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Archive for March, 2010

We rode our bicycles down the narrow back streets of what was once Peking, but is now Beijing and has been for a long time now. These sweet but incredibly covert people were leading me to a place I didn’t know of, had never been before, a leap of faith. If we are caught there will be severe consequences. It is not like other countries I have been to where you will face a very public torture or death, for here, no-one knows what will happen to you, you will simply disappear.

I am a theology professor from the United States asked to speak at the University here in Beijing by one of the few approved missionaries in the country. It is very odd, I am a professional at interpreting the Bible, yet before I went onstage, I was told by a government official that I am not to speak of God, the Bible, Christ, the church, or anything of religious significance. Dumbfounded, I told the officer I didn’t have enough jokes to keep going for 30 minutes, which was my allotted speaking time. He then said I could only speak of these things if someone asked me a direct question, and then, only then, may I answer it.

We peddled past a small grassy park, and into a neighborhood with small but pretty cottages, some with typical pagoda style roofs. Most had little if any yards to them, but the people who lived there made the most of what they had in beautiful landscaping. Beautifully trimmed trees like I have never before seen, vines and flower beds. The air is alive with the aroma of flowers in bloom. It is hard to believe that a place with such beauty can also be a place so staunchly against faith in God. We turn down a narrow lane as I try to keep up. There is a man standing in the lane, back against a garage door smoking a cigarette, a look of indifference on his face. As we approach, he casually glances both ways in the lane, then quickly waves us toward an open garden gate. We ride in as he chucks the cigarette and quickly closes the garden gate behind us. We park our bikes in a fairly large beautiful garden with a pond in the center. The home is large by Beijing standards as we walk through a large sliding glass door at the rear of the home into a large common room, filled to practically overflowing with people. Families around the room sit on folding chairs, crates, cushions, and large throw pillows, their pleasant questioning stares all aimed at me, the westerner visiting their foreign and restrictive world.

As I walk up to the lectern, and look out to the audience of five hundred university students, wondering what I am going to say, I manage to introduce myself, offer my credentials and rattle off a quick verbal resume as I feel sweat begin to run down the center of my back. I look up and to my surprise, there is a young lady in the crowd with her arm raised. Relief surges through me as I point to her and say “Yes”? She says “Are you a Christian” and I feel warmth spread through my soul as I answer her question. There must be ten hands up now, I choose one and a young man asks me to explain my faith, Bingo I have permission to just let it flow. The next question was “How did I become a Christ follower”? These young men and women know the law and have found their way around it, as the warm confidence of the Holy Spirit pushes out the last of the fear from my heart, turning me once again into the soul winner for Christ I proclaim to be. After the session is over, many of the students come and shake my hand, thanking me for coming and speaking. A young man discretely asks if I would like to go to church with him this evening, and I quickly accept. He tells me to meet him in the lobby of my hotel at five pm, and to wear casual clothes. I agree, shake his hand and he quickly disappears, as I notice the officer looking unpleasantly at me, then looking around at all of the people who are leaving. I turn and leave.

There are easily sixty people in the room give or take a few, as a man rises from a nice high back chair (the nicest chair in the room) and insists I sit. Everyone is now smiling at me at once, curiosity clearly in their expressions as a young man leads the group in a couple of well memorized hymns. The group then holds hands around the room and prays quietly, gently, and touchingly to the same God I openly worship without fear in the States. Then, at once everyone pulls out a piece of paper, some from purses, some from pockets, and backpacks. One young man even raises his trousers and lowers his athletic tube socks to reveal each leg has paper wrapped around it. Some are folded, some sweaty, some crinkled and they begin to straighten them out on their knees. After a minute or two of hushed conversation I notice everyone is passing their papers to their right and I have no clue what is happening. The elderly woman to my left hands a piece of paper to me and implies that I should pass it to the teenage girl to my right, so I do as I am told and the young lady takes it from my hand. They all then fold up and re-pocket, re-purse and re-stow the papers until they are all gone again. My host then explains that these papers are chapters in the Bible, and that Bibles are very rare in China because they are illegal. Since they are so rare and hard to come by, their church cuts the Word up into sections of a few chapters at a time, and hand them out individually. Everyone is so eager to learn it that they memorize their section in a week, then pass it on and get the next section each week at home church. It is also easier to hide a few pages of the Bible than it is to hide a book, reducing the threat of being one of those who disappear.

As I sit here thinking about the saints meeting secretly in China, my heart is in my throat and tears sting my eyes as I look around my study. I have shelves full of Bibles, KJV’s, NKJV’s, NAS’s, NIV’s, Message’s, concordances, and commentaries. I have made a career out of studying God’s word, dissecting it and giving my expert opinions on it’s interpretations. I sit surrounded by spiritual ammunition, but on the front lines, the saints were splitting up a cheap Gideon Bible and making it work for their entire church, saving souls on a shoestring. My tears fall on the crinkled letter I have just read from my friend in China, asking me to pray for the church people I had met. You see, they have all disappeared. My friend was ill one evening and was not able to go to church, learning the next day that none of the members returned home to their families. He rode his bicycle down the narrow alley behind the home church, and there was a team of government officers removing all of the contents of the home, and placing them in a military truck. He mourns, but has found another home church to worship with, but this church doesn’t have a Bible, they are praying a missionary can get them one, so that they may begin a chapter exchange.

God Bless and Keep you

JFT

Story written based on facts from a missionary visiting China. There are 100 million Christ followers meeting underground in China.

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Dear friends, I have been debating whether to post this blog for a couple of weeks now. I have debated because there are many people in this country and other countries who are very passionate about their citizenship and their patriotism, and I have always been one of them. As a Christ follower who tries to listen to the Holy Spirit to lead me in my walk I need to go where he leads me, even if it is unpopular. I write this blog to help encourage others, and to stimulate Spiritual thought, not to please you, so I have after much prayer and thought decided to post it. Here it is.

My Allegiance,
Patriotism in America, it is expected of all who live here and become citizens. We pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and people get misty eyed thinking about the great sacrifices our forefathers made that we might be safe, secure, and have freedom to worship God without fear of persecution. Please know I value our forefathers and veterans for the sacrifices they have made and I in no way want to take away from that. But this same country that we pledge our allegiance to has been debating removing “In God We Trust” from it’s currency, and “One Nation Under God” from it’s pledge for the last two decades. As time goes on, and I see what is happening our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, I find it harder and harder to pledge my allegiance as I have in the past, to an object. I in no way want to discuss politics or affiliations in this post, but to ask you to consider whether we have been going about it wrong for so long.
Pledging allegiance is something we say so often, I wonder have we stopped to examine what we are actually saying. I guess I wonder if we should be pledging our allegiance to God rather than to a government. When Moses led Gods chosen people out of bondage in Egypt, they went to a place called Caanan, and the people there were called Caananites. When they took Caanan over because God led them to, they did not start calling themselves Caananites and begin pledging to a flag, but they remained Israel God’s chosen people. Other places that are in Israel had different names like Moab, and God instructed Israel to sack Moab and take the land from the Moabites, so they did. But they did not then call themselves Moabites, they were still Israel, God’s chosen. They took their identity from God.
I am not suggesting you stop saluting the flag or being a soldier for your country wherever you are. I live in America, and I am an American and would defend my people in a second. The flag is the symbol we use to identify the country and I too have fond thoughts when they play the anthem and the star spangled banner. But is the flag not also an object, and does it not run the risk of becoming an idol to some if worshipped.

In our country, if the flag touches the ground, there is a retirement ceremony for the flag and it must be incinerated at an approved facility. How would you compare that with the Baal’s that Israel would turn to every time they got bored with God? Consider this, if a homeless person with no family or identification passes away on the street, their body is boxed up in the cheapest thing available and placed in a numbered grave with no parting funeral. The flag goes our better than the homeless person.

I have NEVER refused to say the pledge in my life, but when God through the Holy Spirit speaks to you, you must do His will whether it is a touchy subject or not. I value the opinions of my brothers and sisters worldwide who choose to read my blog, and if you have a thought on this that differs from mine, or concurs, I would love to hear it. My citizenship, loyalty, and allegiance belong to God, not to kingdoms built here on earth. In this time when things are so turbulent it is important to know to whom you belong.

God Bless and Keep you All

JFT

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Mark 14:7
“The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want”. Then Peter interrupted Jesus and said “Not if we stop feeding them”, then all the Apostles broke out in laughter, Jesus then rolled on the floor laughing at the Joke. As a poor soul came forward to beg from the Apostle James, James flipped a shekel with his thumb out into the street. The poor soul almost got hit by a carriage as he tried to pick it up, The Apostles laughed heartily as John looked at Peter and made an “L” on his forehead with his thumb and forefinger, implying the poor soul was a “LOSER”.
Not the way you remember the story going? Sarcasm has become a regular way of life for us, the shows we watch on television are heavy with it. Wikipedia defines Sarcasm as the following;

Sarcasm is the rhetorical device of using a characterization of something or someone in order to express contempt. It is closely connected with irony, in that the two are often combined in the same statement. I suppose we now need to look at Contempt, so here it is.

Contempt is an intense feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless—it is similar to scorn. It is also used when people are being sarcastic. Contempt is also defined as the state of being despised or dishonored.
I will stop without proceeding to define scorn, I think at this point we get the picture.

Our generation has become so accustomed to sarcasm that it has come to think that sarcasm and all of its disrespect to others is the standard and is acceptable, even humorous. We see it from friends, family, at work, and in the marketplace. I am from the generation that has become fond of the Seinfeld show, and for a decade it was my favorite show. As followers of Christ, I guess my question is this, is sarcasm an acceptable thing for us? I love a fun time like everyone else, but is it okay to get a laugh at others expense? I suppose for me, I would have to say we need to examine what sarcasm is. I knew it was mean spirited, but even I was surprised when Contempt was used to describe it, then it goes on to say that the subject of sarcasm as inferior, base, or worthless.

When we meet someone who is not sarcastic, is genuine ,unassuming and good natured, they are often referred to as naïve or simple, when actually they are just less jaded. Does that mean that every time someone does something you find funny it is wrong to laugh, “no”. I have laughed at funny things my girls have done, funny things my wife has done, and they have laughed at me all the same. I guess what we would have to do is think about what we say or do a little bit more and determine if the joke we are pondering is cruel, would it hurt the persons feelings, would it make them insecure about themselves?.

I know that many things we do in the world would not qualify under the “does it glorify God” classification, but when it does not fit into that category, we must ask ourselves “does it go against the glory of God”? Sadly, I must say that I am guilty of much sarcasm in my life, but I don’t have to keep being guilty of it for the rest of my life. Just think about it, when they use sarcasm on TV it is always a hoot, everyone laughs right. Now when your boss needed something done immediately and you thought it would be a good time to fire off a sarcastic response, was it well received? When your spouse asked you about something that was important to them that you had not yet completed, so you answered with sarcasm, did they give you a warm and loving embrace and thank you for your wit?

Galatians 5:13 (NIV)   You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

1Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

God Bless and Keep You All

JFT

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“The Correction”

“I feel like something big and bad is coming, and I don’t know what”. My friend, co-worker and brother in Christ utters these words, a shadow of fear clouding his eyes. Have you ever had a feeling of foreboding about something coming? The word “foreboding” is defined as “a sense of evil to come”. 

Brothers and Sisters, these are some rough economic times we are in, no doubt. Many of my friends have lost their jobs and are making it day by day. They have lost their homes, cars and are having to rely fully on God. Forebodings and premonitions are a tool used by the devil to fill us with fear and worry. We are actually studying fear at church this month, and I really like the definition we are using for fear, which is “False Evidence Appearing Real”. 

When the stock market crashed and the real estate market crashed in the last few years, some of the experts called it a “correction”, meaning the market was just going to where it should have been in the first place. They said the housing devaluation was also a correction, taking housing prices to where they belonged also. I have also heard some people describe it as a bubble that was grossly overblown that finally burst. I actually like the correction analogy the best, as it makes the most sense to me. What it all boils down to is that homes and investments were grossly overvalued, and now they are not. We bought a house that was for living in, raising our families in, building memories in and were told it was not a home, but an investment. We were told that our property was appreciating twenty percent a year, with no end in sight, we bought into a lie. It corrected! 

For the last two decades we have been told our security is in mutual funds, as they are impervious to stock market fluctuations, so we all poured into our 401k’s assuming we would continue to grow it at fifteen to twenty percent per year. Our investments are safe if in a 401k, no need to worry there. When the stock market crashed and lost sixty percent, we saw the rock solid mutual funds crash, these rock solid funds that are designed to weather a financial hurricane, crash. Once again, the financial markets and stability were a lie. It Corrected! 

For the last two decades in this country, many Americans have been blessed financially beyond what their parents ever thought would be possible for them. Things like cars, houses, gadget’s, sex, traveling, physical appearance, and pretty much any form of instant gratification have taken the place of God. In the past few decades, we have stopped taking care of our elderly parents, and just started putting them into rest homes. Greed has become a socially acceptable thing, it’s not greed, it’s just business. We begin to get luxuries confused with needs, thinking that weekly golf game with the boys, or that regular pedicure or manicure, or satellite TV are things we cannot live without. All of this hinges on what, that stable career you have. Then comes the cutbacks and guess what. We’re Corrected! 

Now here is the good news, this has all happened before, many times. And every time it has happened in the past, God steps in and wakes his people up with a little turbulence. In the Old Testament, Israel was always going between; 1. Serving God 2. Enjoying his blessings 3.Getting overly prosperous then comfortable 4.Turning to worldly Idols 5.God rocks their world (correction) 6. They cry out to God, He saves them. 

My friends who have fallen on hard times have lost jobs, houses and cars, but they are all still eating, their children still go to school, and none of them that I know is homeless. Some have had to move in with family and learn to allow others to help them. In Matt 6: 25-34 

25″Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]? 28″And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 

So my friends, let’s not waste a lot of time worrying about what the future holds for us, we may have a correction coming from our Heavenly Father, but our NEEDS will be met, everything else is just stuff. Allow Him to mold you into the man or woman of Christ he wants you to be, even if it is a little painful. God Bless and Keep You Always!
JFT

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“Up on a Pedestal”
As you walk out of church on Sunday, you talk with your pastor briefly, tell him how much you appreciated today’s message and thank him for the direction he is leading our church in. As you near the parking lot you turn to your husband and say how you admire what a man of God the pastor is. How our church has grown so much since he came, he seems to be so close with God, he seems to just be so “perfect”.
When we put people on a pedestal, we are setting them up for a great fall, and setting ourselves up for a huge disappointment. When we place people on pedestals, we also hold them to a different standard than we hold everyone else to, and when they fall, we tend to not forgive them as freely as we do regular folks who slip up. A famous politician who espouses family values and has been married for many years suddenly gets caught with a mistress. A famous televangelist who preaches weekly on a religious network is caught with a prostitute. A woman you admire at work for her dedication and work ethic is revealed to have a serious drug problem.
King David was a man who was well known to follow God’s will. It started very early on in his life when he slew Goliath with just a sling and a stone. He continued to turn to God throughout his life, and was an inspiration to anyone who knew him. Many who knew him would have also placed him on a pedestal too, but he was also just a man, flesh and blood with the ability to be tempted just like everyone else. In 2 Samuel 11: 2-4 2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her.
Bathsheba became pregnant, and David wanted her to himself, so he schemed a way to make her available. Her husband Uriah was a soldier, and they had a war going on so this is where we could say “the plot thickens”. 2 Samuel 11: 14-16 14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” 16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.
So it wasn’t bad enough that he had committed adultery with the young woman, he sent her husband to his death so that he could have her himself. The Lord was angry with David for his behavior, David repented, the Lord made David pay a hefty price for his sins (the death of the child Bathsheba bore him) then he forgave him, and the Lord’s blessing settled on King David again. David was a truly impressive man, with a true passion to serve the Lord with all of his heart, but he fell too. Many of the greatest leaders in the Bible have fallen at one time or another, yet they were still great leaders. All of us are susceptible to temptations and weaknesses.
That great leader at your church, or at work, or where-ever they are, just remember that they are a person just like you, with all the same weaknesses and vulnerabilities as anyone. Admire, Love, hold dear but please be careful about placing them on a pedestal, they are only human. God Bless and Keep You All
JFT

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Next stop, Giza
Hanan and I have a new outlook since becoming rested up at Malik’s home. We have been here for six days now, far longer than anywhere we have been since we began running. Our sanctuary is running out though, we know it will not be safe for much longer. We have plans for our future now, and with God’s blessing, we hope to start a new life soon. Hasani brought our new passports yesterday with our new names and new residency in Palestine. We had to memorize where we live, our names, and memorize all the stamps in our passports, that we may tell the customs officer where we have been without looking at the passport. Hasani purchased us round trip tickets on a tour bus that left the Israeli border town of Rafah two days ago and will be returning to Rafah from the great pyramid of Giza this afternoon. God willing, we will watch the sun set over the Mediterranean this evening from Israel, the home of Christ.
Malik has given us two suitcases to place our belongings in, and he and Dina gave us new clothes to wear today that make us look like vacationers. As we place the suitcases in the rear of Hasani’s car and prepare to depart, tears streak our face as we say goodbye to our dear friends, probably for forever. Malik gives us more money, so that we may look like tourists, after all what tourist leaves his country with no money. Then they go back inside in an attempt to not draw any local attention to us or Hasani. As we drive towards Giza, we are all quiet as we try to prepare for the task that awaits us. We try out our best “poker faces” as the Americans call it, trying to get ready for the Customs agents, and I am impressed with Hanan’s, she looks like a tourist through and through.
Hasani drops us at the bus depot and says goodbye, then drives off without looking back as we make our way to the pickup area. There are people from everywhere here, many Americans or Canadians speaking English as they prepare to move on to their next adventure. The bus for Rafah is up ahead, so we move in that direction. The porter asks to see our passports and scrutinizes them carefully, looking up to verify our photos, then he hands them back, takes our tickets, punches them and loads our suitcases as we climb aboard the bus and sit in the back. The driver prepares to leave and is about to close the door when a policeman climbs aboard and looks around. I turn my face towards Hanan’s and downward as she buries her head into my shoulder, acting as though we have fallen asleep. The officer looks keenly about, then nods to the driver and steps back off the bus, the driver closes the door and the trip begins, whew.
Three and a half hours later, we are at the border with Israel in Rafah. We exit the bus and our suitcases are handed to us by the porter, as he smiles and thanks us for choosing their bus line. We smile back and thank him for the tour. Now we walk into the border and customs station, doing everything we can to look and act confident as we head toward Israel and possible freedom. The line is fairly long as we wait and watch others go through, counting the seconds until it will be our turn at scrutiny. Two men are at the front of the line and one is speaking in a raised voice with the customs agent as the large officer looks back at them in a way that tells us he is a no nonsense type of man. He then warns the man to lower his voice, and when he doesn’t the officer speaks into a microphone on his lapel and two men with machine guns slung on their shoulders show up. They hold the two men by their elbows and escort them to a room off to the side, go in and close the door. The officer resumes business as usual, and soon it is our turn. We calmly walk up to the window and the officer asks us for our passports. What was your business out of the country he asks, and I tell him we are on holiday seeing the pyramids and Alexandria. He looks at us both, smiles at Hanan, stamps our passports and says welcome home, next. As we walk through the terminal on the Israeli side, the relief of having made it through surges through us. For the first time in months, we are not being hunted here; we are just tourists heading back home.
One Year Later
The U.S. consulate was sympathetic to our plight due mostly to the fact that Hanan had no other parent but me, so there was no decision to be made as to whether on she should be with the muslim or Christian parent, which happens often, so they granted us asylum. I am working at a refinery in Texas now, and Hanan is back in school. Our knowledge of the English language has helped us greatly as we have settled in and begun to make a home. For the first time in my life, I can afford to live in a house rather than an apartment. Everything here is so green; trees, grass everywhere, and the people are very kind. We go to a large church down the street, one where we raise the roof praising God without fear of reprisals. We tell them of the persecution that brothers and sisters are enduring around the world for their faith at the hand of the muslims. We told them what we had to do so that we might worship freely like they do, how we were fugitives, but they just don’t get it. The Americans have lived so insulated in their religious freedom for so long that they do not know how well they have it, what a gift from God it is to be able to meet. Well, Hanan and I know how wonderful it is, and as long as we live, we will never forget to be grateful for the chance to sing a hymn freely, carry a Bible under our arm, to pray in a restaurant. We will never forget to thank God daily for these blessings.

This story while fiction is based on factual information from Christians in Egypt.

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Cairo,

As we moved onto the boulevard near my brother’s house, we looked up and down the street to make sure there were no police looking for us. I think for a moment how terrible it is that I have to subject my daughter to this, she should be in school. I wish she could be playing kickball with her girlfriends, not running for her life with her father. As we board a bus that will take us across Cairo to the vicinity of Malik’s neighborhood, we notice someone from the security services sitting at the back of the bus. He doesn’t seem to see us, so we immediately step back off of the bus and begin walking quickly in the same direction as the bus would be going. As we near a street corner, we stop to look back, just in time to see the officer getting off the bus and looking wildly in all directions, speaking into a radio he had worn on his belt. Go Hanan, there is no time to waste as we turn right down the adjoining street and break into a run, holding hands that we may stay together. As we near the next corner, the officer rounds the first corner, and blows a whistle around his neck at us. We cut to the left down a narrow alley and then an immediate right at a tee in the alley. We zigzag down a maze of alleys, no idea where we are until an area opens up into a parking area, we run to the back of the parking area, and slide onto the ground behind a large van. There is still no sign of the officer as we slide under the van and hold our breath. We lay there quietly as we hear the pitter patter of feet running by in the alley. There are now three people we count going by, the sound of their radios telling us there is now a formal search on.

Hanan and I lay under the van for more than two hours until the search was given up. As we crawled out I was so stiff it was hard to stand again. We must find a way out of this country; we cannot continue to keep this running up for much longer. As we warily exit the extensive alley system and venture back onto a main street, we see a taxi at the curb, and we quickly get in it. We tell the man where we need to go, and he starts to go into that direction. I do not have much money left, as I left my job as a production supervisor at the refinery about four months ago. But I do have enough to pay the driver to get to our destination. The driver then begins to tell us that the police were looking for someone in the area. As our hearts are in our throats, we pull to a stop at a light. He then looks over his shoulder, pulls something from inside his shirt around his neck, and shocks us when we see it. He shows us a crucifix he has on a chain and tells us, he too is a follower of Christ. As we let out our breaths with relief, he says the police showed him a picture of us, asking if he had seen us, and he told them no. He drives us to Malik’s home, and asks us if we would like to pray together. We praise God together, and then to my surprise he pulls money from his pocket and gives it to me. As my eyes tear up, he says bless you brother as we get out, then he pulls away.

Malik and his family greet us warmly as we quickly enter their home and close the door behind us. After getting settled in, eating and hydrating ourselves, he tells us why there is so much pressure to find us. The local imam has issued a Fatwa for our blood because of our Apostasy, leaving the muslim faith is about the worst thing you can do so a blood order has been issued on us. Any muslim who identifies us is authorized by the mosque to spill our blood, and the authorities will turn the other way. We must find a way out of this country. Malik and his wife Dina tell us that we are welcome to stay as long as it is safe for us. Dina is kind as she washes our clothes for us, and we relax for the first time in a week. Hanan plays with their two daughters and for a while forgets what it is like to be a fugitive.

Malik has been talking with a man he knows who works with getting Christians forged passports to get into Israel as Palestinians. Once out of Egypt, you can go to the American consulate and seek religious asylum. I ask Malik how much money it would cost to produce a false passport for Hanan and myself. He then tells me Hasani is a Christian, and although he needs money too, he will do it for whatever we can pay, and if we can’t afford to pay that is fine, he will do it anyway. Hope floods my soul for the first time in months, as I have a glimpse at a life not having to live as a fugitive with my daughter. Malik’s home is safe for us, it is across Cairo, and the reach of the local imam on our side of the city is not as strong over here. Our picture has not been circulated in this neighborhood, still, it will only be a matter of time until we are not safe here either, so we take advantage of the break. We get rested and refreshed as we fellowship with Malik, Dina and their two girls.

On the second day, Hasani comes over and takes our picture for our passport photo. A no nonsense man, efficient and curt yet there is a kindness to his eyes as he asks us information on our size, height, weight, age and other information needed for a passport. After a beat, he tells us we will easily pass for Palestinians and not to worry. We will use the story that we were on holiday seeing the Pyramids of Giza and we are returning home. He gives us other information to memorize and tells us we will have passports and be ready to cross into Israel in two more days. The final countdown has begun.

To Be Continued

This story while fiction is based on factual information from Christians in Egypt.

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