The sun was high over the dessert wasteland as the Preacher approached the tall, iron gates-the only entrance to the city of Bondage. Without a breeze to relieve, sweat ran down his brow. He was familiar with the grim town, having lived there once himself many years ago. As he walked through the desolate streets, the familiar stench of despair reached his nose; he could taste hopelessness, like bile, in his mouth. He didn’t hesitate. He was there on a mission.
Over to his right, he noticed two men sitting together in the dust, sharing a loaf of bread. Their faces were gaunt from mal-nutrition, their lips dry and cracked from lack of water. Each wore filthy rags on his body and, on wrists and feet, shackles attached to large heavy weights; this was normal attire for the inhabitants of Bondage. As he approached, he noticed how the clang of their chains mixed with the low murmur of their conversation, creating a sad sort of melody. The sound gripped his heart.
“Hello,” the Preacher said, his tall frame casting a shadow over the two men, temporarily relieving them from the intensity of the sun.
The men looked the Preacher up and down, eyes lingering at his wrists and feet, the lack of fetters obvious. One of the men replied, “My name is Jason.” Then, motioning to his friend, “This, here, is Tony.
Tony’s eyes narrowed, “You’re obviously not from these parts. What’s your name?”
“My name’s not important.” The Preacher smiled. “It’s not in my name I come. You can call me Preacher.” He took a seat on the ground in front of the men.
“So,” Jason squinted against the sun, “what brings you to Bondage? We know it isn’t pleasure.”
The Preacher nodded. “The city of Bondage used to be my home. Like you, I wore shackles and chains. The lead weights I carried were many,” he continued. “But I moved out a long time ago. Now when I return to this city, it’s only to visit the people living here.”
“Moved out? You left? Bologna!” Tony exclaimed. “No one ever leaves Bondage.”
Jason snorted, shaking his head. Both men thought the Preacher was crazy.
“You’re right, Tony, no one ever leaves Bondage…at least not of their own power.” The Preacher then reached into his large backpack and pulled out two bottled waters-handing one to each man- and several cold, fresh oranges. Without hesitating, the men gulped down the water and tore into the oranges.
“Are you saying someone busted you out?” Jason asked, juice dripping from his hands and chin.
The Preacher smiled. “That’s exactly what I’m saying. And I’d like to introduce you to Him.”
Reaching back into his bag, the Preacher pulled out a Book- leather worn and cracked from much use. In gold leaf letters on the front were the words, “The Holy Bible.” He opened its pages, turning to Isaiah 61. “His name is Jesus and He is in the business of setting captives free.”
Jason, rattling his chains and pointing to the large lead weights behind him, met the Preacher’s eyes. “You see the burden I’m carrying? Is your Jesus strong enough to handle this?”
Placing his hand on Jason’s shoulder, the Preacher replied, “I’m under the persuasion that no matter how big the sin, or how thick the chains, the blood of Jesus is stronger still.”
The Preacher read to them from The Holy Bible for several hours. At one point, all three were in tears. Getting on his knees, the Preacher took each man’s hand in his own, and, bowing his head, led in prayer as two more captives found their freedom in Christ. The city of Bondage had two less inhabitants.
That evening, an old man walked the dusty streets alone, dragging his chains and weights behind him. Seeing something lying in the road ahead, he slowly approached and poked at it with his cane.
“Well, I’ll be.” He stood, in shock, over a pile of discarded chains, shackles, lead weights…and orange peels.
A few weeks later, the sun was high over the dessert wasteland as the Preacher approached the tall, iron gates-the only entrance to the city of Bondage. Without a breeze to relieve, sweat ran down his brow. As he walked through the desolate streets, the familiar stench of despair reached his nose; he could taste hopelessness, like bile, in his mouth. He didn’t hesitate. He was there on a mission.
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