Black turned to a faint blue. The sun, although not visible was casting its light unforeseen. Michael had lived through the night. He was either most certainly alive or possibly dead and in the next life, unaware of the change. Whatever his state, at the moment he was conscious. For that he was grateful.
Alive he may, be cold and alone. He had not prepared for this change in plan. Sure, if someone had foreseen a night hiding in the mountains of northern China, maybe he would have been aware of the dangers. But since only hindsight is twenty-twenty they say, foresight offered no advice. Then again, there is only so much you can carry. And 50 pounds of Bibles strapped to your back doesn't leave much room for necessities.
The darkness still lingered in the air as Michael got to his feet and stretched out a night sleeping on the rocks. He issued a small prayer for his team that scattered like ants about ten hours previous. And a prayer for himself. It was only God who could pull this off.
How many times had He done this without a hitch? Michael thought to himself. Nine, maybe ten times? Smuggling Bibles is a art form only mastered by repetition. Instincts and a good guide is always the combination of a successful mission. Since his guide was gone, possibly dead, instincts were in short supply, success seemed an unlikely option.
'What know God?' Michael asked looking downhill into a faint darkness. 'What do I do?'
A peace fell over his mind. The confusion and choice of the last several hours melted away in a warmness that could have only originated from heavenly places.
To live is Christ. To die is Gain. The words of Paul fell on fertile ground. If he survived today, he would live to serve for another time. If he perished, he would be with the lord. Whatever God allows.
Picking up the lightest 50 pounds he ever carried, Michael began to descend the slope into the lower valley. During the Night, he managed to cross through a low point between two rugged peaks and rest on the opposite side of the range. This was far enough away and high enough in the terrain to thwart his pursuers. Judging by his survival, he had made the right choice.
In the last ten hours he was chased down, shot at and hunted by an unknown number of assailants driving who knows what. He decided to stay high on the cliffs to avoid the vehicles. According to his former guide, a small village carved its niche in the mountains 10 miles north of where they were yesterday. It was their first stop. He would continue as planned hoping the others would do the same.
Michael's only worry now was his pursuers. Did he lose them? Were they from the Chinese government or maybe a band of rebels? Whoever they were, they clearly wanted him dead.
‘MICHAEL!’ Someone called just ahead. ‘MICHAEL!’ the shout came again.
He hurried in the direction of the distress. He recognized the voice in the dark. It was Mary from the church. A forty something widow. Her first mission trip. She was sitting 20 feet in front of Michael. Dread came over his spirit. ‘I’m Here.’ Michael said with a lot less volume. ‘I’m here. Just stay calm’
'Michael! Oh, thank God. I’m hurt. I’m hurt so bad.'
He hurried to her side. She wasn't as lucky as he was. Blood covered her shirt. It looked liked two bullet wounds: one in the arm the other in her chest. It was ugly.
‘I just made it here. I couldn't go on.’
‘Listen Mary, I’m no doctor. We need to get some help.
He knew the absurdity of his own statement. Out here, there was no help. Hopefully she believed him. ‘We have to get to the first town. It’s seven or eight miles north. Can you make it?’
‘I don’t know. I can barely breathe.'
Michael didn't have time to respond. A bullet whistled past his head and slammed in the rock ten feet passed. The sun had cleared the darkness by now and illuminated several vehicles in the valley below. A group of people stood around aiming there rifles. Michael looked down hill and discovered several more people climbing the slope, rifles in hand.
‘Mary. We have to pray.’
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