Pastor Jonah Amittai surveyed the damage of the charred, blackened shell of what was once the North Side Christian Youth Center for the last time. Only his small office remained standing and its walls were tagged with the red South Side, SSDE, mark. After three weeks, the acrid smell of smoke still clung to the site
All the community had come together to build the center seven years before. Local businesses had donated lumber, paint, labor and supplies. Members of various churches had held different events to raise much needed funds for the project. Now, the building was considered a total loss and insurance money would cover only a small amount of the cost.
The North Side had spent its time and money revitalizing the area. It had imposed curfews, provided food and clothing, and taught Bible classes. The South Side, on the other hand, had continued to allow the drugs, gambling, drinking, and prostitution to continue. It didn’t believe God should play any part in their lives.
Now the Lord had clearly spoken to the pastor to go to the South Side and preach forgiveness, salvation, and repentance. Pastor Jonah thought that God was really asking too much of him this time. There was no way he was going to spare the South Side any pain after what they had done. Instead, he jumped into his blue Dodge Caravan and drove to the Joppa Airport where he intended to drop out of the ministry altogether.
“What is the furthest western destination, I can fly to?” Pastor Jonah inquired.
“There is a Cessna C750 Citation X bound for Tarshish, Washington leaving in two hours,” the ticket agent replied.
“I’ll take it,” Pastor Amittai stated. Then, he handed over the $350.00 for his one-way fare.”
At the appointed time, Pastor Jonah boarded the plane and found his spot in the cabin. Then, he reclined his seat and promptly fell asleep. The plane had an uneventful takeoff, but about one hundred miles out a sudden and violent storm arose. The turbulence was so great that the plane was about to break apart.
The captain of the plane noticed that Pastor Jonah was still asleep.
“How can you sleep at a time like this? the captain asked incredulously. As a pastor, shouldn’t you be praying to God to save us?”
The captain, crew member, and the other passengers knew that Pastor Amittai was the cause of their current situation. He had told them about the fire and running away from the Lord. As the storm raged on, they asked him what they could do to him to calm the turbulence.
“Pick me up and throw me out of the plane,” Pastor Jonah replied, “and the storm will subside. I understand it is my fault that this calamity had happened.”
Instead, the captain tried to avoid the storm by flying east over the Atlantic Ocean. But the wind and rain only grew worse. Finally, they cried to God not to hold them accountable for the actions they needed to take. They slipped Pastor Amittai’s arms through the floatation device and ejected him out of the plane and into the water below. The storm immediately stopped.
The captain immediately called on his radio. “Mayday. Mayday. Mayday. This is Cessna C750 Citation X. I am currently transmitting my coordinates. We have encountered a terrible storm. I require four boats in the area. Six people were on board. One is overboard.”
“The Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.”
From inside the fish Pastor Jonah began to pray. He said:
“Lord, I really need your help.
Even though the waters
threatened to engulf me,
You spared my life.
When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and I prayed to you in heaven.
I will no longer cling to
I promise to go the South Side and tell
them about you.
Salvation comes from you Lord.”
God ordered the fish to spit Jonah unto the beach, and it did.
The second time around, Pastor Jonah preached to the South Side about all that he had promised.
But Pastor Jonah was angry when they repented and turned from their evil ways. Pastor Jonah knew that God’s character was full of love and compassion, but he was still not ready to accept that these people deserved it. What about you?
NOTE: This is a retelling of the Book of Jonah.
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