One in Forty

                Now it came to pass, about nine hundred years ago, that there was a king who wished to find a wife for his son. Therefore, this king commanded that a census be made of all the virgins in the city. When this census was completed, it was known that there were forty women that were available for the king’s son.

                Whereupon the king called in his son and said, “My son, you must go out among the people and select a wife for yourself.”

                “Father I will go,” replied the young man, whose name chanced to be Collin. “And I will return with her afterwards.”

                So saying the father and son took leave of each other, and the boy departed for to seek a wife.

                Now the father had prepared an escort for the son, which included twenty and five soldiers and four servants. These accompanied the prince and carried a list of names of the women for whom to speak to.

                The first was the daughter of a rich landowner. She wished to be excused so that she might inherit her father’s land.

                Another was a rich merchant who loved the riches of the city rather than that prince’s love.

                And so the search continued for many days. Some wanted nothing to do with the prince. Other some wished only to get into the castle, but wished to live their own life. Some wished to finish their own plans before joining the prince, and still others didn’t see a need of change in their lives.

                And so the names on the list were blotted out as the search continued. As the names on the list dwindled in number, the chances became smaller for the prince to find a wife.

                Now it came to pass on the last day of August, that the search reached its thirty-first day. All the names on the list had been blotted out save one: a girl by the name of Cornelia.

                Now Cornelia at twenty-one was a year younger than Prince Collin. She was the daughter of a poor farmer whose wife had been a harlot, and whose son had been a thief. As Cornelia was their only daughter, she was tenderly loved by her parents.

                Now this same Cornelia had been placed on the bottom of the list, the king’s scribes supposing that the prince would not want to see her. But Collin persisted in fulfilling the mission, and so went to see her.

                Upon arrival to the place, Cornelia’s father came out trembling. Falling on his knees before the prince, this same farmer asked that the prince spare the family and not grieve them worse than what had already befallen them.

                “I came,” said Collin, “out of mercy. I request to speak to your daughter Cornelia.”

                “But sir,” spake the farmer, “you will not want my daughter for your wife. She is much too poor to join you in yonder castle.”

                Nevertheless the prince prevailed with the farmer to speak to Cornelia, and the farmer brought in the prince to see Cornelia. The prince expressed his desire of marriage.

                “Nay,” said Cornelia, “I cannot be your wife. I am too poor to join you and have no garment fit for the castle.”

                “Nothing is required of you, dear girl, but to love me with all of your heart and soul and mind and to follow me withersoever I lead you.”

                At this one of the servants shewed a garment which was as white as snow. “This garment shall become yours,” said Collin.

                “If you can love me,” said Cornelia, “then I will love you.”

                Therefore, the day was set for the wedding, and the two arrived at the castle three days afterwards.

                The two were very happy, as was Collin’s father, the king. Cornelia was accepted by all of the servants, and many were certified that this same poor girl had become the king’s daughter.

                But it came to pass after three years had gone by that Cornelia was taken in the act of stealing by one of the servants. When asked what he would do, Collin requested to speak to Cornelia privately.

                “My dear,” said he, “what is this that I hear of thee? Thou art said to have stolen money.”

                “My lord,” said she, weeping bitter tears, “I am sorry. The door was there and no one was watching. I wanted a little extra money; forgive me.”

                “I truly believe thou art repentant,” said he, kissing her fondly. “Thou art forgiven.”

                Now some indeed thought Cornelia should be put out of the castle, but Collin refused, saying that she had been forgiven.

                But in the process of time, Cornelia was brought to Collin. “Your wife,” said a servant, “was taking a silver cup from the café.”

                Collin again spoke to her, upon which she repented and was forgiven.

                But when Cornelia was apprehended stealing a silver spoon from the kitchen, Collin placed her in ward for a week.

                “My dear,” Collin said when he released her from prison, “take heed what you do. Forty lashes shall be given you if this occurs again. Steal no more, for worse punishment shall be given you.”

                “Sir,” asked one which worked in the court, “why do you not divorce your wife and bar her from the castle?”

                “Because,” said Collin, “she is my wife, and shall always be. I love her, and she truly loves me and does not want to steal. It is a battle for her to resist it. I believe she will not be found to steal again.”

                Now it came to pass in the process of time that as Cornelia was walking along the fields that she happened upon some wildflowers. “How pretty,” said she, as she began picking them. “These would look nice on our table.”

                Now a certain robber was also on the trail and traveling towards that castle. This same robber happened upon Cornelia as she was carrying her bouquet to the castle. Seizing her by the arm, the robber demanded her money, and threatened to slay her if she refused.

                “Help!” cried Cornelia. “Collin, help! A robber!”

                Collin immediately appeared with his sword drawn, while two other soldiers were not far behind. “Leave her alone!” he called out, “lest I smite thee.”

                Whereupon the robber quickly withdrew, leaving the two in peace.

                “Oh my love,” Cornelia said, “Thank you.”

                “Thou art surely welcome,” said Collin. “Thou never needest to be afraid to call upon me. I will always be there.”

                “And I, my lord,” said Cornelia, “shall always remember this day, and shall never again put my hand to steal.”

                “I believe you, my love,” said he, kissing her.

                The two walked home in peace.      

Knock, Knock

                “So we have this street?” I asked.

                “Uh, yes,” Steve replied.

                “Well, these two houses are for sale,” I said. “And they both look empty. And Elder Nathan said that we’re to avoid house number 114, which is that one.”

                “Well, let’s try this one,” Steve said. We walked to the door and I rang the doorbell.

                “Good evening, sir,” Steve said. “We were in your neighborhood and thought we’d stop by.”

                “Well, it’s good to see you,” the man replied. “My name’s Collin Martin and yours is?”

                “Steve Johnson,” Steve replied.

                “Richard Davidson,” I replied, shaking his hand.

                “Anyways,” Steve continued, “we came to offer you our latest Watchtower magazine. This one has an interesting article about ‘Maintaining Your Marriage.’ We’d like to leave this with you and also offer you a free home Bible study.”

                “Well I’d be happy to take this magazine in a minute,” Collin replied. “But can I ask you a few questions first?”

                “Alright,” Steve replied hesitantly, looking at me.

                “Who is your final authority?” Collin asked.

                “Well, it’d be the Bible,” I answered.

                “If I could prove, from the Bible, that Jesus is, indeed, God, and not Michael the Archangel, would you believe it?”

                “You can’t,” Steve challenged. I, for one, was eager to see if someone could, since Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel, not God.

                “Well, let’s turn to Isaiah 9:6,” Collin said, “and let’s read it:

                For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

                “Well,” Steve countered, “it says ‘Mighty God’; not ‘Almighty God.’”

                “No,” Collin replied firmly, “it says ‘The Mighty God’. Your Society agrees with the King James Version; they still use it today. The King James says ‘The Mighty God’.

                “Turn to Isaiah 7:14,” Collin continued. He turned to the passage and read:

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

                “Look at Matthew 1:23,” Collin said. “Steve, will you please read it?”

                Steve looked at his Bible and read:

“‘Look! The virgin will become pregnant and will give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel,” which means, when translated, “With Us Is God’.”

                “With us is God,” Collin repeated. “Look at that: even the New World Translation calls Jesus God.”

                “Well—” Steve began.

                “Turn to John 5:17-18,” Collin said, “and let’s read it:

But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”

                “We have to go,” Steve interjected. “Have a good day.”

                We turned and took several steps away from his house. “Don’t be late for your next appointment!” Collin called after us. “For eternity in Hell is a long time to be wrong.”

                I paused briefly, then continued walking. What did he mean?

                “He must be one of those born-agains,” Steve told me a little while later.

                “Maybe,” I replied.

                A couple of weeks passed. I kept reading those verses over and over, pondering what Collin said. “Don’t be late…long time to be wrong.” What did he mean? I knew we would use “another appointment” when we could see that the person was not listening during a Bible study. Is that what Collin was referring to?

                “Brother Davidson, good to see you,” John Tyler greeted me after a meeting. “I suppose you heard Rachel Bevins was disfellowshipped?”

                “Rachel Bevins,” I repeated, trying to recollect who John was talking about.

                “You remember,” John said, “the girl who got pregnant—“

                “Oh her,” I said, remembering. “Disfellowshipped, huh? Poor girl, she has no money.”

                “That’s her fault,” John said. “If she’d kept in line, she’d still be here.”

                “True,” I said. “Well John, I’d better be going.”

                “Alright. See you next time,” John replied.

                As I drove home, I thought about the disfellowshipping process. The person was brought before three elders, faced the charges, and then punished accordingly. Disfellowshipped ones were not to be spoken to, helped, or contacted in any way. “And people like Rachel, I don’t think it will take long for her to get back in line,” I said to myself. Those who repented were often welcomed back into the organization sometime later. I had faced that committee of three elders once myself: until I finally dropped all contact with my born-again uncle. He had been a JW, but was converted…

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A Final Night

                “Well,” I stated as we returned from Grove Hill, Alabama, “this is the last night, I guess.”

                “Yeah, I guess so,” Felicity agreed.

                We grabbed our things and headed inside.

                “Good evening,” Pastor Mast greeted us. “It’s good to see you again.”

                “Thank you,” I replied.

                The prelude began at 6:27 that evening.

                “Well good evening,” Pastor stated when the service began. “Let’s open with a word of prayer.”

                Everyone bowed their head.

                “Lord we thank You for this day and for Your Word. Bless this service we pray and give us traveling safety when we leave tonight. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

                “Please take your hymn books and turn to hymn number 489; hymn number 489, ‘Glory to His Name’, please stand.”

                “Down at the cross…” we started.

                “You may be seated,” Pastor stated when the song was done.

                We all sat down.

                “Now, we’re going to do things a little different tonight,” Pastor Mast began. “As anybody does, we have questions. So before we close, we’re going to give everyone a chance to ask a question, and we’ll try to answer it. Afterwards we’ll sing another song, take a general offering, and then we’ll close and the refreshments and cookies will be available after the service.

                “So what we’ll do is rotate speakers for the questions,” Pastor explained. “We’ll give each speaker a chance to answer three questions at a time, and if you have a specific question for a speaker, ask it at his turn, and if any one of you speakers has a comment on a specific topic, feel free to voice your opinion. So Brother Antoine, you’re first.”

                “Turn me loose on the audience, eh?” Antoine asked.

                Several laughed.

                “Who’s first?” Antoine inquired.

                Someone raised their hand. Antoine nodded.

                “Um, when this conference started,,” the person began, “you talked about Charity Ministries; could you explain exactly who that is?”

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A Wedding

Okay, so perhaps this isn’t your typical Bible conference post, but at any rate, I thought I’d share it with you.

                Now, as many of you know, I don’t normally share personal stories. But after a little thought, I decided to ask Antoine about this. As you remember from A Day with the Millers, my family and I spent an entire day with Brother Antoine. It was then that he shared this story with us while we were on tonight’s topic. Antoine told us this story, and linked it to the subject. So after talking to him, I decided to release this story.

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Ye Ar’nt List’ng

In A Day with the Millers, I had mentioned that during the afternoon, Antoine had volunteered a story for the children, which I would share sometime later. On Sunday, while our children played in the park (under our supervision), I wrote out this story from a few notes I had taken, as well as what my phone had recorded.

*                                                     *                                *                                             *

                “Could we have a story?” Rachel Martin had asked.
                “A story about the ocean?” Rebecca added.
                “You want a story, you say?” Antoine replied.
                “Yes, please,” the children chorused.
                “Alright,” Antoine began, “I’ll tell you one. What kind of story do you want?”
                “A pirate story!” Joel begged.
                The others nodded their heads vigorously.
                “Alright,” Antoine began. “A long time ago, when ships, instead of planes crossed the world…”

​Gangs of pirates roamed the sea, plundering, looting, and robbing the merchant ships and ocean liners, taking captives and demanding high ransoms to return them. But one gang sailed high above the rest. This group held a record among other pirates as the most notorious pirate gang there ever was; for not only did they rob merchant ships and ocean liners, but they also robbed other pirate gangs, and demanded the highest ransoms of that time. One British person had had to pay about ten thousand pounds to this gang to rescue his wife and two small children.
                But nothing could surpass that gang’s final raid on an estate in north-eastern Scotland, when the Mo-de Pirates, as they called themselves, raided the estate of Wilbur McKee, taking his only daughter and several items. A note was left for Wilber that read:

                To Wilbur McKee–
                To reclaim your goods and daughter, we require twenty thousand pounds.

                Wilbur had not been home, as he was out checking his fields. He was totally grief-stricken to learn that his daughter, Elly, had been lost to the gang. It was almost as bad as her dying.
                “Lord, Lord,” he begged in prayer that night, “ have mercy on her. She isn’t ready to die; please, save her soul, and bring her back to me, if it is Your will. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
                A couple of miles away lived Iosag McShaw, a middle-aged man with whom Wilbur was acquainted.
                “Iosag,” Wilbur told him the next day, “I need your help. I’ve lost my daughter to pirates, and I don’t know how to get her back. I don’t have the money to pay the ransom.”
                Iosag thought for a minute.
                “I fear she’s not ready to die,” Wilbur added.
                “Have you told Luc about Elly?” Iosag asked.
                Luc was the young man who had expressed interest in Elly, whom Elly openly adored. Luc’s father was a naval captain in the area.
                “No,” Wilbur replied, “I haven’t.”
                “Leave it to me, Wilbur,” Iosag stated. “I’ll see what I can do.”
                “Thank you,” Wilbur said. “I’ll pray for you, and I’ll see you later.”
                After Wilbur left, Iosag immediately left for Luc’s place, and told him about the events. Though somewhat saddened, Luc eagerly agreed to join the effort to find Elly. Luc left to get a friend of his, Ian, while Iosag went to find Peadur, a former pirate and friend of Iosag. Peadur’s knowledge of the sea would be invaluable in this search.
                Iosag’s first move was to offer the pirates 10,000 pounds. They turned it down, and Iosag immediately offered 15,000. That offer was also rejected, and the pirates demanded the full amount.
                “We’re going to have to do it the hard way,” Peadur remarked as the five of them sat around Wilbur’s table.
                “You said it’s the Mo-de pirates?” Ian asked.
                “Yes,” Wilbur replied.
                “Aren’t they in Norway?” Luc asked.
                “They are,” Iosag agreed. “Peadur, do you know anything about them?”
                “They were responsible for breaking up the gang I was with,” Peadur replied.
                “Do you think you could locate their base?” Ian asked.
                “I think fairly easy, lad,” Peadur answered.
                “Might I come with you?” Wilbur asked.
                Iosag nodded his head. “I believe it would be a good idea if you came along.”
                The five of them prepared for the trip. Peadur bought a small ship and tinkered on it a bit so as to make it look a little like a Viking ship. The five of them left quietly so as to keep the pirates uninformed.
                They arrived on the shores of Norway about three weeks after they left Scotland.
                For weeks they searched for any signs of the Mo-be pirates, looking for any kind of a harbor or the pirate ship. Finally an older man suggested a location that they agreed to try.
                Iosag led the group, followed by Luc and Ian. Peadur and Wilbur brought up the rear.
                “There it is,” Iosag stated as he stepped through a small clearing. The five of them gazed up at the sight in front of them, illuminated by the setting sun. A high, rocky hill towered above them, topped with a mid-sized fortress. Six canons protected the west and south, while the other sides were out of sight.
                Iosag motioned the others to follow him. As they neared the hill, Iosag whispered, “Single file. Follow me, and don’t get spotted.”
                Iosag began the ascent, followed by Wilbur. Luc and Ian came next, while Peadur guarded the rear. It was a long, tedious climb, complicated by the rocks and the requirement to keep low.
                “Reminds me of Jonathan in First Samuel,” Ian remarked to Luc. “You remember, when he and his armor bearer snuck up on the Philistines?”
                “Only there’s about three more here,” Luc whispered back.
                Several minutes of climbing brought them to the top.
                They surveyed the walls to see if they could climb the wall. Finally Iosag motioned for the others to follow him. They slithered their way around until they neared the gate.
                “Luc,” Iosag whispered, “Ian. Go around to the other side, and wait for further orders.”
                The two nodded their heads and quickly moved. One guard stood at the gate, gun in hand.
                Iosag cautiously snuck closer, then raced for the guard. The guard caught sight of him, just as Iosag tackled him.

*                                             *                                             *                                             *                                             *

                Antoine paused briefly, and glanced at the children. “Shall I stop it there?” he asked jokingly.
                “No, please, go on!” they begged.

*                                             *                                             *                                             *                                             *

                “Now you open this gate and you can live,” Iosag told the guard.
                The guard knocked on the doors. Iosag motioned for the others to join him.
                As the gate opened, Iosag waved his hand at Luc, who tackled the guard inside, pushing the gate even further. The others rushed in.
                Though there wasn’t all that many pirates, the few that were there weren’t going to let these infiltrators get away with anything. A few fired at Iosag and his friends, and a risky duel ensued.
                The noise brought Elly to a small window, from which she watched in horrified suspense. Finally, when Wilbur broke out of the group, Elly called out: “Father! I’m here!”
Crash! The door burst open and Wilbur rushed in.
                “Father! You’re here! You’re really here!” Elly exclaimed.
                “Oh thank God,” Wilbur called, “He’s preserved my daughter.”
                “Yes papa,” Elly agreed. “The Lord has preserved me.”
                Just at that moment, Iosag stepped into the room.
                “Iosag?” Elly asked. “You’re here, too?”
                “Ian and Luc came, too,” Iosag replied. “But I’m afraid Luc was killed.”
                Elly blinked. “Luc gave his life for me, much like my Saviour,” she remarked sadly.
                “Has God called you, my daughter?” Wilbur asked, catching that last part.
                “Yes, papa,” she replied. “And I have answered.”
                “Luc’s alive! Luc’s alive!” Ian called.
                The others rushed out.
                “Luc!” Elly called.
                “I’m here, Elly,” he replied weakly.
                Elly dropped to her knees beside him.
                Wilbur gazed up to Heaven. “Thank You, Lord, for giving me back my daughter, and for sparing Luc’s life. Thank You, Jesus.”

One Day

“Well,” I began after we climbed into the car that Friday night as we headed to the hotel, “that was a good one, too.”

            “Yes,” Felicity agreed. “It was. What a sad view to believe.”

            “Not much different from Post-Trib,” Steve observed. “In both cases, you get to die.”

*                                  *                                  *                                  *

            “There,” Steve said, setting the case in the trunk. “Mama packed an extra set of clothes for today.”

            I nodded my head. “Alright,” I said as I checked to see his fingers were out of the way before shutting the trunk. “Everyone ready?”

            We climbed in the car, prayed briefly for safety today, and started up. Backing the car up,  I put it in drive and we wheeled out the parking lot.

            “This glad morning since the night is o’er/ We’ll drive away,” Steve started our travel version of I’ll Fly Away. The children had one verse so far that they had modified (or murdered—not sure which).

            “We’ll drive away, drive away (Oh glory!)/We’ll drive away/When night’s done (Hallelujah!) by and by/We’ll drive away!” they finished.

            “Could we sing the real song?” Susie asked.

            Felicity began the song in her alto voice, “Some glad morning…”

             We sang all the way to the Martins’, and arrived about three minutes early.

            “Good morning,” Ed greeted us as we walked to his door. Ruth, David, and the twins stood just behind him. Emily and Anna emerged from the kitchen.

            “We take our shoes off,” Ed stated when I caught sight of seven pairs of socks standing around. “Keeps the house cleaner.”

            “That’s what we think too,” I agreed as we took our shoes off. “We take our shoes off at home, too.”

            Just then the Millers emerged from their various locations.

            “Good morning,” Antoine declared. “You all are a little early.”

            “A little, I guess,” I stated.

            “But breakfast is almost ready,” he stated. “If everyone wants to head to the kitchen.”

            We marched our way to the kitchen and sat down. After Ed led in prayer, I glanced around in the kitchen. Six adults: Ed and his wife, Emily; Antoine and his wife, Anna; and Felicity and I sat like islands among the sea of children: my three, Steve, Susie, and Joel; Ed’s five, Anna, David, Ruth, Rachel, and Rebecca; and Antoine’s six, Sharon, Adeline, Luke, Timothy, Lisa, and Esther.

            The breakfast was well done: fried eggs, scrambled eggs (which was a good thing—Felicity and Susie both can’t stand fried eggs), sausage, biscuits, gravy, and hash browns. Condiments included ketchup, mustard, grape, peach and strawberry jelly, and butter. And to wash it down, the Martins had water, juice, or milk (including chocolate syrup—much to Steve and Joel’s delight). All ate well, and there was some leftovers, which, (upon Ed’s insistence), we agreed to take when we got back. Ed read two chapters from Revelation after breakfast.

            After eating and reading, the sea of children (ranging in age from about eighteen to four)scattered throughout the house (and outside), while we adults prepared to leave.

            Once dinner (uh—the noon meal, that is) was ready, Antoine called the children in to finish getting ready. “Remember to get extra clothes so you have dry ones,” Emily instructed. “Oh, by the way,” she added, turning to me, “do you need clothes?”

            “Uh, no, thanks, we packed some,” I replied.

            “Alright,” she smiled. “Just wanted to make sure.”

            After everyone was ready, Ed led in prayer, and then we headed (after putting all those shoes on) to the vehicles.

            We followed the Martins and the Millers all the way to Biloxi, and then all of us drove to the beach. It was somewhat difficult to find a spot, being a Saturday, but we finally did.

            The rest of the day was spent there, with the typical activities. One time Antoine quoted a story I might have heard once or twice before:

            Antoine was helping some of the boys put together a sand castle. After it was finished, he stood up and remarked, “Reminds me of the story about the scientists.”   

            “What’s that?” I asked.           

            “Scientists told God, ‘With all our equipment and technology, we can do anything you can do!’” he began. “God said, ‘Okay, build a man.’ The scientists said, ‘Well, you built a man out of dirt, we’ll build a man out of dirt.’ God said, ‘NOPE! Get your own dirt!’”

            Everyone laughed.

            We ate around one in the afternoon. The Martins had packed lunchmeat, cheese, bread, sandwich condiments, fruit, and Antoine and Ed left briefly to pick up ice cream. Since they offered, I went with them. We picked up ice cream sandwiches at Wal-Mart and returned about twenty-thirty minutes after we left.

            After dinner (uh—the noon meal; well, maybe I should call it the afternoon meal), we played a bit more in the water, and then the children asked for a story. Antoine volunteered and then sailed off into a pirate story that I will try to share with everyone soon.

            As the afternoon became late, we quickly cleaned up and changed our clothes. Then we left for the church, after stopping briefly at the Martins’ house for the leftovers. It had been a great day with fellow children of God, and we all were looking forward to this evening.