“Come in. Close the door, quickly. We’re glad you could make it. I think most of you know Jo Ann and Marcus from across the street. And…,” the host glanced questioningly at the stranger that came in with them.
“This is Bradford Ell…,” Marcus started as the three filled empty seats near the front.
“Eh hemm, no last names, remember?” The host interrupted.
“Oh, sorry. Well, a couple of weeks ago Bradford caught me sneaking a prayer at lunch. We started talking and he wanted to know more about… God. A few days later we prayed together in his car, in my driveway, and he accepted Christ.”
A guarded applause swept through the rest of the group.
“Some of his questions I couldn’t answer, so I thought it would be good to bring him to chur… to one of our meetings.” Marcus sat down.
“Well, welcome Bradford, and I hope you find your answers.”
“So do I.” the newcomer smiled.
“Before we get started I want to announce that next month we plan to have a special guest from the Christian League of China. He is head of the movement to free the underground churches of America. I hope everyone will come and support him. He is placing himself at great risk coming to the states.”
“Now- we have a magnificent surprise tonight. One of our members, I mean friends, who wishes to remain anonymous, has found a great treasure. Quite by accident they discovered an old shoebox beneath a loose floor board in the attic of a house they recently moved into. They have graciously decided to donate the entire contents of the box to our… cause.” The host quieted the whispers with a wave of his hand and began to place the items one by one onto a small table.
“A dollar bill… and some coins with the words ‘In God We Trust’ printed right on them.”
Oohs and ahhs followed the display of each item.
“A crucifix, and an artist’s rendering of Jesus Christ. All of these, once common, were hidden prior to the ‘Freedom from Christianity Act’- before the assembling of the church was banned and the mention of Christ’ name was forbidden- before all Christian resources were collected destroyed- back when we as Christians took our freedoms for granted.” His expression slacked briefly with tender memories.
“Now, I have saved the best for last.”
Gasps came from the entire congregation.
“Is that a… a real…?” A woman began, but dared not finish.
“Yes. Yes, this is a genuine Bible folks. The real thing, not that diluted and polluted propaganda the government has tried to force down our throats for so many years.”
Now everyone was pushing and crowding for a closer peek.
“I know that some of us here have seen an authentic Bible before and maybe even owned one, but many haven’t. At the end of the service we will form a line so that each person who wants has a chance to actually touch it. We must be very cautious, though. Not only is it priceless and fragile, but if word were to ever get out…,” he did not have a chance to finish this thought.
“Someone’s coming this way.” A man hurried from upstairs with the alarm. “I just got the word from one of our lookouts down the street. They look like unmarked police vehicles, but they’re not using flashers. He’s almost certain they’re Enforcers.”
A wave of fear shuddered the room.
“Impossible! How...? Quick, everyone back to your seats. Set up the bingo cage and pass out the game cards while I put these away. Someone put on the music… and set out the drinks. Everybody look like your having the time of your life.”
“B- eleven. N- forty.”
“What’s going on?” Bradford asked as he returned from the bathroom furtively sliding his cell phone into his pocket.
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