The faint glow of a fire flickered on young Kaisin’s face.
A man stood through the flames ahead. His outstretched arms beckoned to him. “Kaisin!”
Kaisin shook. Something about this was wrong. Something terribly wrong.
A large hand fell upon his shoulder. A face fell to his ear. “Go, Kaisin. Go, or die.” Kaisin felt the slight prick of a knife in the middle of his back. “Go or I’ll run you through.”
Kaisin nodded. He had to do it. His bare foot stretched out to the first stone. An ugly face carved into the center of it stared up at him. A shudder ran down his spine.
The man screamed. Kaisin wanted to run. To hide. But there was no where to go. The strange men stood all around him, waiting for him to pass through the fire.
He looked back. The long blade glistened in the redness.
Something tugged at him. An impulse. A feeling. A knowing.
He could not do this. It was wrong.
Run. Run away.
He bolted to the right.
He slipped through the ring of men, seemingly frozen in time. Their glazed eyes didn’t follow him as he passed.
Kaisin’s heart thrashed inside his chest. All he knew was that he had to escape. The Son of Man would not want him to pass through.
He pushed past trees and brush, scratching up his arms. There was no sound of pursuit. Only the deathly hum of the chanters from the fire. They always chanted. Every time a child passed through.
The chant stopped. A silence filled the night air. Kaisin slowed. Stopped.
An arrow zipped past his head and through the trees nearby. They were after him. He would die now.
A stream of arrows swished through the bushes at him. He dove to the ground, crawling along. Where could he go? Where could he hide?
His head ached with fear.
Their hut was only a few yards ahead. He could make it.
He dashed to his feet, ducking behind trees and large plants. He had to live. He had to make it.
A light from the missionary hut shined through the darkness.
The knife flew out in front of him. A very large man pushed Kaisin to the ground. His fiery red eyes stared down at the boy. He raised the knife high into the air. “You will not survive. Death! Death!”
“Stop!” Gregg Neufield put himself between the knife and Kaisin. “Don’t hurt him.”
“Get away, God man. The boy must die!”
“Kill me instead.”
The man with the knife paused. “You are a stupid fool.”
Kaisin looked up at Gregg. Why would he die for him?
“You die, God man!”
The sound of beating drums came to their ears. The village was coming. Men came out from the bushes with torches in hand. The village leader stood among them.
“Raurel, put away your knife.”
Raurel’s mouth flipped upward into a sneer. “You are soft. Kaisin must die.”
“No. The village is changing. Seasons are changing. He will not die tonight.”
Raurel yelled into the night before he raced away into the bushes.
Kaisin’s eyes filled with tears. He looked at Gregg. “Thank you.”
Gregg smiled, and helped Kaisin to his feet. “It’s nothing Jesus wouldn’t have done. He loves you Kaisin, and so do I.”
Kaisin managed a faint smile. “I need rest.”
Gregg nodded. “Come sleep in our hut tonight.”
Kaisin followed Gregg into the warmth of the hut. The village dispersed from there to head back to their own tents.
Somewhere within the jungle, the last flickerings of a fire sizzled into nothingness. No one would pass through tonight.
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