“UN troops are moving into Iraq. The new government which the UN has set up there, collapsed today after a month of uprisings and riots. The troops are being sent in to re-establish the democratic government, bring peace to the small country and put down any further uprisings . . .”
“The President, along with the government leaders of England, France, and Russia, signed a peace pact today at Paris, France. It is the first time in history that so many government leaders have agreed completely to a peace document. This is a big step to world-wide peace . . .”
“The Supreme Court today finally passed the much debated National Sunday-Sabbath Bill. The bill declares Sunday to be the one and only day on which all are compelled to worship. The President expressed approval of the bill, and during his peace talks in France, he has encouraged the other world leaders to pursue similar courses in their countries. . . And now for a look at the local scene.
In Kalamazoo this week . . .”
The dial felt very cold as my hot, damp hand turned it, stopping the TV announcer’s voice. Walking over to the window, I stared out unconsciously, while the words of Elder Brown came back to me: The National Sunday Law is the sign for the Christians to move out of the cities.”
Back in Bible studies class I had heard a lot about Sunday Blue Laws and the end of time, but I must not have thought that this would really come. I seemed in a collapsed balloon, with everything pressing in around me. I could see all those charts Elder Brown had drawn, day after day on the board, showing the events of the end. There were two marks that were very close together, The National Sunday Law and the close of human probation.
Doubt. Fear, excitement whirled through my mind. What would happen ? Where would we go ? How soon would we leave ?
Yet, it was so unreal—like a dream.
I just couldn’t believe that it was happening now !
“ Alice, come to supper,” Mother called. In tense quietness I ate, wishing someone would mention the passing of the bill. But everything went as it always did. In Bible study class, I had planned how I wanted things to work out when this time arrived. Father would be suddenly converted and as a united, Christian family, we would move to some secluded place.
I waited, but no one seemed to know what he was supposed to do or say. 2
They didn’t act as if anything was out of the ordinary. Finally, unable to keep still any longer, I said, “You know the Supreme Court okay’d that Sunday Law today.”
“No !” Ron gasped. “Really ?”
“The time of the end is near,” Mother said, as she often did when something horrid happened. “We can see it all around us.” Dad didn’t say anything.
Mother and Father really couldn’t be that uninterested in something so vital and important.
I decided to try again.
“You know what Mrs. White says about the National Sunday Law ?”
Oh, no. there was that look on Mom’s face. I knew now that she would criticize anything I said. Lately, every time I mentioned Mrs. White, or Bible prophecy, Mother got mad.
“No, what does Mrs. White say ?” she replied with a sigh of here-we-go-again.
Overlooking her disgust, I went on. “She says we should move out of the cities, for the close of probation is near.” Matthew 24:15-21, Luke 21:20-26
“Where are we supposed to go ?” Ron asked.
“Into the country or wilderness somewhere.”
“Just tell me, little miss Holy-Joe, exactly where are you going to find any ‘wilderness’ around here ?
Mother’s cold words surprised me. Her reaction was completely different from that which I’d expected.
“Look up north,” Ron said quickly. “There are huge forests where no one would find us for weeks.”
Ron and I looked at each other. I had never realized how interested in spiritual things he was. He had always seemed so careless and kiddish. But in that brief glance, I could see that he was interested. The conversation stopped, for Mom and Dad’s cold, indifferent silence gave us no wish to continue the discussion.
Things are all wrong, I thought later, as I lay on my bed. How can Mom and Dad be so apathetic ? Nothing is happening like it’s supposed to. The week passed.
At church, Elder Jenkins had a stirring message on the Sunday Law and the Close of Probation. Every one agreed with him. People cried, and gave hearty “Amens”. Revelation 22:11-14
Now things were beginning to go the way I had planned them. But later as I walked out of church, I noticed people laughing and joking together like every other Sabbath. Some were talking of the new addition they were putting on their house, or the new piece of furniture they had purchased. Ladies were checking on what kind of cakes to bring to next week’s church social.
I couldn’t understand it. Can a person be moved by God’s Spirit and forget so quickly ?
As the days passed, tension grew. Finally Mother and Father consented to our leaving home. They gave us permission to live at our lake cottage.
After getting settled, time passed quickly. Sabbath we studied our Bibles all day and prayed. Never before had I felt such a need to ask forgiveness. For literally hours Ron and I petitioned our heavenly Father for the forgiveness of all the sins we could remember. There was a heavy urgency pushing us.
Sunday, we went to our neighbors to give Bible studies.
Having never given a study before, we were nervous. But we decided to trust that God would lead us to whom we were supposed to contact. We met a very lovely family, the Cook’s, who had heard of the Bible Sabbath before, and in light of current events, they were very interested in studying. They accepted the Truth, and although they were never baptized by water, they became children of the Most High God by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
I called home during the week. Mother was the same as usual—no trace of anger or unhappiness. She thought we were going to come back home and asked if we wanted Dad to come after us. I told her, “No” and urged her to join us, but she declined. She was not angry. Only resigned to the fact that she could not leave home or Father.
I also phoned Elder Jenkins, hoping that he and his family would soon be moving. But to my surprise, everything seemed to be the same as usual there too. Everyone was happy and friendly and no one was planning to do anything but go on just like they always had. Several times Elder Jenkins warned me to beware of becoming fanatical. Luke 21:34-36
Oh, why did it have to happen ?
Why couldn’t it wait till I died so I wouldn’t have to be hurt by family and friends who rejected the call ? Why must it happen . . . Now ?
One day while we were eating, Mrs. Cook came running into the house. “The Universal Sunday Law has just been passed,” she cried. “Probation is closing !”
I looked at her. It couldn’t be. Why, it was only the middle of July, just a few weeks after the National Sunday Law had been passed.
The close of probation couldn’t be coming so soon . . . not Now !”
But then I saw those charts of Elder Brown’s again in my mind. The line designating the Sunday Law and the one showing the close of probation seemed to get closer and closer together until they blended into one. Yes, the time had come; the time was Now !
After deciding on going to the Smokey Mountains, we prayed, and then took off. I wanted so desperately to go back and see Mother and Father, and the Jenkins, but the Cook’s said it was too dangerous, we had to find a place of refuge. As we drove down the expressway, past the green and white sign that said “Kalamazoo Next Exit,” I felt strangely empty.
“There it goes,” I thought. “My home town, my family, my minister, my church. There goes everything.” Then I looked over at Ron sitting on the other side of the back seat. No, not everything was gone. I had Ron, my precious brother. I slid over and gave him a kiss. He looked at me. “Not quite”, he smiled. “We’ve got GOD !”
Mrs. Cook turned on the car radio. Every so often we caught a news broadcast. They were all the same: wars, tornadoes, fires, crime, and now the Universal Sunday Law. The Law, we learned, included a penalty of death for all those who failed to obey it. Within a week it would be permissible to kill us. Only one week ! ref: Matthew 24:8-21.
Sitting in the back seat, staring out at the swiftly passing countryside, I had lots of time to think. I thought about my childhood friends, and early grade school teachers. I wondered if they had received and accepted the Truth. I wondered if they were driving, like we were, to some place to hide. And my heart ached as I thought of how very little I had done to show them the way.
I thought about my church school teachers, and wondered if they were running, or if they were going on just like they always had. I kept wondering, if, maybe, at the last minute, Mom and Dad had left the city.
“Surely, they must have,” I thought. Elder Brown said that the saints would be the ones to flee. But maybe we weren’t. Maybe we were just doing all this running to try to convince ourselves that we were good. Maybe we hadn’t been sealed ? Maybe we weren’t really saved at all ? Maybe we were only trying to prove to heaven that we deserved the seal of God. I knew that many would be deceived at the end. Maybe I had deceived myself into thinking I was saved, when I really wasn’t. Maybe I was acting the way I knew saints would act to convince myself that I was a saint. I’d heard of people lying so much, that they themselves, begin to believe it. Maybe that was what I’d done.
The idea was terrifying, so I put it out of my mind, and thought only of God’s Promises:
“To him who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the Tree of Life that stands in the garden of God.” “He who is victorious cannot be harmed by the second death.” Revelation 2:7-11 and 22:14 The promises kept flashing through my mind as hope burned in my heart. Ron was reading from a little book called Steps to Christ. He didn’t seem worried. I thought then, how much he had grown up in the last two months, how Christ-like and mature he seemed.
“It says here,” he said, “that we must accept the Promises of Christ, not from feeling, but out of faith.
He said He would keep us, and we must believe that He will !”
“Strange,” I thought, that he should read that, just when I needed it. Romans 4:20-21, II Corinthians 1:20, & II Peter 1:4
The hours passed . . . .
The news broadcasts were filled with wars, riots, mob actions in the big cities. Epidemics were breaking out in different parts of the country, and always there was news of the approaching date, on which, murder would be condoned by law.
We finally reached the foothills of the Smokies, and to us they looked like heaven. Stopping for gas, we got out of the car to stretch. The attendant wiped off our windows. Then he asked to see our “Registration to Buy and Sell” card. When we told him we didn’t have one, his face turned hard and gray. Quickly he walked into the station, picked up the phone and asked for the police. Revelation 13:16-18
We jumped into the car and took off. Although the meter showed “Empty,” the car ran perfectly. Up one street and down another we drove. The radio was on, and breathless, we listened. Suddenly we heard the license number and description of our car, and an alert that we were dangerous criminals. I couldn’t believe that they were talking about us as I heard the list of crimes we had supposedly, committed.
How could this be ? How could something like this be happening here, in the United States ? “Listen, kids,” Mr. Cook said. “Grab what you can, and get out ! Take off as fast as you dare, but don’t look suspicious. It’s not safe for you to be with us.”
“But . . .”
“Do what I said . . . now !”
The car stopped and we jumped out. For a moment we stood there, holding our Bibles and coats, wondering what to do now. And I had my roller bag. “How in the world did I get my roller bag ?” I giggled nervously. I don’t know, but we’d better get going.” Ron grabbed my arm, and we started up the street.
It was a peaceful, quiet, ordinary residential street. Little children were playing,
people were washing their windows, or watering their lawns. For a moment, I felt safe. Everything was all right. Then we heard the siren.
We dashed up a small street and between two brick buildings. Behind them it was dark, and within a small paved street were several boxes and barrels.
“Why would there be something like this in a residential district ?” I whispered.
“Listen, Alice, will you stop trying to figure everything out, and hide !”
Ron pushed me under a box, and threw a pile of dirty, odor filled rags in on top of me. Hesitating for a moment, he squeezed my hand and whispered. “I love you.”
“Don’t forget Romans 8:28.”
The box came down. There was complete silence the rags and dust created an unhealthy, almost unbearable stench in the small enclosure. I prayed continually . . .Oh, if only I could know for sure that I was sealed by God. Revelation 7:2-3, 15:1-2
I listened to hear Ron say it was all right to come out. An eternity of suffocating silence passed ! Then the box moved, lifted, and cool, wonderfully fresh air flowed in. “Come on, its night.” Ron helped me up.
After praying for God’s continued protection, we cautiously started out of the alley-way. We followed the highway, and as we got farther and farther from town our fears grew. Every time a car passed, we fell to the ground. Then we ran ! Faster, and faster we ran. Down we fell, grasping the ground, and hoping no one would see us. As the car sped down the highway we were on our feet again, running. My side ached and my legs hurt. “Stop !” I cried. “We can’t. Hit the ground, here come another car !”
Exhausted, I fell to the cold earth, and with fear watched the headlights speed past.
“So this is what it’s like to be a criminal,“ I thought. “Now I know how it feels to be hunted.” I lay there, not wanting to rise. “Get up Alice,” Ron pulled me to my feet.
“Ron, I can’t,” I protested.
“Cut it out ! You know we have run while we can. What happens when the sun comes up if you’re lying out here by the road ? Now, we’re almost to the hills.” He pulled me into a trot.
“We have to go —– Now !”
That’s it. Everything was Now. Now we had to run. Now we had to fall. Now we had to hide.
Why couldn’t it happen next year or the next ? Why did everything have to happen now ?
At last we were in the hills. We worked our way back into a wood. In the east the sky was growing pink. We kept walking. I didn’t feel the hurt in my legs, or the pain in my side so much. My feet no longer felt blistered and hot, just kind of achingly numb. I wanted a drink of water. My throat was so dry, it hurt to swallow. Finally—-exhausted—- we fell on the ground and slept.
When we awoke, I opened my Bible to Psalms. Several verses in Psalm 27 were underlined.
“The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear ? The LORD is the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid ? . . . for in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion . . . When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.”
I stopped. How could things like this happen ? How could I just open my Bible, and have the very verses I need come jumping out at me ? My heart went out in love to God.
Turning to I John 3, I read, “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God.” A daughter of God !
I was a daughter of the Most High, a princess of the highest government of the universe. As I toyed with the thought of being a princess, my legs didn’t hurt nearly as much. And when I thought of suffering as a member of the family of heaven, I didn’t ache anywhere. The night seemed quiet as we moved into the mountains.
“Say, Ron,” I whispered, as I suddenly thought about what day is was.
“It’s Friday night—-Sabbath.”
Genesis 2:1-3, 1:3-5, Exodus 20:8-11, Hebrews 4:4-10,
Isaiah 66:22-23, Ezekiel 20:12-21 & Revelation 21:1-5
We both stopped, surprised at how quickly the week had passed. He smiled. I couldn’t see his smile, but I could tell from the way he talked, that a broad grin was across his face. “ Lets have worship !” he said. The words were exciting.
Finding a place where we felt safe, we very quietly, almost silently, offered our thanks to our Father in heaven. When we finished, we felt refreshed and hurried on our way. Just twenty-four hours stood between us and the enforcement of the death decree. We were in the mountains now.
It was nearing morning. Just think, to be able to watch the sun rise on a Sabbath morning from a mountain! The thought trilled me, and I turned my gaze eastward. We both paused, breathing hard, to witness the beauty of the scene. It was so glorious that we couldn’t help but kneel and thank God for His loving care.
We had just risen, when we heard a yell behind us. Turning, we saw two men with rifles, and a dog baring down on us. “Hey ! What are you doing ?” Their voices were hard.
“Get along, Alice !” Ron pushed me one way , and he ran the other. “Philippians 4:13,” I heard him call back. Blindly I ran. I could hear the dog barking behind me. The men were screaming and the dog sounded crazed. I ran. My side hurt. My throat ached. I ran. Always there was the dog. I kept running.
“Oh, help me, Father in Heaven !” I cried.
One of the rifles went off. I stiffened, but felt nothing. Another shot. Still I was not hit.
Oh, I ran. On and on and on. The dog was still behind me. “Please don’t let them catch me !”
Oh, why couldn’t
I run faster!
Suddenly I was falling! I began to get up, but it was too late. The dog was upon me, and right behind him were the two men. As they came up, the dog backed off. I lay looking up at their hard faces. For a brief moment I wondered if my hair looked alright. Then one of them raised his rifle and took aim. This is it, I thought.
His finger tightened on the trigger. “Hey, the law don’t go into effect till tomorrow.” the other man grabbed his arm. “Aw, so what’s the difference, we kill her now or later ?”
“Well, why don’t we take her to the authorities, everyone else is. And besides, you’ll have plenty of hunting time tomorrow.” they both laughed as they jerked me to my feet. “Too bad that other kid got away,” one said disgustedly. “He’ll be caught tomorrow,” the first replied.
Happy that Ron was still free, I prayed, “Thanks for answering.”
At the jail, I was questioned, fingerprinted, booked, photographed, questioned again, made to change into prison garb, and then taken to a cell in the basement. As I entered, the occupants looked up. “Welcome, Little One,” one of the men smiled. I liked him. “Have a seat,” another offered, pointing to the floor. “We’re having church.” I sat down. I couldn’t help smiling. I felt good there. This was a wonderful place ! The people in the cell were kind.
“You can be our visitor of this week,” the lady said. “If we had a guest book, you could sign it.” The
service was simple. We sang and sang and sang. The songs were so real. Not just a lot of words set to music, like it had so often seemed back home. We all shared a verse of scripture, we could remember, and then we prayed.
As the day lengthened, we sang and prayed and talked some more. One man beamed as he told of how the men who had captured him tried to shoot him. But the guns wouldn’t go off ! I thought about how close to death I’d been. Why had that man missed me twice, and what had stopped him from shooting me the third time ?
Tom, the man who had smiled when I entered, called me “Little One” and made me feel right at home. I called him Tom because that was the only name he gave. He was different somehow from the others, more friendly, or something. Aunt Nelly was the woman. My stomach felt empty. “Do they ever feed you ?” I asked.
“Oh yes,” Tom smiled. “Once in a while, they give us a little something.”
“Oh well,” I thought. “You’ve been on diets before, Alice, this shouldn’t be anything new for you.” I began to think. All my life I had heard how we should strive to be more like Christ Jesus. But I just knew that I didn’t reflect His image fully. I was afraid that I had forgotten to confess some sin. Oh, if only I could be certain. If only I could know for sure! Tom came over and sat down beside me. Isaiah 33:15-17, 32:15-17.
“Don’t get discouraged, Little One, we can’t know everything right now.” His voice was soft, and full of understanding. How could he know the way I felt ? “Just remember, no matter what, that your heavenly Father’s love for you is as strong as it has ever been. He has not failed you yet, and believe me, He’s not going to !” Psalm 61:3 & Hebrews 13:5
I did believe him. Couldn’t help but believe him. There was something about Tom that inspired trust and love. “Remember,” he went on, “Christ Jesus went through all this and more for you. He feels every pain, every ache, every discouragement you have. He is listening and watching you and He loves you very deeply.” As he stood up, he smiled and added, “And you are a perfect princess.” He walked to the other side of the cell. Isaiah 63:9, Hebrews 11:32-40, 12:1-3
How could he do that ? How could he know about me being a princess ? A strange fear crept over me as I tried to figure out just what kind of person Tom was. Then he turned and smiled, and I knew he was just a wonderful, wonderful Christian man.
The cell door opened and three more people were pushed inside, a man, a woman and a little girl. The little girl, Judy, was scared. She cried and wanted her parents but Tom soon had her smiling. The hours passed. The guard came by and gave us a bowl of warm water—he called it vegetable soup. After dishing it up, he sneared, “just four more hours.”
All of us knew what he meant. It was 8:00 pm, in just four more hours, the death decree would go into effect. “Don’t you guys care about your families ?” he went on in a derogatory tone. “Can’t you see that they are going to be persecuted because of you? I never understand how people can break the law. It’s always the ones back home who suffer. The words hurt. I wondered if people were being mean to Mom and Dad because of me.
“And besides, what gives you the idea that you are so almighty holy ? Look, everybody goes along with this law, It’s for our good. Just who do you think you are to say ‘No,’ to God ?” He shook his head in disgust. “People like you are crazy. When an animal is crazy, it is shot !” He walked away, leaving the unspoken words hanging thick before the bars of our cell.
As the night grew longer, many more people were added to our cell. Some in good condition, 8
like we were, and others were beaten and bloody. There was hardly standing room, but the guards kept shoving in more prisoners. I tried to sleep, but every ten or fifteen minutes, a loud buzzer would sound. Tom told me that it was to keep us awake.
“They know that the human body breaks down after extreme insomnia,” he explained. “And that’s what they want. But just learn to sleep deeply for five or ten minute stretches, and always remember to pray and trust in Jesus Christ, and you’ll be alright.” Isaiah 49:14-16, 54:17, Psalm 20:1-2, 5-7
Judy cried very hard, but Aunt Nelly held her, and sang to her. I felt sorry for her, she was so little. I had often wondered what would happen to children during this time, and now I knew. They had to suffer right along with us, only there were people like Aunt Nelly and Tom around to comfort them. I remembered something that Jesus had said, when He was here, “ I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from evil.” John 17:15
“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I Am the LORD thy God . . . And lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.” Isaiah 43:2, Matthew 28:20
At midnight the buzzer sounded and bells rang and the guards came to our cell.
“Well, your numbers are up,” one laughed. He called off the names of different individuals, and they filed out. It gave us more room, but not much security. The lights above our heads burned constantly. We saw no more of the guard for two more days, during which time we had no food or water.
Most of the time we spent in prayer and singing. Since we had no Bibles, we recited the texts of Scripture we knew. Oh, how I wished I knew more !
Then the guards came again. Tom and a few others were called out. As Tom passed by, he bent over and pressed something into Judy’s hand. “That’s so you won’t be scared anymore,” he whispered. He looked up at me. “Take good care of her, Little One.” The cell door closed shut.
“Well, there goes four more,” I thought.
“Look what Tom gave me !” Judy nearly sang. “Look, isn’t it beautiful !” There in her hand was a very small, brightly colored picture of Jesus. On the back of it said: “God is love !”
“How could he have gotten that in here ?” I wondered. We were all given a complete searching, and we came in with nothing but the prison clothes we wore. I wondered as I remembered his kind face and friendly smile, his helping words and thoughtful comfort. I wondered.
We prayed and sang. Judy was happy when we were singing. She always joined right in, whether she knew the words or not. We were hungry, but worse than anything else was the growing fear that we wouldn’t be saved. Jesus had said, “When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth ?” Luke 18:8
I remembered Tom’s words about trusting God and His promises. I trusted Jesus Christ with all my heart, I really did. But it was me that I was worried about. I didn’t have too much faith in me, and I was afraid there was something I had forgotten to make right that I should have.
The guard came back and called off more names. One was mine.
Judy began to cry. “Don’t cry, honey, everything will be fine.” I smiled. “Remember the picture Tom gave you, and hold it close. That seemed to satisfy her and she waved as I left. She was so small, and yet God had given her protection and love in the form of her fellow cell mates.
Now I was scared——–what happened to people after they left the cell ?
I was taken to another small room. A man was sitting on the other side of a large desk.
“You are Alice Strong ?”
“ You live in Kalamazoo, Michigan ?”
“ You are a seventh-day Sabbath keeper ?”
“ Why ?”
The question startled me. In all the reading I had ever done on the end of time and the time of trouble, no one ever asked “Why.” They always asked something like: “What makes you think Saturday is the Sabbath ?” or
“who gives you the right to keep Saturday instead of Sunday ?” But no one ever asked “Why ?”
“Well, because the Word of God is the only Truth by which man is to live. And it is the only rule by which we shall be judged. We base all of our beliefs on the Word of God, and it alone. John 12:48, II Timothy 3:16, Mark 7:6-13, Psalm 119:11, Psalm 40:8
I was surprised at my answer. It was no master piece of oratory, but it was right.
“All right, now Alice, I like you.”
The man settled down in his chair and began rearranging papers on his desk. “You say that all your doctrines, or beliefs are based on the Bible, but you don’t believe in the immortality of the soul.” He paused, but motioned for me to keep silent. “In my Bible I read where the poor man, Lazarus was in heaven, and the rich man was in hell, after they died. You have to agree that this is in the Bible. And what’s more, Jesus told the story himself.” I began to protest, but was told not to speak unless instructed to. “And when the thief was on the cross, Jesus said to him, ‘I say unto thee, today thou shalt be with me in Paradise.’ Now right there Jesus said the thief would be with Him that day, the day He died. Therefore, it is only logical to believe in the immortality of the soul. Right ?
Ezekiel 18:4, Romans 6:15-16, 6:23, Romans 2:4-13, 2:7, I Corinthians 15:51-55, I Timothy 1:17,
I Timothy 6:13-16, Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Job 14:10-14, 19:25-26
“Another thing is this Sabbath keeping. Now, the Sabbath was kept by God’s people through the Old Testament and on till Jesus’ death. Then when He was raised on Easter morning, the day of holiness was changed from Saturday to Sunday (where is the text in Scripture ?).
“Now you say you follow the Bible, and yet here are just two instances, out of many I could name, where you go contrary to it’s teachings. Think about it, Alice. You are an intelligent girl, and I know that you are seeking for the truth. You think you are doing the will of God, but consider what I’ve just said.
“You wouldn’t want to kill anyone would you ? But some of your friends, or even members of your family may be killed because you are so stubborn. Don’t you think God is going to hold you responsible ?” He stared at me with a long, cold, mean look. “Of course, if you were to change to God’s way, and ask forgiveness for your sins, He would save you.”
There was a long silence.
“I know it’s hard to accept right now,” he went on. “But I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. 10
If you want to, we’ll send you back to Kalamazoo, and then after you’ve seen your friends and family, you can make you’re decision. Sound pretty good ?”
I nodded excitedly. “All right we’ll see what we can do for you.”
I was led to a small cell and there I waited. Each day I hoped I would be able to go home. But my home leave didn’t come. The weeks passed. Every few minutes the guard would look through the opening in the door of my cell, and wake me if I was sleeping. Every day there were long hours of questioning, long hours of persuasion talks. I thought I would lose my mind. I clung to two verses of scripture: “If ye love Me, keep My commandments,” John 14:15 And “Here is the patience of the saints, here are they which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17, 14:12
I had to stand firm; I could not fail God now. Suddenly I woke up.
It seemed as though I’d been sleeping for a long time. I couldn’t hear the guard, but I knew he was in the cell. Rolling over, I sat up and looked at the man. It was Tom !
“Tom ! How did you get in here ?”
He looked better than he had in the other cell. He was shaved and washed up. “Never mind that, Little One,” he smiled. It was good to see him! When he was around, there was no pain, no empty stomach, no heart ache. He seemed to carry an atmosphere of peace and love, of trust and joy right with him. And to me the cell shown when he was there. “I thought that maybe you hadn’t had much to eat, so I brought you something.” He handed me some kind of food. I’d never seen anything like it before——–but it was delicious ! “What’s it called ?” I asked. Revelation 2:17, I Kings 17:1-6, Revelation 11:3-6
“Well there really isn’t a name for it, but I am glad you like it,” He smiled. “How was Judy when you were taken from her ?” “Pretty good, I guess.”
“Listen, Little One, they are going to be real hard on you from now on. You’ll be going home soon, but it isn’t going to be such a wonderful reunion as you might think.” His voice was solemn. “It’s going to be hard, but it won’t be long. Remember how much Christ Jesus loves you. Think of all the good things He has done for you, all the times He has answered your prayers.” His eyes were soft, and he spoke with the love and authority of someone who has been very close to the Saviour. “This is just a test. You are showing, by your patience and your trust, to all of heaven and the universe, how much you love God.” ref: Luke 21:19
I remembered reading in my Bible these words. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing is happening to you: But rejoice, in as much as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that when His glory is revealed, ye may be glad with exceeding joy.” I Peter 4:12-13 Hebrews 11:25-40
“Little One, just keep praying, and believing the Promises (II Peter 1:4) that God has made to you. Repeat them out loud, and think only of Jesus, not of yourself. Not of your own weaknesses, but of Christ’s power and strength and love.” II Corinthians 1:20, 7:1, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 11:33
“Oh, Tom,” I said, “I want to be just like you !”
“Don’t think of being like me, but like our Saviour, the Son of God,” he reprimanded me softly. “There is none other than Jesus, and to be like Him should be the highest goal to every one.” He smiled. “Now you must promise me that you won’t get discouraged. I have to leave, but just remember how much Jesus loves you.”
“Please don’t go,” I cried.
I didn’t want to be left alone in that cell again, with the guards looking in all the time.
“I must,” he said. “But I will see you again . . .soon.”
Turning my back, so he wouldn’t see the tears, I walked to the other side of the cell. Why couldn’t he stay ? Just for a little while longer? I didn’t want the guards to wake me up all the time, or to make those sly remarks, that were so characteristic of them. Then it dawned on me that the guard hadn’t been by for a long time. The whole time Tom had been here. I turned to say goodbye to Tom but he was gone.
“Tom ! Tom !” I screamed. “Will you shut up !” The guard looked in.
I was finally sent back to Kalamazoo. At the jail I went through the usual procedures and then was taken to a large, nearly empty cell. “Abby !” I cried as I recognized my friend from school. It was so wonderful to see someone I knew ! “How long have you been in ?” she asked. “About a month, I guess.” I said.
“Is it rough ?”
“Yes, but just pray and things work out.”
“Hey, have you heard any news on the academy ?” “ Did the Browns get away ?”
She shook her head. “They didn’t even try.”
“What do you mean, ‘They didn’t try.”
“They didn’t try, she repeated. “They just went along with the law, like everybody else.” John 12:42-43
“No !” I sat down weakly. “Oh, no. It can’t be.” What made everything work out so wrong. How could this be true ? How could it happen to my Bible teacher !
Two miserable days passed, and then the guard came and took me to the court room. Entering, I saw Mother, Elder Brown, and Elder Jenkins. There they were! A thrill passed through me. I knew they wouldn’t fail me now, I knew it !
I was seated and the questioning began, just like the other jail, only this time there were teams. When one team tired, another would take over. After several hours of this treatment, all the questioners sat down. “Is it over?” I wondered, hoping it was. Then Elder Jenkins got up and walked over to me.
“Hello, Alice. I’ve been listening with interest to the questions that have been asked you this afternoon. I know that you realize where you’ve made your mistakes.” my heart stopped. This couldn’t be Elder Jenkins. This wasn’t my Pastor. It couldn’t be ! How could he be saying something like this ! John 16:2, Matthew 24:10
“It’s hard to believe, I know,” he went on. “But when we’ve been shown new light, and we have. We’ve seen visions. I, myself, have had some. In these visions Jesus told me that the plan has changed. He is going to perfect everyone here, by the means of the Sunday Law. And then no one, not one person will be lost.”
I looked at him with a breaking heart. “Do you see what that means, Alice ? Everyone will be saved. Everyone! And the Bible says that God is love. And only now do we understand how true that is !”
He believed it. He actually believed what he was saying.
“Alice, its people like you that are holding up this process. You are stopping Jesus from saving us all.” How could he believe this ? Elder Brown walked over to where I was standing. No, not him too ? Oh, why couldn’t they leave me alone ? I wished I was back in the other jail. Back there, where I wouldn’t know what I knew now.
“It’s nice to see you again, Alice. I just wish it could be under different circumstances.”
He looked at me with a cutting stare. “I don’t want to tell you that you’re lost, because we can’t know that for sure, but I will tell you that if you don’t repent you cannot be saved. Do you remember when you were in school, the many times you got in trouble? Do you remember that time when you thought the girls were supposed to be back at the dorm at 1030, and you were really an hour and a half late? You were punished ! And that’s the same way it is right now! You think you are right, but really you are wrong and you will be punished if you don’t straighten up, and do what is right.”
This couldn’t be Elder Brown that had taught my Bible class just a few months ago. No, I knew he was different. The same person outwardly, but something had happened on the inside.
Matthew 5:17-19, John 5:39-47
Mother walked over to me. With a hate-filled look, she hurled the words at me: “They killed your father last week——they killed him because of you. You’re not a Christian, you’re a crazy fanatic! You killed your father. You are the one, just as surely as those men that shot him!” For a moment, she just stood there quivering with hate and anger. “You are not my daughter !” She walked back across the courtroom.
I looked at the three of them. None of them were the people I’d once known. In Bible class Elder Brown had told us of how only a very few would be saved. How only those who would rather die than sin would stand through the last conflict. He said the brightest lights would go out. I can still hear him saying, “Some of the very people who you think are saints, you will find out are really devils.” I looked at him now, sitting there with that self-righteous air about him. I wondered if during our many discussions of this time, and the many statements that he had read and spoken about people falling, if he had ever realized that he was prophesying his own end.
I remembered that somewhere I had read that only about one in twenty would be saved unless they repented. I’d thought that all those “ones” were my friends, but now I realized how few actually would sacrifice all for heaven. Besides Ron, there had been only one person, out of all my fellow prisoners, that I had known previously as a friend.
“Well ?” The judge looked at me. “What will it be ? We’ve given you more mercy than was necessary. You know very well that you are breaking the law of the state, the church, and of God.” For a moment there was silence. They were all watching me. Why couldn’t they realize how useless it was to give up my beliefs?
“Well, what do you say ?”
“I am happy that I cannot agree to obey any law that opposes or attempts to replace the law of Almighty God. Neither can I believe any doctrine or visions that are not sanctioned by the Word of God, as is clearly taught in the Holy Scriptures. I will stand on the Word of God, and His Word alone !”
I looked at him unafraid.
Words of Scripture were racing across my mind: “But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for
doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:8-9
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom
ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness ?” Romans 6:16
I didn’t care what they thought of me—– I was not going to yield my faith now !
“But I told you, the Bible is no longer in effect !” Elder Jenkins yelled. “The plan has changed. Can’t you see what you are doing, you little fool !”
I looked at him. I looked at Mom and Elder Brown and suddenly felt sorry for them.
Sorry that they couldn’t realize what they were doing; sorry that they had believed a lie and were blinded in their error. I believed now what I had read, what I had heard.
“The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that are lost, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” II Corinthians 4:4
“And this is the condemnation, that Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19
“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned (condemned) who believed not the Truth . . . Thy Word is Truth . . . but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” II Thessalonians 2:11-12 & john 17:17.
I knew now, that the Time of Trouble was worse than anything I could have ever imagined.
Matthew 24:15-22 and Daniel 12:1-3
“All right, then I sentence you to death by the electric chair tomorrow at noon.” The judge acted bored and angered. My three “friends” walked out. Oh, why did it have to happen? I was taken to a dark cell where I was by myself. I had to know for sure that I had no sin remaining on the books of heaven, but how could I know ? Elder Brown had talked of the times I’d been in trouble at school. How could I know that all these things had been forgiven ?
Day and night I cried to be forgiven. If only I could remember every sin that needed forgiveness, but my memory was black. Death wouldn’t be half so terrifying if I could know that I was ready to meet my Lord. Too soon we were walking to the execution chamber. I had to be convinced that I was sealed. I had to know.
I was fastened in the chair. The electrodes were placed on my head. The man stood at the switch.
“Please save me !” I cried
“We’ll give you one final chance,” the switch man said.
A low rumble ———————— and suddenly there was a terrific shaking. The lights went out. Everyone was screaming. The building was reeling back and forth. The floor raised and lowered. The straps holding me broke. I ran from the chair. Glass windows were breaking everywhere. Thunder, terrible thunder, was crackling all around us. Revelation 6:12-17, II Peter 3:10-11, Revelation 11:15-19, 16:17-21
“The end of the world! The end of the world!” They screamed. “We are all going to be killed!
We are lost ! Lost ! Lost !”
I made it out to the street. Strangely I was not afraid; I was not unsure about unconfessed sins. Everywhere people were running —— trampling one another ——- killing each other ——-anything to escape the Light.
The beautiful Light !
The earth was heaving like the sea. Great cracks appeared, and people, pleading for death threw themselves into these . Fires blazed everywhere. White fire flashed through the black sky. In the middle of the blackness was the Light. As I watched, I grew happier than words can express. At last, at last Jesus had come!
He was here !
Had I been hurt ? Had I been sad, or discouraged or hungry or thirsty ? I could not remember. All I knew was that I was finally going home !
The earth was hushed. There were only a very few of us on the street now.
We watched with mounting excitement as the cloud drew nearer, and then stopped. Raising His nail-scarred hands, Jesus called to the dead, as He did to Lazarus, so many years ago.
Suddenly the earth shook, graves opened and hundreds and thousands of glorified saints arose to meet their Lord. We all joined together in a long, loud shout of victory !
I Corinthians 15:12-26, 15:35-55, I Thessalonians 4:13-17, 5:1-10
And what a victory it was !
Angels came earthward, as those who were just risen were caught up in the air. The angels came closer to us that were still waiting. They felt warm and bright, and I could see their happiness shine right through them.
My angel was beside me as I began to rise toward Jesus. I looked around. There was my brother Ron!
An angel was beside him too, and the Cooks were there also, and others I had known.
The thrill —— the miraculous glory of it all ——— I was going home to Jesus !
I had made it, just like Tom said.
My angel touched my arm. “Yes Little One,” he said, “You made it !”
“Tom ! Oh, Tom ! “I cried. My was so full of joy that I knew it would burst.
But I couldn’t look at Tom for very long. There was someone else I had to keep my eyes on. Someone more beautiful, more lovely and kind than even Tom.
Jesus, the Only-Begotten Son of God looked at us as we came near to Him. He looked at me with the most wonderful, love filled look I have ever received. And then He smiled. His smile was so beautiful, so glorious. He had come and I was happy, happy everything had happened . . . NOW !
written by a 17 year old girl named Merikay McLeod in the 1960’s
Abridged version available from Isaiah Ministries