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        Chapter 2

Across the street, people were filing into the old, grey, stone and brick building. Some carried the morning paper tucked neatly under one arm. Their immaculate business suits and initialled attache cases, a striking contrast to others dressed in grimy overalls clutching lunch bags. Children, school bags slung over their shoulders, nudged and teased each other as children do, even on days like today. To them it was exciting, a real change from their every day routine. They settled, along with many others, into the rows of seats inside the Real Truth Community Church, which was open for several short services throughout the day. Although ministers were always on hand to offer words of encouragement and hope to many who listened to short practical sermons, the church had not seen such vast numbers since the world war in the 1940's. In the years between, many had become disinterested in attending church and had fallen away from real interest in godly things.(1) The coffee shop was a favourite meeting place for mothers to sit and chat while their lively children enjoyed the playgroup.

Homeless people came, shyly at first, until they knew they were also welcome. Often their skin was dry and cracked, caused by living in railway stations at night, and the streets during the day. They managed to keep themselves clean, in spite of their homelessness, making use of local comfort stations. Often travellers saw them drinking bottled water discarded by affluent tourists. The homeless needed soothing oil or ointment for their skin, but at Real Truth Community Church they were given much more.

The minister rose and a hush fell over the restless, murmuring congregation.   "Welcome to all gathered here on such a troublesome day. I want to comfort you all with a knowledge of the truth. Truth that God is with you in all your present difficulties. He made the world(2) and everything in it and has power over all things. We cannot blame God for what is happening today. Before we have peace, the world will go through many dramatic changes, mentioned in Scripture. Some will be natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, drought and famine. Others will be as a result of poverty crime and wars......" He was cut off in mid sentence as someone called out, "But when will this be?" The minister paused a moment before continuing.

"Although the exact timing of these events is unknown(3) to us, there are many signs that these changes are close, in fact some may have already begun. They are mentioned in God's Word, the Bible, but these truths have been hidden from many people of the world because they lack a knowledge of the Bible. I stand before you today to warn you to be on your guard against all evil, for God must uphold His holiness. If you choose to go your own way, God lets you. All men and women need to acknowledge God as the only true and living God, not like a god made from brass, gold or wood.

Today, people are often ready to accept any form of religion as leading to God, but I warn you to be wary of these false ideas, strange doctrines, rituals and traditions. Do not be led astray by counterfeit religions.(4) The only way to God is through Jesus Christ, God's son, sent into this world to save every person who believes in Him. It was for this very reason that Jesus died on a cross. He took our sin upon Himself, in our place, so that we might have eternal life(5) and overcome the power of sin and Satan here on earth by the power of the Holy Spirit. This world as we know it, is indeed coming to an end."(6)

There were continued mumblings in the crowd. Another interjector called out, "Who said so? People have been saying that for thousands of years."

The minister, raising his voice continued, "As I already mentioned, God tells us so in His Word, the Holy Bible. He said it and I believe it. God cannot and does not lie. This ending - planned by God - is for the benefit of all God's children, because with this ending comes a new beginning. Yes my friends, Jesus will return to this world again. He will come in glory to take His people out of all trouble and disaster into a new heavenly world(7) where there will be no more fear, pain or tears, only joy, praise and thanksgiving for ever and ever. We call this event the rapture, the time when Christ will return for His own people, who are called God's children; people young and old, rich or poor, of all colour and race, who have chosen to turn to Him from evil and allow Him to change their lives."

Silence filled every corner of the old church as each face watched the minister pace up and down. The intenseness and power of his words revealed a heartfelt concern for those who at last, sat quiet and still. Gradually his face relaxed and softened. Resting his arm upon the knot riddled, wooden pulpit, he continued in a pleading yet calm voice.

"My friends, Jesus could return at any time. I implore you; use your free will and choose Jesus now to avoid eternal punishment. Even now, there are rumours of a coming leader to rule this world.(8) He is evil and his power comes from Satan, the originator of all wickedness. This vile person will deceive many and cause them to worship him. Some people have already become greedy for power and possessions as they begin to control nations and the world economy. We must all be courageous, and firm in the hope that Jesus will save all who remain faithful to Him alone."

The minister moved towards the front of his narrow platform with hands outstretched towards the congregation, palms upraised to heaven. His voice faltered as he spoke.

"Now my dear brethren, may God go with you from this place. May His love and strength guide and protect each and every one of you as you look to Him."

Some remained seated whilst others, eager to be about their own schedule for today, bustled down the aisles. A few scoffed or joked with their friends, taking the minister's words lightly.

"All this gloom and doom," one was heard to say to another.

"This won't happen in my lifetime. Things are going well for me, in spite of the hiccup at the banks today. I have my own home and with the kids off our hands, our holiday next month will be just what we need. By the time we get back from a cruise around Patmos and Samos, all this will have blown over like stormy grey clouds on a hot summers day."

Those still sitting on the hard, solid benches traded words back and forth with each other.

"It certainly seems like things predicted in God's Word have begun to happen. If only I could understand more and interpret what this means."
Another concerned woman responded, "It frightens me to even think about what might happen to my adult children. Have they any future in today's world? They won't even listen when my husband tries to talk with them and encourage them to come to church with us. We believe and accept all the Minister spoke of this morning, but they only laugh and say we are being old fashioned. Their reasoning is that God is a God of love so they'll be alright."

Leaning against the telephone booth opposite the church, stood a handsome slim man. His perfectly groomed, sleek, black hair and olive skin suggested he came from this part of the world. A tailored suit, of best quality silk, completed a picture of cool charm. On the first finger of his right hand he wore a thick, heavy, solid gold signet ring. Embossed on a surface of black onyx was a strange ancient type emblem, set with dazzling pink diamonds that flashed and sparkled in the sunlight. Inscribed on the inside band was the name, Macro. His eyes roved to and fro taking in the wide panorama of hurrying people as they emerged from either the bank, or the church across the street. On his lips curled a sneer of smug satisfaction....... He enjoyed watching these people buzzing about like bees in and out of flowers, gathering small amounts of nectar. Weak useless drones he thought. Powerless robotic things to be manipulated and led by others in control.

He turned as he heard an aeroplane low in the sky. Athens airport was only a few kilometres from the city. Today was the beginning of the Olympic Games in Athens.* Tourists were still arriving from many countries, in spite of this mornings headlines concerning the economic situation.

* This chapter was written prior to the announcement that Athens would host the 2004 Olympic Games. However, in choosing not to change the story, it is not being implied that the events of this book are related to that year. (The authors)


The NovelNotes Feature

These are a helpful feature of this novel. Their use is optional. They may be used if you want to understand more of the underlying Biblical aspects of the story, or the historical and factual material. However, you do not have to use these to follow the story line of the novel. Some chapters do not have NovelNotes.

Chapter 2 NovelNotes

1. People now lack interest in God. Also, we know from Scripture, that in these days, perilous times will come and people will be selfish, out of control and ungodly. See the book of Second Timothy, Chapter 3, verses 1 to 7.

2. God made all things on earth and in the heavens and has ultimate power over all people. See the book of Colossians, Chapter 1, Verses 16-18.

3. Only God the Father in heaven knows exactly when these things will happen. If humans say they know, do not believe them. See Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 24, verse 36

4. There is only one true religion. Many counterfeiters go around saying that all religions lead to the same God. Religions that do not believe in Jesus Christ do not have access to the true God. No one comes to the Father God except through Jesus Christ. See Gospel of John, Chapter 14, verse 6 and Acts, Chapter 4, verse 12.

5. After physical death, people are promised they can live in heaven (eternal life) with Jesus Christ. See the most famous verse in the Bible - Gospel of John, Chapter 3, verse 16. Also Gospel of John, Chapter 3, verse 36.

6. The world in its present form does not go on forever. See Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 24, verses 14 and 35.

7. Believers in Jesus Christ will be taken by Him to live in heaven forever. See The Revelation of St. John, Chapter 21, verse 4.

8. For nearly 2000 years it has been understood from the Bible, that God would allow an evil person to rule the world for a short period of time. He is known in Scripture as the Antichrist. See the Revelation of St. John, Chapter 11, verse 7. The Bible tells of his eventual judgement by Christ Himself.

Continue to Chapter Three