Friday, April 26, 2013

Part 7 of Fearless Trust in God

Based on Psalm 27

     Hernandez' men were looking for Julio, Ricardo and Ben.  None of them answered their cells.  By the time they found Julio and Ricardo cuffed to Sheila's bed, the three escapees were 30 minutes ahead of them.  Sheila was hungry and dehydrated, so they cautiously stopped for eat and drink at a gas station.  Ben and Sheila were grateful to be out of that hell.  They were especially grateful to Jesus for redeeming them.  Ben got gas and they drove north.  They were heading for the Canadian border and they did not know how long they would have to be in Canada.  They had to drive 400 miles.  Hernandez had his men looking for them.  They had GPS' in each of the vehicles and tried to track them down that way.  Ben didn't know how far they'd get before Hernandez' men would catch up.  They were out near the mountains again.  They had to go back into town and get rid of the vehicle and find another mode of transportation.  Did they lose the goons by coming out this far?  Was it safe to go back?  Drew thought of Kyle.  He could borrow his friend's truck for awhile.  He didn't want his friend involved in this mess, but they needed new wheels.  They didn't have much time before Hernandez' men found them with a GPS detector.  Drew called Kyle quickly.

     Drew got off the phone with Kyle and ten minutes later, Kyle drove up.  They abandoned Hernandez' vehicle and just drove wherever the wind blew them.  The men got to Hernandez' car that had been abandoned, about an hour later, and Hernandez was very angry.  They saw the second set of tire tracks, but once the road began, they didn't know which way the other vehicle went.  They didn't even have an idea of what make the vehicle was.  Kyle drove to the next state.  They got hotel rooms under assumed names.  Ben made sure they would all have fake IDs.  They checked in at the Holiday Inn Express as Ken Driscoll (Kyle), Benito Alvarado (Ben), David Cisco (Drew), Mario Suarez (Manuel), and Shelly Wilson (Sheila).  Sheila didn't want to be alone and felt uncomfortable sharing a room with Drew, so Pastor Manuel  stayed in her room.  Kyle, Drew and Ben shared a room.  They all ate at the restaurant nearby, they watched a movie, then they slept, waking up at 6a.m. the next morning to get to the next state.  It was a long drive for them.  Sheila was in tears, worried they'd be found out and killed.  She cried out, "Hear me Lord.  Please answer my prayers to get us out of here."  Drew quoted Psalm 27:7 to her.  "Here Oh Lord, when I cry with my voice, and be gracious to me and answer me".  They sang a song of praise as they drove down the road and Sheila wiped her tears.

     Sheila was still terrified, so Pastor Manuel comforted her with the Word of God.  He told her that God is with all of them and that nothing happens without God allowing it.  That gave little comfort to Sheila though.  She thought to herself, then why do bad things happen at all?  She was afraid to ask that question out loud.  She took the Bible and read through Psalms.  She thought about how David was in such turmoil, from what sins he had done, and the turmoil from his enemies.  She wondered where he got all that faith to praise God in spite of his trials.  Pastor Manuel looked at Sheila with a questioning look.  "You look like you have something to ask".  Sheila shook her head and kept reading.  "OK, when you're ready, we'll be here for you," the pastor told her.  "Thanks", she responded.  All but Sheila shared the driving.  Drew was at the wheel now.  They drove and watched closely for Hernandez' men.  Ben knew where they were, but now, Hernandez' men had no clue where they were...thankfully.  "We're about 10 minutes from a place to eat," Drew announced.  Thankfully, Kyle's truck had a big back seat.  Kyle was sitting shotgun next to Drew and Manuel, Ben and Sheila were in the back.  They had about 200 more miles to go to get to the Canadian border.  Too far for anyone's comfort.  Drew and the rest all kept to the speed limits, not to attract attention to the police or anyone.  Drew continued while Pastor Manuel chatted with Sheila and Ben.  Kyle was elated that his best friend and his new friends were all Christians.  He had also been praying for Sheila when praying for Drew.  He knew for sure that God was faithful.

     Kyle was thinking about what Drew quoted earlier and remembered that night at church when Drew came for the first time.  It looked as though Drew was really listening to the pastor that night, but he also knew that Drew was skeptical.  When Drew told Kyle that he memorized Psalm 27, Kyle was surprised.  He never knew he was that interested that he memorized 14 verses in Psalms.  They pulled up to this old diner, Mama's Family Diner.  A real home cooked meal they all thought.  They got out cautiously looking for their enemies.  They went in and got to sit anywhere they wanted.  This place was drabby, but at least it was clean.  Drew ordered Dr. Pepper.  Sheila ordered the same.  Pastor Manuel and Kyle ordered coke and Ben ordered water.  They waited 5 minutes for the drinks and another 10 minutes for the waitress to take the order.  There were 3 tables full.  It didn't look very busy but they still were slow in serving.  Ben was uncomfortable waiting so long and tried to hurry them up.  "Hi!  My name is Kelly.  I'll be your waitress.  What would you like to order?," the waitress announced.  Sheila ordered a cheese burger with sweet potato fries.  Ben ordered a BLT with cole slaw and fries.  Kyle ordered a roast beef sandwhich with chips.  Pastor Manuel ordered a chef's salad and split-pea soup, and Drew ordered the chef's special, Chili and Southern cornbread.  they ate, left the tip, gave their thanks to the waitress and took off for the next state.

     About 2 hours later they pulled up to a Best Western, under their assumed names.  Again, the pastor and Sheila shared a room.  Shelia had nightmares of her captivity and how they treated her.  She woke up screaming 3 times.  She was still weak from the bad treatment she endured.  She finally slept about 3 good hours and they all got up again at 6 a.m.  They were again on their way.  They had their continental breakfast and took off for the border.  Pastor Manuel prayed out loud before they left.  Sheila felt more at ease, even after those nightmares.  Each time she woke up, the pastor prayed with her.  Peace surrounded her this day.  "We're almost home free," sheila exclaimed.  They all said their "amens".  Ben had questions too about his new found faith.  As he drove, the pastor and him talked.  Sheila listened intently.  Ben asked the pastor how God could forgive a murderer.  How God could love someone who had done so many wrongs.  The pastor explained that any confessed sin is forgivable, that Jesus has wiped all sin away with His shed blood.  Ben was still feeling guilty and the pastor explained there was no reason to anymore, that his sins were covered.  Ben had killed 5 people in his life.  He was suppose to kill Drew, Sheila and the pastor the night they left.  He didn't share that bit of information with them...just yet.  He had to find the right time.  Ben thought about Psalm 27:7 also, and wanted God to answer all of his questions.  God would, in His time.

Next time, Part 8 will continue their journey to a new country.  Stay tuned for more of Fearless Trust in God...

Thanks for being patient and waiting for each portion of my story.
God bless you all!





Thursday, April 18, 2013

Part 6 of Fearless Trust in God

Based on Psalm 27

     Drew and Manuel thought right.  The exchange was too good to be true.  It was 11 p.m. and they were at the old antique building.  Hernandez was waiting...impatiently.  His goons were all armed and ready for anything.  Drew was scared again.  Pastor Manuel was a little uneasy as well, but they both prayed...for a miracle.  Hernandez was rapping his fingers on his right hand, on the table.  His gun was next to his left hand.  Poppi and Fernando were behind Drew and Pastor Manuel pointing their guns at the both of them.  "Who is this?", Hernandez asked, referring to Manuel.  "He's a friend," Drew answered, scared as all get out.  "Didn't I tell you to go alone?", Hernandez asked impatiently.  "Yes sir," Drew answered.  He heard Sheila in the back and she screamed.  It startled both Drew and the pastor.  Hernandez began to laugh.  All his men began to laugh also.  Then he looked angrily in Drew's eyes and asked him.  "How much do you love your precious Sheila?"  Drew swallowed hard and responded with, "With all my heart."  Hernandez just stared at him with a puzzled look.  Drew had no idea what would happen next.  "Then why would you put her and yourself, and your 'friend', in such grave danger?", Hernandez questioned.  "I...I...don't...know," he said with his head down.  "Sit down, friend.  Go on...sit!", Hernandez demanded.

     Drew sat and couldn't make sense of Hernandez' actions.  Neither could Pastor Manuel.  "You sit too," Hernandez told the pastor.  Pastor Manuel cautiously sat to the right of Drew.  They looked at each other, then both looked at Hernandez.  Hernandez just smiled.  They sat in silence for about five minutes.  Drew became more and more anxious as the clock on the wall ticked incessantly.  Hernandez laughed again, and asked, "Are you scared?"  Drew answered, "Yes".  "You should be very scared indeed," Hernandez told them.  "Now tell me who you are and what do you have to do with this young man?", Hernandez asked Pastor Manuel.  "I am Manuel Lopez, nephew of the late Samuel Lopez," Pastor Lopez responded.  Hernandez had that puzzled angry look again.  Hernandez asked sharply, "And am I suppose to know him?"   The pastor answered him, "You may have heard of him.  He was a drug dealer.  I took over after he was killed."  He looked at the pastor and said, "Never heard of him."  Pastor Manuel was not only surprised but relieved.  That meant none of these goons knew the truth...that he was now a pastor.  "Where's the money my friend?," Hernandez asked Pastor Manuel.  He handed over the case.  Hernandez counted the money.  It was all there.  Hernandez smiled.  "OK."  His goons grabbed both of them and handcuffed them and took them to where Sheila was.  "Now I will decide what to do with the three of you.  I'm not sure I want this much blood on my hands all at once," Hernandez said.

     They threw Drew and the pastor into Sheila's room.  She was handcuffed to a small bed.  There were no windows and barely enough light to see.  The room smelled dirty, like a mixture of mold and sweat.  The stench was almost unbearable.  The only saving grace was Drew seeing Sheila.  They hugged and tears flowed from Sheila's eyes.  All she could say over and over was "I'm sorry."  Drew didn't understand.  All three were cuffed to the same bed.  Drew held Sheila as she sobbed.  Drew knew.  He knew they wouldn't be killed.  But both the pastor and Sheila thought differently.  Drew counted on Psalm 27 to get him through, and remembered Psalm 27:6.  "And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, and I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord."  Drew wondered how God would save them, but he knew God would.  Drew told Sheila about his "change" and the pastor also shared his testimony with her also.  Sheila then confessed to Drew what she was into.  Sheila had gotten into some trouble with some drug dealers.  She was buying and selling coke.  She never let a soul know.  When she started going with Drew, she wanted out, but couldn't escape.  Drew cried for a moment, then smiled and forgave her.  He told her it would be alright.  She didn't understand Christianity, but wanted to know more.  That elated Drew and Pastor Manuel.  

     They were given a little bit of food and just one glass of water, then the lights went out.  Drew and the pastor were to sleep on the hard, cold, concrete floor.  None of them could sleep that night.  The food they ate was just crumbs of what Hernandez and his men ate that night, and the water was dirty.  There were mice and roaches in the small room and they only let Sheila shower twice a week.  Her hair was tangled and in disarray, her clothes torn and dirty.  Drew about came unglued at seeing her this way, but held his composure for her sake.  Drew gave Sheila his Bible to read.  She started on the Psalms.  She cried as she read.  When she finally got to chapter 27, she broke down completely.  The guard at the door heard her read all of Psalm 27 aloud.  He was interested in what she read.  The guard remembered hearing that passage before, but couldn't remember where.  It was about 3:30 a.m. and the guard came into the room.  This startled the three of them.  The guard held his gun at them and grabbed Drew's Bible out of Sheila's hand.  He put his right index finger up to his mouth, telling them to be quiet.  He read Psalm 27 with tears in his eyes.  There was puzzlement mixed with hope in their three sets of eyes.  "My name is Ben.  My mother is a Christian.  I never understood her belief, until now," the guard announced.  Drew shared the Gospel with Ben and Sheila, still letting Ben believe that Pastor Manuel was a drug dealer.  Ben was 23.  He went to college but couldn't find a job in his field.  He studied education and there were so many cuts in the last several years that he couldn't find a job, so he got hooked up with this "family".  His father was a gang member in the area and got him hooked up.  His mother was divorced from his father and then became a Christian soon after.  She prayed for Ben ever since.

     Ben asked questions and so did Sheila.  They were still uncertain, but they did realize Drew was the real deal.  The pastor went along posing as a drug dealer and asked questions too.  Neither Drew or Pastor Manuel knew if this guy Ben was legit or not in being interested in Jesus.  He might turn on them all at any time.  Drew was a believer now for only a few days but shared the Gospel like he believed for years.  Pastor Manuel was impressed.  Ben heard Sheila's story how she tried to get out of the drug scene and was wanting a way out too.  Here was his chance, but would he be killed?  The other guards got suspicious and checked on Ben.  A guard by the name of Julio came in and asked if Ben was OK.  Ben answered, "There was some trouble here but I took care of it.  They won't act up again.  I'll be out in a moment, go on!", Ben ordered.  Julio and Ben were best friends since joining the "family".  Julio was 22, a high school dropout.  Julio was cautious around Ben, not trusting his motives at all.  Julio waited at the door.  "We'll talk later," Ben told them.  He came out of the dank room acting all tough.  Julio raised his eyebrow at Ben.  Ben shooed him away.  "I've got this.  No problem," Ben assured Julio.  Julio was suspicious, but couldn't pin down what to be suspicious about.  Julio and another guy by the name of Ricardo, kept an eye on Ben all night.  Ben was uncomfortable with the two guys watching him.  He had no idea what to do next.

     Sheila was crying uncontrollably and Drew didn't know how to help.  She was trembling and it wasn't just from the cold.  Drew tried so hard to calm her down.  Ben heard her wail, as did the other two guys.  Ben went in to "take care of them".  Julio and Ricardo didn't think much of it.  They just thought that Ben was going in there because the girl was throwing a fit.  But they watched Ben as he went in.  Ben went in to see if he could help.  He was thinking of a plan for all of them to escape.  He wanted out of the business.  He wanted Sheila, Drew and Manuel safe, and...he wanted to know more about this Jesus.  He played the game well.  "Quit your crying or I'll...", Ben pretended to threaten.  He went in like he was going to kill someone.  "What I really want to know is more about your Jesus", he whispered to them.  Sheila stopped crying.  All three of them smiled at Ben.  Sheila was still unsure, but was happy that maybe Ben was on their side.  Drew told him more about Jesus and they opened the Bible and read.  Ben was amazed, as was Sheila.  Ben and Sheila asked several questions about God, Jesus, the Bible, and salvation.  They were both a little skeptical, but saw something in Drew.  Sheila now knew about Pastor Manuel, but Ben didn't.  Sheila and Ben both, felt a tug at their hearts and they both began to weep.  Julio and Ricardo were out of hearing range, thank goodness.  10 minutes later, Ben and Sheila both gave their lives to Jesus and Ben had a plan to get them out.

     Ben quietly looked out the door.  No one was around.  His gun was in his belt and ready to be used.  He motioned for them to be quiet and left the room.  He ran down the hall yelling at Julio and Ricardo to help him.  "What happened?", Julio asked startled.  At the same time, Ricardo asked the same thing.  "Hey you two!  Where have you been?  I've got a big problem with the three prisoners!  Come!  Quick!", Ben spouted off.  They scrambled in the direction of the room.  They came to the door.  "Quick!  Julio!  Go in first!", Ben shouted.  Ricardo was motioned to go in after Julio.  On the shout of Ben telling the other two to go in, Drew and Pastor Manuel were suppose to stage a fight, and they went at it.  "Hey you two!  Knock it off!", Julio yelled.  Ricardo and Julio were trying to pull the two men apart when Drew, Manuel, and Ben, attacked the two men.  By the time they realized what was happening, Ben and the pastor gagged them, and Drew handcuffed them to the bed.  They still had to get past the others, but there was a door which no one guarded, so they went out that door and got away.  They all got into one of the vehicles and Ben drove them away.  They sang and gave praise to Jesus, but they also knew that those who were in the building would soon figure out the plan, and come after them.

Stay tuned next time for Part 7





Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Part Five: Fearless Trust in God

A short story based on Psalm 27

     A man stood, about 6 feet tall, with black hair.  He touched Drew's shoulder.  Drew got his gun ready for the attack.  "Excuse me, are you OK, son?", the man asked.  Drew looked back into the man's kind eyes.  He was speechless.  "Can I help you?", the man asked again.  "I am Pastor Manuel Lopez.  I am the senior pastor here.  I am checking to see if there were any visitors tonight."  Drew was relieved.  "I...I'm Drew...Drew Baker, and I'm in trouble," Drew told him.  Drew got up and turned towards the pastor to shake his hand.  The pastor looked puzzled by Drew's statement.  "What kind of trouble, son?"  Drew explained the situation about Sheila's kidnapping and his impending drug deal.  "What can I do to help?", the pastor asked.  Drew's hands were shaking with fear.  His whole body started to tremble, and he almost passed out.  He stumbled a little and the man caught him before he fell.  "Hold on, son.  It'll be OK."  The pastor helped in sit in the pew and he sat down beside him.  Drew completely broke down and sobbed.  The pastor held him while he wept.  "You can stay here as long as you want to Drew. I can even get the police involved."  Drew panicked.  He told him he didn't want the police involved at all, that getting them involved would get Sheila killed.  The pastor shook his head.  He asked Drew if he could pray for him and his girlfriend.  Drew said yes.  They prayed and Drew told Pastor Manuel that he had just became a believer.  Pastor Manuel slapped him on the back and welcomed Drew to the family of God.

     Drew told the pastor about Psalm 27, and how it has helped him in his time of trouble.  The pastor shared how that passage helped him when he first got saved as well.  Drew's eyes widen as the pastor told him.  He was amazed how similar each story was to the other.  Pastor Manuel grew up an orphan and was adopted by his Uncle Samuel Lopez.  He was a drug dealer who used Pastor Manuel to traffic drugs, when the pastor was a kid.  Pastor Manuel grew up tough, but realized, when he was 19 and in jail, that his life meant nothing, and that there was no way out of his life.  He was in jail for dealing heroin.  His uncle died in a shoot out, by rival dealers.  He died when Pastor Manuel was 18.  He had to make a living for himself, now that his uncle was gone.  When sitting in the jail cell he thought about God, out of nowhere.  He never grew up going to church in the least.  He did however, watch a sermon by Charles Stanley one Sunday when he was about to do a drug deal...the day he was arrested.  The sermon was on The Fearless Trust in God.  The same as what had happened with Drew his first time at church.  He watched all of it but laughed and shrugged it off, then he went to his business at hand.  The drug deal went bad.  He was duped by an undercover cop.  He was arrested and his trial was waiting.  Three days later, he thought about killing himself.  Then he thought about Psalm 27.  Pastor Manuel went on to say that at that time, he met a cell mate, who went to Bible Study on Tuesdays.  He invited Manuel to go.  Still in jail, 3 months later, on the day of his trial, he accepted Jesus into his life.  6 months later, he was out of jail, in school and studying to be a pastor.  Drew was amazed at this. 

     Drew thought, maybe there is a way to get out of this.  He had hope once again.  He had about 3 hours before he had to go for the drop off.  They talked for another half hour about Jesus, Sheila, Kyle and Aunt Rita.  They also talked about Pastor Manuel's family.  He had a wife, Sylvia, and four children, Benito, 15, Yolanda, 12, Fredrico, 9, and Amelia, 6.  They also had Sylvia's parents, Pedro and Rebecca Santos.  It was a tough life for all of them.  The ministry didn't pay much.  Sylvia worked as a seamstress for a rich old lady, who paid her pittance.  The two older children worked on a local farm as harvesters.  The grandparents took care of the two younger ones while their parents were working.  The grandparents were in their late 60's and their health wasn't good, but they had to help raise the children.  Drew found all this amazing and interesting.  He was in awe.  "I met my Sylvia in college, married her a year later, then we got pregnant 3 months later with Benito."  Pastor Manuel continued.  "She lived with her parents until we got married."  He went on.  He stopped. He looked at Drew, square in the eyes and offered to help him in whatever way he could.  He told him of an idea he had, but would it work?

     It was risky and he had a family at home to take care of but he was willing to help Drew.  He showed Drew his gun inside his coat.  He told Drew that he never went anywhere without it, and smiled.  None of Juarez' or Hernandez' men knew of Pastor Manuel.  They knew of a Manuel Lopez, who was a drug dealer years ago.  Pastor Manuel and Drew went to the drop off address a little before 8 a.m.  "I'll go in with you, as Manuel Lopez the drug dealer.  You'll just tell them I am here to help get the money safely back to the states."  Pastor Manuel told him.  "Just as long as I'm not a police officer, we'll be fine."  Drew was nervous and sweating because of nerves.  He wasn't sure of this whole thing, but went along with it.  When they got to the old building there were two vehicles out in front.  Two black SUV's.  There were two guards with guns at the door, and they waved them in.  A man was sitting in an old worn recliner, while watching a 50" flat screen TV on the wall.  He was definitely a soccer fan.  He was Chilean and Chile and Mexico were playing.  He heard Drew and Pastor Manuel come in and turned the game off.  "Well, well, who did you bring with you?  You were told to come alone!"  Drew's sweat ran down his face and he wiped it off with his sleeve.  "I am Manuel Lopez.  I came as a favor of my friend here.  I mean no harm."  The man looked puzzled at him.  "The Lopez boy that ran his uncle's business?"  the man asked.  "Si."  Manuel spoke in Spanish.  "Aha!  I see..."  "Oh, let me introduce myself.  Excuse my rudeness.  I am Ramon Valdez.  Let's get down to business.  You must be Drew.  Do you have my package?"  Drew started to hand him the package, but Manuel stopped him.  "The money?"  Manuel asked.  "Aha!  Smart man."  Senor Valdez handed him a briefcase with hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Drew opened it to verify it.  Manuel nodded at Drew.  The exchange was made with ease, almost too easy both Pastor Manuel and Drew thought.

     Pastor Manuel made arrangements to go to the mainland of the United States.  He said goodbye to his wife, children and his in-laws.  They all cried and hugged each other.  They all prayed together, then the pastor and Drew went back to the hotel to meet Poppi and Fernando with the money.  The two men were angry that this guy, Manuel Lopez, came with Drew, but allowed him to fly back with them to the states.  Fernando had his eye on the pastor the entire flight while Poppi flew them back.  All Drew could think about was what God had told minister to His people.  He thought about Psalm 27:5 for a moment.  He remembered the words in his mind.  For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.  Drew was troubled by this for several hours.  He prayed and read his Bible the whole way.  Pastor Manuel prayed as well in silence.  Fernando sneered at Drew and wondered about Manuel knowing Drew.  Fernando thought to himself, how can this kid know this drug dealer and pray to God?  Drew looked up at Fernando and gave him a smile that startled Fernando.  It was like Drew knew what he was thinking.  It gave Fernando a chill.  The plane landed.  Drew knew what he had to do after this whole ordeal was over.  He had to become a minister.  He could not bear the thought of ever leaving God's sanctuary.

Stay tuned for the next part of the story coming up soon...I hope.  Leave comments on my blog and let me know what you think.  Thank you all very much and enjoy!