Dear Friends, The magnitude of sacrifice given for Jesus the Nazarene around the world is staggering. In COIL novels, I barely scrape the surface of the boldness involved and the blood shed in this spiritual war. In my short story, “The Nazarene’s Sacrifice,” I want to use this Christian fiction to give you just a glimpse into some of the sacrifice represented in a few reports I read each week. Meet Ernie Burgund of Oklahoma . . .
The Nazarene’s Sacrifice
by D.I. Telbat
Ernie Burgund thought he’d be more jittery as he anticipated the moment when he’d learn where he would die. He adjusted his tie while standing in the empty parking lot of a grocery store. It was after midnight in Lawton, Oklahoma.
Headlights swung across the lot and a dark sedan approached then parked in front of him. A man about Ernie’s age of sixty climbed out and smiled. He was wearing a suit as well. Ernie returned the smile.
“Ernie, I presume?” The man had a warmth about him that put Ernie at ease.
“Would anyone else be sweating in a suit in the middle of the night like this?”
“That makes two of us.” They shook hands. “I’m Corban Dowler. It’s a pleasure to finally see you face to face. How do you feel? You want to sit in the car?”
“No, I’ve been resting enough, waiting for your call. I’m ready. Give it to me straight.”
Both men leaned against their cars, facing each other. Corban crossed his arms and Ernie stuffed his hands in his pockets.
“How do you feel about your training?”
“It’s what I asked for. It helped.” Ernie loosened his tie. “I’m confident I can follow through. I just hope I can stay alive long enough to get the job done. Where am I going?”
“ISIS-occupied Syria.” Corban frowned. “It’ll be as tough as it gets.”
“You can’t talk me out of this. I’m already dying. But this’ll mean something—I know you’ll
make it mean something.”
“We will.” Corban took a deep breath. “You’re not the first person we’ve had willing to sacrifice everything. It’s just that this is a certainty. You won’t make it out, Ernie. And the cancer you have makes for a painful passing.”
“It won’t be that bad. I mean, it’ll be bad, but knowing I’ll be with Christ in glory right away will make it possible.”
“That’s a good way to view death—for any of us.”
“So, what’s the job?”
“We’ll put an implant behind your ear. We’ll hear everything you hear for three months, then the miniature battery wears out.”
“If my body is scanned, it’ll come off like a hearing aid implant. That’s smart.”
“That’s right. Now, the tricky part. Eastern Syria has an ISIS stronghold where they house foreign political prisoners. We’ll use misinformation to make sure they think you’re with the NSA. They’ll put you in the worst place they can, inside this stronghold.”
“We believe the holding cells in the stronghold are few enough that you can get word to another inmate who’s already there, a COIL associate. We need to know from our associate how much ISIS knows. Thousands of lives depend on it.”
“How much ISIS knows about what?”
“Our associate will know what you mean when you send word to him. He’ll want us to know what the ISIS agents have talked about when they were torturing him.”
“I see. And what if this associate writes the information? How will you hear it through the device?”
“Well, anything you say, we’ll hear it, too. You can read or talk, and we’ll hear every word.”
“Oh, of course.” Ernie shook his head. “I guess I’ll need to be a little sharper if I’m to be successful, huh?”
“I’m not worried about you, Ernie. It’s a mighty thing you’re about to do.”
“The associate—what’s his name? Who do I search out when I’m in the prison?”
“His code name is Nasara Seventeen. People who speak Arabic call Christians Nazarenes, after Jesus of Nazareth.”
“He reads and writes English, though. He’ll know we sent you when he hears his code name.”
“That makes it easier. I’m going soon?”
“Two or three days. As soon as we know the implant is working.”
“Good. No more waiting.”
“But lots of praying.” Corban stepped forward and placed his hand on Ernie’s shoulder. “The implant—I haven’t told you everything.”
“What else is there?”
“It won’t only allow us to hear you, or hear what you hear. We’ll also be able to talk to you, until the very end.”
“You’ll be talking to me?” Ernie choked on a sob. “I won’t be alone, then.”
“No, you won’t be alone. COIL doesn’t abandon its people.”
“Thank you, Corban.” Ernie fell against Corban’s shoulder and embraced him. “Thank you for letting me do this before I stand in the Lord’s presence.”
“No, Ernie Burgund. Thank you.” Corban held him at arms’ length. “Or perhaps we should call you Nasara Eighteen! Let’s pray together . . .”
This story was inspired by themes and characters found in The COIL Series. You can find other short stories here.
Distant Boundary, Prequel to The COIL Legacy, NOW has a new cover by Streetlight Graphics! Click the title to check out the new book page, cover, and description! Also, find the latest D.I. Telbat Novel News on this page.
COMING UP: Next week, we have Part III in the COIL Confidence Series, Examples of Christian Confidence in Fiction.