SPIRITUAL STORIES ARCHIVE
By Andrew Pell and Mark Edgemon
Televangelist, the reverend Paul Tarsus was traveling west from Virginia Beach to a crusade he was planning to hold in Damascus, Virginia the day after tomorrow. He was a man addicted to vainglory and looked for every opportunity to exploit anything that would put his name in front of the media. He craved the attention fame brought him and was more interested in the praise from men than from spiritual benefits.
He had been in Virginia Beach to rally churches to a cause that was highly politicized in that city, the firing of a teacher who wanted to teach creationism alongside of the accepted theories of evolution. He held crusades there for a week and a half, until the fever pitch emotions on the issue had subsided and the good people of that city had slid back to the apathy that was the normal part of their existence.
He had been searching the Internet for the next cause he could organize public opinion for or against, whichever direction the winds were blowing at the time and whatever would stir the most public interest. He found where a group of “Christians” were meeting outdoors independently to worship God in the small city of Damascus, Virginia. They would wear old looking clothes and were not affiliated with any mainline Christian denomination.
Paul planned to open a crusade; calling them a cult to stir up the good Christian sheep of the city against them with plans to run them out of town as a climax to his crusade. He felt he should be able to acquire serious media coverage from that, maybe even on a national news service.
Paul was careful not to oppose anything that could turn public opinion against him or against anyone who might be in a stronger position than him. But this group of worshippers could not have a benefactor of any significance or of any power or political influence, so they were the perfect targets.
As he was heading to Damascus Virginia, his Mercedes began to have acceleration problems, so he pulled over to the side of the road and used his cell phone to call for the number of the nearest auto club. Suddenly, a blinding light poured from the sky piercing through his windshield and directly into his face. The windshield began to buckle and eventually melted a hole directly in front of where Paul was sitting.
He cried in agony due to the pain he was experiencing caused by the light from above. Moments later, after the light subsided, Paul was in shock. He was also blind!
“What happened!” he cried out in fear.
There was no answer. He felt the keypad on his cell phone and tried to dial the operator, but he couldn’t get a signal and so he was cut off from the world in a place that was unfamiliar to him. He sat in the hot car, which would no longer turn over as he attempted to start it.
After rolling down the window for some cool air he listened for sounds of traffic so he might flag someone down and be delivered from this nightmare. But the air was stifling and there was no sound…anywhere.
Finally as he felt the heat would never allow him relief, he prayed in a respectable manner and said, “What have I done to deserve this?”
After a moment, a cool breeze gave him relief from the sweltering heat, the first sign of the lessoning of the torment he was suffering. Then, he heard a voice, a voice that surrounded him and filled him with peace. There was clarity in the voice reverberating around in his mind, as he was still coming to grips with what had just happened. The voice called his name once again, but he did not know who it was.
“Paul, Paul”, the voice called out to him again. Paul respond, "Who are you and what do you want?
The voice spoke to him once again and said, "Paul, Paul, do you not know who I Am? I am the one you have been persecuting. It has been my followers you have been stalking. I am the light that the churches of this generation have lost. I am now calling you into service during these perilous times. You must take your place in the new world order and fulfill your calling. Leave your car; one of my true followers will be along soon to guide you until you regain your sight. You will stay with them and I will instruct you on what you must do. In three days I will turn your darkness into light and prepare you for your mission.”
There was now quiet. His mind was replaying the conversation he had just encountered while he was trying to make sense of it. Was he hallucinating or was he suffering brain damage as a result of his accident. When he got out of his Mercedes, a hand touched him on his shoulder and a man introduced himself as Pastor Ted Smith. The man took him by the arm and led him to his car parked directly behind him and drove him to a street downtown with many unfamiliar sounds.
"Where are we going?" Paul inquired. The man said nothing.
It wasn't long before they reached an abandoned store that was now being used by a small group of Christians, the very group Paul had come to Damascus, Virginia to preach against. The pastor held Paul’s arm as he guided him in front of a group of some sixty people who wore old clothes and sported disheveled beards and who where unkempt in their appearance.
The pastor stopped and put his hand on Paul's back and said to the group, "Congregation, this is the man God has sent to lead us in the upcoming revival. I present to you our new apostle from God, Apostle Paul Tarsus.
Before Paul had a chance to reply, the congregation burst into spontaneous applause. Paul asked the Pastor if there was a place that he could lay down and rest, for he now was feeling exhausted and dizzy from his accident and long walk.
The Pastor took him into his office where he could lay down on a sofa for a while. He closed his eyes and fell into a deep sleep. While he slept, he dreamed of a Being of Light, sitting on a sapphire throne. The Being was brighter than a thousand suns, yet he did not need to shield his eyes or look away. It was a healing light that penetrated right into his soul.
The Light from the throne spoke to him and said, “Paul I have called you for a great purpose. The teachings today are erroneous. They practice their own religion; they have changed my teachings to suit themselves. Time is short for I will soon return again to bring judgement on the earth. You must preach my words and lead my disciples through the coming days.”
Suddenly, Paul awoke form his sleep and quickly realized his head did not hurt anymore. He could also see. He was overjoyed as he looked around the shabby room. He heard a voice as the door opened behind him which said, "You’ve been asleep for a long time. Come with me we have much to do.”
The world was now facing a global financial crisis and Paul was in unfamiliar territory. No longer was he the master of his own destiny. He…for the first time in his life…was a servant!
As he walked outside of the empty storefront, he noticed a crowd of people out front of the building. The traffic was beginning to back up on the street and he had an ominous feeling as he approached a gathering of people who were talking amongst themselves. When he reached the curb he saw what the commotion was about. Lying on the street was the body of the elderly pastor who had helped him from his car. He had been hit by a car while crossing the street and the driver of the car nowhere to be found.
The ambulance came and lifted the pastor’s body onto a stretcher and shelved him into the back. Moments later, they drove away without sirens and the only thing left was a small bloodstain where the body had been.
As Paul was staring toward the ground, he heard a voice beside him speaking to him. He turned around to see one of the followers of the fellowship standing on his right looking into Paul’s eyes. Seeing the tears, the young man put his hand on Paul’s shoulder and said to him, “He meant a lot to us. We would be lost now if God hadn’t sent you at just the right time.” After a moment, the man said, “What do we do now?”
Paul turned suddenly and looked at him for a few seconds trying to think of what to say.
Paul opened his mouth and said to him, “Gather everyone together and I’ll meet you inside later this evening”.
The young man nodded and went about the task that was given him without hesitation.
Later that evening, Paul entered the building to find not sixty, but five hundred people waiting for him to speak. Many of them had heard about the death of the pastor and were led to show up for the evening service.
Paul walked up in front of this group and began to speak without really knowing what he was going to say. As he opened his mouth, he was filled with the presence of God. For the first time in a long time, he wept, not for sorrow, but for the love he felt, by the Creator who Paul had turned his back on so many times in his life. The stronger the presence was upon him, the harder he wept. God’s presence filled the room as the Spirit began to sweep through the place touching each heart and unifying the group of individuals to the will of God.
Suddenly, his destiny was clear. He was the forerunner to the Second Coming. He was charged with a sacred mission to serve God and to fulfill His will without delay.
It was his responsibility to speak to the congregation as pastor Ted's successor. From this moment on, he was Pastor Paul and no longer Mr. Tarsus. Paul knew there was literally time remaining so he must act fast.
He spoke to the congregation as the mouthpiece of the Spirit of God. The words filled his mouth before he spoke.
After the meeting, the congregation understood the importance of what needed to be done. Pastor Paul was a dynamo. He sent the congregation out every day to talk to people and tell them of the Lord’s coming and helped them realize that time was short.
Leaflets and advertisements were printed and distributed. More and more people were made homeless due to the worsening economic downturn. War was looming with Iran. Natural disasters were becoming commonplace.
Paul prayed and asked God, "What sign will signal the second coming". God told Paul when lightning would flash from East to West; the second coming is at hand.
It was Saturday morning March 2010. Paul had witnessed the congregation grow to thousands. As he was walking to a convenient store to buy a newspaper, he noticed that the clouds were dark, almost as if it was nighttime. A strange feeling overcame him as he heard strange rumblings of thunder in the sky. Suddenly, he watched as a flash of lightning resembling a cross-shown across the sky and seemed to go on forever.
Paul knew the day he had been preparing for had begun. He fell on his knees and prayed for mercy, not for himself, but for all those his words had not reached. Suddenly, the Living God appeared in the sky robed in awesome majesty, accompanied by a host of heavenly saints. Human emotion could not adequately describe the sight. Man's world had now become God's world. The angels joined in communion with mankind, the handiwork of God’s creation. There was no more separation or division. As it was told, now was it seen. The final chapter and prophecy had now come to pass. A-Men.
Copyright © 2008 Andrew Pell & Mark Edgemon
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