“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
Josh stood looking down into the street, pondering the words spoken by Jesus two thousand years ago.
The hotel room at his back could have been anywhere in the world, nondescript, dingy and dreary. The air conditioner hummed softly next to him as he swiped a bead of sweat from his brow. It seemed to be fighting a losing battle against the oppressive heat outside, echoing his progress with the people he was trying to help.
He had gone, he had taught; or at least had done his best. But in the teaching, he had also learned first hand the lessons the early disciples had learned. Affliction and persecution sometimes went hand-in-hand with spreading the Gospel message.
He looked down at the hand that rested against the window sill, still wrapped in a swath of bandages. It was healing, slowly, as were the other injuries sustained when he had tried to talk to a group of young men who did not want to hear what he had to say.
He rolled his eyes and his shoulders, trying to ease the ache that had settled into every muscle.
To say they did not like his message was an understatement.
“Go…teach all nations…”
The words swirled through his mind again, along with another verse he had learned as a child.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
He swung to look at the room that he called home, if only temporarily. A smile curled the corner of his mouth in acknowledgment.
“Well, Father, You have supplied all of my needs. You have given me a roof over my head, clothes to cover me, food to eat. And I thank You for it.”
He paused thinking of the beating he had taken a few weeks ago that had landed him in a hospital.
“I did what you asked of me; and I agree that what I suffer now is nothing to the glory that You have waiting for me in heaven; but, Father, is there any use in my going on when no one wants to hear what I have … no, what You have to say?”
He waited for an answer that was not forthcoming, then sighed heavily, fighting against the discouragement that wanted to drown him. He ran his gaze up and down the street below before letting the curtain fall back into place.
Turning from the window, he moved across the room and out the door. At the end of the hall, he turned right to the staircase and gingerly made his way down to the lobby.
The heat hit him like a fist when he stepped out onto the street, making him wish for the cool New England autumns of his childhood. What he wouldn’t give for a tall glass of apple cider and one of his mother’s frosted sugar cookies.
His stomach rumbled at the thought, making him chuckle through a split lower lip. He turned and headed down the street, drawn by the smell of the restaurant just a few buildings away.
Before he was halfway there, two men stepped away from the building they had been leaning against and moved into his path.
Startled, he looked up and groaned inwardly at the leader of the men that had given him the beating. He sent up a quick prayer for help and stopped, looking warily between his accosters.
“We need to talk,” Leader said.
Josh lifted his uninjured hand and touched his split lip. “I thought we already did.”
Follower frowned heavily and stepped forward, but Leader’s hand went up to stop him.
“No.” At Leader’s directive, Follower took a step back and crossed his arms over his chest. “We talk.”
Josh studied the man’s dark eyes, seeing something in them that had not been there before. A peace settled in him and he nodded, waving a hand to the restaurant.
“I was going to go get something to eat before I go to church. Why don’t you come with me?”
“No. We go someplace private.”
Josh sighed and nodded, turning around and heading back to the hotel.
The other two fell into step with him and the three men were soon settled in his room.
“What is it that you need to talk to me about?” Josh asked.
The man stood and moved around the room, pacing like a caged tiger intent on escaping.
“What you talked about before.” He waved his arms. “Please explain again.”
Josh studied him for a minute, wondering where this was going. The last time he explained to these men about sin and the penalty for that sin because of God’s holiness, they had beat him to within an inch of his life.
Taking a quick breath and sending another prayer heavenward, Josh told them again about Jesus dying for the sins of mankind and about accepting the gift so freely given.
Within minutes, he was clasping the hands of both men and leading them in a prayer to seek forgiveness.
When they left, Josh shook his head and laughed exultantly.
A short time later, he sank into a pew and bowed his head to pray for those two men. A murmur went up and grew louder, drawing his attention to the door. There in the doorway stood the whole group of men that had beat him up.
He stood. When Leader saw him, he came forward to shake Josh’s hand and they all filed in and settled on the pew.
At the close of the program, an altar call was given and all but one of the remaining men stood to accept Jesus.
“Can I ask what changed your mind?” Josh asked Leader.
The man studied Josh’s bruised and cut face, shrugging in shame.
“It was the way you continued to pray for us even as we beat you. Anyone else that did not know Jesus would have cursed us to hell.”
“Praise God!” He cried. He shook his head and added silently, “Father, send me wherever You would have me go. These men will be my hope and my joy and my crown of rejoicing.”
© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2011