Yoseph didn’t know which hurt the worst; the ropes around his wrists, his split lip, or the knot of fear in his stomach. The old truck kicked up clouds of dirt, filling his eyes and nose with dust. How often he had dreaded this day! “God, please hear me now. I need Your help.”
His mind retraced the last five years.
“I’ll go where You want me to go, Dear Lord,” he had sung with tears streaming down his face. His prayer had been, “Send me to the hardest place, Lord, and I’ll go for You.”
And so Yoseph had come to Manchea. He thought of his first three years here: jealous tribal chiefs, closed doors, threats, beatings, days of fasting and prayer, walking 10 km every day because no one in the village would rent him a room.
His mind moved on to the happier years just passed: the miraculous healing of a chief’s little daughter, a growing congregation, and the young men he was training to go out in the villages. How he loved pastoring this little flock. His heart filled with a warm glow just thinking of them. This was what he was called to do!
But now….? “Lord, my flock needs a pastor. What will they do?”
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.”
That was easy just a few hours ago; the church service had been so full of God’s presence. His heart had felt like it would burst as he saw the joy of the Lord on the faces of these people who had been so down-trodden and forsaken.
After everyone went home, Yoseph had been lying in bed, feeling accomplished and satisfied. As he was thanking God for the opportunity to serve Him, he had heard banging at his door. “Ah! Someone else needing help,” he had thought as he eagerly flung the door open, ready to serve.
“Yoseph Amasa? You are under arrest for trafficking in drugs and illegal firearms.” He had been roughly grabbed and his hands tied tightly behind him.
“Drug trafficking? But that’s ridiculous!” He never saw the hand that had struck him, but his world had spun round as he felt blood gush from his lower lip.
A big boot had crashed into his shin. “Silence! Come with us.”
Now, as he bounced around in the back of the truck with a gun pointed at him, Yoseph turned to the only source of comfort and strength he knew. “Lord, help me! But most of all, whatever happens, don’t let me betray You!”
What seemed like hours later, the guard pushed him roughly into a crowded cell. “There you go, Preacher. That’ll teach you to break the law!”
Yoseph picked his way carefully among sleeping unwashed bodies and found a spot to huddle against the wall. He felt numb and sick all at the same time. Why was this happening? Why now? What would he do?
He prayed until early light filtered through the tiny window near the ceiling. Gradually he felt his heart surrender. “Lord, I’m here for You. If You want me here, please help me to have peace and keep me true to You.” And the sweet presence of the Lord crept over him, just as real as he had ever felt in a church service.
A rustle caught his attention as another man moved over next to him. “You a preacher?” he asked roughly.
“Yes.” Yoseph spoke with difficulty around his swollen lip.
“You one of those preachers who talks about Jesus?”
Yoseph momentarily felt the knot again in his stomach. “Lord, I may be headed for another beating here. Please keep me strong.”
“Yes, I preach about Jesus.”
The roughness dropped from his cellmate’s voice. “I’m John. Several of us here found a booklet about Jesus. We prayed if Jesus is real, He would send us a pastor to teach us more.” John held out his hand to Yoseph. “I guess you’re the answer to our prayer.”
Yoseph reached out to grasp John’s hand in both of his. “I’ll go where You want me to go, Dear Lord…Send me to the hardest places.”
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