Steven’s Amazing Adventures,
and the Future of the World (PAGE FIVE)
(A Story about the End Times
with Messages from God)
Steven’s Amazing Adventures,
and the Future of the World (PAGE FIVE)
(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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“Tell me, Steven, what is the reason this town is so happy and that the weather is warm in the winter?” Sergey said.
They were in a large market place square filled with carts heaped with food, which included apples, oranges, peaches, dates, and wheat. Men and women stocked wooden carts with fresh produce and others moved from cart to cart and selected fruit and other foods, without paying a penny or any denomination of currency. It was a market where food was neither bought nor sold. It was just given away.
“God is the Light of the world,” Steven said, “and He is the source of Light in this village. It is He who provides warmth to this city of refuge and who makes sure that plenty of food is available without much work being done to get it.”
Steven reached over and picked up an apple from a fruit cart under the second-story balcony of a four-story wooden building. Each story had a balcony and railing with an intricate Chinese design formed of wood-framed rectangles arranged in vertical and horizontal positions. Bright, vibrant banners hung from protruding poles in the upper stories, which displayed portions of Bible verses in Chinese. The bright fabric slowly flapped and ruffled in a light breeze, making it seem they had come alive.
“Food grows three times faster in this village and in the land nearby than elsewhere in Eurasia,” said Steve. “Even when the days are shorter and the sunlight is less bright, produce and wheat will still grow at the same rate because God has blessed this ground to provide for His children.”
Horses neighed nearby as they were detached from the food carts and brought to a park half a block away to graze on green grass. The park was surrounded by buildings but it contained young trees, water fountains, food troughs supplied with oats, and a stable in one corner. A high wooden fence surrounded the perimeter to keep the equines contained.
“The people are happy, Sergey,” said Steve, “because God gives us joy and because the people here have gone through trials preparing them for coming to this city. Spiritual and emotional dross was removed from their lives, and they came forth shining, and resembling Jesus Christ in their behavior and lives, more and more.”
Children laughed and giggled, running through the streets and city square, playing a game of tag. People moved from cart to cart, placing food into woven baskets, which dangled from their arms, and chatted with each other as they “shopped.” Few remained to attend the carts, Sergey noticed. ‘They must be engaged in collecting fruit and vegetables from other carts,’ he thought.
“I noticed that no one is buying the food,” Sergey said, glancing left and right. “So, does this city of refuge have no money or system of bartering?”
“In the book of Acts, chapter 2, the new believers in Jerusalem had all things in common, related to material possessions and food,” Steve said. “They sold their possessions and gave to those who had need, the scripture says. Here, I learned quickly that you do not buy anything. People get all their needs met by God and by ways God chooses to bless people.”
Sergey looked a little baffled, so Steve said, “For instance, when I first arrived, God blessed me with a fruitful garden. I overheard my neighbor speaking about making a strawberry dish. I happened to have a large patch of strawberry plants in my garden. I gave her a basket of freshly picked strawberries as a gift one day. She knew that I regularly take pears from her pear cart, but she has access to my garden to take as much of my produce as she needs.”
Sergey glanced left and right, wondering if they were being watched. He felt like someone was watching him.
“I have been busy traveling,” Steve said, “and ministering where Abba Father God sends me, so I haven’t had time to tend the garden, but I have allowed my neighbor to tend it for me in exchange for the produce.”
“Excuse me,” Sergey said, glancing to the left and right. “I feel like I must say something.”
“I think we’re being watched,” Sergey said as he began scanning the crowds.
Suddenly, a hand landed on his shoulder from behind, and Sergey jumped. Whirling around, he came face to face with Alexei Khlebov, the red-haired Russian.
“You started me, Alexei,” Sergey said, drawing a deep breath.
“You need not worry, Sergey,” Alexei said, chuckling. “You are among friends. Almost all the people here are Christians and love Jesus. There are no enemy spies or soldiers in this group, for God is protecting us from all sides and within.”
“And, no enemy soldiers will be able to find this place or enter it if they did,” Steve said.
“How so?” Sergey said, stepping away from a doorway to let an elderly Chinese man walk past him.
“In 2 Kings 6,” Steve said, “God blinded the eyes of Syrian soldiers who were seeking to take Elisha. They could not see, and Elisha himself led them deep into Israel’s interior before he prayed that God would open their eyes to see where they were. They were shocked and scared to see that they were far away from the safety of their army. Then, he encouraged the king of Israel to treat them well and feed them. Those particular soldiers returned to their own land and did not attack Israel. In the same way, God has shown the people here that He is protecting them from all harm, and that He shall blind eyes that needed to be blinded to keep His children safe.”
“So, why would God provide cities of refuge for His people?” Sergey asked, curious about the utopia he saw around him.
“Well Sergey,” Alexei said, entering into the conversation, “God loves His children and desires that many will be alive during the course of the end times to minister to new believers that join them, and to intercede for the nations that God shall have to punish. He shall have to punish the nations for their hardness of heart and rebellion against Him, but God continues to call out to them because He has great compassion and mercy.”
A Mongolian boy ran past them, giggling, being chased by a Vietnamese boy who was stretching out his hand to tag his friend.
“God has shown us,” Alexei continued, “that persecution shall get more intense, and that He will lead people to cities of refuge. The Antichrist that Revelation speaks of will come into power to deceive the whole world, and to lead them to kill Christians. He will require people to receive a special mark in their right hand or forehead, without which, they will not be able to buy or sell. Also, iniquity will increase greatly, but God will deliver His own from the wickedness of the world.”
“But, is there any scripture for the cities of refuge?” Sergey asked, stepping aside for a Chinese lady to enter the four-story wood building behind him.
“Yes,” Alexei said. “Deuteronomy chapter 19 and Numbers chapter 35 speak of cities in Israel that were to be set aside for those who accidentally killed people. Terrible accidents sometimes happen, and people may get unintentionally killed. God showed Moses that certain cities were to be set aside for the innocent to flee to after having accidentally killed someone. Since their relatives and the court at that time could not use forensics to prove whether or not the accidental killer was truly innocent or not, the cities of refuge had been provided as safe havens. No harm could be done to the accidental killer if he or she stayed at a city of refuge. After the death of the high priest, the accidental killer was allowed to go free. The law would punish any who tried to kill him.”
“How does that relate to a city of refuge during the end times?” Sergey said. “The Christians here are not accidental killers, of course.”
“The Christians here are not killers,” Steve said, holding a partially eaten apple. “That is true, but the principle of fleeing to a place of safety is the same. The innocent man who accidentally killed his neighbor flees to a place of safety. We are innocent because of the blood of Jesus and because we have chosen to forsake sin, but evil people will seek to kill us, and we need to go where God sends us to go to. If we don’t go where God sends us to go, we will die before God wants us to leave this earth. God has a calling for each one of us that requires us to live long enough on this planet to fulfill all His best purposes for our lives.”
Sergey nodded, but frowned, watching a couple leading a donkey which pulled another cart into the market square. Piles of carrots, squash, cucumbers, and potatoes were heaped atop the cart so high that it seemed they might tumbled off the sides.
“What’s the matter, Sergey?” Alexei said.
“I left a village back in Russia, Sergey said. “I haven’t witnessed very much to the people. Some don’t even know that I am a Christian. I feel that I can’t just stay here. I’m a single man and I never had children.”
“God doesn’t just have us stay here,” Steve said.
Sergey squinted at him. “What?”
“God translates us to various places around the world, from time to time,” Steve said. “This is a place of rest and a retreat for Sarah and me. After we rest here for a couple months, we are translated to different places to minister to people God leads us to. The same happens for many other residents of this city.”
“I want to ask God to take me back to Russia and back to Medvedski,” Sergey said. “I believe that God’s mission for me is not done there.”
“You feel God leading you that way?” Alexei said.
Footsteps approached on the stone pavement. Steve turned to see his lovely wife wearing a Chinese-style dress and outfit.
“I happened to overhear a little of your conversation,” Sarah said as she approached, carrying a woven basket of fruit and vegetables. “May I ask what you are talking about?”
“Well, Sarah, I feel that God would like me to go back to Medvedski, Russia,” Sergey said. “And, I want to seek Him about that to see if that is actually His will.”
“That is a bold decision to make, Sergey,” Sarah said. She looked at Steve and reached out to him with her hand, which he took in his. “But, Steve and I also felt— You tell him, honey.”
“I was just about to, Sarah, darling,” Steve said. “God has shown us that we were to return to Medvedski as well.”
An elephant trumpeted from Sergey’s left, startling him. He turned to see a large Asian elephant with a small structure strapped to his strong back. A group of four people sitting in the structure watched the goings on below while a man sat near the elephant’s head, guiding it along.
“I didn’t know elephants roamed this town,” the Sergey said.
“The elephants,” Steve said, “are used for hauling large loads and for enjoying a good view of the streets. God brought them here with the people.”
“I hope you will be able to see the park, Sergey, before you leave,” Alexei chimed in.
“What park?” the older Russian said.
“Come with me,” Alexei said. “I’ll show you.”
“That would be interesting. Let’s go,” Sergey said, desiring to see a new sight. But, as he turned to walk with Alexei, he stopped himself. “I forgot about Steve and Sarah. Would you both like to come?”
Steve looked at Sarah and she said, “Oh, that would be nice.”
“We’ll join you,” Steve added.
“Meeting in the Park”
Half an hour later, after passing through streets lined with traditional-styled Chinese dwellings, the group reached a park filled with Asian Pear trees and other fruit trees, flowering trees, red-leafed Japanese maples, and manicured flower gardens which were very beautiful to Alexei’s eyes. A miniature waterfall cascaded down a
small cliff, with a ten-foot drop, into a pond filled with colorful koi fish that caused the pond to appear alive with moving colors. Large round stones had been decoratively placed as stepping stones across a stream that flowed out of the pond and through the manicured garden.
The gurgling sound of the stream rushing over rocks had a soothing effect on Sergey’s nerves. He sat down on a bench and watched the fish circling and zigzagging through the water. Alexei met a talkative Chinese man near the pond and struck up a conversation some distance away. Steve and Sarah then told Sergey they were going to go on a little walk and would be back at the pond about fourteen minutes later. Holding hands, the couple strolled down a path, vanishing into the flowering trees, which Sergey knew could not possibly be flowering during the winter in the northern hemisphere.
“Excuse me, sir,” a man said in Chinese from a few feet behind him.
Sergey turned to see a Chinese man in his early seventies, about ten years older than Sergey, standing behind him. A long white beard flowed down his chest, giving him the appearance of a Biblical patriarch. He wore a light blue changshan tunic, the hem of which rested about a foot above the ground. Grey trousers and black, leather shoes appeared underneath.
“Yes?” Sergey said.
“You must be one of the new arrivals to The Mountain of Peace,” the white-haired man replied.
“Yes, I just arrived last night,” Sergey said. “But, why do you call it such a name?”
Seeing Sergey’s confused face, the Chinese man said, “That is the name I and the other elders have chosen for this town because this town is a place of peace and harmony. It is one of many cities of refuge that God has set up throughout the world. This one is within Eurasia.” The man looked around at the park briefly, watching hawfinches and Asian brown flycatchers flutter from tree to tree, perching briefly before hopping off to another branch. Then, he said, “I hope you are enjoying your stay so far.”
“What would that be?”
“I came from the village of Medvedski in eastern Russia,” Sergey said, “and I feel that God is calling me to go back and witness to the people there. Even though the Russian government is hunting down Christians, I feel I must go. I haven’t witnessed to the people there that much, and they need to be saved.”
“I will pray for you,” said the white-haired man, “that your journey will be prosperous and that the ears of those who hear you will be opened, and their eyes will no longer be shut to the Gospel.”
“I appreciate it,” Sergey said, with a smile beginning to form on his face.
“By the way, I am Guang Yan,” Guang said, bowing slightly.
“I am Sergey Ulanov,” Sergey said, standing, not sure if he should return the greeting. He wasn’t used to the Asian custom of bowing slightly.
Then, Guang stretched out his right hand, and they shook hands.
“You mentioned,” said Sergey, “that you and other elders named this town. How did this town get started, for it seems to have too many people to be off the radar of the Eurasian governments.”
“The population of this town is about fifty-thousand,” Guang said. “Each day it grows by about fifty people. God brought me and other families here by way of translation. We were instantly taken here. Men who were good with construction had also arrived with us. I knew some of them from our underground church in China. We found building materials, tools, and men who looked Chinese and appeared very strong. These men informed us that they were sent from God to help us construct a town for us to live in. These strong men began building a sewage system using strange machinery we had never seen before.”
“What was the machinery like?” Sergey asked.
“I cannot describe it. It is beyond anything I have ever heard about or seen. That strange technology does exist in our day and age, but these men made use of it as if it were commonplace. While they built a sewage system, they built no water system because God told us He would perform miracles to continually give us clean drinking water like the widow’s jar of oil that didn’t run out during the famine of 1 Kings chapter 17.”
“So, what is your supply of water? A well?” Sergey asked.
“Each household has a large metal pot of water,” Huang said. “Using a ladle, I fill up my cup or my tea kettle. The water never runs out. I have used that same water container for three years. It never failed to be refilled in the middle of the night, while I and my wife slept. I believe an angel refills it every night or whenever it needs to be refilled.”
“That is amazing,” Sergey said. “So, you were saying that these strong men built your village.”
“They built the sewage system,” Guang said, “and assisted us in constructing buildings and in designing the layout. In reality, it was more likely that we assisted them, for they did most of the work. But, I suspect that these strong men are angels in disguise.”
“Why do you say that?” Sergey said.
“They never seem to get tired or require any breaks, and they are very strong,” Guang said, grinning.
A red squirrel scampered across the grass, past Sergey, and crawled up to an Asian man who was sitting on a park bench. He tossed the critter two almonds. Greedily, the little animal snatched up the first nut and began quickly nibbling it down.
“So, why would people in this village not accept money or bartering?” Sergey asked, returning his attention to the elegantly dressed Chinese man.
“Well,” Guang said, “God provides all our needs. We help each other out. Many of us enjoy working to bless our brothers and sisters. We also spend much time in fellowship with God, meditating on His holy Scripture, and praying as God’s Spirit directs us. We worship Him and have both private and corporate worship times and prayer times throughout each day.”
“Miracles happen on a regular basis,” Guang continued. “I have seen a man born without a leg, who had to move about in a wheel chair, healed and walking on two brand new legs that God gave him. They are not prosthetic imitations. No, they are real flesh and blood legs that God gave him. I’ve seen blind men and women healed. One woman’s eyes were completely white. I saw an iris and retina form in each eye and she could see for the first time in her life.”
“Your worship, prayer, and meditation on God’s Word… are these requirements for miracles to happen?” Sergey asked, amazed at what God was doing.
Guang shook his head, smiling. He said, “No, these are things we do because we enjoy them and we have true fellowship with our Abba Father God, and with Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son. John 17:3 speaks of this fellowship. These things are a delight to us because we have left all to follow Jesus. The miracles happen simply because we believe what God’s Word says about miracles. The Gospel accounts ― Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John ― all show that we can simply ask God for anything that would glorify His Name, and it will happen. Jesus Himself said in John 14:13: ‘And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.’”
“I will remember that,” Sergey said, looking at the smiling elder. “I want to look at John 14 now.”
“I will be having a Bible study very soon,” Guang said. “I would be happy to have you join us.”
“I might just stay,” Sergey said. “I have nothing else to do.”
Ten minutes later, young Asian people began approaching the pond, each carrying a white folding chair in one arm and a Bible in the other. As more people arrived, the group swelled to over thirty people. They set up the chairs in a half-circle which was divided into two sections three rows deep. A wide strip of grass separated the sections by about five feet.
In one section sat young men, and in the other sat young women. All wore modest Asian clothing, fitting for their cultures. Some appeared Korean. Others looked Vietnamese. Still others seemed to be Japanese. But, most were Han Chinese. ‘There is no intermingling of genders here, Sergey thought. ‘Perhaps, it was to keep the young people focused on the things of God, so they wouldn’t be distracted or wouldn’t be flirting with each other.’
Guang motioned for Sergey to come, and he followed the Chinese man toward the group of young people. Once Guang reached the group, he motioned toward the Russian and said: “This is Sergey Ulanov, who was translated here yesterday. I would like us to pray for him, for he feels God is calling him to return to Russia to witness to his village in eastern Russia.”
“Also, could you pray for Vasily Volvakov?” Sergey said, half facing the group, and half facing Guang. “He is a man who God showed me had reported me and some other Christians to the new Russian government in order to get a reward. I don’t know what became of him, but he must be shocked to see that all the people he reported on have vanished, having been transported away by God’s angels.”
[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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A dark blue motorcycle roared down the highway. Its driver wore a green helmet with a closed visor, a nylon jacket, and khaki cargo trousers, which ruffled in the constant blast of air. Wind tugged on two backpacks strapped to the Honda Shadow Ace, which powered Mark Mzembi through South Africa. He had recently come from Zimbabwe and was heading toward Johannesburg.
Mark suddenly swerved around a wooden board that had fallen out of a pickup truck some distance ahead, missing it by inches. If he hit the board, the motorcycle might have crashed, possibly killing him or giving him severe injuries, but he trusted God to protect him. He was used to zipping down highways at 80 kilometers per hour* or more on his Honda Shadow Ace. [*Or about 50 mph.]
A new government had been established in Zimbabwe that was very antagonistic to Christians, which was the main reason Mark Mzembi had left Zimbabwe, the home of his ancestors. Now 32 years old, Mark had lived in Zimbabwe for twelve years and in South Africa for twenty years, moving back and forth between his divorced parents. His dad lived in Johannesburg, while his mother lived in Zimbabwe. He was hoping to meet up with his dad and stay with him while he looked for work in the Johannesburg area.
Mark Mzembi put on some speed and passed a slow farm truck that was hauling produce. Apple-ring acacia trees and baobab trees appeared on either side of the road, scattered throughout a savannah. Above, a blue sky with wispy clouds watched over the landscape.
The leader in this new government began ruling Zimbabwe like a dictator. Joseph Dashimba* had seized power by a coup with the assistance of supporters from two tribes in Zimbabwe and portions of the military. Once in power, he formed a formidable government that was beginning to look more and more like a communistic society. Although Dashimba said he would reinstate elections, he did not show any signs that he would. [*Dashimba is a made-up name. It is not necessarily a real surname.]
Many miles passed under his tires and the savannah gave way to more fertile land, which soon turned into farmland a few miles further down the road. More trees and green grass were visible at the borders of the farmland than in the savannah some miles away. A small town came into view, nestled among farm fields, populated with many sweet thorn, leadwood, and marula trees. In a few minutes, Mark had entered the town and was looking out for a gas station since the gage indicated he was low on fuel. A decent-looking gas station with a service building soon caught his attention down the road.
Pulling up to a gas pump, he shut the motorcycle off and walked into the cinderblock service building. As he waited in line to pay for two gallons of gas, Mark Mzembi glanced through the window and saw a large, shiny, silver Nissan pickup truck pull up to a gas pump not far from his motorcycle. Mark was somewhat familiar with Nissan trucks and it appeared to be a Nissan Titan. A trailer behind it contained a newer Honda motorcycle strapped to it. The doors flew open and four men stepped out. All the men wore different-colored bandanas on their heads. One had a dark-blue T-shirt with a large, sinister-looking, fire-breathing dragon illustration. The dragon had red eyes and sharp claws, and sat atop a pile of gold.
Something about them gave him a bad feeling. As two of the men approached the service building, they looked at Mark’s Shadow Ace and one pointed at it, saying something to his friend that Mark couldn’t hear. One wore a green bandana on his head, and the other a dark blue one.
When the two had entered the building, they looked around at the customers, and the one with the green bandana said, “Does anyone here own that Honda Shadow Ace motorcycle? I will buy it from him for 25,551 rand*.” [*Or about $2,000 US dollars from the year 2017.]
The five customers and gas station attendant looked at the men, curiously. Then, Mark spoke up. “That is my motorcycle,” he said, “but I won’t sell it. It was a gift from some relatives.”
“Then, I’ll pay you 28,106 rand* for your motorcycle,” said the man with the green bandana. [*It is roughly $2,200.]
“That isn’t a fair price. But, even if it were, I won’t sell it,” Mark said.
“I’ll pay you 28,745 rand,” the man offered, hoping Mark would accept.
“Thank you for the offer, but I won’t sell it. It is worth at least 38,400 rand*, ” Mark said, adamantly. [*Or about $3,000.]
The man with the green bandana scowled at him, but said nothing. He left the service building and returned to his comrades outside, while the man with the dark blue bandana paid for their fuel.
Mark went to the men’s room after paying for the gas. When he returned outside, he found his motorcycle missing from its parking space at the pump. Then, his jaw dropped. The men were in the process of strapping the machine onto the motorcycle trailer, beside the other motorbike.
“Hey,” Mark said, angrily. “That’s my motorcycle!”
The man with the dark blue bandana turned toward him, saying, “You didn’t want to sell it, so we’re taking it.”
“I’ll call the police and have you arrested, unless you give it back,” Mark said.
The man laughed. “The police can’t track us down. Many of the police look the other way because we bribe them.”
“Who are you?” Mark said, shaken.
“It’s none of your business,” the man said, spitting on the ground. “If I were you, I’d keep my mouth shut about this. Or, you just might not live to see tomorrow.” He patted a gun-shaped bulge under his belt.
One of the men replaced the gas cap on his truck and put the gas nozzle back in its holder. Then, the men climbed back into their truck. With a rev of the engine, the pickup roared off down the road, and out of sight.
Mark felt his world fall out from beneath him. His nice, dark blue motorcycle was stolen, and the mysterious thieves had threatened to kill him if he reported the matter to the police. ‘How can they afford such a nice pickup truck?’ Mark wondered. ‘And, why did they want to take my motorcycle when they already had a nice one?’
The motorcycle also had all his belongings, such as changes of clothes, some food, cash, and some tools.
“Mark, My son,” a voice said to his spirit and soul.
Looking up, he said, “Yes, Father God?”
“I am with you,” Abba Father God said, “I know that you lost the motorcycle and your stuff, but I will provide for you. This is a trial for you to seek Me through, but I will deliver you and I will provide for you. Tell me about your concerns, and leave them with Me. I will work all things out for your good.
“You have done well in leaving Zimbabwe, but seek Me about where you should go next. You are still in an area that is not safe, for soon, South Africa will be overrun by terrorists and by gangs that will seek to enslave the people and plunder the country. I am calling out to South Africa, but few of them are wanting to seek Me. Many just want to do their own will and survive. But, I will continue to call out to them. Now, my son, seek Me and I will show you what to do.”
“What should I do, Father God? I feel trapped,” Mark said. “I don’t know where to go from here. All my stuff was in that motorcycle. I only have some cash in my wallet. But, that will be used up soon. What should I do?”
“My son,” Father God said, “I want you to speak to the owner of this gas station and ask him where the nearest hotel or motel is located. He will give you directions. Then, walk there. I will provide the money for your stay at the hotel and for all you need. Trust Me, My son.”
Mark breathed deeply and sighed. “I will trust you, Abba Father. You know best. I just feel like my life is really getting difficult.”
“It is getting difficult,” God said, “because I am refining you and preparing you for the future, Mark. I shall provide for all your needs along the way. Just trust Me. And, I the LORD your GOD and Abba Father have spoken.”
Mark nodded. “Okay. Yes, I mean. I’ll do what you show me, Father God.” Then, Mark closed his eyes and breathed deeply again. “I will follow you all the way, Father, because you love me. You are trustworthy. You will meet my needs. Thank you.”
Then, Mark returned to the service building. After getting directions to the closest motel, he walked down the street for several blocks before taking a turn to the right and walking two blocks more. A somewhat run-down motel with an aging sign out front sat beside some apartment buildings. It’s sign read “Roadside Lodge” but the letter “e” was missing, leaving behind a faint outline of the letter.
Cracks filled with weeds appeared in some parts of its parking lot. Crossing the pavement to the office area, Mark pulled out his wallet and checked how much money he had. He had 1,290 rand, which was approximately equal to 100 US dollars from the year 2017. But, 2017 was past, and America had been recently conquered by Russia and China, and the dollar had lost its value just prior to the invasion of America by the two new superpowers.
At any rate, the money would only be good for three nights at the average low-budget hotel in South Africa. Plus, he needed money for food and for transportation by bus. Mark stopped in mid-step and brought these concerns to his Heavenly Father God. Then, he felt peace settle into his heart with the assurance that God would somehow provide for his needs.
As he entered the reception area of the motel, a lady behind the counter looked up and said, “Hello, how may I help you?”
“I’d like a room for one night,” Mark said.
After he completed the transaction, Mark walked across the parking lot to his motel room. Inside, he turned on the air conditioning unit and settled down on the bed. Despite the somewhat rundown appearance of the motel, the room was in decent shape with nice pictures of African savannah and elephants. And, the air conditioner worked properly.
Mark walked over to the TV, and asked God if he should watch a news station. God told him it would be fine.
There were few channels available, but a news channel caught his attention. The news anchor introduced a story about a radical Islamic organization that was spreading rapidly through sub-Sahara Africa. It consisted of former members of Boko Haram and other terrorist organizations, such as the Islamic State. Scenes of men, armed to the teeth, carrying green flags bearing Islamic symbols, and holding AK-47s appeared on the screen.
The organization, called the Muslim Caliphate*, was recruiting extremists from Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Violent clashes have broken out between the Caliphate and various sub-Sahara African nations. [*This particular name is fictional, but this union of terrorists, who shall conquer many African countries, really shall exist in the future, God showed me.]
Russian-made tanks firing at distant targets appeared on the screen, and smoke spouted from their barrels. The next scene displayed Arab and African militants, wearing camouflage uniforms and scarves around their faces, firing rocket propelled grenades.
African governments were being toppled and overthrown from within by insurgents allied with the Muslim Caliphate and by the external force of militant attacks. Moderate Muslims, under the control of this Caliphate, had to submit to radical Islam or die for being considered ‘infidels’ to the Muslim faith.
Mark Mzembi shook his head, and placed his hand on his chin, in thought. He had remembered hearing something about the Muslim Caliphate terrorist group a year ago, but it was much smaller then than it was now. In one year, they had conquered ten African countries by way of their internal supporters and by way of infiltration of the governments of those countries. They had stirred up revolutions and had seized the countries by political manipulation and by military power. Warlords in those countries had mostly submitted to the Muslim Caliphate, due to monetary “gifts” from the organization.
“My son,” God’s sweet voice spoke to Mark.
“Yes Abba Father,” Mark said, turning the TV off.
“I will show you that you will be going to a city of refuge soon,” Abba God said. “But, I will prepare you for that. I will guide you all along the way. This city of refuge will be a place where you will stay while Africa descends into chaos and turmoil, and while the persecution of Christians gets intense. It is not My will for the Church to have to suffer extreme persecution, so I shall provide safe havens for them to go to where I will provide for all their needs. I will have you leave this hotel tomorrow and have you meet a fellow Christian man who will take you into his family. He will take care of you, and you will be able to help him. And, I the Lord your God and Abba Father have spoken.”
The next day, Mark Mzembi spent time in prayer and in reading from a New Testament pocket Bible he had kept in his right pocket. He left the motel a couple hours later and bought a meat sandwich from small grocery store across the street from the motel. As he chewed the sandwich, Mark heard God’s voice tell him to go to the left and head down an alley. He asked God again to make sure it was God speaking to him. Then, he headed for an alley between two brick buildings, which sat beside a street lined with small business.
A large cardboard box rested up beside one wall of the alley. The square opening faced the opposite wall. Curled up inside, a homeless man resting on his side faced the opposite wall of the alley.
“Go, My son,” God said, “and give him the 650 rand in your wallet, and keep the rest for later.”
“Yes, Abba Father,” Mark said as he approached the homeless man.
A long, curly beard fell down the man’s chest. His T-shirt had several large holes. Mark tapped lightly on the box a few times until the man stirred. His eyes opened slightly and he peered out at the young Zimbabwean man, who looked at him with concern.
“What do you want?” the homeless man said gruffly.
“I want to give something to you,” Mark said, pulling out his wallet.
Seeing the wallet, the man moved out of his box and slowly stood. He wore old tennis shoes, which had some holes.
“I felt that God wanted me to give you this,” Mark said, pulling out the rand notes.
The homeless man’s eyes opened wide at seeing the amount. “This is for me?” he said.
“Yes,” Mark said handing him the 650 rand notes*. [*Or about $50.]
A smile spread across the man’s weathered face. “You are very generous. God had you give this to me?”
“Yes,” Mark Mzembi said, feeling God’s Spirit leading him to tell him the Gospel. “He wants you to know that He loves you very much, and that only He can provide for all your needs. He sent Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son, to die for your sins, and mine, and to offer you eternal life through Jesus Christ’s blood, which will cleanse away your sins, if you believe on His Name and on what He did for you.”
Feeling led by God, Mark reached into his pocket and pulled out the small New Testament Bible. “This is the New Testament, which contains the Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ and God’s inspired Word in the form of letters to churches. I encourage you to start with the Gospel of John. That reveals who Jesus is.”
The homeless man took the Bible and thanked him.
“By the way, I am Mark,” Mark said, reaching out a hand.
The homeless man shook his hand, smiling. “I am Paul. I would like to read that Bible. Where do you come from?”
“I am from Zimbabwe,” Mark said.
“Did you hear about the violence that erupted in Zimbabwe today?” Paul said.
“No. I haven’t.”
“Well, I heard a radio playing and caught a snippet of news. There is a government crackdown on a small militant group operating within the country of Zimbabwe. Thirty people died in the fighting.”
“That is terrible. I left Zimbabwe just two days ago. I hope my mother is safe.”
“I hope so too,” he said.
Leaving the homeless man with the Bible and money, Mark walked out of the alley and back onto the sidewalk. He lifted up a prayer to God for his mother to be delivered from harm and to choose to leave Zimbabwe. She had not wanted to leave the country of her birth, no matter how much Mark had pleaded with her to go with him to South Africa. She could easily take a bus, but Ruth Mzembi found it difficult to leave the only place she called home, and to leave her house and belongings behind. As he thought about his mother, Mark realized he had to just trust her into God’s hands. God will provide for her.
Mark wondered what to do next. Cars, trucks, and motorcycles flowed in both directions down the street, moving somewhat slowly at 40 kilometers per hour (or about 25 mph).
“My son,” Abba God said, “turn around.”
Mark turned around to face the direction he come from. Down the street, he saw the small grocery store where he bought his breakfast. A blue 2017 Nissan NV Passenger van was pulling into a parking place in the nearby lot. Sunlight sparkled off its shiny, chrome bumper, visible even from that distance. The doors opened and two boys and three girls piled out. Some were in their teens and others were just children. The parents came last. Mark noticed that one of the boys and one of girls were white while the rest of the family was black. ‘Perhaps, they are friends of the family,’ he thought.
“My son, go over to them and ask if you can speak to the father,” God said.
“Yes, Abba Father,” Mark said, as he began heading back toward the store. “I wonder…do you want me to live with this family?”
“You may stay with them for a short time,” Abba God said. “You can offer to work for the man. He is a farmer and he could use your help. Very soon, events will transpire in South Africa, which will require you to go to a place of refuge where I will lead you to, and where I will provide mightily for you. That is correct, My son.”
“I trust you,” Mark said. But, fear nagged him with the thought that perhaps the man was not who God’s voice had said he was. ‘What if the man didn’t want a farm hand?’ the fear seemed to say. ‘Or, what if the man wasn’t a farmer?’ Mark struggled with the thoughts of fear as he walked. Upon reaching the store, he waited, wondering if he should go in.
“Go in My son, and trust Me, for this man will take you in,” Abba God said. “And, I the Lord your God have spoken.”
Mark gave the fears to God and reached for the door, but it opened before he reached it, and a black man came out. He seemed to be wearing the same clothes as the man who had stepped out of the blue van.
“Excuse me sir,” Mark said. “I was wondering if you are a farmer?”
The man looked at him, slightly puzzled. “Yes, I am,” he said.
“Wow,” Mark said smiling. “That is amazing. God showed me that you are a farmer. I was wondering if you would be willing to hire me to help you with the farm work? I am a Christian and an honest worker.”
The man blinked twice before smiling. “Glory to God,” he said. “God only continues to amaze me with His power. I was actually thinking about hiring someone to help me operate the combines and do other farm work. So, God showed you that I was a farmer? I don’t know you from Adam, but you knew I was a farmer. I Praise God for His sovereignty! I wanted a man I could trust to assist me, and you are that man.”
Returning his attention to Mark, he reached out his hand and said, “I’m Sizwe Mahlangu.”
Shaking his outstretched hand, Mark said, “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Mark Mzembi.”
After about ten minutes of conversing with the farmer, Mark saw the door open and the kids with their mother emerged from the grocery store. The children were eating ice cream sandwiches and talking with each other.
The black lady approached Mark and said hello. To her husband she said, “Who are you visiting with?”
“This is Mark Mzembi,” Sizwe told his wife and some of the kids that were watching. “He’s a Christian like us. I’ve hired him to work for me as a farm hand. We’ll let him stay in our motor home. He can use the air conditioner to keep cool during the day.”
Glancing at his wife, he said, “And, this is Martha, my wife.”
She nodded and then extended a hand to Mark, and he shook it.
After a little more conversing, they found out that Mark had lost his motor cycle and was homeless due to the trouble in Zimbabwe.
“We will do all we can to make you comfortable at our home,” Martha said graciously.
Soon, they entered the van, and Mark started a new leg of his journey, doing something he had never imagined he’d ever do. He was down to just 300 rand* and was moving to a stranger’s home, hundreds of miles from Johannesburg where he had originally intended to go. He would have to call his dad and explain the situation. Mark sat beside the white boy in the back seat, who appeared to be about eight years old with short, brown hair and blue eyes. [*Or about $23.]
After the van was moving and heading toward the street, the boy turned to Mark. Looking up at the 32-year-old Zimbabwean, he said, “My name is James. What’s yours?”
“I’m Mark. How old are you?”
“I’m seven years old,” James said. “You will love our farm. I have five chickens and two dogs. One is a white Labrador and the other is an Australian Shepherd.” Holding up all ten fingers, James said excitedly, “We also have thirty sheep and lots of cows.”
“Wow,” Mark said, smiling at him. “That is a lot of cattle.”
As they drove through the town, Mark noticed a dark blue Honda Shadow Ace motorcycle turn onto the same street and follow the Nissan NV Passenger van three car lengths behind. The motorcycle maintained that distance and trailed the van until it reached the countryside.
“What are you looking at?” James asked.
Mark was turned in his seek, peering through the rear window. “I think we’re being followed,” he said.
The boy’s eyes widened. “Someone’s following us? Are they bad guys?”
Mark didn’t respond, but just continued to look behind him at the highway and receding landmarks.
Then, the Shadow Ace turned off onto a gravel road, backed up, and roared off back toward the town they had just left. Mark’s stomach turned when he saw the driver’s strange maneuvers. ‘That has to be my stolen motorcycle!’ he thought to himself. ‘Why were we being followed? Do they somehow know that I am traveling with this family?’ That thought disturbed him.