Chapter One Hundred and Eleven
Stephen approached her trailer with tremble in his fingers. This is so beyond. I know we’re supposed to go, an’ we have protection along the way, but what is it Lord?
Carrie stepped out to greet him, looking every bit as lovely as he’d hoped for.
Stephen stopped a step away from her to take it all in. “You look…, stunning. No, more than that…” He stepped into her willing arms for a crushing embrace.
She pulled back after a moment, hand raised to her perfect brunette hair. “Careful. Putting this together for you cost a lot.”
Stephen grinned, knowing she didn’t mean in dollars. “Yeah, it cost a lot, but tonight will be worth it. It’s a feeling I received…, can’t explain it either.”
She leaned into him, careful of her hair, as they walked across the rough parking lot toward the same three vans from yesterday. “You look quite stunning yourself mister. Didn’t know you had such a nice suit. Hey, how did it survive the fire and…”
Stephen just grinned the more. “Now, now, just leave that mystery alone. Ted and I did a little arranging of our own, just for the occasion. See, there’s Ted and Rita.”
All four met outside the waiting van, amide nervous guards. The girls huddled together, giggling with the excitement of the moment. Ted stammered a bit, in nervous reflection. “Wow, you girls are like - beyond gorgeous. Stephen, we’re the luckiest guys on earth.”
Stephen nodded as they were ushered into the waiting van. “That we are.”
Both girls withdrew as the ride started. Carrie looked back at Rita, who stared back at her as if they were in a nightmare. Then Rita put her thoughts aside and smiled back a bit of encouragement. She picked up Teds hand for reassurance.
Carrie turned back and did the same, knowing these people were here to protect her. It took a forceful effort to let her shoulders sag back against the seat and turn toward Stephen.
He looked back at her with a wink and smile. “Kinda tough to relax, huh?”
Carrie caught the flash in his eyes as he drank in her beauty. “Yeah, kinda.”
Passing through open farm country Ted noticed it first. He caught Stephens eye after the third one. “You see what I’m seein’? Grain piled sky high with nowhere to go.”
Stephen turned to look as they passed a grain elevator with a tremendous volume of grain heaped in the back lots. Think of the risk, or what… He remembered a quote from his dad on the air. A recipe for disaster, that’s what it is.
Right on a closely monitored schedule, the vans pulled up in front of Ballasaris Steak House. Two plainclothes stood off to one side, seemingly in discussion but eyes roving the side streets.
Inside two couples laughed and talked excitedly. Special Ops, they would be the ones to directly take on assailants. Their laughter plus the bright lighting and music helped peel away the heaviness of the moment for the girls.
Taking a nod from the young waitress, Ted and Stephen ushered the girls into a cozy booth by the fireplace. The young waitress seemed nervous at first, conscious of who these customers were. She had reason to be. Just inside the kitchen door stood two heavily armed troops, watching every move, with a full squad outside the back door behind protective barricades in communication with sniper teams above.
Ted gazed around the booth at three grim faces. “Come on guys. Now that we’re here, we might as well relax and try to make it a pleasant evening.” Rubbing his hands together, he turned the menu over. “I’m hungry for a good steak. How ’bout you girls?”
Rita stopped twisting her lip and smiled at Ted, squinting ‘thank you’ with her eyes as she nodded to him. “Me too. It’s been like way too long since we ate out. I’ll join you in that.”
Stephen snickered in memory. “Yeah, I remember my folks taking me to a place like this along the coast for fresh lobster. Never did take to the taste of it. Always went for steak instead.”
Carrie brightened at his revelation. “Me too. Isn’t that something? Looks like steak all around.”
Teds impulse set the tone as conversation flowed around great steaks by the fireplace. Soon the four settled back in conversation and great company as they finished their meal.
Sudden commotion from the kitchen broke the spell of the evening. The four sat up as the two other couples stood up and covered the doors. More shouting from the kitchen sent other guards into alert, ready for anything.
Anything turned out to be the owner and his wife, followed by two heavily armed soldiers, bursting out of the kitchen toward the four. She showed puffy eyes and blushed face as she blurted out her story. “We wanted to thank all four of you for what you’ve done for us.”
Ted caught Stephens eye in question as the girls stared at each other in wonder.
The owner broke in by nodding vigorously. “Yes, yes. You see, our daughter…, she, um, well, she watched your last service and accepted Christ. Someone at your church led her to Jesus over the phone.”
Ted raised an eyebrow in recognition. “Ah yes, that would be Ralph or Elise or one of the team members. Hundreds have come to Him this way.”
Carrie clapped her hands together. “Oh, that’s so good. I did too, just a few weeks ago. It’s so good to have Christ in my heart. How about you?”
He relaxed as he draped his arm around his wife. “Yes. We both know Christ, but not like you folks, so brave to stand on TV and tell the whole world. That is something I couldn’t do. But now…, our daughter. She’s our sweet girl again. Gone is the anger and hate. Thank you so much.
She nodded, growing her excitement. “You don’t know what this means to us. To see you at the service, telling how the Lord protected you and now, here you are at our little business. It’s too much for us…” She looked like she was going to break down in tears right in front of them.
The soldiers exchanged strange looks. They expected trouble, not this.
Ted and Stephen stood to shake his hand. The ladies gave each other hugs. Then the owner reached into his jacket and fumbled for a moment. The two soldiers gasped and reached for his arms.
Seeing them reach for him, he backed away and showed them an envelope. “Es okay, see? Here’s a check for your ministry. Please accept it with our sincere appreciation.”
The girls looked at each other in surprise and giggled.
She stammered a bit, choking back tears of happiness. “Oh, please do. Come back anytime. Bring your friends. You’ll always be safe here.” She quickly turned away into his shoulder, with her shoulders breaking with shakes of happiness. Her husband ushered her back to the kitchen.
Stephen felt the envelope and lifted it up. “This is it. Not the check, but what happened here tonight. Just what I was expecting – in a way. You see, I had a feeling this night would show me something special and this is it. Do you see it? Our ministry is reaching out…, reaching out with revival way past our borders or expectations. This is it people, this is how it starts, one person like their daughter, at a time.”
Ted pumped his fist. “YES! Revival! May this only be a start.”
Rita pounded him on his back. “You said it.” Then tears of happiness swept her away as she buried her face in her hands with a shudder. “To come here and see it happen after so much prayer and, you know, all that’s happened to us…”
Stephen had to look away, choking back his tears. “We just gotta share this when we get back. Revival. Kind of like how that sounds.”
Ted caught a look from the guard. “Speaking of getting back, I think we have our nod to get ready for the vans.” He leaned toward a guard. “Am I right?”
The guard moved ahead of him toward the doors. “Right this way sir. One at a time. Wait for your signal and protection.”
Once in the van and moving, Ted spoke up to the driver. “Everything cool on your end?”
The guard looked back in his mirror at the happy couples. “Yes sirs. You can relax. We’ll take care of things the rest of the way.”
Ted looked at his hands and held them out for the group to see. “See these? No tremors all night. Not a single break for some ghastly vision. Thank you Jesus.”
Rita choked back her quick response. Instead she leaned her head back onto his shoulder and forced herself to relax against him. “Yes, safe in the hands of God and in your arms.”
Carrie caught her look and added. “Yes, safe in the hands of God and the men we love. I’ve never known such a feeling of contentment or safety than right now with you guys…, and the Lord.”