The sirens finally stopped screaming. Obadiah Gashau raised his hand as he stood up; the danger was temporarily past. “Quietly now children.” Obadiah referred to all his people as children. He looked around the room, his extended family was there, as were the families of two of his neighbors.
The basement of the tenement was musty and dirty, but it was the only place where a group might meet without fear of intercession of government authorities. After the great wars, government leadership had outlawed group meetings. Regularly, the sirens sounded indicating police activity – usually in search of religious gatherings.
A small face peeked from beneath a blanket. “Obadiah, tell us again about the old church, the man called Jesus.”
“Oh, wee one,” Obadiah smiled, “He put us here right now, and is with us today; His spirit is what gives us hope.” Several of the adults leaned into the soft conversation. “What is charged to your parents and to you is to become the infection that spreads His message.”
The child looked up and appeared to smile with understanding. “I can tell the story.”
“Yes child, but we must be careful. As missionaries in our world we must show God’s love, be a demonstration of the grace of Jesus, and after people see this love, then you,” Obadiah pointed to the adults in the room, “must spread the love through the message.”
Several adults moved toward the old teacher. “For each of you, like the original disciples, the path will be strewn with oppression. People have become complacent under the new order.” He paused and tried to look into the eyes of the group. “Each of you, even the children, are to move into the community, into the country, and into the world, to rekindle the flame of our Savior.” Then directing his remarks directly to the adults. “We cannot allow the souls of our people to be swallowed up by the anti Christian new order.” His voice rose above the required whisper and tears ran down his cheeks. “Go out now, and be missionaries to the world.”
Families slowly began to climb stairs and exit the basement; few words were spoken.
Obadiah was the last out of the basement, and cautiously climbed the stairs to his small apartment. His old joints ached with each step. After the wars the new order had given everyone his age a tiny apartment. Private housing, not destroyed by war, was either destroyed under the new order or retained for government offices. Property ownership was no longer possible.
The only newspaper he received was a government propaganda sheet, and rarely carried anything other than slanted news. He glanced at the newest edition at his door. The headline read, “Population may top the ten million mark.” He wiped a tear from his eye, he remembered when the world population was in the billions.
The theory of the new order was, in his mind, to create a dependant society. The government owned everything; the population depended on the benevolence of the government to provide for their needs. In exchange the population was to be loyal without question to the government authority. Crime was virtually eliminated, along with poverty. Instant capital punishment was the answer for any criminal activity. The government could arrest anyone at anytime, with no warrant and without proven reason. The population largely lived in fear.
Obadiah cracked open his door. Sitting in his armchair was a neighborhood detective, and standing next to him was a former neighbor.
“Been doing missionary work?” The detective pulled out a notepad.
Obadiah didn’t answer.
The former neighbor whispered something to the detective, then the detective stood up. “Old man, your evangelizing days are over, we’re going downtown.” He approached Obadiah and spun the older man around, pulling Obadiah’s hands to his back, then handcuffed the wrists.
As the trio exited the tenement Obadiah noticed some of the youngsters from the meeting. “Never forget little ones,” he whispered.
The detective pushed him toward the car. “Come on old man, no more missionary work today.”
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