JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM
A tale by Johny Noer
„I concluded, "said the apostle, „that this was the will of God. "
I turned around from the payphone and saw that I was not alone. On the empty street behind me stood a man in a black coat. Probably waiting to be the next to make a call. I didn’t apologize for having used much time, because I hadn’t. I nodded to him and wouldn’t speak, because I couldn’t. In spite of the fact that I had certainly never been within a hundred yards of this person, I had the feeling, I had met him before. I recognized the eyes. The cold, black eyes with layers of black wrinkles around them. Hard, angry eyes. Hateful eyes. His hair was white with thickets around the ears and the whiteness contrasted sharply with the rest of his face. As he looked at me his eyes narrowed and the black pupils shone fiercely. Knowing eyes. Eyes from the abyss.
He passed me without a word and went to the phone. While I walked down the street, he hooked the receiver off the hanger. I never heard him speaking but he turned, and his evil eyes followed me. Without doubt the most ominous ice cold stare I have ever felt. I went on down the street. I’ve never forgotten them – and I’m sure that I shall meet them again. The eyes!
But they were not the only eyes looking upon me. The following day I got a wonderful warm look from Gisèle; only for a second, but just as unforgettable. It happened when we left Szeged for Denmark and passed down the same main street by which we entered just a few weeks ago. As we drove pass the church, the bell rang. I noticed an old lady in front of us. She stood only two metres away. Leaning on her crooked stick, dressed in her black rags. She was listening to the Te Deum, which poured out of the open church door. I saw her whispering to herself, perhaps praying for something, whilst her bony hand squeezed the stick she was holding onto. Then, with a trembling hand, she made the sign of the cross and turned to hobble away.
"I’m longing to go back", I said to Gisèle.
She nodded silently.
"But it will probably take some time."
She nodded again and gave me a faint smile. Her beautiful brown eyes looked at me with deep warmth. Loving eyes. None of us knew that it would take almost a year for us to return. Surprising things were waiting us in Denmark. During all these months I remembered these eyes. The gentle look of love from Gisèle’s eyes.
Bjarne tore the cheque out of the chequebook and handed it to me. I glanced at it and my heart skipped a beat: 35,000 US-dollars! I looked twice. Yes, he had signed it…
"You won’t get a penny more!" he smiled.
I was barely able to conceal my joy. I knew exactly what I would do with all this money: Gisèle was going to have a new home. Room for her children! In the following days however I was too staggered by this blessed sign from heaven to do much. I was so overjoyed with the flock mass of possibilities that I drifted around, smiling to everybody, even to surprised strangers in the street. In my room I carefully placed the cheque on the table and studied it – in no way eager to let it ‘disappear’ in the bank. It looked so real and shining in the drowsy June sunlight which poured through the window and rested in a golden pool on the very spot where the cheque lay. I would soon be able to begin the work!
We were back in Copenhagen and Bjarne and Sus had indeed prepared the way for us. They knew more abut the hardships of being on the roads than other people; they’d tried it themselves.
When they were younger, they were poor and had troubles. For a time it looked as if they wouldn’t be able to overcome them. and I Gisèle had left with a lovely Land Rover and caravan and had arrived in Boulogne-sur-Mer in France, and were staying for a couple of days at the house of the well known Christian writer and his wife, Dubrueil (who had written, under the name ‘Claude Campagne, ‘Adieu mes quinze ans’, ‘Le jour où Dieu m’a tutoyé, ‘La maison sans clé, ‘Guillaume, ou la mémoire naufragée’ and ‘Les enfants de la brume’).
One morning Jean Louis Dubreuil emerged in the doorway of our Kip-caravan. "Letters for you," he said with childlike joy.
I gazed at the two letters in his hand. Both registered with a lot of coloured stamps. This tiny corner of France was the last place on earth where registered mail from different parts of Europe would reach ‘wayfaring folk’ like us – and two at the same time!
Jean Louis gave me a small nod and an almost imperceptible smile, as if he would say, "Wait and see, you’ve got some surprising news." He peered over my shoulder, "one is from Denmark, and the other one from Spain," he noticed. "They’ve found you out here in the countryside."
I placed the letters before me. Which one to open first? The one from Denmark was from Bjarne and Sus. I opened that one.
Today I can’t remember the full content of the letter only the words: "We miss you so much and wish we could follow you… if only we had a Land Rover and a caravan. But we haven’t!"
"Bjarne and Sus would have followed us," I said to Gisèle. "They’d turn up immediately, if only they had a Land Rover and a caravan."
"Really?" she said. "How wonderful, if they could come. But how to get hold of a Land Rover and a caravan?"
"I don’t know," I said, while I opened the second letter. It was of a few lines from a missionary in Spain. "Can you help me?" he asked. "The customs have ordered my Land Rover and my caravan to be out of the country for one year. Can you possibly use it?"
At that moment I thought of the words of the apostle Paul, when he, after having experienced certain events in the region of Galatia, concluded that God was behind it. (Acts 16:10)
"I ‘conclude’ that Bjarne and Sus have to come immediately," I said to Gisèle.
A couple of weeks later they arrived in the town of Lille in France, where with their two children, Thomas and Peter, they took over their new home, which had come up from Spain.
"Something of a test," Bjarne explained. "Our little Peter was taken to the hospital, because he couldn’t breathe. He was placed in a respirator, and the doctors said that he wouldn’t be able to live without it. Many things however pointed in another direction, and we ‘concluded’, that it was the will of God to leave for France. And you see, he’s breathing well and is doing all right. I believe our ‘conclusion’ was right!"
And so it was. Bjarne and Sus stayed with us for a long period and experienced the hardships of this travelling ministry – and now years later these two understood more than other people, why we had suddenly turned up in Denmark. In the meantime, Bjarne had become a well-to-do businessman, and he wrote the cheque without blinking. "I am ‘concluding’," He said, "that it is the will of God."
With these words we started the work. The next move was a small town near Bramming on the west coast of Jutland. Another great surprise waited us there. Something which made the decision clear: We have to stay in Denmark for one year!