“Well,” she said, “it seems as though we will be spending the night together.”
“Yes,” I replied.
“You don’t have to stay. You can go if you want to.”
“Right now, there’s no place on earth, I would rather be. Besides, the buses have stopped running.” I gazed into her large green eyes.
‘How amazing!’ I thought. ‘The beauty of God’s creation.’
I proceeded to examine the room in which we were sitting. We were alone. The sound of passing cars, could be heard even though the door was closed. The smell of disinfectant wafted through the air. The atmosphere was clinical.
I leaned against the wall. “Yes!” I said, “We are in for a long night.”
Our first meeting had been in Yerushalyim. Mr Alesp an American, had made Aliyah, or immigration to Israel from Ohio. He stood outside the large international conference centre or ‘Binyamei Ha Oumah,’ near the Yerushalyim bus station. I had met him on previous occasions. I was yet to meet his wife and children.
“Hello!” he said, “You’re just the right person. Could you watch them?” He pointed to a group of people standing near one of the glass doors. His children.
“Sure,” I replied.
“I am so sorry; I have to work, so I’ll not be able to stay. But they shouldn’t be a problem.” He waved his hands.
“Mercy!” he called. She came running towards us.
“Please be good and take instructions!”
Mercy was beautiful. She had long, golden brown hair. Her large eyes shone with an innocence that was refreshing. Her skin was slightly tanned, a result of the summer months outdoors. She looked at me shyly, as she stood between her father and I.
We were gathering for a conference which would feature many internationally known Christian speakers. There was much excitement in the air, as people from all classes of the Israeli society, made their way into the conference center.
After quick introductions, Mr Alesp left and I ‘herded’ the group, into the hall. Seats were quickly filling up. The opening session of the conference was about to start.
The organizers had planned three days of meetings. They had kindly paid the cost of lodging for all attendees living in Israel- over a thousand people. We were to spend the nights in some of Jerusalem’s finest hotels, and be served with breakfast and lunch. Buses were hired to take us to and from the conference center.
The three days were destined to be action packed with praise, worship and dynamic preaching. The atmosphere around the center was electrifying. The first session set the tone. We all felt the presence of God’s Spirit. Life transforming changes were witnessed. It was late by the time we arrived at our hotel to spend the first night.
“Let’s call your parents and let them know you’re alright,” I said.
Mercy agreed. I dialed the number given to me by her father, and gave her the phone.
Her mother’s voice, sounded faintly through the ear piece.
“I’m fine,” Mercy said in response to a question. “We’ve just finished the first meeting.”
Something was said at the other end. “I’m in the hotel and going to sleep soon,” was the reply.
After a few minutes conversation, she handed me the phone. The dialing tone could be heard.
”That was short,” I said, trying to be conversational.
“Yes, my mother asked me where I was, and if I was safe. I told her I was in the hotel.”
“You could have told her you were quite safe with me!”
She stared at me for some seconds. ”That would be clever,” she said.
She picked up the phone and spoke into the mouth piece, jokingly.
“Mummy, mummy, I’m safe in a hotel room with a man!”
I burst out laughing. She poked me playfully in the ribs, and ran off to her room. The rest of the conference was fabulous. Amongst those I ‘shepherded’ was this adorable ten year old…..
The years passed and we now found ourselves facing a challenging time. Mercy moved and wrapped a blanket around me. The hours passed swiftly. We talked and played. Gradually, life and movement, dispelled the stillness of the night. At some point, I was left alone. When she returned, she looked very tired. I walked to a nearby telephone booth, and made a call.
“Hello, I am leaving now. Mercy has gone into the theater, and is asleep in one of the wards.
“Thank you so much!” her mother replied. “I’ll be there later in the evening, after work. God bless you!”
I caught a taxi home. Mercy had begun treatment in the children’s hospital, for epilepsy. The brain scan required that she be kept awake. I had been asked to spend one night with my teenage friend, alone.