Hi Reader Friends! Enjoy this new short story by David Telbat, another inspired by the Christian singing group, BarlowGirl.
Embrace that Call
by D.I. Telbat
Deep in the heart of Asia, Andrea rocked a sick child in her arms. Regardless of the possible bed bug bites and disease, the gospel singer refused to put the poor child down. Instead, she hummed a comforting tune against the child’s fevered brow.
Across the one-room house of sticks and mortar, the child’s father chewed doda—a mixture of opium and betel nut. His wife had recently died, he had explained, and he was tired of living.
“Andrea!” Her sister, Rachel, poked her head through the door. “Come on! There are men attacking the village down the hill! Where’s Laura?”
“I am not leaving my home,” the drugged father said, stuffing more of the tea-like drug into his mouth.
“Come on!” Rachel urged Andrea. “The other aid workers are running into the forest. We have to find Laura!”
Rising to her feet with the child, Andrea moved to the door. She looked back at the indifferent father.
“I’m taking your daughter, sir, but I’ll pray for you.”
Outside the shelter, Andrea gazed down a row of similar dwellings. A drainage ditch of sewage ran down the middle of the row. A number of fires billowed smoke at the edge of the refugee camp. People ran past the two sisters, fleeing uphill to escape the danger.
“Laura probably went to the forest with the others. Andrea, come on!” Rachel called. She scooped up a crying toddler as well. “Do you realize what they’ll do to us if they catch us?”
Far away, Andrea saw a man with a bamboo staff attacking a man, and another shelter was engulfed in flame.
For years, Andrea and her sisters had sung songs about embracing Christ’s calling, even in extreme settings, but now it suddenly seemed surreal. This was what living for Christ was all about. And sometimes Christians got hurt.
Rachel led the way up the littered path between shelters to a leafy forest at the top of the hill. Many villagers crouched in the growing shadows and watched their simple homes set aflame. Those who tried to defend their shelters were beaten.
An infant cried, but was quickly hushed. Andrea held her child tightly, unable to look away from the horror and the smoke that began to sting her eyes and choke her throat.
Suddenly, Laura crawled through the bushes and joined her two sisters. She had mud on her face and her eyes were wide with fear.
“We have to stay together!” Rachel chastised.
“A man over there said the Hindu extremists do this all the time,” Laura whispered. “They attack the Christian refugee camps. When they’re done torching the houses, they may come for us.”
“Okay, then we have to be ready to move.” Rachel nodded. “I’ll ask the others where we can go.”
“Wait!” Laura took the child from Rachel. “How will the mission van find us if we leave the area?”
The three sisters exchanged worried looks. A man screamed in the village and the flames leaped higher as the setting sun disappeared behind the jungle canopy.
“I’m okay with running for it,” Andrea said. “We didn’t come all the way to Asia to worry about all the stuff that’s already in God’s hands.”
Her sisters smiled. Their fear seemed to flow away as quickly as their mutual faith surged. Rachel squeezed the hands of Andrea and Laura.
“We might be out here all night,” Rachel said. “I’ll see what the others are planning, and we can all pray before we make a move.”
Andrea watched the village burn. Beside her, Laura talked about Jesus’ love with other women and children. Insects crawled over their arms and legs. Prayers were softly mumbled.
A strange satisfaction came over Andrea. Though she and the people she had come to encourage were in extreme danger, she felt comforted. Certainly, the peace came from Jesus’ loving arms surrounding them. There was, after all, no safer place to be than in His will, doing what He had called them to do. They just needed to embrace that call.
Inspired by singing group BarlowGirl.