Steven’s Amazing Adventures,
and the Future of the World (PAGE FOUR)
(A Story about the End Times
with Messages from God)
Steven’s Amazing Adventures,
and the Future of the World (PAGE FOUR)
(A Story about the End Times
with Messages from God)
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(This story chronicles the adventures of Steven O'Neill, his wife Sarah, and their friends during the End Times. Judgment has already struck the U.S., and Steve and his friends have reached the vast continent of Asia. Witness the amazing things God will reveal about the coming kingdom of the Beast (or the Antichrist), the Mark of the Beast, and the Tribulation period. This story should keep you fascinated, as a realistic account of the future unfolds in the form of a fictional story.
But, this story is not just a story. It contains messages from God and prophecies that actually shall happen. It is written as fiction with fictional characters, but the message of the story is very real, and the cataclysmic events, touched on in this story, will actually impact this earth as God’s Holy Bible and its prophecies unfold. The world will soon enter a time much like that portrayed in this story. I encourage you to seek God about this to see what He will show you.)
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Chunk. The shovel cut partway into the hard, cold dirt and Vasily Volvakov groaned as he tossed a small scoop of dirt onto a slowly growing pile of earth, which rested atop some snow. Chunk. The shovel again dug into the hard ground, slowly enlarging the ditch. Other men worked hard, digging several feet apart from each other. But, since the ground was cold, their efforts brought little results. As they worked, their breath came out in small clouds of water vapor.
Vasily had been recently processed into the prison system of the new Russian Federation. The new Russian Federation was being upgraded and modernized throughout its expansive territory, ever since the new oligarchy was established under Vladimir Putin. The T-14 Armata tank was being mass produced and sent out to Europe to safeguard Russian military bases throughout the continent. (See "Footnote").
Vasily thought about Russia’s massive expansion as he begrudgingly dug the ditch, which someone had told him would have to be filled in during the next week.
Once the United States had struck Russia with a nuclear missile, the Kremlin had ordered a massive, coordinated attack on America, which Vasily suspected had been planned out earlier as a contingency plan. China, a partner with Russia, had fired many nukes at the American mainland and Hawaii, destroying American military bases and important infrastructure. Shortly afterward, the remnants of NATO ordered a retaliation on Russia, but the Russian military struck hard and fast at NATO bases throughout Europe and fought, country by country, until they had captured all of Europe. With the help of Belarus, some central Asian countries, and some Russian-speaking military contractors, the Russian Federation plowed quickly through the weakened NATO defenses, capturing or destroying base after base.
Vasily didn’t know if their fall was good or bad for him, now that he was in a concentration camp, working hard in the cold, doing useless tasks. He thought about the European countries, which had comparatively small military power next to their big American brother. They chose the wrong side.
The European countries fell like sand castles, one after another, under the Russian hammer. The years of sanctions against Russia, criticism of Russia, and disregard for Russia’s role among the nations, coupled with America’s provocation and military attack on the Russian Federation, provoked the wrath of the Russian bear. Descending in full force, in union with some South American countries and some central Asian countries, the Russian-Chinese juggernaut plowed into America, raining nuclear weapons on its major cities, and releasing lethal clouds of poison gas over other areas.
Vasily paused to pull off his orange glove and wipe sweat out of his eyes. Even though it was cold, his forehead seemed to sweat under his orange stocking cap, which had been issued to him upon his arrival at the labor camp.
For some reason, which the Americans could not understand fully, their defense systems had failed to knock out the massive attack, and their nuclear submarines had declined to unleash their nuclear missiles due to confusion and disarray among the commanding officers of the submarine fleet and their superiors. That is what Vasily had been told from a reliable source that worked in the Kremlin.
Once the Russians had conquered NATO and vaporized the strategic military bases of important European countries, the countries fell to the Russian coalition and surrendered. They became satellite states that were controlled by puppet governments loyal to the Kremlin. The coalition troops that remained to ensured their success were gradually replaced by new pro-Communist armies made of local residents and Russians living within each puppet state’s borders. Powerful countries, like Germany, Poland, France, and Britain had been subdivided into smaller regions and smaller states, which had their own puppet governments. The borders of European nations now looked very different than they had decades ago. So, escaping to Europe was not an option for Vasily.
“Hey,” a guard shouted from behind Vasily, “keep digging!” Vasily had paused to wipe his eyes again, but the guard was not going to give him any leisure.
A whip cracked just a couple feet from his back, causing Vasily to flinch. He hadn’t been hit for many hours, but he knew what the bullwhip felt like, and it was very painful.
Vasily picked up the shovel and continued to dig at the hard dirt, trying to make it seem he was working hard, but his strength was starting to ebb. In a few more hours, his arms would be too exhausted to keep digging.
“Would you like me to pray for you?” said a young man with blond hair, an orange jump suit, and a light winter jacket. He was digging a few feet away from Vasily and had spoken once the Russian guard had moved on.
Vasily turned and glared at him. “Pray for me? It was your God who put me into this terrible camp. I was trying to get some non-conformist Christians arrested, and the soldiers arrested me. I am no Christian and I don’t need your prayers.”
The man continued digging, but glanced at Vasily every so often. Another Russian soldier walked by and glanced at their work. Once the guard was gone, the young man said, “I feel bad for you, sir. You were arrested for being a ‘Christian’ even though you are not one. I was arrested for being a deserter to the Russian army. I was sent to this concentration camp to teach me a lesson for deserting, but I came to Jesus here.”
Vasily glanced at him with a questioning look. “Why did you desert the army? It pays well.”
“I deserted,” the young man said, “because I didn’t want to kill people. I had a violent step-father growing up and was sick of seeing violence. He often used to beat me after getting drunk. I ran away from the house at age 14 and lived on the streets, and stayed with whoever would have compassion on me. I was drafted into the army at age 23. But, I refused to fight, so they sent me here. I’ve been here for about a year.”
“So, you are now 24,” Vasily said, grunting.
“Yes,” the young man said. “My name is Viktor Kozlov.”
Vasily just grunted, and sighed. He continued chipping away at the cold dirt. Then, he suddenly groaned and shut his eyes in pain. His back had ached slightly before, but a sharp pain had suddenly shot up his spinal cord. It was worse than any back pain he’d felt before.
Viktor turned toward him with concern on his face, seeing Vasily groan and grit his teeth.
“What’s wrong?” Viktor asked.
“Nothing,” Vasily lied. “Just do your job and leave me alone.”
Vasily tried to act like the pain was gone, but it hadn’t left. He slammed the shovel tip into the dirt, but the pain became even more intense. He dropped the shovel and collapsed to the ground, bending over. It was worse pain than he’d ever felt. He clenched his teeth together and cried through them.
Viktor set his shovel down and ran to Vasily’s side. “I will pray for you, and God will heal you,” Viktor said.
“Will God want to heal a sinner like me?” Vasily said.
“Those who come to Him, God will in no wise cast out,” Viktor said. “That is basically what Jesus said in John 6:37. A Christian gave me that verse on a slip of paper when I was still an unbeliever.”
Vasily gritted his teeth. “Pray for me,” he said through clenched teeth.
Viktor placed his hand on Vasily’s back and said, “Dear God, I release your healing power into this man, in Jesus Christ’s Name. Heal his back and remove the pain.”
In seconds, the pain felt less than before, but it was still shooting through Vasily’s back. “Pray again,” Vasily said. “I feel it weaken a little. Pray again.”
Viktor prayed again and commanded the complete healing to come, in Jesus Christ’s Name.
“How is it now?” Viktor asked, glancing around. He was glad to see that the guards were gone.
Vasily groaned. “I feel some pain, but it is much, much better.”
Viktor prayed one more time, and removed his hands from Vasily’s back. “God is telling me that you will be healed very soon.”
Vasily stood to his feet and eyed the young man, wondering who this young man was and why he had risked himself to help an older, grumpy man who had attempted to turn in Christians. And, who was this Jesus who brought him great relief from the pain?
Vasily picked up his shovel and kept chipping away at the dirt, hoping no guards had seen him bent over. He thought about Viktor’s kindness and about God. As he worked, the pain remained minimal, and somehow he had the strength to continue working. After a couple more hours, the soldiers gave the men a break.
“You have twenty minutes,” a soldier said.
The prisoners dropped their shovels and climbed out of the shallow trench, remaining silent while they unscrewed thermos bottles. As he sipped lukewarm water from his thermos, Vasily could see prison barracks on the other side of a razor wire fence. The administration building and the chow hall rested in the middle of a field that separated the barracks buildings into two sections. Vasily’s work area was surrounded on all sides by a tall, razor-wire-topped chain link fence.
On either side of this enclosed work area were two other work areas also enclosed with tall fences. The one to the east was filled with large rocks which had been piled into the enclosure by a dump truck when Vasily arrived at the labor camp. While being supervised by armed guards, men with sledge hammers broke the rocks into smaller pieces. Other men in the enclosure crushed the smaller pieces with wider hammers.
The enclosure to the west of Vasily’s work enclosure was filled with logs from dead trees. Men with dull hand saws, designed for one person, were slowly sawing through the freezing wood. It appeared to be hard and exhausting work. Their arms must be sore, Vasily thought. As he rested his muscles, Vasily felt the cold begin to return to his body. Working with the shovel had kept him warm enough, but the winter temperatures were penetrating through his thin gloves, hat, and jacket, which all were orange to keep him easily visible against the snowy backdrop.
Suddenly, a weak clanging sound reached Vasily’s ears. He turned around to see a man climbing the chain link fence which had been behind him. The man was halfway up and quickly ascending. ‘He must be crazy,’ Vasily thought. ‘Why would he attempt an escape in broad daylight?’
The man reached the top of the fence. Guards started running toward him. A guard on a guard tower trained his AK-74M at the escaping prisoner, but he held his fire. The prisoner pulled a wire cutter from a pocket and snipped a coil of the razor wire wrapped around the top of the fence. Then, he cut a barbwire line running through the middle of the razor wire coil. Guards on the ground shouted at him to stop and come down, but he didn’t listen.
They cocked their machine guns and aimed them at the prisoner, still ordering him to come down. He ignored them as if they were pointing pellet guns at him. He continued snipping barbwire lines and razor wire until he had opened a gap. Then, the man shoved the wire cutter into a pocket. He quickly descended the fence until he was most of the way down. Then, he dropped, thumping into the snow. But, he didn’t get a chance to run any further, for a dog ran over and grabbed him by the arm, pinning him down.
He tried hitting it over the head, but it didn’t let up. Another dog arrived and grabbed his other arm, keeping him completely immobilized while Russian soldiers outside the base raced over. They ordered the dogs to let go while they handcuffed him and led him back to the enclosure, toward a well-guarded gate.
“Don’t you realize you are touching a general?” the man said, arrogantly.
The guards kept their mouths shut while they escorted him.
‘I wonder who he is,’ Vasily thought. ‘Why would a general in the Russian army be in a prison camp?’
Some time later when the sky was darkening and the clouds displayed reddish highlights of the setting sun’s rays, the prisoners sat in the chow hall at specific tables for their work teams. Vasily sipped at his soup and took a bite out of a small bread loaf and listened to the men at his table talk. His seat was not far from another table in which sat a Russian man who was discussing the escape attempt. Curious, Vasily tuned out his table and listened closely to the other table.
“Did you see that general attempt to escape the perimeter fence?” the man said.
“Yes,” a few voices chimed in.
“I happen to know who he is.”
“Tell us, Boris,” another man said as he took a swig of warm water.
“Promise me that you won’t let anyone else know,” Boris said.
“We’ll try to keep a secret,” a man said.
“This general, named Pavel Boykov, refused to take orders from the Kremlin to invade the country of Georgia,” Boris said.
“Why not invade Georgia?” a man with dark brown hair and a rugged face said. “Stalin was a Georgian. They basically are Russian.”
“I think general Boykov has a desire to just have peace,” said Boris. “He wasn’t favorable toward our invasion of America.”
“Why not?” a man near Boris asked.
“General Boykov told me he wants Russia to be smaller than it is now,” Boris said. “Today we have all of Europe from Ireland to Ukraine, going west to east, and from Norway to Italy, going north to south. We also have the country of Georgia and much of the former United States of America. And, many of the central Asian countries are our allies. Over 900 million people are under our country’s control directly or through puppet governments that secretly take orders from the Kremlin.”
“You better be careful what you say,” a man sitting across from Boris said, glancing toward Vasily. “Walls have ears.”
Shortly after dinner, Vasily and the other men were ordered to stand at attention in a large formation. They had to wait their turn to return to their barracks. Prisoners had been assigned to keep an eye on the others and make sure they obeyed soldiers’ orders. Then, a soldier approached the formation of men. He called out a number, which referred to the group number.
“Group 1,” he said, “to you barracks.”
A group of the twenty men broke away from the main body and marched toward their barracks, which had a number 1 above its front door. Two soldiers escorted them.
He paused ten seconds before he said, “Group 2, go.”
A second group moved out toward their barracks, under escort. After a minute had passed, Vasily’s group, number 9, was called. He looked forward to feeling the hard pad of his bunk and the thick blanket keeping him warm during the cold winter night. ‘That blanket is the one nice thing about this base, but most of life at this camp is drudgery and toil,’ Vasily thought.
Entering the long, narrow building with the 9 placard above, Vasily headed toward his bunk bed and slipped under the covers. Bright light from a bare light bulb in the ceiling caused him to squint and shield his eyes. He wished it would be turned off soon so he could sleep.
Creak. A wooden step protested as another prisoner climbed the small, wooden ladder to the top bunk, and caused it to creak as he rested on the mattress above. Then, he leaned over the top of the bunk bed and peered down at Vasily.
“Did you hear anything about the jail break that was planned tonight?” the man above him said, whispering loud enough for Vasily to hear, seeing no one else was nearby.
“No,” Vasily said, curious. “What jail break?”
“Some of the men in group 9 and group 8 are planning on escaping this pit. They feel that if they can make it to the woods they will be able to hide and live off the land.”
Vasily frowned. “I would like to join you, but I turn 60 a few months ago. I don’t think I would be up to that. But, you go ahead.”
“I’ve also heard rumors,” said the man, “that they will expect us to work faster and will apply more pressure to us in coming weeks because a new colonel is supposed to arrive and run this base, since the current colonel is being sent to western Europe. You may not survive to your next birthday. So, why don’t you join us?”
“I’ll think about it,” Vasily said. He noticed the man above him was in his thirties and had a scar on his left cheek.
“People your age will not survive long in this camp,” the man said.
Vasily remained silent for some time, thinking about what he should do.
“If I join you,” Vasily said, “I need to know the plan of escape if it will be successful.”
“I’ll tell you once most of others have fallen asleep,” the younger man said. With that, he turned over and rested on the top bunk.
Vasily’s eyelids felt heavy enough to sleep before the lights were turned off. So, he rolled over on his left side, pull his blanket over his face, and began to drift into a deep sleep.
Some hours later, a dim flashlight suddenly turned on, shining on Vasily’s closed eyelids. The orange glow woke him from sleep, for he was somewhat of a light sleeper. A voice whispered from behind the bright, round flashlight reflector: “Don’t speak loudly. We will be planning our escape in the bathroom area. So, walk softly and try not to make any sounds.”
Then, the man who woke him tiptoed off down a corridor that ran the length of the barracks, between the bunk beds.
Vasily got out of bed, still wearing his orange jumpsuit. Quietly walking to reduce sound, he headed down the walkway. A few snores could be heard coming from men throughout the long room. Pushing through a door at the end, he entered the bathroom and shower area. The large room was lit by two light bulbs in the ceiling, which could not be turned off or unscrewed because metal cages had been fastened around them and anchored into the ceiling by screws.
A group of seven men talked quietly among themselves in the middle of the hand washing area, which was bordered by private toilet stalls. Someone had set up a small, folding card table and another had spread a map over it, which was a drawing of the prison camp and the nearby forest, made by one of the prisoners. All the men wore orange jumpsuits. Most wore orange hats, gloves, and winter jackets, but some had dark green winter jackets.
The man who woke Vasily, who was his bunk neighbor, approached him and said, “I am your bunk neighbor, Rustem Arefyev. And, I trust that you are called Vasily Volvakov.”
“How do you know my name?” Vasily asked, surprised to see that fellow prisoners were aware of him.
“We have ways to find out, but that is not important,” Rustem said. “We need to get out of this misery. So, I want to introduce you to a man who I respect. He is General Pavel Boykov.”
A man with dark brown hair, who appeared to be in his early fifties, stepped forward and extended a hand. His face looked somewhat haggard, but rugged. Nonetheless, Pavel’s blue eyes and face had not lost the aura of determination and authority that Vasily had seen in other generals. Vasily shook his hand firmly, noticing the general had more calluses than he.
“I am privileged to meet you, general,” Vasily said. “And, I would like to assist you in escaping from this terrible pit.”
“It is a pleasure to meet another willing comrade,” Pavel said.
Then, turning to the other men, he said, “Gentlemen, we will now run through the plan of escape. Then, we will go through a contingency plan.”
“Excuse me,” Vasily said. “I don’t want to interrupt you, sir, but I noticed that you climbed the perimeter fence. Why did you, if I may ask?”
“I did that to create a diversion,” Pavel said, “so that some of my comrades could conduct a brief and secret operation, which I will speak of later.”
“The dogs grabbed your arms with their teeth,” Vasily said. “How are your arms? Are they bleeding?”
“They are fine,” Pavel said, “because I wrapped my arms with a thick layer of padding before I climbed the fence.”
Pavel returned his attention to the other men. “We are going to escape this base by way of an underground tunnel. I know about this tunnel because I stumbled upon it while searching for a way to escape over the course of the year that I have been here. The entrance was concealed, but I found it while testing the ground with my shovel one day. It must have been built during the days of the Soviet Union. I had heard stories of tunnel escapes from my comrades when I was a young officer, and now we have a tunnel to escape through.”
“What are the dimensions and length of the tunnel?” a man with dark eyebrows asked.
“The width is about 1.21 meters and the height is about 1.52 meters, or roughly 4 feet by five feet. It is somewhat cramped, but it seems to extend for some distance,” Pavel said. “The trouble was that it didn’t reach the forest. I went to the end of the tunnel and found a small hatch. It opened into a small field a short distance from the base. So, I and some men began extending the tunnel. But, we met another problem.”
Some of the newer members looked at him, curious.
“The ground was full of large boulders and rocks,” Pavel continued, “and it would impossible to go through it, so we took a right turn and tunneled some meters before we decided to open a small hole to the surface. We were able to dig a hole just wide enough to stick a primitive periscope through. It was fashioned from some wood and pieces of a mirror. We found ourselves a short distance from a building which is used to store motorcycles and snowmobiles. There were some skis lying against the side of the building. We did our best to try to plug our small hole with dirt and we built a support structure to hold the dirt in place.
“Now, all we need to do is open that hole wide enough for us to crawl through. Once we are free of the tunnels we can take the snowmobiles into the nearby woods. We can disappear into the forest before the soldiers could find us. I used to spend some time doing bush craft, so I know something about surviving, and my friend Boris Dernov is an expert at surviving. He was a bush craft guide for two summers.”
“What will we do for supplies?” Vasily asked.
“I, Boris, and three others,” said Pavel, “have collected supplies over a period of months of planning. I won’t tell you exactly how we did, but it did involve theft.”
“So, where are the supplies and when do we leave?” Vasily asked.
“We will leave tonight. The supplies are in the tunnel.”
Fifteen minutes later, a figure slowly opened the only door to the barracks. The moon hung in the night sky like a dim lamp, reflecting some of the sun’s rays onto the dark landscape under its cratered face. Many of guard towers were manned, but some were left empty. Search lights slowly swept over the base and around its perimeter while snow fluttered to the ground in sparkling, tumbling ice crystals. Soon, the footprints of the sleeping prisoners and their work projects were covered with a fresh layer of white powder.
Sure that no one was looking, the figure hurried off into the shadows and made a beeline for a nearby barracks. He reached its side where an old, rusty oil drum sat. The drum had sat on that spot for years without anyone paying attention. The soldiers who manned the base had always seen it, and none had thought to move it, thinking it was a relic from the days of the former Soviet Union.
The figure moved the drum, applying his back muscles and straining a little. It creaked and squeaked slightly as it scraped against metal. He set the drum down and took a deep breath slowly, to regain oxygen. Below him lay a metal plate about five feet in diameter. He picked up one side, groaning under the weight, and slid it over, shoving snow aside. A shaft with a wooden ladder descended into the ground. In seconds, he entered the hole and began descending into the darkness. His feet touched the bottom several yards down. In a few minutes, another man entered the hole and began descending.
General Pavel Boykov reached the end of the ladder and tested the ground with his left foot before putting all his weight on the tunnel floor. Then, he followed Boris into the darkness. He groped down the tunnel for several yards before he pulled out a flashlight and shined its dim, orange light ahead of him. Boris was standing in the darkness unbuttoning his orange coat. Dropping the coat, he bent down and picked up a green winter jacket and slipped it on.
“Boris,” Pavel said approaching him, “where is our equipment?”
“I have it right here. Shine your flashlight.”
Pavel shined his flashlight around until he spotted a pile of back packs, military coats, boots, and survival tools, such as flint and steel fire starters, hatchets, and small shovels. He, Boris, Rustem, and a couple others had obtained them by bribing guards with cigarettes to look the other way when they stole unused supplies under the cover of night.
The guards which could be bribed were young soldiers that had been drafted into the military and had no real desire to serve their country. Pavel knew that many just wanted to return to the civilian world, raise a family, and live a normal life. Pavel had obtained the cigarettes because of his status as a general and as a smoker.
Pavel pulled out a cigarette and a small matchbox. He lit it up and drew in a breath of harmful tobacco smoke. The glow of his cigarette bobbed up and down in the dark as he pulled off his orange coat and reached for a green winter jacket.
Colonel Dmitry Azarov, the officer in charge of the base, had threatened to remove his cigarette rations and throw him in solitary confinement for three weeks if he ever attempted an escape again. Pavel knew that once the current colonel was replaced by Colonel Artemy Votyakov, Pavel would be shown no mercy. He would probably be expected to work harder than the rest of the men because Colonel Votyakov was known to be a strict, no-nonsense officer.
Creak. Creak. Creak. The sound of someone descending the ladder came from the tunnel entrance. It was Vasily. He coughed, trying to cover his mouth.
“Shh,” Pavel hissed.
Vasily coughed again. “I feel I might have started to get a cold,” the older man said.
“I have some cough medicine here,” Pavel said, stooping to pick up a plastic container.
Several minutes later, the tunnel filled up with five more men. They geared up, changed jackets, and started off down the long, dark tunnel. After some time walking, they paused before the bend in the tunnel that led to the right. Pavel informed them about how to steal the snowmobiles and how to drive them.
Then, they hurried down the tunnel until they arrived at the end. Pavel moved aside the wooden supports to hold up the small hole and some gallons of dirt plopped down. Working with shovels, the men took turns and dug upward through the dirt around the small shaft that opened into the cold night air. After forty minutes of digging, they had opened a wide enough hole for a man to pass through. Boris opted to go first. Several men lifted him on their shoulders up through the hole. Reaching the opening, Boris looked around to see that all was clear. He was glad to see that the search light beams were still far from the tunnel exit, just as they had been when he had looked through the homemade periscope the night before.
Seeing that no soldiers were nearby, Boris pulled himself up through the hole, sending trickles of dirt raining down upon the men below. Some coughed from the dust, but they looked up, wondering if Boris was okay. His face appeared in the entrance and he said, “It is safe to come.”
Two more men came through the hole. Then, it was Vasily’s turn. Bundled up in a new winter coat, gloves, and a ushanka, Vasily pulled himself through the hole with help from below. The cold winter air stung his face with sub-zero temperatures. Snow flurries fluttered through the air around his face, and some alighted on his nose.
Some yards away, a metal shed with a closed double door awaited action. Some piles of rusty metal junk rested a few feet from the shed, offering more cover. A few boulders, lying about the building, provided cover for one to scuttle over to the shed without being noticed. The fact that the searchlights were far away brought some encouragement to him.
“Over here,” a man beside the building motioned for Vasily to hurry over.
His heart beating harder in his chest, Vasily, hurried over to the closest boulder and ducked behind it. Then, casting aside his uncertainly, Vasily darted through the snow to the temporary safety of the shed.
Once Vasily reached the relative safety of the building, he saw Boris standing beside a new snowmobile. A short distance behind it lay two other snowmobiles.
“The keys were left in the ignition,” Boris said, gloatingly. “This is the nicest snowmobile I’ve seen. I can’t wait to try it out.”
Then, a barking sound in the distance interrupted the still night air. Vasily froze, holding his breath to listen to the night. The barking continued. Suddenly, one of the guard towers trained its search light on a patch of ground fifty yards from Vasily’s position. Barking sounds started getting closer.
“Hurry,” Boris said to Vasily as he gripped the handle bars and hopped onto the snowmobile seat. Vasily sat down behind him and took a hold of some handles attacked to the vehicle.
The searchlight swept away from them, but the barking continued. Then, Vasily saw what he hoped never to see. A guard was running toward them shining a bright flashlight mounted on a machine gun. He held a German Shepherd attack dog on a long leash. The dog was straining at its leash, barking in Vasily’s direction. Another guard followed, gripping his AK-74M machine gun. Boris started the engine, and the vehicle came to life, producing a throbbing hum. But, Vasily leapt off and threw himself to the ground, covering his head. It was over. ‘There would be no escape from armed guards,’ he thought.
Boris applied the throttle and roared off through the snow. The soldiers moved out of the way as the machine roared past them. Then, one took aim and fired. A loud roar of machine gun fire cut through the night air. The second guard ran past Vasily and hopped onto a snowmobile. He started it up quickly and raced off in pursuit of Boris.
The German Shepherd barked and strained at its leash, pointing its nose toward Vasily, who was partially hidden in the snow. And, the guard shined his gun-mounted flashlight in Vasily’s direction.
“You,” he said loudly, “stand up slowly with your hands raised.”
Feeling his heart sink, Vasily stood.
The soldier pulled out some handcuffs from his belt and tossed them over to Vasily.
“Put these on,” he ordered.
The roar of the snowmobiles echoed through the forest, fading slowly into the distance. A few gunshots erupted through the trees, causing Vasily to flinch.
Reluctantly, Vasily snapped them on, realizing his escape attempt was over. The Russians would discover the tunnel, and that would be the end of General Pavlev’s hope of escaping. Boris and Pavlev’s plan had failed miserably. Boris might escape, but Vasily didn’t know what would become of the other two men who came through the hole ahead of him.
More soldiers arrived on the scene. A couple soldiers approached the piles of metal junk that rested not far from the metal shed. Then, a soldier shouted, “Stop or we’ll shoot!”
A flashlight beam swept over to the clearing separating the shed from the forest. Two men were running as fast as they could, while two Russian soldiers trained their guns on them and shouted at them to stop. The prisoners had just darted from behind the junk heaps and were making a beeline for the forest.
They did not stop as the guards yelled at them, but kept running, hoping to reach the forest in just a few more seconds. The snow crunching under their boots felt like another obstacle to overcome, and the dark forest with its multitude of hiding places beckoned them.
Then, AK-74M’s roared to life, spraying a withering spread of bullets that cut the men down in their tracks. They fell to the ground, dead. Vasily closed his eyes and felt like crying. This was the end of his hope of escaping, he thought. He felt that he might as well die. But, somewhere deep in his soul, he felt a tug on his heart to live and turn to God.
[Footnote: Russians are not the enemy, neither are the Chinese. Both are people just like you and me. But, God will use Russia and China to judge wicked nations, which will not repent from their rebellion against Him. And, the devil will seek to stir up men to persecute the Church. But, God will deliver all who seek Him and trust in Him.]
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Chinese soldiers had just landed a fairly short distance from the group of Christians in a wooded area of northern China. The beating din of the rotors of a dark-green Changhe Z-18 transport helicopter “thwacked” the air some distance above the trees. The Chinese soldiers had fast-roped down from the helicopter and had scanned through the snow-dusted bushes until they spotted the Christians, dressed in their winter coats. Aiming their bullpup machine guns at close range, the Chinese troops placed their fingers over their triggers, ready to fire. (See "Footnote".)
The Christians held each other close and prayed, closing their eyes anticipating what they expected to happen next. “Burp!” The machine guns erupted into a loud cacophony of fire, which echoed through the trees. Rapid yellow flashes of machine gun fire burst from the guns, followed immediately by a wall of lead hornets.
Echoes from the shots faded into the woodland as the soldiers ceased firing, one by one.
They looked side to side, scanning the trees, baffled. They could not see any dead or wounded people. In fact, no humans were in sight. Only a multitude of snow-covered deciduous and coniferous trees, bushes, and snow-heaped ground reached their vision.
A soldier spoke into his two-way, helmet radio and reported the mysterious disappearance of about 50 people, who they were about to execute. The commander’s voice replied harshly, ordering the soldiers to search the woods immediately. Breaking from their stupor, many soldiers began searching through the bushes and trees, but some remained in a daze, certain that the Christians had only been a stone throw from them, and had not moved since the soldiers first arrived.
After fifteen minutes of beating through the bushes and searching around trees with bright flashlights, the baffled Chinese troops reported their failure to find any Christians. The commander was outraged and told them that if they did not locate those Christians, they would be put into work camps. Hearing that, the troops, fanned out into the forest and started a manhunt. More helicopters were ordered to the forest. But, the dazed soldiers knew that the Christians had vanished in front of their eyes.
A wooden city spread out before Steve, Sarah, Jason, Sergey, and the group of Asian and Russian Christians. It rested on a hill, surrounded by a forest of pine trees. A forested mountain formed a back drop behind the city, and the moon’s pale face hung above the mountain like a glowing lamp. Chinese-style wooden buildings rose up into the air three and four stories high illuminated by yellow street lamps. They appeared to be wooden poles with four Chinese lanterns attached to outstretched wooden beams.
“We're finally back home,” Sarah said to Steve as they beheld the sight.
“I look forward to sleeping in an upholstered bed,” Steve said, yawning.
Among the larger buildings, some smaller structures rested. Many of these were single or double-story houses and shops. Each house had a small yard or a courtyard.
Sergey turned to Steve and said, “Where are we?”
“It is the city of refuge we told you about,” Steve said, smiling.
Sergey returned his gaze to the wooden city. Throughout it there appeared to be lavatories made out of stone for the sake of convenience. And, stone-paved streets formed a perfect grid layout. Large buildings throughout identified themselves as church buildings by the crosses mounted atop them.
Just seconds ago, Steve and this group had been translated by God’s angels to this amazing sight. They were about to be shot dead by Chinese troops, but they had been whisked away a split second before the burst of machine gun fire erupted from the muzzles. Many people were relieved, but the surprise of being translated had both shocked many and gave them great joy. People a short distance from Sergey talked excitedly and cried, seeing the city before them. Tears filled their eyes as they realized that what God had told them beforehand had now come to pass. It was a miracle that they were standing there alive and in one piece.
Some Asian Christians emerged from the streets on the outskirts and walked down a dirt road toward the new arrivals, who stood outside the city. In a short time they arrived, smiling. A Chinese man wearing a dark brown changshan tunic stepped forward and said, “Greetings, brothers and sisters. It is good to see more faces. Come into this city of refuge. You are welcome here. Here, all your needs will be supplied and you will be protected from all harm.”
The Asian Christians greeting them wore traditional Chinese clothing, but their clothing seemed more like Autumn clothing than winter wear. As Sergey looked around, he noticed that no snow appeared on the ground. The trees in the nearby forest were also free of snow. But some miles away from the city, white powder covered the forest and the hills. ‘This is a mystery. It must be a miracle of God,’ Sergey thought.
He was impressed by the lack of snow in this region. Clearly, this was the city of refuge that God had prepared the group for and surprised them with. Sergey could not tell whether this was in Russia, China, Central Asia, North America, or Europe. The mountains and pine forests were common in all those regions.
“What do you think about this, Sergey?” Steve asked his new friend as they followed the group toward the village.
“I am truly amazed. Shocked would be a better word,” Sergey said. “What is this place exactly? And, where is it?”
“It is very shocking to be translated someplace new,” Steve said, “but you get used to it the more God moves you around. This place is in Eurasia, but God does not want me to reveal its exact location. And, this is a city of refuge. It is one of many that God has helped His people build and that God has committed to protect and provide for. It is a safe haven.”
“What do you think, Sergey?” Alexei, the red-bearded Russian said, as he approached them.
“I have wondered if I’m not dreaming,” Sergey said.
“You’re not dreaming,” Alexei said. “Trust me. I felt the same way you do when God translated me to this place.”
The Chinese and other Asian Christians were now in the outskirts of the town. As they entered, people opened shutters in upper floors. Seeing the new arrivals, the townsfolk began singing praises to God. Some people began emerging from their homes carrying flutes, mandolins, and other instruments. As they slowly gathered into a group of seven, the musicians present began playing while two others sang worship songs to the Lord in harmony with the music.
Looking around with a sense of awe and wonder, the new arrivals began clapping their hands, and some even sang with the music. After about twenty minutes had passed, the new arrivals were directed toward two different inns not far from the outskirts of the town. Sergey, Steve, Sarah, Jason, and Alexei entered the closest inn. It had four stories with a balcony on each story.
After a couple minutes of waiting in line, Steve and Sarah now stood before the concierge desk. It was their turn to get a room. They had a house, but they were too tired to walk there. Sergey stood behind them. He noticed that the concierge handed them a key without any transaction taking place.
When it was his turn, the concierge handed him a key with a metal tag dangling from it with a room number, 15. “I would like to know the cost for a room please,” Sergey said. “And, also what currency you accept here.”
The Asian man smiled and chuckled. “Almost every new guest says something like that when they first arrive. This hotel and everything in this city is free. We do not use bartering or any currency.”
“Okay. Thank you,” Sergey said, baffled.
He headed up the stairs to his room on the second story, down a hallway, and up to a wooden door with the number “15” in gold affixed to it. Inside, he plopped down on the bed, avoiding a large ceramic vase with Chinese artwork depicting jagged mountains and clouds. He tossed his shoes beside an ornate wooden dresser and slipped under the white bed covers. One his bed, Sergey prayed some before falling fast asleep.
After breakfast had been eaten the next day in a large dining room downstairs, Sergey stood to his feet and found Steve and Sarah chatting with a Chinese man he’d never seen before. The man excused himself and left just before Sergey approached them.
“Good morning, Steve and Sarah,” the Russian said with a cheerful note in his voice.
“Good morning, Sergey,” they replied, in unison.
“I wonder if you would like to take me through this city,” Sergey said. “I am curious about it.”
“You want to see the sights?” Steve said.
“Yes,” Sergey said. “Yes, I want to see the sights. Let’s go.”
“That sounds good. I’ll just clear my table first and take our dishes to the kitchen,” Steve said.
“Steve,” Sarah said, when Sergey was some distance ahead, “it looks like Sergey is truly dumbfounded at this city of refuge.”
“He will really be amazed,” Steve said, “at the worship that takes place in the Church buildings on the Sabbath.”
It was totally dark inside the stone-walled room. The door had last been shut 24 hours ago and Vasily had seen the last glimpse of light coming from the hallway outside. He had been in the cell for over a day.
He sat on the concrete floor, feeling its cold surface removing heat from his body. Still wearing a coat, hat, and gloves, Vasily shivered, despite the fact that they gave him a thicker jacket for his stay in the cell.
The cell door had been specially designed to close tight, leaving no light visible through gaps. And, the hallway lights outside his cell were dim and separated at distant intervals to minimize light getting into the cells in the solitary confinement building, in the labor camp.
Vasily stood and paced around his cell, thinking about the terrible decisions he had made that brought him to this point. He cursed himself for trying to turn in the Christians, who somehow managed to escape before the Russian soldiers were to arrest them. It was because of his second failure to turn in Christians that the Russian authorities suspected that he was working with Christians, instead of against them. Now, in this “cursed” camp, he had let himself be conned into joining a group of “escape artists,” who had failed to escape the labor camp. Most of them were in isolation cells, spread some distance apart so that there would be no way they could communicate with each other.
He was at the lowest point he’d even been in his life. ‘If God exists, why did He let this happen?’ Vasily thought. But, he knew deep in his heart why. God was calling out to him. He had heard the Gospel, but he had never wanted to know Jesus or trust Him alone for salvation. He had wanted to turn in Christians to get more rations and favor with the Russian government. But, everything he had tried had backfired.
Now, he would be stuck in this solitary confinement cell for three weeks: three weeks of the cold, of boredom, of loneliness, and misery. He would not see the sun or a human face during that time. The only time anything eventful would happen came when a small flap in the door, near the ground, opened twice a day and a hand shoved a plate of food through the opening. The food was a bland and tasteless ‘slop,’ made of a thick soup mixed with lentils. Vasily hated lentils. He was also given three large bottles of water. Some hours ago, they had opened his door and tossed in a folded blanket, a sleeping pad, and a pillow. A toilet tucked behind a partition wall was his only other ‘amenity.’
In the near-total darkness, Vasily looked up and shook his fist at God. “If I ever get out of this miserable camp,” he shouted, “I will hunt down your people and kill every last one of them!”
Then, Vasily plopped down on his hard sleeping pad and tucked the blanket around his body. Resting his head on the hard pillow, he sighed and tried to drift to sleep. But, sleep wouldn’t come to his tired body. To Vasily’s troubled soul, the pad felt almost as hard as the cement. The pillow felt lumpy and hard. And, the blanket was not long enough for his length, even though he was less than 6 feet in height.
He tossed and turned for nearly an hour before he leaned up and stared at the cold darkness before him. The shapes of hideous beings strangely began to appear in his imagination. Serpents with sharp teeth and dragons with glowing, yellow eyes seemed to stare at him from the surrounding darkness. He tried to get them out of his mind and picture what it would be like to escape this horrible place. But, the more he tried to get the ghoulish creatures out of his mind, the harder it became to forget about them.
After a few minutes of this, he shouted, “Stop it! Stop it! Leave me alone.”
But, the fearful mental pictures or hallucinations continued along with the sense that something very evil was lurking around him. Vasily suddenly felt his skin itch. It seemed that insects were now crawling over his body. He tried to crush them or flick them off, but they kept seeming to creep over his skin, when no actual insects were present. To make matters worse, his head started to throb with a migraine headache. He cursed and tried to think about happy memories to get his mind off the bizarre and troubling afflictions. He thought of childhood memories of fishing with his uncle along with other happy memories of the past, but they didn’t last. The unbearable pain in his head kept him from enjoying the reminiscence.
“God, help me,” Vasily screamed after two hours of this had passed. “Make it stop!”
But, the headache continued and the feeling of insects crawling over his skin didn’t let up.
Breathing hard after shouting loudly, Vasily sat up in bed and said, desperately, “Please make it stop. Please. I was wrong to want to kill Christians. I was wrong to hate you, but please make this stop. Please.”
The headache began to leave and an evil presence standing beside him faded away. Then, the feeling of insects crawling over his skin assuaged or lessened. In a short time, the feeling was gone and Vasily was back to normal. He sighed and dropped back onto his bed.
He was asleep for five hours before a loud, high-pitch ringing sound filled his ears, and the throbbing pain of his migraine headache returned. He sat up in bed and cursed the pain. But, he stopped himself and looked up into the darkness, blinking his weary eyes. “God, please make this stop. I will not seek after your people. I will not kill them or turn them in. But, please make this stop.”
The pain and loud ringing in his ears continued, and it began to increase a little. Tears came to his eyes. ‘Why does this have to happen to me?’ he thought. ‘I am a good person. Why me?’ But, thoughts came to his mind of his sins and all the times he lied to people, when he slandered his neighbors and friends, when he cheated people out of money, and when he took God’s Name in vain or treated God with disrespect.
Then, it donned on Vasily that the pain and torment he was suffering was nothing compared to Hell. And, he began to realize that the sins he had done were not insignificant in God’s sight. He felt that God was calling out to him and calling on him to repent and turn to Jesus Christ, the One whom he had scoffed at, mocked, and blasphemed so much.
“God,” Vasily said, after some moments of deep thought. “I have treated you and your people poorly. I have hated your Bible and your people, and I want to tell you that I am sorry. I did wrong. I did many wrong things in my life, but I thought you’d overlook that. Now, I feel that you can’t overlook my sin. That is why you are allowing me to go through this misery. So, I ask you to please accept me.
“Please accept this miserable wretch and forgive me for my sins. I trust that Jesus died for sinners like me. I trust that He is your Only Begotten Son. Please accept my apology and forgive me for all my sins, and cleanse them from me by the blood of Christ. I guess that is my prayer of repentance. I heard someone teach me about repentance, but I never really wanted to repent until now. Take me, God, and save this wretch.”
The headache remained for half a minute before it faded away and was completely gone. And, the ringing in his ears stopped.
Vasily heard himself gasp. “It really works. The pain is gone. And, I’m saved. Father God saved me through Jesus Christ. I’m saved!”
He leapt to his feet and began dancing around his cell hollering, “I’m saved!”
After some time of rejoicing, Vasily settled down and felt a special peace descend into his soul like no peace he had ever felt before. Joy that had warmth and life to it settled into his heart. He had truly done something different than he’d ever done—something he never thought he’d do. He had become a believer in Jesus Christ, and he was enjoying every moment of it.
[Footnote: Russians are not the enemy, neither are the Chinese. Both are people just like you and me. But, God will use Russia and China to judge wicked nations, which will not repent from their rebellion against Him. And, the devil will seek to stir up men to persecute the Church. But, God will deliver all who seek Him and trust in Him.]