“Jesus Christ willingly allowed himself to succumb to an excruciating death on a Roman cross because he couldn’t bear to see you and me become eternally separated from Him.”
The words, though only a whisper, echoed through the cramped room that lay hidden beneath the kitchen floor. The secret room was barely large enough to fit four people comfortably, however today; its tight quarters were filled with the presence of six.
Despite the gun fire that exploded from the streets nearby, five of the room’s occupants remained silent and motionless as they hung on Allen’s every word. After a brief pause to let his words sink in, Allen continued.
“Don’t you see? Jesus knew he was going to die,” Allen said as he clenched his fists and peered through the candle’s dim glow, into the faces of his congregation.
“He knew He was going to die, but He allowed them to beat Him anyway. He allowed them to drive spikes through His wrists. He allowed them to hang Him naked from the top of a splintery cross. He knew what would happen to Him if He sanctioned them to do this. Yet, He let it happen anyway.”
Allen stopped as a tear streamed down his right cheek. His face showed a look of sorrow and grief that caught his audience by surprise. “Don’t you get it?” he pleaded. “Don’t you understand? Christ is God. No one tells God what to do. God is the King of all Kings. When Christ died...,” the steady flow of tears caused him to choke up.
Regaining his composure, he added, “…He died because of you. He died because of me. He died over two thousand years ago for all the sins you and I have ever committed, as well as all the sins that we ever will commit. Even then, He knew of all our sins. But, He also loved us enough to pay the only price fitting to satisfy the penalty of those sins, His death.”
Realizing that the gun fire and the shouting were growing closer, Allen knew their safety was at risk.
“That will be enough for today,” Allen said as he reached to unfasten the hatch to the kitchen floor that hung above him.
“Umm, Mr. Allen,” one of the students said.
“I’ve been thinking about the question you asked yesterday; if I wanted to pray to receive Christ’s gift of salvation.”
“Yes?” Allen said with a smile.
“Well….could you please pray with me and help me to say the right words. I want to know the Jesus that you talk about,” Maggie answered.
“Yeah, me too!” another said. And then another, and another, and another, until each and every one were pulling at Allen’s shirt, jockeying for his attention.
At once Allen put his arm around Maggie, with tears in his eyes, and led her through the Sinner’s Prayer. He followed with Katie, Mark, and then Kyle.
As he began praying with his final student, Jacob, a loud thud sounded against the front door.
“Oh no!” Allen thought, as he motioned for everyone to keep quiet.
A moment later, another thud echoed against the door, followed by the muffled shouts of several angry men.
Fear had now inhabited the tiny room. One by one, each member of the congregation looked to Allen for safety. Though Allen was scared as well, he attempted to appear calm.
The sounds of bullets ripping through the door brought forth a few screams from within the secret sanctuary. Allen once again reminded them to remain quiet as the windows were shattered, propelling shards of glass several feet into the living room.
The door finally gave way to the continuous waves of ammo that splintered it from top to bottom. In stepped the assailants, one by one.
“Find ‘em. I know they’re here,” the leader yelled, commanding his men.
Allen looked at his scared sheep, shaking from fright. He looked at Maggie, then Katie, Mark, Kyle, and last at Jacob. He noticed that Jacob seemed the most scared, and he knew why.
“Jacob,” Allen said out loud. “Pray with me while there’s still time.”
As Allen began to pray, his voice gave away their location. The hatch sprung open, as the barrels of numerous guns pointed into the tiny room.
Allen did not know how these circumstances would end. However, he did know, regardless of the outcome, he would see his small flock again.
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