Dear Reading Friend, although my focus, until recently, has been on getting Steadfast Series Books Five & Six to you—which feature God’s people in America being tested for their faith—I don’t want us to forget about other countries that desperately need our prayers right now. Here is a short story about Vietnam. I hope it inspires you to love and care for souls as Jesus did—even for His enemies. See you on the next page!—David Telbat
A Machete for a Bible
by D.I. Telbat
Thirty-year-old Curt Mechin was forced to his knees on the jungle floor in northern Vietnam. Jonas Hardy, his friend from their local church back home, was kicked and pushed down to kneel beside him. Both Americans were panting for breath after running a mile along a trail. But they’d been caught by the villagers. And these villagers seemed familiar with why the Americans were there.
Two men were arguing a few feet in front of Curt and Jonas as several other men dumped their backpacks onto the ground. The two Americans had smuggled Bibles in from Laos for the Hmong believers, but hadn’t expected to be ambushed along the way. At least they’d already given away most of the Bibles.
One of the arguers picked up a Bible and yelled Vietnamese at his comrade. His comrade drew out a machete with a handle made from some horned animal. But neither man was backing down.
“American embassy,” Curt voiced, but he was slapped by a boy who also had a machete in his belt. Curt’s lip split open. He lowered his head as he fought anger, but then he raised his chin, remembering the love of Christ. This was why they’d come to Vietnam. “Americans. We are just travelers. We love Vietnam. I love you. Do you understand?”
The crowd around them grew to ten men, and sides were taken as the two men continued to argue in Vietnamese. Curt glanced at Jonas. The two had known the trip could be dangerous. These were villagers who had intercepted them. Some villages persecuted believers when someone came to Christ. And a few of those incidents had become violent in recent years.
Curt wasn’t sure which man in the argument was for or against him and Jonas, but he had his doubts about the man with the machete being in defense of them.
“Get ready to run,” Jonas said softly as the villagers shoved each other and pointed at the two Americans. “We can run faster without our packs.”
A young man with no shirt stepped up and slapped Jonas on the side of the head, then spoke sharp Vietnamese to him. Curt figured they didn’t want their prisoners speaking to one another, so he tried to settle his breathing and watched for some signal from Jonas. Both of them played on their community softball team, and since growing up in the church youth group together, they’d enjoyed numerous camping trips into Yosemite. They’d survived other mission trips and adventures before, too, so he knew they were fit enough to run more if given the chance.
Without warning, the man with the machete raised his blade and lunged at Curt. Time seemed to slow down as Curt watched the weapon begin to arc down toward him. He knew how sharp those blades were, and this villager had the sinewy muscles of an experienced forester.
Suddenly, another shape interrupted Curt’s vision. Jonas sprang upright, in front of Curt. As Jonas started to raise his hands, the machete struck his neck, cutting it deeply.
Curt fell backward on the trail. The villagers tackled the man with the machete, who had clearly not acted on behalf of them. Collecting his senses, Curt crawled over to examine Jonas, but his friend had already passed away. It had happened so fast!
The villagers began to brawl and argue, gesturing wildly at him. Curt guessed that the overreaction of the machete man made some of them think there would be military involvement now. That was never good for the villagers, some of whom lived outside the law as it was. But they had killed an American. There would be an investigation.
Rising slowly to his feet, Curt stared at the mob of villagers. He’d come for them. He loved them, and yet they had killed his friend. Jonas had been more than a friend—he’d been a brother in Christ.
One at a time, the villagers silenced themselves and turned to look at Curt. They looked him up and down, even the man who’d had the machete, though he had since been disarmed. Curt wondered what they were staring at, then looked down at his own clothes. A crimson splash crossed from his right shoulder all the way to his left hip—Jonas’ blood.
Curt took a step. There were tears on his face, but he wasn’t weeping; he was just emotional. Soon, he would be leaving this jungle. He would need to tell Jonas’ family what had happened. Maybe he would never see these men again, but he wouldn’t leave them without a memory, even though he couldn’t speak their language.
Slowly, he walked forward until he stood in front of the machete man, who was a few inches shorter than he was. Curt looked down into his defiant face, which sported a thin, drooping mustache. And Curt felt compassion toward him.
He pulled the man into an embrace and held him tightly for a few seconds, then let him go. At arm’s length, he looked the man over. The man’s face was no longer full of anger, but confusion. And across his chest was the same splash of blood transferred from Curt’s clothes.
Kneeling, Curt picked up a Bible that had been trampled but was still whole, and handed it to the man.
“More than anything,” Curt said softly, “you need this. I pray I see you in eternity.”
Curt turned away and looked at his friend’s broken body. What was he supposed to do now? He was to fly out of Laos in two days. How could he get his friend’s body back to—
The villagers moved around Curt and picked up Jonas—nine men carrying one—and they started down the trail. Curt looked back. The tenth man, the one who had used the machete, still stood there, now holding the Bible. He appeared to be puzzled, but Curt knew God could penetrate even this killer’s heart.
Though he didn’t know where the villagers were taking Jonas, or how he would return home, Curt collected the contents of their two packs and followed them.
There were many unknowns in his heavy heart, but one thing he did know: two men had now died for him—Jesus and Jonas. And he couldn’t wait to see them both soon.
You can find many other D.I. Telbat short stories of forgiveness, redemption, and sacrifice here, and here.
NOTE: Every year, many volunteers join Vision Beyond Borders to covertly deliver Bibles to Asia and South American countries. Visit their trips page here to learn more and to see if there’s a trip waiting for you! Besides delivering Bibles, they have trips that take volunteers to minister to orphans and refuges, and others to minister to women in modern-day slavery in the red light district of India. Read more on their website at VisionBeyondBorders.org.
COMING UP: Join us next time for our “Oct 2018 D.I. Telbat Novel News.” See what David Telbat has been up to and what he has in store for you, his readers!