev. Mitchell’s son’s tragic situation before him if the opportunity presented itself. They prayed for God’s salvation to fall upon the nation and that a nationwide spiritual revival would break out beginning at the nation’s capital.

“God is able,” Pastor Ridley said. “I feel my spiritual shout coming over me.”

“I prayed it and claim it,” Rev. Mitchell said. “Don’t let me get pentecostal on you now.”

The men laughed.

“On a serious note, though,” Rev. Mitchell said, “some people make fun of the Pentecostals and Charismatics, but they got the fire; they got the excitement. We need some of that in our Baptist churches.”

“You’re right,” Pastor Ridley said. “And at the same time, they need some of our straightforward biblical teachings without the emotionalism.”

“That’s right. They’re on one end on the religious continuum, and we’re on the other end. Balance is what we need in our churches,” Rev. Mitchell said.

“I’m anxious to see what church the Lord will lead us to this Sunday,” Pastor Ridley said. “It’s been a great run thus far. When I think of the pitiful condition of our people—of the world—I sometimes feel like shedding tears like Jeremiah. I see clearly this world’s future demise and that’s the second thing that’s motivating me to proclaim the Word of God.”

“What’s the first thing?”

“The first thing is obedience to the Word of God as given through the Great Commission. Of course, there are a myriad of verses to back up that command,” Pastor Ridley said. “Just look at all these people—people without hope.” He waved his hand at some of the people walking by. “How can a Christian drive by them each day and not have a natural concern for them?”

“That’s because we don’t have a spiritual concern,” Rev. Mitchell said. “The Bible does say in the end times the love of many shall wax cold and men shall be ‘without natural affection.’”

“The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.”

Both men stopped at a restaurant to pick up something to take back to the hotel to eat with their wives. While they were waiting to have their order filled, Rev. Mitchell’s phone rang.

“C.L., there’s been another beating. This time it’s Ronald. It was terrible!” his wife said.

“We’re on our way to the hotel. Have you been able to get in touch with anyone at the White House, yet?” Rev. Mitchell asked.

“Yes. We left a message with someone. He said he’d pass it on to the president’s secretary,” Ernestine said between sniffles.

“They are still waiting on the money and are threatening to raise their demand,” Nisha reported while Rev. Mitchell comforted his wife once they got to the hotel. “If they don’t receive it by then, they’ll repeat the beatings until they get the money or until the men die.”

After praying for the Lord’s leading, Rev. Mitchell said, “Until I hear from the president, the Lord’s leading me to go another route. We have to get the ball rolling on our end.”

Chapter 24

New Believer’s Community Church

Sunday morning found the foursome at the New Believer’s Community Church. The pastor, G. Remington, was given a standing ovation as he walked across the podium and took his place before the mic. Rev. Mitchell and his crew noted with avid interest as Pastor Remington reached above his head and grabbed hold of a rope hanging from the ceiling. The rope was attached to a bucket rigged up to some sort of pulley.

“Are you ready?” Pastor Remington asked the crowd.

“Yes, we are,” the attendees answered reaching for their imaginary rope.

“Repeat after me: I am a child of the King.”

“I am a child of the King.”

“He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.”

“He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.”

“He owns the wealth in every mine.”

“He owns the wealth in every mine.”

“I’m an heir to my Father’s riches in glory.”

“I’m an heir to my Father’s riches in glory.”

“I will no longer live in poverty.”

“I will no longer live in poverty.”

“Money coming to me!” Pastor Remington pulled on his rope which activated the pulley causing the bucket to overturn spilling its contents: dollar bills floated to the floor.

“Money coming to me!” the people repeated as they pulled on their imaginary ropes while shouting and clapping.

Rev. Mitchell shrugged his shoulders as he and his wife exchanged glances. Nisha covered her mouth to hide her smile. Pastor Ridley cleared his throat as he looked on.

“I claim it! I claim it! Thank You, Lord. Thank You, Lord!” many exclaimed.

They quieted down as Pastor Remington started to speak.

“The reason some of you are living in poverty is because you don’t believe God wants you to live in abundance. God wants to bless you, His child. He wants you to live in comfort and ease. He wants to prosper you financially and materially. You are experiencing financial difficulties because you have bought into the mentality that a Christian ought not to be rich, that a Christian ought to live a pauper’s life. You are a child of the King for crying out loud. You should be prospering. I repeat: you should be prospering. The money is out there for you. God wants you to have it.”

Taking note of the pastor’s gold wristwatch and two diamond rings glittering in the light, a gold chain and gold tie pin and his expensive suit, Rev. Mitchell could not help thinking, You’re the only one who seems to be prospering in here.

“Are you tithing as you should?” Pastor Remington continued. “Are you giving your ten percent plus an offering? If you’re only giving ten percent or less, then you’ll only get ten percent or less blessing; if you love God enough to give Him an extra offering, then you’ll get an extra blessing. You shouldn’t be hurting for anything as a Christian. And might I add, you should be taking care of me as your pastor if you want an extra blessing.”

Oh, dear, Rev. Mitchell sighed. Seems to me like you’re prospering off the extra offering.

“For some reason, Christians believe it’s okay to live in poverty, to just get by on the bare essentials. My question is: Why can’t you have a big house with a well-manicured lawn? Why can’t you have a Rolls Royce instead of  an ol’ beat-up jalopy? Why can’t you have fine silk clothes instead of rags?

“My Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He owns the rivers and the rocks and hills, the stars and the sun that shine. He has riches more than the eye can behold. Eyes have not seen, ears have not heard the things which God has prepared for them who love Him. God wants you to have those riches now! The problem is you don’t love God enough. And because you don’t love Him enough, you don’t trust Him enough.

“I am the heir of a King and joint-heir with His Son, and I should be living as a prince or a princess. So what’s up with that low living? Scrimping and scratching for pennies when you could have dollar bills rolling out of your pocket.

“God tells us, ‘if I were hungry I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof.’ This world is yours, too, and all that is in the earth.”

“This is so sad,” Rev. Mitchell whispered to his wife. “Leading these people astray like that.”

“Folks,” continued Pastor Remington, “get rid of your pauper’s mentality. Don’t think poor; think rich. Think big bucks. Fly like the eagles. Soar with the wind. Don’t be scratching for worms on the ground like chickens. You were born to prosper! God saved you to prosper you. This is your season! This is your time to prosper. Move into your season. Forget about past seasons of financial poverty; your season to prosper is now! The money is waiting on you. Name it and claim it. I say, name it and claim it!”

“I claim it, preacher. I claim it!” one gentleman shouted and took off running around the church.

Rev. Mitchell hung around for the benediction. Does this pastor not know that we are already rich in Christ because of our position in Christ? Plus, God never promised us riches after we are saved, he thought.

Pastor Remington ended the services with an invitation for those who wanted prayer to come to the front.

Another lost opportunity, Rev. Mitchell thought as they left the church somewhat discouraged.

“He had the people eating out of his hands,” he said. “Working them into a frenzy and then not using that opportunity to present the Gospel. Many preachers are going to have a lot of explaining to do when they get to Heaven. Or, could it be that they themselves are not saved according to the Bible?”

“Many folks are falling away because they were the product of a man-made, man-centered gospel. People cannot get saved without repentance. What did Peter preach on the day of Pentecost? ‘Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins’,” Pastor Ridley said.

“If I accurately recall, Jesus’ last words to us as recorded in Luke are, ‘And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached among all nations,’” Nisha added.

“If Jesus walked into some churches today, I believe some of the first people he would throw out would be the pastors and leaders who are using  the church as their personal bank account. Jesus would throw out preachers who take money from the people of the church so they can drive a fancy car and live in a mansion. Jesus never invited people to come to Him so He could make them rich materially, but because He could make their souls and their spirits rich with spiritual blessings. May the Lord help us,” Rev. Mitchell said.

EPISODE #9

A Praying Time

Chapter 25

After much prayer, Rev. Mitchell was led of the Lord to have a meeting with Pastor Remington. He and Pastor Ridley stepped into an elaborately furnished office decked with gold and royal blue drapes, gold-plated lamp stands, a rich mahogany desk with matching padded chairs, a leather couch, a mahogany center table with two matching side tables. Pastor Remington was watching the news on his flat screen television when they entered his office. He muted the television. Once seated, Rev. Mitchell shared with Pastor Remington his reason for visiting his church the  previous Sunday and his reason for his meeting with him.

“I do thank you for worshiping with us,” Pastor Remington said. “I trust the services were a blessing to you.”

“I must say it was an interesting experience,” Rev. Mitchell said. “This was my first time sitting under the preaching of a prosperity gospel preacher. I don’t plan on keeping you long, so I’ll get to the point, Pastor Remington, and I hope you don’t take it wrong when I ask you this question: Deep down, do you really believe that accumulating riches will get a person into Heaven, or even allow them to have a close relationship with God?”

“Absolutely not! But I do believe that if we claim to be Christians we should be living in prosperity. I question a person’s faith when that person says he is a Christian, yet lives a hand-to-mouth existence. I just believe God wants us to live an abundant life.”

“But the Bible does say the poor you’re going to have with you always. It does not specify saved or unsaved; it just says ‘poor.’ Plus,” Rev. Mitchell added, “when the Bible talks about the abundant life or about a Christian being ‘rich’, it is referring to rich in faith, rich in the peace of God that passeth all understanding, rich in joy unspeakable, rich in contentment, rich in the fruit of the Spirit, and all of these riches are intangible. From my study of the Word of God, I can’t recall where it says once that after you become a Christian you will be rich. If that were the case, people would be coming in droves to get saved because everyone wants to be rich. In fact, we would not have to bring them the Gospel; they would be running to us for the Gospel.”

Pastor Remington thoughtfully nodded his head as Rev. Mitchell continued speaking.

“Now, if I were to ask you, what would I have to do to get saved, what would you tell me?” Rev. Mitchell asked.

“I would tell you to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for all your sins,” Pastor Remington said without hesitation. “That involves confession of one’s sins and turning away from one’s sins.”

“My other question to you then is: Since you believe that—and that is biblical teaching—why aren’t you using the pulpit to preach that? That was God’s final mandate to us: to preach the Gospel of salvation and not a gospel of prosperity,” Rev. Mitchell said.

Pastor Ridley who had been listening piped in. “Speaking through Jeremiah, the Lord did say, ‘Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say: He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.’”

Pastor Remington, after a seemingly long silence, sighed. “You’re right, gentlemen. I admit: I know better. I know I ought to be preaching salvation messages for people to get saved. I know I ought to be preaching righteous living. I know I should not be placing such an emphasis on getting rich. I used to do it, but I caught so much hell from the devil and people who did not want to live right, I kind of eased off into the prosperity preaching—really for my own comfort. It’s less of a spiritual battle preaching ‘you ought to be rich as a Christian’ than it is preaching ‘salvation through none other than Jesus’ death on the cross’.”

“That’s true,” Rev. Mitchell and Pastor Ridley agreed.

“God has been trying to get my attention about it, but I’ve chosen to ignore Him. I guess I have become a preacher with itchy ears,” Pastor Remington said with a chuckle. “I do thank you both for stopping by and for boldly but humbly confronting me. Your stopping by only reaffirms what God has been telling me for some time now.”

After a few seconds in thought, Pastor Remington said, “With both of you as my witnesses, I recommit my life to God and I vow now to preach or at least present the Gospel at every service. Pray for me, brothers, as I apologize to the church family on next Sunday. I have been leading them astray.”

“We will,” both men said.

“Hold a minute,” Pastor Remington said. Picking up his remote control, he turned the volume up on the television. The reporter was giving an update on the latest about the hostages taken in Cameroon. “I’ve been trying to keep up with the martyrdom that has been happening to Christians world-wide. Bear with me.”

All three men listened.

“Such a tragedy,” Pastor Remington said. “They’re asking for $3 million dollars; the goverment has a few days to deliver. We haven’t heard anything from our president so far. I wonder what he is going to do about this matter.”

“It’s interesting that we’re here viewing this with you,” Pastor Ridley said. “I know Rev. Mitchell would rather my not saying what I am about to share with you especially since we did not come here to discuss this with you, but the youngest missionary, Ronald Mitchell, is Rev. Mitchell’s son.”

“What!”

“I don’t want you to think we came here to get money out of you, but the Lord led me to share this with you if for no other reason than to have you join us in prayer for their release. Rev. Mitchell had no idea I was going to make mention of this, and it was not on my mind to do so until now,” Pastor Ridley said.

“Brothers, think nothing of it. We’re brothers in Christ; we’re supposed to bear one another’s burdens. I detect nothing but sincerity and humility in both of you. If you came here just to get money out of me, you would have never rebuked me as strongly as you did,” Pastor Remington said. “You may have rebuked me once you got the money—if I did give it to you—but definitely not before. Now tell me about your son and what led him to go over to Cameroon.”

Rev. Mitchell shared his son’s mission work ending with his dual purpose for visiting Washington, D.C., which was to visit churches at random, and hopefully to speak with the president.

“I’m hoping to have a meeting with the president to plead my cause,” Rev. Mitchell said.

“You mentioned ‘getting the ball rolling’. Exactly what do you mean by that?”

“Until I hear from the president, I have to do what I can for my son. I sent an email to my secretary back in our home city of Binghamton and asked her to send it out in as many ways as possible to all the church members—old and new and to encourage them to forward it to their extended family, friends, and co-workers. We’ve sent it to all our preachers mailing list as well. As we’re speaking our plea is going out asking people to pray for their release and to give what they can financially towards their release,” Rev. Mitchell said. “I’m praying for a ripple effect to take place and that it will not stop until we get the $3 million dollars.”

  

Chapter 26

“Now I love that. I just love to see a person in a difficult situation try to help himself out of it rather than have his hand out,” Pastor Remington said. “Exactly what did your email say?”

“I can have my wife send you a copy,” Rev. Mitchell said pulling his cell phone out of his jacket pocket. “It explained to the recipients who I am and my relations with Ronald, what the terrorists are requesting, and how they can help while I try to get in touch with the president,” Rev. Mitchell said after getting off the phone with his wife. “I emphasized that time is of the essence.”

“Here’s what I’m going to do to help,” Pastor Remington said. “One, I’m going to have my secretary do what you did with your church family as far as sending the letter out to our church mailing list and encouraging them to pass it on. I’ll place my signature and a paragraph of endorsement with your letter. Two, on Wednesday night and on Sunday morning, I’m going to take up a special offering towards this worthy cause.”

Pastor Remington called in his secretary. “Rosemary, get Deacon Lexington on the phone please. Wait while I speak with him.”

In between talking with Deacon Lexington, Pastor Remington sought more information from Rev. Mitchell.

“Do you have a special account set aside for this money?” he asked.

“Ronald Mitchell Missions Fund,” Rev. Mitchell said.

“Are you set up for direct deposit?”

“Yes.”

Pastor Remington exchanged a few more words with Deacon Lexington then passed the phone over to his secretary. Between his secretary and Rev. Mitchell’s secretary, $25,000.00 was transferred into the Ronald Mitchell Missions Fund. “I know this is just pennies compared to what they are asking, but we know God can make up the difference,” Pastor Remington said to Rev. Mitchell.

“Hang on to that banking information,” he told his secretary. “You’ll need it for future use.”

As his secretary prepared to leave his office, Pastor Remington said, “Hold a second. Let me make one more call.”

“Hello, Al. I’m going to turn you over to Rosemary. Give her the info she needs to direct deposit $4000 from our personal account into a special account. I’ll tell you about it when I pick you up for lunch. Here’s Rosemary. Bye now.”

“I don’t know how to thank you,” Rev. Mitchell said.

“I believe Christians who have the wherewithal are obligated to help those who are in need of help, especially if those in need are Christians,” Pastor Remington said. “But if you really want to thank me, come lead my prayer services on Wednesday night. And accept my invitation to lunch today. I’ll go pick my wife up and meet you at your hotel.”

On their way to pick their wives up, Rev. Mitchell and Pastor Ridley had a hallelujah shouting time. “Any friend who’s going to open up his mouth and get me almost $30,000.00 in one fell swoop, is a friend for life,” Rev. Mitchell said with a laugh. “God is good!”

“Yes, my brother. Our God is better than good,” Pastor Ridley agreed.

_______________

President Mac Scholls and those working with him were in a state of anxiety at the latest reports about the terrorists.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to get them to release our citizens without the money,” President Scholls said.

“That’s not going to be easy, Mr. President. These people do not understand ‘peace talks.’ They are irrational; they do not understand reason. They aim to destroy Christians and anyone else who stands in their way.”

“There’s a live feed from the terrorists’ headquarters,” Michael Wallis said hurrying into the president’s office followed by Julie Agabayo, the president’s personal secretary. He turned on the big screen television mounted on the wall in the situation room. They all watched the airing of the horrifying beheading of another American: Mr. Peyton Howard.

The last instruction to Mr. Howard if he wanted to live was to deny his faith. Mr. Howard firmly said, “No, I cannot deny the One who died for me. Good bye, Beverly. I’ll see you in Heaven.” The other two hostages were forced to look on, the reporter said.

“They were supposed to keep those three men alive until we delivered the money,” the president said. “We contacted their headquarters; that was agreed on.”

“Like I have been trying to tell you, Mr. President, they have no sense of reasoning. You can’t expect people like that to keep their word,” Michael said.

“Today is not even over with yet,” President Scholls said.

“Mr. President, today is today no matter what time of day it is. And that is all that matters to them. One thing I give them credit for though,” Michael said, “and that is, when they make a move, it is with speed and precision. We are not dealing with fools here.”

“President Scholls,” Julie interrupted, “I have an urgent message from an Ernestine Mitchell, calling on behalf of her husband, Rev. C. L. Mitchell. I think you should return their call. They are the parents of Ronald Mitchell, the youngest of the men being held hostage. They are requesting an emergency meeting with you. In fact, they are already here in Washington, D.C.”

   

Chapter 27

“C. L., we’ve got to do something. Ronald may be next,” Ernestine said to her husband. “If they killed old Mr. Howard, I know they won’t hesitate to take Ronald’s life. We’ve got to get the money somehow. We can’t come up with that large amount by ourselves. I can’t believe he’s ignoring all the messages we’ve left.”

“Ernestine, calm down.” Rev. Mitchell said firmly. “Where is your faith? I need for you to be strong during this time. Our God is able. Were you able to get in touch with Rhonda?”

“Yes. She says she’s having much success as far as contacting the mega-pastors. Some have gone ahead and contributed to our cause. Others are waiting on their board to make a decision,” Ernestine said. “She says there’s been a lot of inquiry as word is getting around.”

“Pastor Ridley and I had similar results,” Rev. Mitchell said. He and Pastor Ridley had spent the past two days visiting area churches as the Lord led them—pleading their cause using Pastor Remington’s name and letter of recommendation. They planned on spending the upcoming days while stationary in the Washington, D. C. area visiting more churches.

“All we can do is pray and trust God,” Rev. Mitchell said embracing his wife. Giving her a kiss he said, “God is able . . . and if He chooses not to keep our son alive, He’ll give us the grace to handle it. How’s Dasani holding up?” he asked.

“She’s hanging in there. I’ve encouraged her to do what you’re encouraging me to do, and that is to pray.”

Rev. Mitchell and Pastor Ridley stepped up their personal prayer times as well as prayer times with their wives. Rev. Mitchell delivered a timely message on prayer to the members of the New Believer’s Community Church, one that revolutionized that church making them a true lighthouse in Washington, D.C.

 

“Ladies and gentlemen, I draw my message tonight from Matthew 24:6-14 which reads as follows:

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.    

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.    

All these are the beginning of sorrows.    

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.    

And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.    

And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.    

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.    

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.    

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

“I’ve titled my message: A Praying Time. You may be wondering, why is this a praying time? Why do we need to pray more?  Look around you. Listen to the news. You come home from a hard day’s work and all you want to do is unwind while you listen to, hopefully, some pleasant news. But instead what do you get? Robberies. Murders. Raping of old ladies. Drug dealings. Molestation of children. Beheading of Christians. Confusion among our young people. Chaos in our homes. Divorce. Never before have I heard of so many young people committing suicide. Men no longer want to marry women but rather want to marry other men. People are suing the church for taking biblical stands. There’s an increase in natural disasters. There are violent uprisings. There is an increase in terrorist activities. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a praying time.

“Jesus Christ warned us that these perilous days were going to come. He told us these days that would try men’s faith would come. And that is why He told us to ‘Pray without ceasing.’ If we had been praying without ceasing as He commanded us, then we would not be fainting at news of all the tragedies that are taking place all over the world and even in our own country.  If Jesus Christ prayed, then don’t you think we should pray more?

“We are living in perilous times. And perilous times call for an increase in the prayers going up to our heavenly Father. Neither you nor I have the power to manage our lives successfully. We need God’s help and direction. I do not care how much Bible you know; I do not care how much Scripture you can quote; I do not care how many degrees you have attached to your name—you had better open your mouth and cry out to God.

“The main reason this is a praying time is because of the failure of the church in its mission. The church has failed in its fulfillment of the Great Commission as stated in Matthew 28:19-20 to ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen’. According to a German Christian minister, our churches have formed their own personal ‘Christian ghettoes’, where outsiders are looked upon askance. The people on the outside are scared to come in, and we are so ashamed we no longer feel comfortable bringing them in. But who will they go to? Who will bring them the living Bread—the Bread of Life—Jesus Christ—the only One who can bring salvation to them? Who? Definitely not the world.

“Our happy-go-lucky, watered-down Gospel cannot help anyone, but prayer can help everyone. We need to pray for each other. Our world is changing in very destructive ways, but you should not be alarmed because if you have been reading your Bible then you would have read that things are going to get worse as the time draws nearer for the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

“Christians, don’t worry anymore—just pray. Husbands and wives, just hang in there together a bit longer and just pray. Teenagers put away your rebellion and just pray. Let us form an intercessory wall that Satan and his demons cannot break down. Prayer can do anything because God can do everything! This is a praying time. Amen, somebody!”

EPISODE #10

Chapter 28

Casteel United Apostolic Church

“That message will totally revolutionize my church family,” Pastor Remington said as he handed Rev. Mitchell a couple CDs of the message. “I must admit also that I have not been praying as I should. It’s so much easier to carry out my daily pastoral work than it is to pray.”

“That’s right,” Rev. Mitchell said. “A lot of Christians fail to realize that the devil is fighting every act of prayer. They don’t realize that prayer is spiritual work and that the devil will fight against it because he knows that prayer is the one and only way to call down God’s help in fighting against the world, the flesh, and the devil for a victorious Christian life. As one prayer warrior said, ‘Satan trembles when he sees a Christian on his knees.’”

“God will bring about circumstances in your life where you can’t help but to pray,” Pastor Ridley said. “And I say that from experience.”

“Tell me about it,” Pastor Remington said. “Why don’t we pray right now for your son’s safety as well as for the safety of the other missionary with him and those Christians who are undergoing persecution for their faith.”

 

*****

 

“C.L., C.L., wake up!” Ernestine said shaking her husband. “The president’s on the phone. President Scholls is on the phone. Wake up!”

“Yes, sir, President Scholls. You’re a hard man to catch up with, but I do thank you for returning my call,” Rev. Mitchell said.

“I tell you Rev. Mitchell, there’s always something to keep you busy,” President Scholls said. “I assure you that my prayers and thoughts are with you and your wife. We are trying to negotiate with them for the release of your son and Mr. Cauley.”

Negotiate, thought Rev. Mitchell. “With all due respect, sir, time is of the essence; one person has already lost his life because we did not meet their given deadline. These people do not negotiate, and if they do, it is on their terms. A deadline for them is a day ahead of the actual deadline. They do not understand dialogue.”

“Rev. Mitchell, I perceive you to be a man of God,” the president said. “What is it that is making these men act so irrational? I mean, they have absolutely no respect for human life. It is as though they take great pleasure in taking innocent lives.”

“Frankly, Mr. President, these people hold a grudge for years; they are in no hurry to retaliate. They can come up with a plan and spend twenty to thirty years reviewing and revising the plan before executing it. That’s why they move with such precision. From a spiritual point of view, only a demon-possessed person will plan to bomb a place and strap the bomb to himself knowing he’s going to end his life also. They have no respect at all for human life.”

“Right now my office is trying to figure out their mode of operation. We’re trying to figure out what their strategy is; it can’t be just random,” President Scholls said.

“With all due respect, sir, right now, trying to figure out whether these are random acts or if they have been strategically planned will not help my son’s cause,” Rev. Mitchell said. “All I know is if we do not get the money to them within the next few days, my son and Dr. Cauley will be the next to lose their lives. I’m doing all I can on my end but I need your help. Mr. President, don’t fail me.”

Rev. Mitchell shared with President Scholls what he and his wife and church family with the help of others were doing to gather the $3 million dollars. He told him the amount they had thus far. “But that is only a tiny amount compared to the six million they are requesting.”k

“Can you hold for just a minute,” President Scholls said. “My secretary just handed me a couple of letters that demand my attention. Give me a minute. This won’t take long.”

“Yes, Julie,” Rev, Mitchell overheard the president say to his secretary.

“These two pieces of mail came in. I thought you may want to take a look at them ASAP. I believe they have something to do with Rev. Mitchell, the gentleman you’re on the phone with.”

“Rev. Mitchell, I’m back,” President Scholls said after reading the content of both pieces of mail. “My secretary shared with me that you’re in Washington, D.C. Can you come by the White House at 10:00 in the morning?”

“Sure,” Rev. Mitchell said.

“By the way, the mail I just read has to do with your son’s situation. We’ll discuss it once you get here.”

*****

“Why couldn’t he have just told you what was in those letters rather than have us sitting here worried all night?” Ernestine said.

“You may be worrying all night; but I won’t be,” Rev. Mitchell said. “Anyway, maybe it would require more time than he could have given to us over the phone.”

“Do you think it’s bad news—maybe Ronald’s death?”

“Ernestine, no more negative thinking. We just have to pray more and trust God,” her husband said. “Whatever the case, may God’s will be done.”

 

Chapter 29

Pastor Ridley and his wife upheld Rev. Mitchell and Ernestine and President Scholls in prayer as the three met the following morning. There were three other people present in the meeting.

“These are the two letters that I mentioned to you yesterday,” President Scholls said as he handed the letters to Rev. Mitchell. “You may find this hard to believe, but over one hundred such letters have come in since the time we talked on yesterday. These letters came from individuals from all over the country petitioning me to give the $3 million dollars to the Islamist militants for the release of the two remaining hostages.”

Ernestine closed her eyes as she offered up a silent ‘Thank You, Lord.’

“We’ve already made contact with the Islamist militants to let them know we have it coming. We have not heard anything back from them as of yet. Pray for us because time is of the essence,” the president said.

Rev. Mitchell offered up prayer before he and his wife left to return to the hotel to join Pastor Ridley and his wife in intercessory prayer for Ronald and Dr. Cauley.

Bad news met them when they awakened the next morning and tuned in to the news channel. Another beheading had taken place. This time the victim was not identified. Rev. Mitchell’s cell phone rang. It was the White House.

“Sorry to greet you with such terrible news first thing this morning, but things have gone awry,” President Scholls said. “There’s been another beheading.”

“Yes. We heard it via the television,” Rev. Mitchell said. “Were you able to deliver the money?”

“Yes. We delivered it—cash as instructed—directly to them during the night at the agreed upon drop off spot. We’ve heard nothing from them as of yet. As for their latest victim, we don’t know who it is as of yet,” President Scholls said. “I’m very sorry, Rev. Mitchell.”

“There’s no need to be sorry. You did your part. I know that the policy of the United States has been for many years not to pay ransom money, so I know that this is new to you as well. All we can do is pray and wait for God to intervene,” Rev. Mitchell said. “Thanks for everything, Mr. President. Please keep me informed if you hear anything new.”

Rev. Mitchell turned his attention to comforting his wife as he tuned in to his own thoughts. They heard nothing new all day.

Both awakened earlier than usual the next day to prepare to visit another church.

“I believe with all my heart that the devil allowed this to happen at this time to stop us in completing our mission,” Rev. Mitchell shared with the Ridleys as they drove through downtown Washington, D.C. “I would think him knowing and watching me serve God for these thirty years he’d already have it settled within himself that nothing will deter me from serving God.”

“The devil is stubborn. He never learns. He uses the same old tricks,” Nisha said.

“The sad thing about it, though, is we still fall for the same old tricks,” Ernestine added.

“Do you have a specific church you’re going to visit this morning?” Pastor Ridley asked.

“Not today. I glanced at the church directory section of the newspaper, and there are several churches along this road. We should be running into them,” Rev. Mitchell said.

“Could we stop by a Pentecostal Holiness church?” Nisha asked. “I’ve always wanted to visit one.”

“Sure,” Rev. Mitchell said. “That sign says we are coming up on one.”

“Seems like a good number of people are present,” Pastor Ridley said as they walked across the parking lot of the Casteel United Apostolic Holiness Church.

Hearty singing greeted them as they entered the auditorium. By the time they took their seats, the pastor, Rev. Dr. Prophet Apostle T.J. Tilley, was before the microphone introducing his message which was to be taken from Acts chapter two.

“Drawing my sermon from verse four, which reads: ‘And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.’

“Jesus had just ascended up into Heaven and the disciples were gathered together waiting—waiting for the Holy Ghost that would give them utterance. That is, the Holy Ghost would allow them to speak in a tongue that was foreign to them, an unnatural tongue, a tongue that only the saved can understand; a tongue that only the spirit-filled individual can understand.

“How do you know when you have received the Holy Ghost? Verse two says, ‘suddenly there came a sound from Heaven as of a mighty rushing wind.’ You are going to hear something before the Holy Ghost comes upon you.”

That is so far from the truth, Rev. Mitchell thought. My Bible tells me in John 14 verses sixteen and twenty-six, and Jesus, Himself told the disciples this: ‘And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever . . . But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have told you.’

“And not only are you going to hear something,” Apostle Tilley continued, “but you’re also going to feel something.”

I didn’t feel anything when the Holy Ghost came to live in me when I got saved, Ernestine thought. And He’s been living in me for almost thirty years now.

“Not only are you going to hear something like a mighty rushing wind—a kind of coolness coming over you—but ironically, you’re also going to feel some heat, like fire. You’ll feel some burning—a spiritual burning, if you will allow me to say so,” Apostle Tilley said. “The Bible says ‘cloven tongues like as of fire sat upon each of them.’ If when you come before God in worship and you don’t feel and hear it suddenly come upon you, then you don’t have it, and if you don’t have it, then I question your salvation. I would venture to say, you are not saved.”

Heresy! Pastor Ridley thought. You are so far off from the simple doctrine of salvation that states, that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

“The dying thief on the cross did not have time to speak in tongues, yet when he cried out to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,’” Pastor Ridley whispered to his wife who finished with him, “Jesus said, ‘Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.’”

 

Chapter 30

“You will know when you have the Holy Ghost because you will speak in another tongue—a heavenly tongue. You’d better get your practice while you’re here on this earth or when you get to Heaven you will not know the language. How many of you want to speak the heavenly language?” Apostle Tilley asked.

I sure would like to know that heavenly language myself, Nisha thought as hands went up all over the auditorium followed by shouts of “Amen!”

Apostle Tilley kept preaching, “Can you feel it? Can you feel it?” he shouted. What he called the heavenly language began to roll off his tongue.

The musicians started to play their instruments moving from a slow to a moderate then to a fast tempo.

“Stand and raise your hands towards me if you want to be saved and have the evidence of your salvation to be revealed by your speaking in tongues. Oh, the fire will fall down upon you today. I feel it coming. You’re going to be saved today and your speaking in tongues will be the evidence of your salvation.”

The crowd fell off into a state of euphoria. Ernestine slid closer to her husband as the young lady beside her started squirming in her seat and bobbing her head vigorously up and down to the beat of the drums. She jumped up and started to dance in between the pews. She bent over as she danced around. Her eyeglasses fell off.

She is going to bump her head real hard on the pew, Ernestine thought as she reached down to pick the eyeglasses up. She held on to them not knowing what to do with them. Ernestine kept reaching toward the young lady to possibly keep her from hurting herself. Three middle-aged ladies and one in her early fifties guided the young lady out of the pew into the aisle. They formed a circle around her. A similar scene was taking place on the other side of the auditorium. Others in the crowd were clapping and praising God. Some were speaking in tongues. People were shouting, singing, and clapping as the pastor spoke in the heavenly tongue.

“I got it! I got it!” one man shouted.

Well good for you, Nisha thought.

*****

“Jibberish is what I call it,” Nisha said as they discussed their experience over lunch. “I could not understand one word of that heavenly language.”

“Me, neither,” Ernestine said. “If it’s indeed a heavenly language that gets you saved, then we ought to be able to understand it. I thought that lady sitting beside me was going to burst her head open on the pew. It was as though she had no control over her body.”

“Did you all notice the man running around the auditorium?” Pastor Ridley said. “It sounds like he was shouting ‘I’m running for my Lord,’ and the people were just egging him on.”

“The sad thing about it is none of the people understood what the pastor was preaching,” Rev. Mitchell said. “It’s all based on emotionalism. This causes nothing but confusion and disorderliness. As you saw they took a long time to get back to a peaceful state.”

“There’s got to be some sincerity with some of them,” Ernestine said.

“Sincerely wrong,” Rev. Mitchell said. “On a serious note though, I am going to have to schedule a meeting to talk with Apostle Tilley. I cannot sit by and hear him tell those lost souls who are searching for the truth that they have to speak in tongues to be saved. I’d be just as guilty of leading the people astray.”

“How are you going to convince him that he is wrong?” Nisha asked.

“It’s all in First Corinthians chapter fourteen.” Rev. Mitchell pulled his pocket Bible out of the inner jacket pocket. “I do not have a problem with him speaking in tongues as long as he has an interpreter so that the people can understand and be edified. If I was lost and I came seeking salvation, I would leave confused because no one interpreted the preacher’s words for me. In that same chapter, it says, ‘God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.’”

“Or,” Pastor Ridley said, “if I was a Christian and I needed some encouragement, I would leave the same way I came in or worse because I did not understand his words, therefore, I was not edified.”

“Listen to this,” Rev. Mitchell said. “In verses twenty-seven through  twenty-eight, it says, ‘If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.’ He can speak in tongues all he wants; but he should do it in the privacy of his office or his home—just him and God—if he has no one to interpret to those in his presence what he’s saying.”

“I believe that is one of the reasons the lost shake their heads at the church and say we are crazy; the Bible, I believe, uses the word ‘mad,’” Rev. Mitchell said. “It’s right here in verse twenty-three: ‘If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad.’”

“All I know is, my God is not the author of confusion, but of peace and orderliness,” Ernestine said.

“And where there is confusion, the devil is right smack in the middle of it,” Nisha added.

EPISODE #12

Metropolitan Baptist Church Prison Ministry

Chapter 34

Newton Crighton was in his wife’s office in less than two minutes.

“Newton, this is Rev. Mitchell and his wife, Ernestine. And this is Pastor Ridley and his wife, Nisha,” JoAnn Crighton said to her husband.

“How are you folks doing? I thought I saw some new faces in the crowd,” Newton said as he greeted their guests.

“Pleased to meet you Pastor Crighton,” Rev. Mitchell said as they shook hands.

“I don’t know about the ‘pastor’ title now. My wife here is the real pastor,” Newton said with a chuckle.

“That’s one of the reasons I asked you back here,” his wife said. She shared with him the reason for Rev. Mitchell and his crew stopping by. “But I believe his stopping by is more than just coincidental. I believe it was ordained of God and here’s why: Do you remember our conversation over a year ago about you stepping up and taking over as senior pastor of this church as you should, and how you kind of stayed behind the scenes, saying I was a better pastor than you and that I should become the senior pastor? We fussed—well, I fussed—anyway, now I’m pastoring and you’re … well, I don’t know exactly what you’re doing.”

Newton and his wife laughed.

“We can laugh about it now; but it was no laughing matter back then. On a serious note, though,” Prophetess Crighton said, “these gentlemen shared with me I Timothy 2:11-14 which reads, ‘Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.’ They explained that God does not want a woman to be in a pastoral position over the men. We’re preaching the Gospel, but we’re off on this part of Scripture.”

Prophetess Crighton read the verses to her husband, then slid the open Bible over to him. “Go ahead, Rev. Mitchell. Take as long as you need to expound on this.”

“Thank you,” Rev. Mitchell said. “It says ‘let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.’ This goes back to First Peter where it emphasizes a woman having a ‘meek and quiet spirit.’ Verse 12 makes two statements: First, it says, ‘I suffer’ or I do not permit a woman to teach . . . over a man.’ Second, it says, ‘I suffer not’ or I do not permit a woman ‘to usurp authority over a man.’ So you see a woman should not teach a man—definitely not in the church.”

“It goes on to tell us why in verses 13 and 14. There are other verses to back these two verses, but we won’t go that far,” Rev. Mitchell continued. “It says in verses 13 and 14, because Adam was first formed and Adam was not deceived, God put Adam as head in every institution including the church. Now you know if you’re a Christian you’re involved in spiritual warfare. And if you’re a pastor or some other serious-minded Christian, you’re on the front-line of the battle and that devil is out to get you. Can a woman stand up in the battle? Sure she can. I know of some women who are spiritually stronger than some men.”

Newton thoughtfully listened.

“If you’ll go to I Corinthians 14:34-35 where it says, ‘Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: For it is a shame for women to speak in the church.’

“’Keep silence’ here is referring to preaching—preaching in the church. A woman should listen to the preaching, and if she has a question about the preached Word, she should ask her husband when they get home, and not go running off to the pastor’s office to ask him.”

“This is where that verse in Titus comes into play that says the older women ought to teach the younger women,” Ernestine said. “And that’s not just older in age; that’s also refers to women who are more matured spiritually as well.”

“Women can teach or preach, if you will, but they can only teach or preach to other women or children,” Rev. Mitchell said.

“So I’m totally out of place then preaching in this mixed congregation church,” Prophetess Crighton said with a smile. “Do you hear that, Newton? But I tell you, Rev. Mitchell, the men are my biggest fans, generally speaking, they cheer me on more than the women do.”

Everyone laughed.

“I can’t refute the Word of God,” Newton said after the laughing subsided. “I just don’t feel equipped to take over as pastor.”

“That’s where God wants us,” Pastor Ridley said. “He wants us to get to that point where we feel inadequate and unworthy because that’s when His power shines forth and we can give no one but Him the glory for any success we may have.”

“Or we could just turn the church over to someone else,” Newton said quietly.

“I’m sorry, Newton, but we can’t do that—not now anyway,” Prophetess Crighton said. “I feel with all my heart that you’re the one for the job. Why would God give it to us in the first place? Please take it. We know the vision God has given to us for this church and that is to make it a soul-winning church. We have many miles to travel yet in fulfilling this mission.”

“JoAnn, baby, I have to pray about it some more,” Newton said.

“You’ve been praying about it for over a year now. Like I told you, if you won’t step in, then I’ll have to continue pastoring this church. Souls are going to hell even as we are speaking and I refuse to sit back and not do something. And if you don’t want to take over the church, at least look for someone else who is willing to take it over,” Prophetess Crighton said.

“I’ll pray about it some more,” Newton said quietly.

Turning to Rev. Mitchell, Prophetess Crighton said, “I see clearly what the Word of God says, but do you see the dilemma I’m in?”

“We’ll pray with you that God would send the right person to take over,” Rev. Mitchell said. “Be it your husband or someone else.”

“Thank you for reminding us of what the Bible says on this matter,” Prophetess Crighton said. “Since it’s nearly time for dinner, why don’t you folks come eat with us? It’s on us.”

 

Chapter 35

Rev. Mitchell and his crew were eating breakfast in the hotel’s dining area in preparation to go pass out gospel tracts when his phone rang. It was the White House.

“Hello, Rev. Mitchell. This is President Scholls. It’s good to speak with you again. How are things going with your mission here in Washington, D.C.?”

“Just great!” Rev. Mitchell said. “And how was your trip to China, sir?”

“Everything went well. Things are looking up as far as our relations with China. A positively successful trip,” President Scholls said. “I know you’re eager to know the latest about your son. I did manage to squeeze in thirty minutes with the Islamist leader or the person who represents him anyway. They received the money so they’ll be releasing the last hostage to us by the end of the week. They refused to give us a definite day. And they still refuse to tell us whether the hostage is your son or Mr. Cauley. I do wish the best for you and your wife.”

“Thank you, President Scholls. Thank you so much,” Rev. Mitchell said. “God’s will be done.”

“It’s been my pleasure. Our prayers and thoughts are with you,” President Scholls said.

Ernestine was elated at the news her husband delivered to her from his talk with the president. She witnessed with vigor that week and saw hope replace hopelessness, joy replace sadness, and peace replace unrest in the hearts of those they witnessed to.

Rev. Mitchell and Pastor Ridley, after visiting Metropolitan Baptist Church for their Wednesday night Prayer meeting and Bible study, joined them in their Prison Outreach Ministry on Friday night as they visited and ministered to the inmates. Rev. Mitchell’s eyes got misty as he saw men facing five, ten, twenty years or life in prison, hungry for the Word of  God.

“I wish I had heard all this in my early years. I would have asked Jesus to save me. I went to church but I never once heard how to become a Christian,” one of the inmates shared with Rev. Mitchell.

They gave moving testimonies that only served to strengthen Rev. Mitchell’s and Pastor Ridley’s commitment to everyday soul-winning.

“You know I only have three more months to finish serving my time for a crime I did not even commit. I didn’t have any hope of a better life once I got out of here until I met the folks at Metropolitan. Pastor Manley is a true pastor. They told me Jesus loved me. I didn’t believe that. Nobody has ever loved me and nobody has been bold enough to tell me they loved me. But when these folks showed me how much Jesus loved me, I couldn’t deny that love. I tried to deny it, but Jesus would not let me deny His love for me. I’ve known nothing but peace since then. Now I know what I’ll be doing when I leave this place: I’ll be telling others out there about Jesus,” one other prisoner, Ralph, shared with them.

Rev. Mitchell was so moved by  Ralph’s testimony that he was led to help him. “Would you be interested in relocating to Binghamton?” Rev. Mitchell asked Ralph. “We could use you in our prison ministry outreach, which I must admit is not as strong as it should be. You’re the man for the job.”

“Oh, man, I can’t believe this!” Ralph exclaimed. “I have a wife and two boys; well, they’re big boys now, but they promised me they would not leave their mother until I returned. The church has been keeping an eye on them while I have been away.”

“The invitation is extended to the whole family,” Rev. Mitchell said. “We’ll give you a house, put you on staff at the church with pay; we’ll help your wife get a job if she wants to work. She can do volunteer work at the church if she chooses or she can work on staff in our school. We’ll help your sons find jobs, continue school, or continue on wherever they are in life. We have a number of people in our church who own their own businesses. We’ll take care of you. God’s leading me to do this for you.”

Ralph kept shaking his head. “God’s love is just too much. I don’t know if I can take anymore of His love,” he said quietly.

“I’ll keep in touch with Pastor Manley so I’ll get your exact release date and we will have you in Binghamton a week after you are released,” Rev. Mitchell said giving him a firm handshake. “It’s all God, my brother. It is all God.”

 

“It’s worth it all,” Ernestine said after her husband shared the touching time they had ministering to the inmates. “I’ll call Rhonda tomorrow and begin setting things in motion for their move.”

 

Chapter 36

The Mitchells were up early on Sunday morning. “Where to this morning?” Pastor Ridley asked as they walked through the hotel’s lobby.

“I don’t feel the Lord leading me anywhere special today. In fact, I sense He’s leading me to end my mission,” Rev. Mitchell said. “I feel a strong urgency to hold a pastors’ conference to kind of challenge them to return to the old fashion New Testament preaching of the Gospel. Is There Not a Cause? Will be the conference theme. We’ll invite all the pastors whose churches we stopped off at and all other pastors across the country. I feel the Lord leading me to invite the president as well.”

“Speaking of the president, when will we know who the released hostage is?” Nisha asked. “Didn’t he say they should release him by the end of the week?”

“Yes, he did, and the reporters are anxiously awaiting that information,” Rev. Mitchell said. “But I’ve given Ronald up to God. I thought I had, but I was still holding on to him. I awakened early this morning and prayed, ‘Lord, I give my son to You to be used for Your glory. If You’ve taken him on home already, I accept that.’ Whatever the case, I must keep moving on. I’ll see him in Heaven. As I look at the dismal faces around me as we drive through the streets of Washington, D.C., with the Gospel; and as I hear of one tragic event after another happening in the lives of Christians and innocent civilians, especially children, I say with Paul, I would rather go on home to be with my Lord, but it is better for me to hang around with you for a while longer.”

After a moment in thoughtful silence, Rev. Mitchell asked, “Do you think we can schedule a conference for the following Saturday and pull it off?”

“Sure. All things are possible with God,” the others said.

Early Monday morning, Rev. Mitchell received a call from President Scholls.

“Rev. Mitchell, I know this is short notice, but can you and your wife come by the White House on tomorrow at two if you’re still in town? I would like for you to meet someone I was talking to about you. By the way, how well do you know Mr. Cauley?”

“Not personally. I only know of him from what my son’s told me about him. I do know that he has a wife who had been serving with him over in Africa but she had to leave and return to the United States because of health issues. It would mean so much to her to see her husband again. Why do you ask, sir?” Rev. Mitchell asked forcing himself not to think the worst about his son’s plight.

“I was just wondering,” President Scholls said. “I’ll see you at two on tomorrow.”

“We’ll be there, sir,” Rev. Mitchell assured him.

“Why would he ask you about Mr. Cauley?” Ernestine asked after her husband hung up the phone.

“I’m still trying to figure out why,” Rev. Mitchell said. “Unless Mr. Cauley is the surviving hostage.”

Ernestine gasped. Rev. Mitchell hugged his wife. “I wanted Ronald to be released as much as you do, but we have to remember that Mrs. Cauley would like to have her husband back as well.”

“Yes. I was so caught up in thinking about myself that I was not thinking about Mrs. Cauley,” Ernestine said. “You speak about Ronald in the past tense as though you have already accepted his death.”

“I have. He’s saved and has gone on to glory. We’ll meet him there,” Rev. Mitchell said. “Will you be able to handle his death once it is confirmed?”

“It’s hard . . . but I think I will be able to,” Ernestine said. “At first, just the thought of his death and how he died was unbearable; but I have accepted his death.”

“God loaned him to us for twenty-five years. We trained him as best  we could while we had him,” Rev. Mitchell said sniffling. “Now it’s time to give him back to God.”

* * * * *

Rev. Mitchell and his wife arrived at the White House at the scheduled time. After they were seated in the president’s office, they waited for five minutes. A quiet anxious thoughtful wait.

“Hello, Rev. and Mrs. Mitchell,” President Scholls greeted them with his arm extended as he walked into his office.

“Hello, President Scholls,” they said.

“As I shared with you over the phone, I have someone I want you to meet,” President Scholls said as he nodded towards the door.

Rev. Mitchell and his wife turned towards the door to see their son entering into the office. He walked slower than normal; he had lost a lot of weight, but the gleam was still in his eyes.

“Ronald!” Ernestine almost yelled as she jumped out of her seat and hurried over to hug her son. “Thank You, God. Thank You so much!”

Rev. Mitchell embraced the two. God, You are full of surprises, he thought nodding his head as a show of thanks to the president.

“When did he arrive?” Rev. Mitchell asked President Scholls once they sat back down.

“We’ve had him since Friday. After a thorough medical examination, he was diagnosed with acute sleep deprivation and forced starvation,” President Scholls said with a smile. “He’s been resting in one of our guest bedrooms.”

They all laughed.

“Welcome home, son,” Ernestine said hugging him again.

“How’s Dasani?” Ronald asked.

“We also have a wedding to plan,” Ernestine said joyously. “She’s doing quite well. Worried sick about you, but doing well otherwise.”

EPISODE #13

Chapter 37

Is There Not A Cause?

While Ronald rested up in the hotel, his parents planned the biggest evangelistic pastors’ conference the northeast had ever witnessed to cap off their mission trip. Pastors from all over the nation as well as Christians from every denomination attended this evangelistic conference. President Scholls and his family were honored guests. Other members of his staff accompanied him to this momentous event. Rev. Mitchell delivered a message not to be forgotten, and one that challenged the attendees.

* * * * *

“Is there not a cause?” were Rev. Mitchell’s opening words in his challenge to the pastors and other attendees. “The Bible says Jesus told His disciples, ‘I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’ And God wants our mission on this earth to be the same. God wants us to use the sacred desk, our pulpits, not to call out to the righteous—those who are already saved—but to call sinners to repentance.

“Oh, we have a great mandate before us. Take just one step out the front door of your church building and look around, then ask yourself, Is there not a cause?

“Yes. There is a cause. There are lost people around, and as long as there are lost people around, there is a cause for the preaching of the Gospel. Now take a look from your pulpit down into the pews and ask yourself, Are they all saved? I would venture to answer that with, No, they are probably not all saved. And, if perhaps, all those sitting in the pews of your church are all saved, then we have a problem. That ought to be a matter of concern to you as the pastor. That simply means you are not doing your job as a pastor. Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. There ought to be at least one lost person sitting in your pew every Sunday. You need someone to witness to. You say, how do you know that there are lost people sitting in our pews, Rev. Mitchell? Here’s how I know.”

Rev. Mitchell shared with his listeners what he learned from the short mission trip God sent him on over the past nine months.

“And I ask you, Is there not a cause?

“Is there not a cause for the preaching of the unadulterated Gospel when people sitting in our pews believe that joining a church will save them?

“Is there not a cause for the preaching of the unadulterated Gospel when people sitting in our pews believe that being baptized will save them?

“Is there not a cause for the preaching of the unadulterated Gospel when people sitting in our pews believe positive thinking will save them?

“Is there not a cause for the preaching of the unadulterated Gospel when people sitting in our pews believe doing good works will save them?

“Is there not a cause for the preaching of the unadulterated Gospel when people sitting in our pews believe having their name on the church roll or being born into a religious family will save them?

“Is there not a cause for the preaching of the unadulterated Gospel when people sitting in our pews believe that speaking in tongues is the evidence of salvation?

“Is there not a cause for the preaching of the unadulterated Gospel when people sitting in our pews believe seeing a vision or feeling a change is the evidence of salvation?

“You bet there is a cause.

“If there is a cause for the preaching of the unadulterated Gospel inside the church walls, then you had best believe there is a cause for the preaching of the Gospel to those outside the church walls. Here’s why, just look around you. Listen to the news. Internationally speaking, this terrorism situation is getting out of hand. People are living in fear for their lives. Children and other innocent civilians are living in fear for their lives. Nationally speaking, racism is getting out-of-hand. Our police officers, whose number one job is to first protect the citizens of their jurisdictions, are now having to put themselves first and the citizens second. Can you blame them? As a country we are taking one step forward and two steps backward.

“Some of you may be asking, well, who is to be blamed for all this confusion and turmoil that is taking place in our country and around the world? I blame pastors. We cannot blame the government, nor can we blame the police. We have turned the sacred desk into a social, political, and money-making platform.

“Turn to Jeremiah chapter twenty-three for our text. Verses 1-2 say: ‘Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people: ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.’

“Verse 11 says, ‘For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord.’

“Verse 14 says, ‘I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.’

“This verse is so appropriate for us pastors. It speaks the truth as to what is taking place in our pulpits. Some of our pastors are practicing homosexuals, and if they are not, they are endorsing and are putting their stamp of approval on that wickedness. It’s not a lifestyle, it is demonic wickedness from the pits of hell! Pastors are hiring them as choir directors because they know how to hit those high notes and cause the choir to rock the church. Pastors are hiring them on their church and school staff. They are officiating their weddings because they do not want to have any run-ins with the government; they want their bank account to fill up. Pastors, who are you serving? God or man?

“Some of our pastors are living in adultery. Some are idolaters. Some are practicing liars. Some are money swindlers who are fleecing the flock and causing confusion among the people of God. And if the people of God are confused, then we are in no position to be of help to the unsaved.

“We have become pastors who would rather have a pat on the back from men; we have become pastors appeasing the people’s itching ears; we have no backbone; we have perverted the Word of the living God; we are afraid of what they may say; we are afraid to preach the Gospel that Jesus Saves. Jesus says, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by me.’

“Pastors, church leaders, fellow Christians, if you are wondering why we have the chaos, confusion, and turmoil in our community, if you are wondering why things seem so hopeless, it is because we have turned our backs on the Word of God. God has given us space to repent and we have refused to repent, and now, His patience is running out. We cannot keep blaming the government. It is our responsibility to do what needs to be done to have and to maintain a nation that fears God.

“Because of our negligence, because of our refusal to do things God’s way, because of our refusal to preach the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, God says to us in Jeremiah 23:39-40, ‘Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence: And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.’”

 

Chapter 38

A hush had fallen over the entire crowd as they listened to Rev. Mitchell.

“And finally,” he said, “go with me to Ezekiel 33. Dear friends, you might be saying, ‘Rev. Mitchell, I am a pastor, or I am a Christian, but I still don’t see clearly where I come in. Please continue to enlighten me.’

“Pastors, we are the watchmen chosen by God to look out for oncoming danger. We know that those who die without Christ will go to hell for all eternity. Our main aim is to keep the Gospel before the lost thus giving them a chance to get saved. You do not want to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and see and hear someone pointing a finger at you from across the abyss saying, ‘You never told me. I sat in your church Sunday after Sunday, but you never told me how to get saved.’ Or, ‘I changed your tires for you and gave your car an annual tune-up for five years. We talked each time you stopped by, but you never told me about Jesus; you never told me how to get saved!’

“God says to us pastors and church leaders in verses 7-9, ‘So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word of my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered his soul.

“The wicked, here, is the person who is not saved; it is the person who has never asked Jesus Christ to save him from his sins; it is the person who has never admitted to himself or to God that he is a sinner in need of a Saviour. Pastors, never assume all people you run into are saved. Never assume everyone sitting in your pews on Sundays or on Wednesdays or at any function you may have at your church is saved. Guess what? The unsaved attend church also. So always assume people who come across your path are not saved and that God has sent them your way for you to witness to them.

“I hate to say this, but I believe there may be one or two or more of you standing before me, or listening to me via the internet who are not saved. I do not want your blood on my hands when I stand before God, so I am going to tell you how to be saved. Don’t you press that ‘off’ button!

“First, accept the fact that you are a sinner. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says: ‘For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.’ Romans 3:23 says: ‘For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’

“Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: ‘For the wages of sin is death…’

“Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: ‘And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

“Fourth, accept the fact that you cannot do anything to save yourself. The Bible states in Ephesians 2:8 and 9: ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.’

“Fifth, accept the fact that God loves you more than you love yourself, and that He wants to save you from hell. John 3:16 says, ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’

“Sixth, God wants you to repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and pray and ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to come into your heart and save you this very moment. Romans 10: 9 and 13 says: ‘That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.’ ‘For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

“If you want to trust Jesus Christ as your Saviour, please pray the following prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have sinned against You. For Jesus Christ’s sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all my heart that Jesus Christ died for my sins, was buried, and rose again so that I could have the victory over death and thus inherit eternal life. Please come live within my heart and save my soul from sin and from the punishment of sin. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and change my life. Amen.”

Rev. Mitchell’s eyes filled with tears as he heard men and women from all over the crowd pray and ask Jesus into their hearts.

“Those of you who just asked Jesus Christ to save you, please raise your hands.”

Hundreds of hands went up. Rev. Mitchell’s eyes met President Scholls’ eyes, who along with the men surrounding him, had raised his hand also. They nodded their heads at each other as Rev. Mitchell continued.

“For those of you who are already saved, why don’t you make a commitment to the Lord to share the Gospel with at least one person every day starting out. How will you know that person is lost? You have to ask them. As my pastor friend, Pastor Ridley of Binghamton would say, ‘You can get one if you want one.’ Pastors and fellow Christians, let’s keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing is sharing the Gospel with a lost and dying world. God bless.”

 

Chapter 39

Rev. Mitchell, his wife, his son, his future daughter-in-law, and some of the members of his church who had driven up to show support for the conference, along with Pastor Ridley and his wife and others from his church, rejoiced in the great meeting God blessed them to have.

“Oh, God is good. God is so good!” was all Rev. Mitchell could say as those pastors whose churches he had visited within the nine months came by to greet him and to thank him. Even Deacon Larsen from New Covenant Bible Church where Halsen Coperly was the pastor came and shook his hand. “Keep preaching the Blood and don’t let old fogies like me stand in your way,” Deacon Larsen said with a laugh.

“Rev. Mitchell, I have been preaching up a Gospel storm in my church since you stopped by,” Pastor Remington of the New Believer’s Community Church said, “and we have been on serious prayer ground since that Wednesday night when you honored us with your sermon A Praying Time. Even though a few have left the church since I switched my message, there has been a much sweeter spirit since then. On top of that, we have seen at least one soul saved every Sunday since I started sharing the Gospel. And guess what? Some of those who have gotten saved have been coming to the church for months; they thought they were saved. One of my most faithful members who got saved told me that the Gospel made more sense to her as far as how to get to Heaven than depending on other things to get her to Heaven.”

“Oh, Rev. Mitchell, I have been leading my people astray,” the Rev. Hezekiah Williams of the Casteel United Apostolic Church said as he shook Rev. Mitchell’s hand. “I studied the Word more on this speaking in tongues phenomenon after you left, and God showed me I was guilty of leading my flock astray. Speaking in tongues has never saved anyone and will never save anyone. My heart has been in turmoil since then from thinking about those who have died under my false preaching. Oh, Reverend, their blood is on my hands. But I will never allow that blood to be thicker than what it already is: I will share the Gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and salvation through none other than through Him until the day I die. Thank you so much, Rev. Mitchell. Thank you so much. And please remember our church in your prayers. Quite a number left the church after I shared with them the new direction I will be taking the church in. I will be visiting them and sharing the Gospel with them personally.”

“I will continue to pray for you and your church, Apostle Williams,” Rev. Mitchell assured him.

“My crowd is not shouting as much as they used to,” Pastor Kissimmee of the Rising Star Chapel shared with Rev. Mitchell, “but that is alright with me. I’d rather have them quietly listen to the true Gospel for salvation that will give them eternal life than have them shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’ which will not take them even a half a step closer to Heaven.”

“Emotionalism!” Rev. Shillings of the Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church said to Rev. Mitchell as they shook hands. “I had the people in an emotional frenzy every Sunday. I called myself preaching them happy. However, some of them got mad when I apologized to them for leading them astray, but the majority of them said they respected me for caring enough about their eternal soul so much so to admit that I was wrong. When I thought about it, Jesus spoke clearly the Good News whenever He spoke to His disciples or to the people in the various villages because He wanted them to understand how to be saved. No where is it recorded that He worked them up into an emotional frenzy as a means of making it into Heaven. God even spoke to Elijah in a ‘still small voice.’ And do you know what? Our services are shorter and are more orderly and even sweeter, and we get just as much done as before if not more so. I know now what Paul meant when he said things ought to be done ‘decently and in order.’”

Prophetess Crighton and her husband were overjoyed as they shared the good news with Rev. Mitchell. “Thank you so much, Rev. Mitchell. Newton’s decided that he’s going to take over as pastor,” Prophetess Crighton said. “Please come by and hear him preach tomorrow if you can or some time before you return home.”

President Scholls, who had discreetly left the meeting with his security detail, gave Rev. Mitchell a call later that night. “I won’t keep you, I just wanted to say, Thank you and God bless you.”

 

Rev. Mitchell and his crew sat in the lobby of their hotel reflecting in the afterglow of the past nine months and in particular tonight’s exciting meeting thinking about what great work God had done in the lives of these pastors and churches and what great work he had in store for the churches impacted by this blessed roadtrip.

Rev. Mitchell looked around at everyone there and said, “It is my prayer that we all remember from this point on what Jesus said, ‘I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’”

The End.


Copyright 2014. Torch Legacy Publications. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner, except for brief quotations included in a review of the book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

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