Where there is life...
by Jesus Puppy 2/07/2007 / Short Stories
As the rocks and debris slid over the ground above him, Jason could only hear loud clicks and cracks of rock against rock, and the occasional creaking of timber. He could feel the pressure of tons of dirt that pushed down onto the small space he was confined in. Not enough to move in or even stretch out, curled in a ball beneath a portion of a wall that rested against the uprooted trunk of a large tree, he sat waiting for the end he knew was coming.
The pain from cramps in his back and legs grew worse by moments as the sound died down, and the movement of the mountain slowed to dust falling on his head. He sat waiting in the darkened silence, waiting for the end. How long since the mountain had broke apart, covering the small village in mud and rock, he was not sure, but to his pain filled mind it seemed hours. Slowly losing what air was trapped in the space with him, Jason tried to calm his breathing, yet the pain made it hard.
Curled up in the dark, he tried thinking of what might have happened. It was surely not a quake, as there was no tremor that occurred to warn the people, just a mass of rolling rocks mixed with uprooted trees, sliding down the hillside in the early morning hours. Very few, if any, were even awake to know what was happening. His only warning was the sound of trees snapping behind his small house on the edge of the village. That short warning only gave him enough time to jump from a window before the house was covered in the slide of mud and debris, with him trapped by an outer wall.
As his breathing slowed, he tried to call out, but the dust in his lungs, and the dryness of his mouth, choked his voice to a harsh whisper. All he could do was pray that someone had lived through the slide, and would be getting help to them soon. Knowing the closely built community of about fifty homes; nothing more than huts built at the foot of a mountain, visions of the whole village covered in mud raced through his mind. "How many had survived.? How many wounded.? How many souls were lost.?"
He found himself praying for those he had grown to know as family and loved ones in the Lord. Children and neighbors that slowly turned to the Lord after a year of ministry. He could see the village skeptic, an old tribal shaman and medicine man, shaking his hands and shouting out, knowing the man would try claiming it was an act of judgement from their mountain god, because the people turned to this new and unknown God of salvation.
"Where is your God's mercy now?" The man would roar, not knowing in his unbelief the true love the Lord has for all of mankind; the real saving grace of His mercy. Seeking only to keep the others under his control, doing his will, keeping him in power. How long had Jason prayed for help in dealing with this man, and now, by an act of nature, the skeptic would win after all. His arguments and falsehoods would seem true.
"Oh Lord," Jason began to pray, each word a struggle for breath in the cramped little space. "I seek you once more. Do not let my own failure destroy the goodness of these people. Keep them safe in Your hand of mercy."
In the darkness of his living tomb, Jason heard what he thought were voices softly singing, and knew his life was leaving him. With all his remaining strength he tried once more to push against the broken wall even knowing he could not move it even the slightest. Taking up a small stone in his hand, he knocked against the wall, knowing the sound would not reach those above, if any were there to hear. Slowly the sound of singing grew louder, joined with laughter and cheering.
Just as he was losing consciousness, Jason thought he could feel a vibration of movement along the wall touching his back. Soon he knew it was so, as the space he was in grew larger, the voices grew louder. Then as light shined down in his eyes, he heard his neighbor's voice call out.
"He is here," Martin, a fellow missionary, called out. "He is under here. Help me brace this wall."
Jason could hardly believe he was almost out. He began praising God for the second chance he was given, even as he was being pulled by the arms through a small opening that grew larger every second; hands clearing more dirt away as he was pulled free.
"It's ok Jase, you're safe, we got you."
"What.. happened," Jason whispered as he was sat down to rest on the ground outside of his small tomb that had once been his home. After a fit of coughing he looked around and could see all the villagers gathered together around him, no one was hurt. His house, in the direct path of the slide, was completely ruined.
"It seems your friend Zukajah tried getting rid of you," the neighbor explained. "He had loosened some rocks up on the hillside behind your house, that caused the slide. He must have gotten caught in the slide himself. The tools he used were still up there, but no one has seen him at all."
Jason looked at the hillside behind his home, and wondered if Zukajah's body where truly buried beneath the rubble, or if the shaman had run after doing his deed; knowing the people of the village would turn against him for outright murder, in this there was no excuse.
"If he is trapped under there, we need to help him."
Martin could hardly believe it as Jason struggled to his feet, leaning on one of the young men, and started up the hill searching quickly for signs of Zukajah, anything to point out where he might be under the mass of debris. Time rushed past as they looked, moving what rocks they could, digging around others in a mad race to help find the trapped man.
Jason was near the end of what strength his freedom gained him, as a young woman called out; they had found a part of Zukajah's robes mostly buried in the rocks. Martin had to force him to step aside so the younger men could work, digging rapidly to get the man out. When at last he heard the man groaning as they lifted him from a hole between two boulders, Jason could no longer be held back. He reached the man's side as they laid him down on the ground, hardly breathing but still alive.
The robes the man wore were torn and matted with the mud of the slide, cuts and bruises on his arms and face, but he seemed sound enough. The shock from what had happened was more a punishment than anything he feared the villagers might do, yet still he struggled to get free.
"Zuka?" Jason called to him, leaning close over the man who had been his rival since he had first come to the village. "Zukajah, can you hear me? You are safe, we are here to help."
Weak and near death, Zukajah slowly opened his eyes; looking up at Jason yet not seeing him as his eyes seemed to glazed over, whether in death or from fear. He fell back, spent in his weakness and shock.
"What..? Why..?" He whispered hoarsely, "Why.. you try.. help? I try.. kill you."
"You acted out of anger and jealousy," Jason said, placing the man's torn robes under his head like a pillow, covering him with his own torn jacket to keep him warm. "I act from the love of God, it is He that would help you. He that would save you. I only act in His behalf to help you. Even as I do for all those of this village."
"No help.. for me."Zukajah closed his eyes whispering, "Your God is greater than mine."
"Come now, my friend," Jason replied, "there is but one true God, you just haven't accepted that yet."
"You think.. there is hope.?"
Jason looked out across the faces of those gathered. The worried expressions of people who had known the old man all their lives. Those that knew his strength and his anger, yet also knew he was one of God's creation. Then turning again to Zukajah, he looked down at the man who had stood against him for a year now. In his heart, he smiled and thanked the Lord for the helper he had just been given. Then, raising the man's head slightly so he could drink a little water, Jason smiled.
"Where there is life there is hope. And with the Lord, there is eternal life, my friend."
Edward Pennewell took on the name JesusPuppy while in the mission fields, and carries the name as a writer in showing the Lord's glory in all he writes. He now lives on the northwest coast of the United States of America.