Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Green Spot Of Leprosy

Jabin’s stomach twisted as he inspected the spot Hannah pointed out to him. It was a small green spot on the interior wall of their tiny Hadrach – a dwelling of stone. Jabin knew all too well the dangerous possibilities that green spot posed.

His next-door neighbors, Felix and Esther, were forced to evacuate their own hadrach when the priest quarantined it for seven days after examining a similar spot. When the priest returned at the end of the week, the green leprosy had spread and Felix and Esther were required to tear out the infected stones and throw them away at an unclean place outside the city. As the law required, they scraped down their entire hadrach, then dumped the plaster outside the city as well.

They bought new stones to replace the infected ones and replastered everything. It cost Felix and Esther a considerable portion of their meager income to pay for the repairs and the ceremonial cleansing.

And theirs was one of the mild cases; others had the green leprosy return even after replacing the stones. Their hadrachs were completely torn down and disposed of.

Hannah wrung her hands as she watched Jabin inspect the green spot. “What do you think?”

He rubbed the green surface of the dark stone with his thumb. It was slimy and damp. “It doesn’t look good.” He concluded.

“Oh no.” Hannah’s voice shook. “What are we going to do?”

Jabin turned to her, placed a calming hand on her arm and looked her in the eyes. “You know the law, Hannah. We have to report this to the priest. Like it or not.”

“But what if it’s the green leprosy, Jabin? I don’t want to loose everything.” He could see water pooling in her eyes. Normally she would have handled such a situation with ease and solid faith in God, but her pregnancy put her in a more emotional state.

“What if we have to tear down our house or replace everything?” She worried, “We can’t afford that. You can barely put food on the table as it is.”

Jabin forced himself not to take that as slight against his meager abilities and small income and instead focused on Hannah’s needs. He led her to a pile of cushions on the floor.

“Come over here and rest.”

Hannah lowered herself down with obvious effort.

“Don’t worry about the spot. I’ll take care of it.”

“How can I not worry? This is our house. This is where our child is to be born and to grow up.”

Jabin brushed a moist tendril out of Hannah’s eyes. “Yes, it is. And if this is where God wants us to remain, he will take care of the green spot.”

He tipped her chin up and looked into her eyes. “Remember the Lord, Hannah. He has plans to prosper us, not to harm us.”

She frowned but nodded.

“Good,” He said. “Now you lay here and get some rest, I will go to the priest and tell him what we have seen.” Jabin stood to leave but Hannah quickly grabbed his hand.

“Wait.” She pleaded. “Pray with me before you go.”

Jabin smiled and knelt down beside her. He took both her hands in his and bowed his head. When they had finished beseeching God for His help, Jabin stood. He reached down to smooth Hannah’s long dark hair and placed a tender kiss on her forehead. “I’ll return soon. Don’t be afraid, God will provide.”

An hour later Jabin returned with the somber priest who made quick work of his inspection. He felt carefully around the green spot with a cloth then rubbed the spot itself. It left a nasty green smudge across the cloth, which he showed to them with a grim look on his aged face. No doubt he would be ceremonially unclean now.

“It appears,” He said rather grouchily, “God has chosen to keep you here.” Then he let his solemn expression soften into a smile as he gave his full report. “This is not the green spot of leprosy; the green on your hadrach is only on the surface, and no deeper.”

Hannah gasped and Jabin smiled with her.

“Praise our God!” She exclaimed.

“But,” the priest said with a cautiously, “I suggest you cleanse these walls thoroughly.”

Jabin nodded happily, “Yes, Father. We will.”

“And Hannah…”

“Yes Father?”

The priest looked at her with a twinkle in his eyes. “Praise our God indeed!”

This story was based on:

Leviticus 14:33-40 When … I put a mark of leprosy on a house … the one who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, … and if the mark on the walls … has greenish or reddish depressions and appears deeper than the surface, then the priest shall … quarantine the house for seven days. ... If the mark has … spread …, then the priest shall order them to tear out the stones … and throw them away …. (NASB)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cerulean 9

Matthew walked towards the maintenance hangar with a tired slump to his shoulders. He needed another day working on the Tranjon ship like he needed a laser beam to the head. But the Imperative insisted - three years working and maintaining the ships before he could pilot one.

As far as Matthew was concerned, the Imperative was a bunch of educated idiots. They had no clue how to run the Interstellar Air Navy; their forte was politics, not military operations. But ever since the invasion the Imperative took control over everything, on the ground and in the skies, including Cerulean 9 – the closest docking station to Earth’s atmosphere.

Cerulean 9 was the hub of all things interstellar and was the last leg on Matthew’s climb to pilot school. And he wanted desperately to exchange his tired blue maintenance uniform for the cobalt jump suit the pilots wore. But according to regs he still had three more months before he could make the changeover.

For Matthew it was three months too long. He already knew every inch of the Tranjon Ships, inside and out, backwards and forwards. It didn’t take a genius to figure it out, and it certainly didn’t take a quick learner like Matthew three years. He had the space fighters figured out after the first six months of training. Everything since then had just been a mindless grind, doing the same repairs, fixing the same FTL (faster than light) drives, and buffing the same azure paint were space debris had chipped away at it.

Matthew stopped in the locker room before he got to the hangar and pulled out his work shirt. He buttoned the faded blue maintenance uniform and jammed his hands into the matching gloves. The blue leather was stained black from grease and hard work, and the finger pads were worn thin. The blue hides of the Carribers on Planet Indigous were supposedly the toughest anywhere, but Matthew was still surprised the leather had lasted so long.

“Three more months,” he encouraged his gloves. “Hang in there boys. Not much longer and you can retire.”

He had started talking to his tools and his gear long ago when he realized holding an intelligent conversation with the other maintenance workers was next to impossible, … amebas had bigger brains than they did. Most of them still struggled over the basic operating systems on the Tranjons, and when Matthew offered his advice they would listen patiently then go right back to what they were doing wrong.

He sifted through his tool cart, made sure everything was there then pushed the cart towards docking bay two. The clear external walls of Cerulean 9 made the walk an aesthetic joy. Matthew could see the swirling blue atmosphere of his home planet and the aquamarine water that comprised much of its surface. It never failed to remind him just how small he was.

When he entered the docking bay though, the beautiful view was gone. Matthew stopped just inside. In the place where the azure Tranjon was supposed to be – his assignment for the day – there stood a crowd of familiar faces. They were flocked around a table of refreshments and behind them was a large banner with 'Congratulations' written in bright blue across it. As soon as they saw him they yelled out.


“Congratulations Matthew!”

“Well dones,” and “Good Jobs,” came at him from various voices throughout the crowd.

But Matthew was focused, like a good soldier, on one voice and one face; the General’s. He had stepped out from the crowd and was headed straight for Matthew with a blue bundle tucked under his arm.

He slapped Matthew on the back good-naturedly. “It’s three months early and two years late depending on how you look at it. But you have definitely earned it my boy.” General Blaert handed Matthew the long coveted cobalt jumpsuit and a small Sapphire pin in the shape of wings - the insignia of the interstellar Air Navy.

Matthew snapped to attention and saluted the General. “Thank you sir!”

The General returned his salute. “Don’t thank me son. You must have someone higher up looking out for you - thank Him.” General Blaert pointed up. “The Imperative bent the rules for you, son. They must have really liked something you did.”

Matthew smiled gratefully and unfolded the cobalt jumpsuit. He hung it out in front of himself at arms length and admired it. Finally.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Red Light Distrist

“Take it off!” they yelled. And since Stevan was there, with his ruby handled pistol, I had no choice.

I had to obey.

Reluctantly I slipped off my tiny crimson dress and exposed my bare skin for all to see.

I fought back tears as I danced tentatively behind the red neon lights that enveloped my window. I hated Stevan. I hated him for taking me out of Russia, for bringing me to The Red Light District and for making me dance in front of all those men.

They stared up at me with hungry grins on their faces, bathed in the hellish hues of The Red Light District. They made my skin crawl. From my point of view they looked less like men and more like red-faced demons circling my glass cage waiting to grab hold of me and pull me further into hell with them. And they did, often. It was how I paid Stevan’s bills.

By the time darkness had lifted and the hell fire scarlet of The Red Light District was paled by sunlight I was alone under my crimson sheets, loathing life. Through tears I pleaded with God to pull me out of the nightmare I was forced to live in and I cried myself to sleep.

When I finally woke the sun was setting and the fiery red lights were once again winning the battle for prominence. The demonic hordes would be filling The Red Light District very soon and I wanted nothing to do with them; I wanted out of the RLD. But there was no way out.

I rolled over with a huff and faced my door. A pamphlet lay under the crack. I couldn’t read it from the vantage point on my bed but I could see the picture on its white surface; a bright red rope pulling a naked girl out of the fiery flames that licked at her feet. And right away I realized that girl was me and that pamphlet, with its scarlet rope, was my way out of hell. I got up and read it.

The Scarlet Rope
Your Lifeline out of the RLD

You are not alone.
You can make it out!
“God guards those who come to him for safety.”
Proverbs 30:5

Come to Oorbereck Church for sanctuary. We can help. Or call 87-931-46

I opened the door and peeked out. No one was there.

There were no crowds yet either, and more importantly, no Stevan – he was probably with one of his other girls. If there was ever a time for me to escape, it was now.

I threw on the only two things I owned: red dental floss that masqueraded as a pair of panties and the slinky crimson dress the demon faced crowds had forced me to take off the night before.

I stepped out the door, pamphlet in hand. A few girls were writhing in their windows already and the street was becoming more hell-like by the second as the darkness grew. The red lights were on, full force, and everywhere I looked red-faced men were filling in the street.

I walked faster. I didn’t want them to pull me back in.

My heart raced as I neared the end of Rossebuurt Ave.

“Where are you going?” My stomach dropped. It was Stevan’s voice! I didn’t dare turn around to him. Instead I broke into a full sprint, my bare feet slapping painfully against the cobblestone.

I pulled franticly at the invisible scarlet rope, hoping to scramble out far enough before the flaming lights and burning fingers caught hold of me.

“Saraia!” His angry voice was closer as he called my name. “Get back here!” He was only a few feet behind.

The church’s white lights were in the distance and I pushed myself harder, faster. My lungs burned. I could see people standing on the church steps, bathed in white. I wanted to be with them.

“HELP!” I screamed. But no sound came out.

I could hear Stevan’s footsteps right behind me. I lengthened my stride. But was it enough? Could I make it before he grabbed me?


Skarlaken Koord (The Scarlet Cord) is a real life mission aimed at helping women out of the RLD and into the arms of God. Though I have no affiliation with them, I think their mission is honorable. If you would like to know more about them and what they do you can check them out at

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Widow's Prayer
By: Cherie Bernatt

Worry twisted Mariel’s face and pinched her eyebrows close together as she studied her son’s letters. She printed the war emails as soon as she received them, knowing full well she would want a piece of her son with her wherever she went, not just when she sat down to the computer. She unfolded the newest letter from its home tucked deep inside her purse and re-read it for the umpteenth time.


Nothing much new here. Some of the other EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) guys went to the Afghan Bazaar with me. I attached a picture for you. It’s the only fun thing to do here, too bad it’s only once a week.

We have a convoy mission tomorrow. Dangerous stuff; pray for us.

Love and miss you,

That was eight days ago. She hadn’t heard from him since.

Mariel sat anxiously looking out the window at the pouring rain. Grey clouds blocked out any ounce of sun that tried to get through and the water poured down in torrents as she prayed for her only son. “Dear God, don’t take him away too. Please.”

She had already lost her husband a year earlier, and the thought of being alone, with no one to care for, all but killed her. Her chest tightened as moisture pooled in her eyes.“Let me know what’s going on, Lord.”

Through the fog an Air Force car pulled alongside the curb and stopped. A young officer stepped out, carefully avoiding the deep puddles as he headed towards Marie’s front door.

“Oh no,” her stomach twisted in knots. Panic coursed through her veins and she was at the door before he had time to ring the bell.

The rain poured over his shoulders and she ushered him into the front hall, all the while searching his face for answers. Was Matthew okay? Was he injured? Dead?

“Ma’am.” He took his wheel cap off and stared at the floor, apparently working up enough courage to say whatever was coming next.

Mariel was afraid she already knew the answer, but she had to ask. “What’s the matter Officer?”

Mariel’s stomach churned as she waited for the answer. The perfectly pressed officer stood with wheel cap in hand clearly afraid to make eye contact with her.

“I’m afraid we have bad news about Matthew, Ma’am.”

She knew then that her Matthew was dead; the officer didn’t have to say anymore. The look on his face told her everything, but she refused to believe it. “No, God. Don’t let it be.”

“No,” she shook her head.

“No.” Tears filled her eyes and her legs gave out. She fell to her knees and sobbed as the officer bent over her and offered what little comfort he could.

Mariel never forgot that day. For years after, as she said her prayers it replayed in her mind with painful accuracy bringing back fresh waves of loneliness until she was on her knees in tears once again.

The years passed and Mariel slowly acclimated to the empty house, the empty bedroom, the lonely holidays, and the unfulfilled desire to care for her child. Slowly she filled her time with things other than her son and his life.

Oftentimes, those who sympathized related her loss to their own feelings of emptiness as kids left to college or got married and moved away. Few understood the permanency of her empty nest though. But Mariel smiled as best she could, and accepted their kindness.

She still prayed for her son everyday, but her prayers changed. “Keep him safe. Let me see him when I get there,” she begged.

At 84 years old, Mariel lay shriveled and lonely on her deathbed, aged and riddled by cancer. She passed on, praying that God would once again let her see her little boy.

As this world grew cold and dim, warmth and peace surrounded her as God welcomed her home, to a place that was so unlike her lonely empty house. Her new home was filled with those she loved and said “good-bye” to long ago; her parents, her husband, and many others.

As she crossed the threshold of her new home, Matthew stood there, in bright white, arms outstretched.

“Welcome home, Mom.” His smile grabbed hold of her and she ran to him in her new perfected body. Mariel hugged him tight as tears of joy spilled over her. Her son was back in her arms, and her house would never be empty again.

Monday, September 14, 2009

By: Cherie Bernatt

Jacob’s fingers burned as he dug feverishly into the snow. Panic coursed through his veins and he tried hard to ignore the pain as he struggled to free his daughter from the snow. He knew she was down there somewhere. He tried to remember exactly where she was standing when the avalanche came.

“Oh God, help me.” He pleaded. “Help me find her!”

He dug deeper, then wider, afraid he was in was the wrong spot. He moved over a few feet and began another hole. He was still hot from the exertion of skiing but his hands were freezing from the contact with the snow. The gloves he usually wore were sitting beside him in the snow, abandoned to give him a better grip as he dug.


There was no response. “SARAH,” he continued to call out as the pile of snow beside him grew. He couldn’t feel his fingertips anymore and knew the blood levels in his hands were dangerously low. If he didn’t find her quick he would loose his fingers and she would die of frostbite. Her tiny eighty-pound body would not survive long buried in the freezing snow.

“Oh God,” he cried, “not my little girl! Don’t take my little girl. Let me find her!” He stopped his panicked digging just long enough to close his eyes and concentrate. “God please,” he begged for the life of his twelve year old. “You are my savior. Save my little girl.”

He looked up into the white sky as tears threatened, his nose stung fiercely from the wind. “God please.”

He dug further to his left and saw his first glimpse of pink! Sarah’s snowsuit. Hope exploded through his body filling him with extra-human speed. In an instant he had her uncovered, out of the hole and laying on the ground.

“Sarah,” he rubbed her cheek. It was cold. Her eyes were almost closed, and she was groggy and unresponsive. He had to get her warm, and fast!

He unzipped his coat and picked her up. He hugged her as close as he could to his own body to share his warmth then pulled the sides of his coat around them both. He couldn’t zip it up, but he didn’t care. She was close to him and would be able to get her to safety.

He left the skis and gloves and ran. Sarah’s legs flopped loosely against his own as he ran towards the backwoods ski cabin. Their rented winter cabin was just inside the tree line. It had a breathtaking view of the steep mountainside and was close enough that Jacob had succumbed to his daughters pleas that morning to watch him ski rather than help his wife make breakfast.

He kicked himself for being so stupid. He should never have let her stand at the bottom of such a steep slope alone, especially when new snow had fallen the night before and he was unsure of it’s stability.

“Rachel!” He yelled for his wife as he neared the cabin. He felt Sarah’s breath on his neck and thanked God for signs of life.

“God, Thank you.” He whispered as he ran. Let her be okay. He prayed silently.

Rachel opened the door and terror spread across her face the instant she saw them. “What happened?” She stepped backwards as Jacob burst across the threshold.

“Heating blankets, get the heating blankets,” he ordered. Rachel disappeared into the bedroom to get them while Jacob rushed Sarah to fireplace. He tore off her snowsuit and starting massaging her limbs, trying to increase circulation.

He looked for any reaction on her face. She had to be okay; She wasn’t down there very long. And God, … God would make her okay.

Jacob inspected her limbs and her digits as he massaged them. Nothing white or yellow, that was promising. No frostbite. But hypothermia was still a very real possibility. Just a few minutes buried in the snow could severely lower a person’s body temperature.

The massaging was helping, so was the heat from the fireplace and the heating blanket Rachel had placed over her little body. Color was returning to her face and Jacob could feel a strong steady pulse at her neck.

He and Rachel joined hands and prayed, “Dear God, thank you for letting her be alive. Please show us; … let us know she is okay. Please.”

Sarah’s eyes slowly opened.