“L.A.’s In California/I’ve been there
Once or twice/It is an education/To be sure…”*
Marcus awoke suddenly. He felt the shift, as if a powerful force had been reunited. Moreover, He felt as if there was an impending clash between two forces to see which was the stronger. One, he could tell, was darkly evil…perhaps the ultimate evil. The other seemed to be a power of light and of good.
He rolled over, taking his arm from around Letisha, as the phone began to ring. As a pastor, he was used to the phone ringing at all hours. Yet, he felt that this time, it was nothing to do with his own flock.
“Something wrong, Baby?” Letisha asked groggily.
“Dunno,” he answered as he picked up the phone and put it to his ear, “hello?”
The past came flooding back as his old mentor and friend, Patrick, responded on the other end. Patrick ran through the story of Michael’s disappearance and the secrets told to him by Michael in confidence. As Marcus listened, he suddenly realized what he had been feeling.
“Father,” Marcus began, interrupting Patrick, “let me make a few phone calls. We will get a prayer circle going and back your friend the only way we can.”
Letisha eyed her husband suspiciously. “What is it, Baby?”
Marcus paused. He suddenly remembered three years before. They had been struggling to keep their eldest out of the gangs and off the streets. Marcus had done well for himself, but his own example, though flawed, had not been enough to keep their eldest from the streets. So they moved out of L.A. He took his successful business to a small town in Colorado.
There, he proposed to Letisha and they were married in less than a week. With this whole new start, their eldest began to take notice of how their positive lifestyle kept them both buoyed in life. Suddenly, he wanted the same things in life.
Shortly after they married, Marcus began climbing through the church hierarchy. From Deacon to Elder. From elder to seminary. once out of seminary, he was asked to take over their church from the retiring pastor. And he did.
“A friend of Father Patrick’s has disappeared. He thinks it has something to do with with a dream he had been told. I don’t know, Honey, but I think he may be right. I gotta make some calls.”
Checking for a dial tone, he dialed the number for his senior elder. A brief conversation later and he was dialing T-Bone in L.A.
Tony, T-Bone to his friends, had already started his day when Marcus’ phone call came in. Within minutes of hanging up the phone, he was making calls as well. He Knew people Marcus didn’t. He had connections.
T-Bone had been in gangs when he was a teen. Though he couldn’t understand about the turf wars, selling drugs, or other gang business, he felt invincible while he was with them. As his friends began getting picked up and convicted for killings, rapes, drugs, or gang-related thefts, he began to take stock in his lifestyle.
It was at this time that he met Marcus and the good pastor of a local church. Marcus easily convinced him to walk away from the gang life and give himself to the Lord. The pastor merely took T-Bone under his wing and mentored him with Marcus’ Help. To help, Marcus had given Tony a job in his company.
Though he knew it made him a big target, T-Bone turned his back on the gangs. He entered seminary at the behest of the pastor and graduated with full honors. Upon graduation, the pastor recommended him to take over the pastorship of the church. Once accepted as the new minister, he began an outreach center for the gangs and street kids.
Many who went through the outreach gradually went on to seminary and graduated themselves. T-Bone help them plant new churches in the neediest neighborhoods. Each plant opened a similar outreach as he had done. These plants soon spread throughout California and the west. Over one hundred in all.
It was to these pastors that T-Bone placed his calls…but only after he had called the head of the council of elders for his own church. Once he was off the phone, he took his wife’s hand and began to lead her toward his study.
“What’s going on, Tony?” she asked.
“We need to start praying Baby,” he began, “A brother is about to face the greatest test of his faith and needs everyone who can to pray, without ceasing, that he has the strength to come through it alright and stronger than ever.”
“Alright, Baby, let’s do this.”
One hundred blossomed into one thousand. One thousand into one million. Then it went international. By the time all was done, those praying numbered in the billions. Whole churches rallied to the cause.
The war had begun. Billions of voices became one. Billions of hearts were unified.
Michael Took hold of David and Harkiss’ hands. “We must form the circle and pray, just as Ma and Pa taught us.”
The other siblings, as well as Skinner and Aylea, complied.
“Our Father who art in Heaven,” Michael began, leading them in prayer, “Hallowed be thy name…”
Though it began with the Lord’s Prayer, it continued into a request for strength as both individuals and as a group. Michael just hoped that each had enough faith to believe that they would succeed. He also hoped they had enough faith in each other. Mentally, he prayed they would find enough.
Then, a voice whispered to him, “don’t worry, my son. All will be as Heaven has ordained. You are not alone. Go forth and conquer.”
“Are we ready?” He looked at the little band of warriors.
“Yes!” came the unified answer.
“Then let us begin.” And as one, they began down the ridge.
Philip was met by Abaddon and James.
“The Circle has been completed.” The solemn angel stated.
“What do you mean?” James inquired, startled.
“Look yon, coming down the ridge.” Abaddon pointed.
Both brothers looked around the edge of the house. To their amazement, they saw Michael leading all their siblings…along with two strangers. But how? Thomas, David and Harkiss were dead…weren’t they?
“Not all has been as it seemed, has it?”
The brothers turned, surprised, toward the emotionless angel. “What?”
“There is a reason the devil is called The Great Deceiver. He can make things appear as fact. All the while, he is misdirecting your attention from what is truly happening. He made you think your brothers were dead. That did not make them any less alive. Just absent.”
*“The Devil”, By Hoyt Axton. Used by permission.