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They were running now, trying to get back to the camp where the motorbikes were parked. The sky above them erupted again in a blaze of light, which sent them diving for the cover of a thicket. Down in the valley below a state power line pylon dissolved in a molten mass of sparks and flame, leaving the high voltage wires writhing and hissing like snakes on the ground.
‘That was too close for comfort, let’s get outta here,’ said Ryan, setting off again in the direction of their overnight camp, deep in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina.
Chad and Ryan, two seventeen-year-old friends, had heard about certain strange events that had been taking place worldwide. Newscasts had predicted solar flares may be reaching earth soon, but the boys had not expected anything like this.
‘Do you think this is the start of the end time tribulation that the Bible predicts will happen?’ ventured Ryan cautiously, knowing that Chad would scoff at anything that smacked of religion.
‘Don’t start with that baloney now,’ said Chad predictably. ‘Solar flares happen all the time, it’s just that these are a bit worse than usual.’
They reached their camp and started packing up immediately. Slinging their packs on their backs they mounted up. ‘Let’s head for the stream and fill our water bottles,’ said Chad, ‘mine is empty.’ They headed down the track and arrived at the stream. Jumping off his bike, Chad was about to dip his water bottle in the water when he let out a yelp. ‘Ryan, check this water out, it’s like red and sticky.’ Ryan joined him and dipped his hand in the stream. ‘Chad,’ he said, ‘I think this is ……… at least it looks like …….blood?’
‘How can that be, what does it mean?’ stammered Chad.
‘I think this is it,’ said Ryan, wiping his wet hand on his jeans. ‘I think we are near to the end.’
‘What do you mean by ….. the end?’ Chad’s face was ashen. ‘Are we gonna die out here? I can’t die yet, man, I’m not ready. I haven’t done what Ma wanted ………..’ He was cut short by a massive explosion above as the sky lit up with sparks from horizon to horizon, as if a giant hand was arc welding in the atmosphere above them.
Ryan grabbed Chad by his shoulders. ‘Get a grip on yourself, man, and don’t panic, we are not alone. What did your Ma want you to do?’
‘She said I should go to church, and I wouldn’t go. She begged me, but I didn’t listen, now it’s too late.’
“But church won’t save you, you must believe in Jesus. All this stuff happening could mean that Jesus is coming to save us soon. If you believe in Him, you’ll be safe. You just need to believe in Him. Why are you worrying about joining a church now?’
‘Because Ma said it's the first step,’ stammered Chad, tears rolling from his eyes. ‘Now it’s too late to do what she wanted.’
‘Maybe not,’ said Ryan, reaching for his satellite phone. ‘If this thing is still working, you can join a church right now, and even listen to the Word being preached and join in prayer with others. It's a church online. I’m sure there are many people praying about what’s happening around us now.’
‘How can you have a whole church that’s online, that doesn’t make sense?’ Chad asked, but he now had hope in his eyes.
‘Think of it as a church without walls; imagine a congregation that’s joined in the Spirit, but spread all over the world. Hey, I’m connected, not everything is haywire yet. Here’s a good online sermon entitled a Fresh Start, let’s listen.’
The two listened in silence, ignoring the explosions around them. They heard the pastor encourage the congregation not to be afraid, even though they do not know what lies ahead.
‘Lord Jesus, make me part of your Kingdom,’ whispered Chad softly. Ryan placed his hand gently on Chad’s shoulder and whispered: ‘Thank you, Lord.’
Suddenly the sky became incandescent as a huge coronal mass hit the atmosphere directly above them, sending tons of molten plasma hurtling earthwards.
The two boys lifted their hands, and looking upwards murmured, ‘Jesus.’
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