Welcome, Reader Friends! Enjoy this Christian fiction, Still Useful, a short story by D.I. Telbat.
by D.I. Telbat
Arthur Crane rolled out of bed and felt for his clothes and shoes. Outside his bedroom window, the birds were singing, so he knew it was morning. The room was surely bathed in sunlight because he felt the warmth. Since Arthur was blind, he didn’t turn on a light as he moved toward his bedroom door.
He wasn’t particularly hungry, so rather than go into the kitchen, he felt his way down the hall and entered his office. He heard his older sister in the kitchen. She was no doubt baking for the bakery in town that paid her per specialty cake.
In his office, Arthur tenderly touched his Braille Bible at the passage he’d been reading the night before—Second Samuel 9. At age forty-nine, the words of the Bible weren’t foreign to him, but he read slowly, as he was still learning Braille. It had been only a year since the explosion in Myanmar had taken his eyesight.
While a COIL agent, Arthur had smuggled orphaned children from deep in the jungle past a military installation. It had been his eleventh trek down the same trail, except that night, the military had been waiting in ambush. They wanted to take and use the children as soldiers in their army.
As the children had scattered, Arthur had tried to escape as well. The military had fired a mortar round, which exploded in front of him, piercing his face and head with shrapnel, severing nerves that couldn’t be repaired. He never knew how many children were captured as he made his escape, eventually crawling into a safe village by feeling his way along the trail.
Now, he was just a blind man, no longer serving amongst the persecuted Christians of Myanmar. Did they think he’d abandoned them? Instead of pouring his life into teaching the villagers about Jesus, he was now a burden on his low-income sister whose own health was declining. Reading the Bible gave him some comfort as he practiced his Braille, but his life and purpose seemed to be over.
“You have a visitor,” his sister called.
“Who is it?” He hadn’t even heard the doorbell while he’d been wallowing in self-pity.
“Someone from your old job.”
Arthur sat up stiffly. His old job? That had to be the Commission of International Laborers, but who would come all the way to Atlanta from New York to visit a cripple? He stood and felt his way to the living room. Not even his sister knew what he’d once done in Southeast Asia—not the details, anyway.
“Hello, Arthur.” A hand gently shook his extended one. “I suppose you know where the furniture is in this room better than I do.”
Arthur bumped his shin on the end of the coffee table.
“I’m actually still learning. Please have a seat.” Arthur seated himself on the sofa. The water was running in the kitchen, so he knew his sister was out of earshot. “Are you with COIL? I’m sorry, I don’t recognize your voice.”
“That’s okay. I’m Corban Dowler.”
“Oh!” Arthur searched for the right words. The founder of COIL in his house? The man was a legend among Special Forces Christians. “This is a pleasant surprise.”
“Yeah, I do that from time to time—pop in unexpectedly so no one has time to put on a false presence. I like to know the real condition of people.”
“I see. You were in the area, or . . . ?”
“No, I received an email from Mandalay a few months ago. I came down today to see you and see how you’re doing.”
“I’m adjusting. I received the Braille books COIL sent—the Bibles and commentaries—so I’ve been working through them.” Arthur tilted his head. “What did Mandalay have to say?”
“They want you back in their river valley.”
“Oh, they must not know.” Arthur chuckled. “I hope you told them about my . . . condition.”
“No, they all know you’re blind. One of the men who helped you get out of the country wrote me. He’s in contact with some of the villages you used to help.”
“Well, how could they want me over there? I’d just be a burden.”
“Arthur Crane is more than just his eyes. They know that. And you should, too.”
Arthur felt the rebuke like a gentle slap. Had his blindness really extended to his anticipation of what God could use him for? How selfish he’d been! Of course, God could still use him—if only he submitted to God’s creativity!
“I’m not exactly able to run through the jungle with refugees anymore, so I’m assuming you have something else in mind.”
“Think back twenty years, Arthur,” Corban said. “The first children you led to safety—they’re grown adults now. Word has spread about how you lost your sight last year. You did that for them, and they want you with them. They know you’re still useful.”
“If I’m still useful, what will I do?”
“Teach them about Jesus. Live for Christ. What would any other Christian do where God opens a door for him?”
“But I’m . . . blind. How can I do that?”
“You read Braille, and then you teach the people. Most over there are illiterate. They want to know about their Savior. They’ll take care of you. You’ll be their teacher.”
“But my sister—”
“She’ll be fine. We have people in the city to care for her as her condition worsens. You haven’t known this, but she and I have been communicating for months. Right now, what you need to do is start packing.”
“Wow.” Arthur chuckled. “I’d love to be back over there, but this is a lot to think about.”
“No, you don’t understand, Arthur. You need to go pack. I came down to fetch you myself. We’re leaving today. The Burmese people want you now. You’ve had a year vacation. I can’t think of any other possible reason for you not to leave right away. Can you?”
Arthur prayed a prayer of thanks to God. This was what he needed, and God had been preparing him already. Blind or not, he could still be useful as God’s vessel!
“I’ll go pack.”
David has other stories and books that include a blind character, such as Jenna in Dark Liaison, Book One of The COIL Series. He’s also preparing a futuristic series for next year that has a blind character. You can find other short adventure stories by D.I. Telbat here.
NOTE-2: Many of you may know of/remember Asia Bibi, our Pakistani sister in Christ, who’s been in prison for almost seven years. In October, her appeal will come before Pakistan’s high court. It is reported that “this will be her last chance to avoid execution.” Please join with us in prayer for Asia and her family. Click the link to read this Asia Bibi update from Open Doors.
COMING UP: Join us next time for David’s Author Reflection, “Today’s Political Climate.” And the following week, we’ll have another new D.I. Telbat short story, “Code-name Yalu: Printing Bibles in China.”