Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Passport (07/25/05)
TITLE: Contraband: Joy Unspeakable (Based on actual events)
By Benjamin Stephens
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He had been told that when they arrived at their destination there was a chance that the illegal contraband in his luggage would be found and confiscated. The thought of being an international smuggler was exhilarating and nerve wracking at the same time.
Pockets of conversation buzzed around him like gangster bees. Ken didn’t understand much of what was said.
“Your passport please,” a solider asked as Ken fumbled for his paperwork.
Ken’s sponsor was behind him trying to keep the full time deli clerk calm.
The passport was scrutinized and other soldiers came to look at the document and then back at Ken.
“We will need to look inside your luggage,” the soldier said as beads of sweat began to form on the base of Ken’s neck.
Ken’s sponsor bowed his head and Ken felt very alone.
Suddenly another soldier came and spoke tersely to the man in front of Ken and he was soon left alone in baggage claims.
Another ten minutes passed as the line grew ever longer. A soldier Ken had never seen was called to the line and he only looked at Ken a moment before passing him through without a second glance.
He held the luggage as he walked out of the airport. A strange myriad of vehicles met his gaze as he exited the terminal. His sponsor signaled a certain taxi and the luggage was packed and the two made their way to their hotel.
A knock at the door revived feelings of unease in Ken once more. His sponsor opened the door and spoke quietly to a man in his native Asian tongue. The door closed, “Ken it’s time to go.”
When the two left the hotel. Their contraband was stashed in the trunk and they were quickly placed in the back seat of a car with blindfolds placed on each of the men.
Ken fought the rising panic. He was in a country where he’d never been and the people spoke a language he didn’t know. He had no idea where they were going and he had no idea who these people were. The only thing he knew was that his sponsor seemed content.
The car turned dozens of times before it came to a stop. Ken tried to take off the blindfold and the string of words from one of the men made it pretty clear that he shouldn’t do that. The trunk lid opened and closed and the two men were led from the car and up several flights of stairs. A heavy door was opened and then closed as quietly as possible.
Ken was in awe as he spotted more than two hundred men and women sitting in a large room with the windows completely blacked out. They stared at the two foreign men in complete silence. One of the men spoke to the people excitedly, but quietly.
It had already been determined which among those in the room would be able to have a piece of the smuggled contraband and they came forward hesitantly to look inside the luggage. Some gasped while others wept.
One by one the precious Chinese bibles were placed in the hands of the faithful. Hymns were sung quietly and one man stood and preached a sermon Ken could hear with his heart.
Ken found a moment in a house church in China to be among the most life changing events of his life. He praised Jesus right along with his Chinese family.
The words found in those bibles provided everything these Chinese would need to gain a passport for an eternal destination and Ken was overwhelmed when he saw the joy expressed on the faces of those who desired nothing less than God’s personal love letter to them.
The blindfolds were to protect both Ken as well as the house church. If he was interrogated, Ken couldn’t give a location if he didn’t know where it was.
The trip ultimately found a conclusion with Ken returning home a different man. There was no plausible reason that the bibles weren’t confiscated at the airport, but God was answering the prayers of His people and His Word was delivered.
Would Ken go back again?
He does - everyday in his memory.
Then he prays for the nameless faces he’s come to love.
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