“Will you live all the days of your life loving God?” asked Pastor J.J.
“I will,” Alexis answered, standing waist-deep in the flat ocean, arms crossed across her chest. Next thing she knew, she was dipped back into the water, head under too. She held her breath, and a split second later, she came out of the water and stood straight up. She smiled as her friends clapped for her on the beach.
“Good for you, Alexis!” congratulated Hannah, giving her a tight hug. Jazmin and Karen stood behind her, waiting to hug her too.
“I’m dripping wet,” Alexis laughed.
“That’s okay, I am too,” said Jazmin, who had also gotten baptized.
“Welcome to the Family,” Victoria told her. They stood on the shore and watched Amber and Joshua Cyrene get baptized together as husband and wife. Little Aja ran around the beach with Aaron.
“Mommy! Mommy!” called Aja, as Amber walked out of the ocean. Josiah handed her a towel.
“Congratulations, Sis!” he told her. “And you too, Alexis,” he said shyly to Alexis, on whom he obviously had a crush.
“Thanks Josiah,” Alexis said. Then, in a burst of courage, she gave him a hug. Josiah turned red. Amber smiled at her parents, Suzanne and Noah, who sat on the grass, watching their son fall in love with Alexis.
Alexis lay on a big blanket, soaking up the afternoon sun and basking in glory. “You’re glowing,” Josiah looked at her.
“I feel really good. Happy,” Alexis answered him. They had spent as much time as they could together since Alexis was baptized a week ago. She was surely in love, and it felt nothing like when she and Dan had been together. But she didn’t tell that to Josiah. “I was just thinking about what J. J. said about being chosen. Why me of all people?” she wondered.
“Called out of the darkness into his marvelous light,” quoted Josiah. “It’s 1 Peter 2:9, from memory,” he added. “We are partakers of the divine nature, in Christ,” Josiah told her. “Because He loves us. And it’s all part of His plan,” he said, reaching for his Bible lying above his head on the blanket. Opening it and turning quickly to the page he was looking for, he read, “‘It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’ It’s from the book of Luke. ‘Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before Him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.’ That’s Ephesians 1:4-5,” he told her. “That about says it all. God’s word is powerful stuff.”
“Yeah,” Lexy agreed. She looked around her at the magnificent mountains jutting dramatically into the sky. Rising up against a bright blue sky, the fluted mountain tops formed a jagged line marking the horizon. A place more beautiful than this can’t exist, Lexy thought to herself. She gave thanks for her surroundings and for the safe haven of the island, and for Josiah and her new island family. It made her feel better to believe someone or something wiser than herself was in control and would take care of her.
“Now that we know the truth, we have a greater responsibility than most people in the world, who were never shown the truth,” Josiah said a little while later, after they had swam. They were laying down side by side, drying off in the sunshine.
“What do you mean, Josiah, by a ‘greater responsibility’?” asked Alexis.
“Well, we have to live righteous lives, not that we wouldn’t. But now, it’s our responsibility, knowing the truth. Here, let me read this to you.” He turned right to the section he was looking for and read, “‘If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.’ That’s 2 Peter 2:20-21,” he told her. “Then there’s Ephesians, um, I think it’s 5…” he was flipping through his Bible. “Here it is. Chapter 5:8, ‘For you were sometimes darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light.'”
“Wow!” said Lexy. “The Bible talks about everything, doesn’t it?”
“It’s a good instruction manual. Keep reading it; you’ll learn a lot,” he advised. She nodded, silently noting that she had called the Bible an instruction manual too. She felt like she had this incredible connection with Josiah. She studied his profile as he looked out toward the water. He is so cute, she thought. His short brown hair and his warm blue eyes seemed to pierce right through to her heart and touch her.
“I never thought about the responsibility,” said Alexis. “What about the people that never learn about God in their lives? Like those living in the city, where I was?” she wondered.
“Well, the Bible says the Gospel–God’s word–will be spoken in all the world before Jesus Christ comes to claim his family. So if they are ready and willing and have not hardened their hearts, they will hear it. That’s what I believe,” Josiah told her.
“Yeah.” She thought about her parents, and Isabella and Dan. Her community, and all those from Masonville. Would they ever listen to the truth? She didn’t know. Josiah touched her hair that had grown a few inches since her arrival to the island.
“So soft,” he said. She looked at him. She could see herself in his dark blue eyes. “You’re beautiful,” he told her. Then he gently kissed her.
After a delicious, festive dinner, they sat in a circle around the fire. Light danced off their faces as they talked among one another. Alexis sat next to Josiah and listened to Gregg.
“The end could come at any time, nobody but God really knows. Our job is to be ready, be peaceful and without blame, living righteous lives,” Gregg said, mostly to David who was sitting with his wife, Jennifer.
“I think we must be in the tribulation period,” said Jennifer. “The Bible says God will come after that.”
“And when do you think that will be?” Gabriel asked his mother.
“Some people say it won’t happen because things have been the same for hundreds of years,” Ken offered.
“To God, a second is like a thousand years, or something, right Mom?” Raphael looked at Jennifer. She nodded at her younger son.
“Yes, that’s true. But if you look at the history and read the Bible, you’ll see. God warned Noah about the flood that would destroy the Earth, and people just laughed at Noah as he was preparing, building the ark,” Jennifer said.
“I remember reading that the Lord is waiting for as many people as possible to repent. I can’t remember where exactly I read that,” said David.
“God sent His son, not to condemn the Earth, but to save it,” Gregg added.
“‘For the son of man is come to save that which was lost,’ Matthew 18:11 tells us,” said Suraya Justus.
“I know where it is,” said Daniel. “Look at 2 Peter 3-4. This part tells us that fire, and not water, will end the world this time. Let’s see, let me find it from the beginning.” He cleared his throat and began reading in a loud, clear voice. “‘Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and with the Earth standing out of the water and in the water; Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens and the Earth, which are now by the same word kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.'”
“If you keep reading, it goes on to say that ‘One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Meaning just what it says. His time is not like our time,” Daniel went on. “Be assured, the Lord is not ‘slack concerning his promises, but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.'” That’s the part you remembered, right David?”
“Yeah, that’s it,” David answered.
“There’s more here,” said Daniel, his young face looking wise. He glanced up at the faces around the fire, a little unnerved that he had everybody’s full attention. He was usually pretty quiet.
“Keep reading,” Gabriel urged him. Suraya sat next to him and gave him a smile of encouragement.
“Okay. ‘But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the Earth also, and the words that are therein shall be burned up.'” Daniel finished reading and put his Bible down in front of him. “It’s all right here in the good book. Believe it and prepare your hearts.” People nodded their heads in agreement, but there was not very much conversation. The intensity of Daniel’s point caused everyone to contemplate their own lives.
Am I prepared? Alexis wondered to herself. What will happen to my family? Will they be burned in the fire? Even though she was so far away from them, Alexis did not want her family to burn up in the fire; she wanted them to be saved too. “How can we help all those people living in Masonville and everywhere else?” Alexis asked J.J., who had sat down next to his daughter and listened to what Daniel was reading.
“We can pray for them,” J.J. told her. “God’s word will not return void; it’s alive and powerful. You’ll learn this in the Bible too. So, if you ask Him to open their eyes and hears, He will find a way to do it.”
“Because God will make a way, when there seems to be no way,” Suraya added. “I remember singing that song as a little kid,” she told him. “Do you Dad?” she asked J.J.
“I remember,” he told her.
“But how will they even hear about God over there?” Alexis asked him.
“I’m not sure, Alexis. People like Wynn, Juli and Will have been intercessors for those on the mainland for a long time. They’ve led several people to the knowledge of Christ, or at least planted the seed,” J.J. said.
“What’s an intercessor?” Alexis asked.
“It’s someone who intercedes, or prays for others,” Colette told her.
“Oh,” Alexis said.
“And do people see Wynn and Juli or Will? I thought they couldn’t see them or that they were secretive?” Alexis asked them.
“They are a lot more careful now,” Jennifer told her. “But God has led people to them, and then they share the truth.”
“Like me,” Gregg spoke up. “Wynn saved my life.”
“He did? How?” asked Alexis.
“Well, I guess it was about 2025 or so and it was getting really hard to do anything without getting in trouble, because I didn’t get the CHIP. Well, my hair,” he pointed to his long dark hair, “seemed to attract the attention of these thugs in black that patrolled the streets.” Alexis remembered the men in black loading bodies into a truck. “They tried to arrest me and shave my head,” Gregg told them, horrified. “But I managed to escape. It was really a miracle,” Gregg was saying. “I was in prison and it was midnight and I prayed to God–my grandmother had taught me about our heavenly father. The next thing I knew, the door to the cell was open. I didn’t really believe what I was seeing, but it was opened and as I tiptoed out, all the guards were sleeping and I slipped out of the building. I just started running in the night and in the morning, don’t ask me how, I was laying in Wynn’s house.”
“But how? Did you know him?” Suraya asked.
“I’d never met him. But he knew me and knew I was in trouble. Well, the next morning, Will and Juli took me here. And here I am,” said Gregg. “So I think that was God at work. Even though I don’t understand it, I know it couldn’t have happened without Him,” Gregg said.
“Incredible!” said J.J. David and Jennifer nodded.
“God is good,” said Daniel. Several people audibly agreed.