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TIME TO HEAL QUOTES
Christianity Oasis Ministry has provided you with this Time to Heal Quotes book with Time to Heal Quotes. This Time to Heal Quotes book and Time to Heal Quotes program on Time to Heal Quotes meaning looks into Time to Heal Quotes message and asks what do Time to Heal Quotes say, who do Time to Heal Quotes affect, why are Time to Heal Quotes important, what is the Time to Heal Quotes message and how does the Time to Heal Quotes message affect you. The Time to Heal Quotes are very important as knowing more about the Time to Heal Quotes can help you to understand many things more clearly. Let us delve into this Time to Heal Quotes truth with Time to Heal Quotes message in this Time to Heal Quotes study, shall we?


 

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HEALING PATH

 

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THE HEALING TIME

By Rick Rendell
 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 Chapter 1

Joanne Thomson didn’t like flying or being cold and it didn’t matter if she was on an assignment to meet a holy man. She was an attractive woman with wispy blond hair which curled slightly upwards just past her ear lobes. She had full lips, which were accentuated with red lipstick, but her most striking feature was her large china blue eyes highlighted by dark pencil black eye lashes. Her hair framed her face and her eyes were soft and would invite nearly any man. She was too beautiful to be just a normal woman with a normal job. She could have been a model except for the fact she was about 5 feet 3 inches tall, with a small bust and slightly broader hips. Her face was picture perfect but her body wasn’t tall enough or proportioned enough for the catwalk so a career in television journalism rather than modeling or acting was suitable for her.

As she sat on the plane in her pink jacket, black skirt and stockings with high-heeled shoes, her feet were cold. It was 7.30pm. She was in a window seat and occasionally her left arm pressed against the aircraft wall. It was cold. She was flying approx. 25 thousand feet above sea level and she was not happy. Occasionally she looked at the passenger on her right, a large man in his forties with curly dark hair. He would look at her and smile sheepishly. Aircraft seats are small and his large body seemed to spill over into her seat. She wondered if he recognized her as one of West Australia’s channel nine reporters, or was it that he just thought she was lovely. Either way on this flight at 7.00 pm from Perth to Melbourne she was not happy and the cold was not the only thing bothering her.

 

Joanne Thomson had a good job right until now. She was one of the main reporters for channel 9. She had a regular camera crew and they did all sort of assignments. Her favorite were the heart warming stuff like the little girl who found her lost dog but Joanne didn’t mind doing some serious stuff too. She once chased a hit man down a lane for an interview only to realize she had run so fast that she had left her camera crew behind. When she turned into the lane the cornered hit man told her “listen lady, you are beautiful but I will shoot you if don’t stop harassing me.” She stood there for a moment not knowing what to do. The camera crew came around the corner with their camera light on. The hit man just looked at them and said quite calmly, “I have nothing to say”. He then just walked into the rear of a restaurant and was gone. They were going to follow him but the owner came out and blocked the doorway and wanted to know what was going on. Would the hit man have said that on camera, probably not but either way if it isn’t on tape it is not worth anything.

The work was steady and interesting and she had her fan club. Men wrote to her, proposed to her, sent her chocolates for about six months it was going so well, until May 2006. One evening her production manager John Sinclair called her into the office. He wasn’t the most handsome man. He had brown tight curly hair, always immaculately dressed, but guarded with his thoughts. They talked briefly and he told her he wanted to talk to her about something but that could only be done at dinner, blah blah blah, the standard “I want to take you out” line that men of power like to use. She said yes, because he was her boss, he was 48 and she was 25 and she really didn’t know how to say no to him.

Mr. John Sinclair took her to a lovely romantic expensive restaurant where the champagne flowed. He told her how great her career was and he was under pressure like you would not believe at work and he was stressed. He touched her a few times and apologized to her and asked for her forgiveness in that pretentious vulnerable way like a school boy wanting to kiss an older girl without her laughing in his face. He started talking about his car, a Mercedes Kompressor, convertible and “haven’t you seen it, oh why don’t we go for a ride” !!!! blah blah blah. Before she knew it she was in his convertible, then in his bed.

The following morning she was supposed to go to work but stayed home. She was supposed to call him if she was sick but she didn’t think he would mind. She didn’t know what to think. She was dating a nice man until this happened and she just didn’t know what to do about it all.

It was Friday when she came to work and pretended nothing had happened. He had called her into his office. He usually did this to discuss assignments. On this particular occasion he had a bar bell on the floor behind him with some weights attached. He seemed larger across the chest and flushed.  It appeared as if he had been working out only a few minutes before she had come in. He talked to her at first about her next assignment that was supposed to be an interview with the retiring Premier. Then suddenly, as if nothing had happened between them he told her had booked a weekend for two at a winery and he would pick her up about 6pm. She noticed he wasn’t shy any more; he didn’t need any alcohol to make him brave either. She had been conquered and now ruling would take place. This time she said no. He looked puzzled. He raised his eyebrows for a moment as if he wasn’t sure what the word “no” meant.  There was awkward silence for a moment so Joanne left the office.

Things were ok for about a week when she received detailed instructions from Mr. John’s Sinclair’s secretary Fiona as to what was happening next week. She was to fly to Melbourne to do a story about a weekend festival of healing about to take place and the apparently miraculous cures that were happening in a small church in Frankston. Joanne had a brief handwritten outline in Mr. Sinclair’s hand writing with words like “opportunity” and “career expansion” in it but most of the details was coming from Fiona’s mouth. She would forward the details to the Melbourne office and a crew would go with her and do the story. She tried to take it all in; she was to fly to Melbourne across the country for a story. She didn’t bother to ask why. She looked at Fiona for an answer but she said nothing. The conspiracy of silence speaks louder than any words. She just looked down. How much did she know? John Sinclair had a way of “being out of the office” or far away when such controversial decisions were made. He was an assassin. Joanne was in no position to complain, her contract was up for renewal in a few months time and she had agreed to accept travel as part of her job description. “Travel” could mean only a few miles or all the way to Europe.

She walked away and tried not to show her anger and disappointment. This is what happens often to attractive women who are strong.

 

As Joanne sat in the departure lounge waiting for her flight to leave Perth, she received a sms message from her friend Julia. It said, “you are right, Rosaline is coming next week”. The missing pieces of the jigsaw fell into place. Rosaline De Angelo was a new reporter from Melbourne Channel 9. She had long dark curly hair, an olive complexion and wore large gold or white earrings. She came to the attention of all the reporters and management in Perth when she did a report on a credit card fraud in Melbourne. The camera angle was high and as Rosaline gave the report it appeared as if she was topless. She tossed her long dark Latin hair and that just got everyone going. The production crew in Perth watched with more than a little enthusiasm when she moved a little upwards revealing that she in fact was wearing a cocktail dress. Rumors abounded that Rosaline De Angelo was coming to Perth and now it seemed to be true. She was probably given more scope to broaden her experience in Perth. John Sinclair would try and broaden her experience. In this business, for women, beauty still counts.

 

The flight was a little bumpy and Joanne decided to take out her manila folder and look at her notes as the plane made its way across the continent towards Melbourne.
She felt the man next to her just by his body language was going to start some small talk. He kept looking at her and moving around. He was looking at her manila folder. She put some earplugs in her ears and connected them to her ipod. She pretended to turn it on. It worked, he was looking elsewhere. She opened the folder and had a quick look at her assignment.

In front of her was a photocopied article from a newspaper and some A4 notes attached. The article showed the photograph of a smiling Mrs. Lockington, “kicking up” her heels.  She was 82 years of age and had arthritis in her left leg since she was 38. Now she was completely cured of arthritis not only in her leg, but also in all of her body. Apparently after 44 years of pain she had been cured of arthritis not by any medication, but by prayer and the work of the Frankston Inner healing group of St.Luke’s Church. The article went onto say that Mrs. Lockington’s condition was a direct result of demon possession in her body, rather than any other biological condition. Mrs. Lockington was in perfect health; the story went on, until she was 38 years of age.  It was 1962 being married to a truck driver Mrs. Lockington became lonely and missed her husband while he was away driving interstate. When he did come home, she felt the love in their marriage was gone and she no longer had feelings for him. During one of his long road trips she had an affair with a man who was a mutual friend. She loved him so much and was considering leaving her husband. What transpired then is not what Mrs. Lockington had expected. Her husband returned home early one day from his trip after resigning from his job. He had been thinking about the strain his job had put on his marriage and he decided to quit. He was going to concentrate on being a driver only on a daily basis. Mrs. Lockington did not know what to say and so said nothing.

 To her surprise her husband became more loving and found a job as a bus driver with more acceptable shifts. Mrs. Lockington was now torn between her husband and the man who had been her lover. She no longer saw her lover and he made no attempt to contact her. Wondering what was taking place in both of her men’s minds was tormenting her. She became ill and was hospitalized. Her husband blamed himself for her attack of “nerves”. He promised he would be a good husband if she would just give him a second chance. She considered it, and then decided she would give her husband a second chance. She didn’t tell him about her affair and she was discharged from hospital with a slight arthritic pain in her left leg. Her mother also had arthritis so this was nothing unusual. The arthritis did not go away.

On May 2nd 2006, Mr. Lockington was taken to hospital after a heart attack. He lay in Frankston public hospital on the edge of death, drifting in and out of consciousness. He had been a loving husband since he had given up his long distance truck driving. Mrs. Lockington came to the conclusion that he really did love her; it was the stress of the job that had strained him and their relationship. She felt guilty that she had the affair and felt guilty that she had not told him. Now that he was on death’s door she agonized whether to tell him and ask for forgiveness or allow him not to know leaving her in terrible conflict. She didn’t have too long to think about it because he passed away that night when she had gone home to rest.

Mrs. Lockington drank celery juice, rubbed the oil in her hip and leg and began drinking Penny Wort tea because she had heard it was good for arthritis. One doctor said that at 82 she shouldn’t expect the condition to disappear. She renewed her faith and began attending the Anglican Church serves again. She spoke to her reverend Charles Torney and he suggested the inner healing group. With prayer the arthritis left Mrs. Lockington instantaneously. It left because her demon of guilt left. The comment “demon of guilt” was made by the intercessor Robert Hills. The article then finished off that a healing weekend would be held next week for all those in need of healing to attend. “Intercessor” is an interesting word; Exorcist.

Joanne flipped the article behind her A4 notes and looked at the article about Robert Hills from another newspaper. It showed a picture of a man about 30 years of age seated on a park garden bench. He had neat cut short hair swept to the side like an American college boy. He was wearing a black t shirt, blue jeans and white tennis shoes.  He looked like so many other young men except for the look on his face. He had a stare; an intensity not found in the face of young men very often, like the photographic session was of great inconvenience to him. It was a black and white photo but she could tell that his eyes must be blue.

The article told how Robert Hills was a nutritionist then “suddenly” he had become interested in spiritual healing. This occurred over 6 months ago, and in that time he and his group had healed a great deal of people in the Frankston area, many suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses. The story probably would not have even made it to the papers except for the fact that the healing weekend was approaching.

Joanne flipped the article and had a sheet of “links”. She had written the name of the movie “The Exorcist” as well as the names of some occult websites. She also had some references to the Melbourne office who could help her build her story if need be. She knew very well that modern TV. journalism wasn’t about information it was about entertainment. She also knew she was in a catch 22 situation. If she did a poor job on this story, she would have to stay in Melbourne, to “develop more”. If she did a good job, then her skills would be self evident and she would need to stay in Melbourne where she would be of great value. She didn’t want to stay in Melbourne, she was a Perth girl, her family was in Perth but there was little she could do. She knew right from the time she left college that attractive women become TV. Journalists or anchorwomen. She was ahead of most in her class in terms of looks and she knew it. She was the flavor of the month until she rejected her boss and Rosaline De Angelo came along. Her boss now had a desire for the woman of Italian descent. If she became pregnant or ugly then she would drop down and then Joanne would come up. This healing weekend was a minor story for television but it was a major story of Joanne’s life.

She put her notes away as she felt a slight change in the pressure in her ears. The plane must have been descending. It started to feel bumpy and she was still cold. She looked at her watch and it was another 15 minutes to landing. She took the ear phones out of her ears and put the ipod away.

“Are you here to see friends”? The man beside her asked. She looked at him and he was smiling broadly.

“No I am here for work” Joanne replied

“Oh what do you do”? The man asked again.

Joanne thought about it for a moment. She could have lied, said anything but she felt it wouldn’t end the conversation no matter what she said.

“I work for channel 9”

“Wow that would be a good job, what do you actually do….”

For the first time in her life, Joanne couldn’t wait to be in Melbourne.

 

 

 

Chapter 2

While Joanne was still in the sky flying towards Melbourne, Bruce Cartwright had just finished delivering the “Frankston Leader” in his area. It was the local paper, and even though it didn’t pay well, Bruce was happy to deliver it in his area as a second job. He was a stocky man, 35 years of age. He had shoulder length brown hair and a moustache. As he approached his block of flats in Petrie Street Frankston, he was tired and cold but satisfied he had completed his deliveries. He had one newspaper left and that was for him.

The flat where Bruce lived was a very average place.  A row of 10 flats made with grey concrete bricks with white painted window frames and guttering. It would have been a nice place about 20 years ago, but now it looked run down and unkept. The white paint was chipped and flaking off the wooden frames and you could see patches of grass growing here and there in the spouting. It was home for single mothers, alcoholics, people with other addictions, non-English speaking immigrants and an ex prisoner like Bruce. He didn’t have much of a choice where to live with a history of assault and indecent assault. He had the flat closest to the street. You could see the Venetian blinds in the lounge room were crooked, stuck, un able to fall properly to the bottom of the windowsill in a nice level pattern. Bruce didn’t care and no one else did either.

It had just finished raining and it was cold. Melbourne was having a cold and wet spring like it used to have before the drought started approx. 6 years ago. Melbourne residents had been getting used to sunny winter days when inexplicable the cold weather had returned. It was windy too, the cool window whipped around the long brown hair of Bruce Cartwright. His two jobs, one as a street sweeper and the other as a walker was helping him to trim down a little. Being a street sweeper was ok. He pushed “the green machine” around, a motorized sweeper for the City of Greater Dandenong. He was grateful for the work and so far it was steady.

 It was dark as Bruce felt the handle of the old fly wire door and pulled it open with a loud squeak. He felt around for the keyhole and then put his key in to unlock the door. The security light globe needed replacing but he didn’t really need it.

 

Bruce entered the flat and turned on the lounge room light. The weak yellow bulb showed a very Spartan apartment. He had an old green vinyl couch which he got for free from the Salvation Army and a brown chair, which he sat in to watch TV. It was an old TV. And had a cheap internal aerial on it shaped in the typical “v” pattern. There were no photographs or magazines lying around just an old bible on the coffee table.

 He put the heater on in the lounge room and went to the kitchen to put the kettle on.

In the kitchen the weak yellow light illuminated a sparsely decorated kitchen. He had a small bar refrigerator, which is all he needed, and a few pots and pans. In the cupboards there was little crockery and cutlery. Even though he was on his own his flat was Spartan, but he saw no need to buy what he considered non-essentials.

He made himself a cup of Jasmine tea. He had acquired a taste for it recently then sat back down to read the local paper he had been delivering. He opened it up and began scanning. He looked at the photos and headlines mainly. Only a few months ago he would have had difficulty even doing that, as he was semi illiterate in the past. Not much attracted his attention until page 6.

In the bottom right hand corner was an advertisement for the healing weekend to be held off the Mornington Peninsula freeway, near Rutherford exit.  Bruce got up and took a large pair of scissors from one of the drawers in the kitchen and put it on the newspaper by the advertisement. He read the advertisement again slowly, carefully. He ran the words through his mind…. a weekend of healing and prayer…donation only…” He looked at the advertisement one more time and thought about it carefully. Yes, he thought, he would go to that and began cutting the advertisement out with the large scissors.

It was just before Christmas the previous year when Bruce Cartwright saw Robert Hills and 2 other men from the Anglican Church as they visited the Port Phillip Prison in Laverton. Bruce could see them at the end of the corridor in the distance. Through the bars of his prison cell with his arms out of the bar, his hands clasped casually together, he watched Robert Hills and the two older men walk slowly by in the corridor. Bruce thought Robert looked like a spoilt pansy college boy and he just wanted to smash his face in. He had heard they had come down to do some counseling over the next few days for prisoners who had nominated for such a service. Bruce had not volunteered. He watched them walk away then sat back on his bed.  He couldn’t believe they were here.

Later Bruce heard some murmuring coming from the other end of the corridor so he thought he would check it out. He went back to the bars of his cell and looked to the far right of the corridor. It seemed like the group were blessing one of the prisoners, Jack, mad Jack. He could see the hand movements, the closed eyes, the sign of the cross being made in the air and the murmuring coming from him while Robert Hills and the other 2 men stood by, eyes closed. Bruce couldn’t take it any more.

“Hey, he doesn’t need a prayer, he needs a miracle” He yelled out in their direction. The older man continued to pray but Robert Hills and the other man looked in his direction.

“It’s all bullshit, there is no God here man” Bruce yelled out. The three men continued to pray for Jack and Bruce kept interjecting. There was then a moment of silent prayer. Robert Hills slowly approached Bruce, who was still standing and looking down the corridor.

“What, got something to say?”!!!

“Peace be with you”. Robert Hills said quietly and politely.

“You are full of shit. There is no peace here, this is a jail, and God is not hearing any of us” Bruce said angrily.

“You don’t believe that do you”? Robert enquired.

“Yes asshole, don’t come in here and tell me about God” He snarled.

“Are you a Christian”? Enquired Robert

“I’m nothing I’m in jail and there is jack shit you can do about it” Bruce replied.

“Well that is not true, we can help you” Robert said as his companions now joined him and both were looking at him intently.

“There is no God, and if you were me you would believe that too. There is nothing you can do, you can’t set me free, and I am stuck here for another 8 months and that is it. All this teaching and talking is all bullshit. You come here with your fancy talk its all bullshit this religion crap. Why don’t you just piss off” He said angrily. There was moment of silence. Both Robert and his companion were staring intently at him.

“Are you scared of me”? Robert enquired.

“You, me scared of you, you fucking worm, I will smash your face in you piece of shit”.

Bruce yelled his right fist clenched and putting it close to his own face.

“Tomorrow at 10am, we will be here again; would you like us to pray for you”?!! Robert enquired.

“Up yours” Bruce replied.

“You are scared” Robert said with a smile.

“I am not scared of you pretty boy”

“Good, do you want a healing session now”? Robert replied

“What…healing what,…no I don’t want any of that shit”!

“Good we will make an appointment with you tomorrow 10 am, ok, tough guy….we shall see how tough you are”.

Bruce just stared at them both as they turned away and continued to walk down the hallway. He had nothing more to say, because he was afraid.

10 a.m. came slowly. As he sat on the toilet bowl in his cell, he felt like he was going to see a dentist. Bruce got very little sleep that night. He kept tossing a few things in his mind. The incident yesterday had disturbed him. He was not accustomed to some one not being scared of him. Robert had come to him quietly and with out insult had been kind to him and challenged him. He was calm and confident. Bruce was now tired and confused. He didn’t know what to expect, what would happen to him, how he would react.

That morning while having breakfast, he noticed the other prisoners were looking at him a bit differently. Some looked ashamed some just smiled but most looked at him curiously. Bruce could refuse to go, say to the correctional staff that he officially didn’t consent and therefore the appointment was against his will, but then he would look like a coward in front of the other men. He couldn’t have that, he needed to be strong.

 

At 10.10am he heard the footsteps coming to his cell. They were the footsteps of 4 burly correction officers in blue over alls. They stopped at his cell door. They had their utility belts on including plastic wrist ties. Bruce just looked at them. They stared at him back. Bruce stood up and walked to the cell door as they commenced to open it. He felt like he was going to be executed. They said nothing. He turned his back to them. He knew the procedure; he had to be handcuffed with plastic ties to be escorted to an interview room. He was a dangerous prison, maximum security, and no chances were taken with him. He felt the plastic ties go around his wrists tightly; the correctional staff did this through the cell bars. He heard the door open. He was supposed to step out of his cell, not they come in, that would still be dangerous to the correctional officers. Bruce could still use his feet and head. He played the game and stepped out. He started walking to the interview room.

 

When the door to one of the interview rooms opened, Bruce was surprised to see Robert Hill sitting at the table with a woman old large enough to be his grandmother. Her name was “Elsie” as she had it on her visitor badge. She looked about 70 and had large glasses. She smiled and so did Robert. Robert was dressed in a black suit, white shirt and dark tie. He had a gold necklace outside his shirt. He looked like a Mormon preacher. Elsie was dressed in a simple purple polo neck jumper, and black skirt. She had a gold crucifix on her ample bosom. Behind them was a video camera on a stand. There was a seat for Bruce. He stood for a moment. The room was vivid white. It looked like a prison interview room. It looked like a hospital psychotic wardroom. It looked like a room where there was a lot of pain and suffering. It was sterile clean and but unhealthy. It was devoid of warmth.

“Please sit down” Robert said and indicated the chair. Robert sat down. The guards stood behind him and he heard the door close. His hands were still tied and would remain that way. He was a violent man.

“This is Elsie; she is an intercessor and deliverer at the Frankston church”

“Hello Robert” she said with a German Dutch accent.

“Inter what, deliverer what”??  Bruce thought. He didn’t reply. Robert indicated the video camera that was aiming at Bruce.

“We have a camera here that will record the session. You can refuse this appointment and refuse to be video taped, that is your right. Do you wish to proceed?” Robert asked

“What are you going to do”? Bruce said in a confused voice.

“We are going to pray for you” Elsie said.

Bruce thought about it then laughed. Robert and Elsie smiled.

“Really”?? He said.

“Yes,” Robert replied.

“Ok, Bruce replied. “You can turn the video on”

“It is already on”

“What, what would have happened if I had said no?”

“We would turn it off” Robert replied.

“Yeah but you would already have it on.” Bruce said

“We need to record your consent to tape; do we have your consent”? Robert said

“Yeah” Bruce said half laughing…Ok, lets do it.  Is it going to hurt?”

There was a long pause.

“We hope not Bruce” Elsie said.

Bruce laughed again, “Ok, I am ready” he said.

“Are you sure?” Robert asked.

“Yeah” He said.

“I am so glad to hear it” Robert replied. There was a long pause.

 

“Close your eyes Bruce as we pray for you” Robert said.

Bruce closed his eyes and heard Elsie’s voice in a calm manner.

“Lord bless us here today. We are here in the name of Jesus to pray for the deliverance of Bruce your son. Guide us and let your holy spirit enter the room and us. Let it guide us and fill us with your love and wisdom. Amen.”

“Amen” Robert concluded.

After a moment Robert spoke in a more authoritative voice.

“In the name of Jesus, I saw to all emissaries of the evil one who may be here. I command you to leave. I claim this space, this time, this people for the Lord Jesus Christ and forbid any activity by any satanic beings.”

Elsie then added “ I claim protection in the name of Jesus Christ for each one of us or families our friends our property, our finances, our health and everything else that pertains to us from any revenge or other dirty tricks from the enemy.”

In a louder voice “In the name of Jesus, I cut off any spirits inside this person from any help they might get from outside spirits or from any others inside the person. I forbid any spirits inside this person to cause any violence any throwing up or other showy behavior” There was a long pause. Bruce felt his wrist ties get a little tighter.

“I bless your conception, Bruce, God wanted you, and Jesus wanted you. Go back to the womb Bruce” Elsie’s voice spoke gently. “What are you feeling,”?

For a moment Bruce didn’t know what to say but he did feel warm with this game so he said, “I feel warm.”

“Thank you Jesus, I bless you in the womb, now we move to you being one month old I bless you at one month old Bruce, Jesus blesses you at one month” Elsie continued in a smooth soothing voice. She continued talking and Bruce was finding that he was going back in time, remembering his fetus state at 8months. He wanted to be aloof from it all but his feelings suddenly emerged.

“I feel sad….. I feel sad…” Bruce said in a voice with feeling that surprised him.

“Why Bruce”? Robert asked. After more than 20 seconds.

“My mum didn’t want me…she didn’t want me…. I know she didn’t I can feel it and she told me later, she wanted an abortion but it was too late.”

“Jesus blesses you. Give your feelings to Jesus. He was there, he knew how you were, ask him to bless you and protect you. He loves you” Robert said in a calm soothing voice and for the first time since he was about 8 years old, Bruce felt warm streams of tears flowing down his cheeks. He found it hard to stop these emotions. He didn’t think where he was or who was watching he was crying and he couldn’t stop.

The tears poured and fell on his lap. His hands were tied and he couldn’t wipe them. He continued into the session, Jesus blessing his birth and his infant years. He was aware his mother was troubled but as a young boy he didn’t know what it was. He was a happy boy and had many friends. He went to a government school but occasionally went to church with his aunty. He believed in God. He grew up on a farm in Gippsland which was full of happiness until he was eight.

As the intercession stopped at 8, Bruce became restless. He started to squirm in the chair and making grunting noises.

“I forbid any violence, throwing up or other showy behavior in the name of Jesus Christ. I forbid any spirits inside this person from any help they may get from outside spirits or from any others inside the person.” Robert said in a more authoritative voice.

Bruce calmed down. After a moment in a weak voice.

“I was walking in a park, and a man called out to me.”

“Why,”? Elsie said.

“He had some chocolate and a red toy car. He asked me to come over. He told me his name was Mr. Henry. He gave me the chocolate. I unwrapped it and he had some two. He then pulled my pants down and I thought he was going to strap me or hit me with a piece of wood. I waited……….”

There was a long pause… I felt something go in my ass, I felt his arms on my shoulders, and it was hurting.” There was a long pause.

“I didn’t think something like that could happen to a boy.”

“Was it your fault Bruce”? Elsie said softly.”!!

There was no reply from Bruce.

“No I mean was it your fault he did that to you”? Elsie said

“…he said it was”

“It was not your fault Bruce, you didn’t deserve that” Robert said gently, “Jesus was there, can you see him.”

“No, no” Bruce said.

“Look behind you” Robert said.

Bruce was shocked, surprised. He started breathing deeply.

“He is behind me, I could see him, I turned around” He said.

“Give your pain to Jesus, let him take it from you, in the name of Jesus your pain is gone, he takes your suffering. You are forgiven” Robert said soothingly. Bruce shook for a moment and for the first time since he was that little boy he said “Help me Jesus…. please help”

As the inner healing continued the layers of Bruce’s early life were peeled back exposed and healed.

 He ran home that day to his mother and wanted to tell her what had happened, but she was lying on the couch drunk and asleep. She often did that when his father was not home. The Police had been to his house before but he didn’t know why. He thought if he complained the bad man Henry would call the Police and he would go to a boy’s home. He went to his room, in pain and cried.

From that moment on, he had a troubled life moving from victim of crime to perpetrator of crime. He assaulted schoolboys then men then women because of anger then he did it for money. He thought he could be some big time hit man but he wasn’t lucky and clever enough. He was arrested and sent to jail. He was still lucky, the magistrate was told only a little of what he had done so it was an eight month sentence.

 During the inner healing session the correction officers were entitled to take a break but didn’t. They were captivated by what they were seeing and didn’t want to miss it for anything.

After an hour of tears, sadness and exposition Bruce sat there hunched over with his wrists still tied. He sat there quietly.

“Anger, are you there”? Robert said in a gentle soothing voice. There was no response.

“In the name of Jesus I command you to speak to me anger”, Robert said.

“Yes I am here”!! Bruce said in a voice that was strong, and evil.

“How long have you been there”? Robert said

“Along time, a very long time “Bruce said raising his head.

“How many generations “Robert asked

“I came with his mother and I stayed”.

“In the name of Jesus Christ I order you to leave Bruce now, I forbid any violence or any act that will embarrass Bruce” Robert said casually.

Bruce had a look of confusion on his face then burped.

“In the name of Jesus Christ I order you to leave Bruce and get in the box, or I will have the angels descend and force you in…”

“I am in the box, I know about the box.” Bruce said.

“Good, now in the name of Jesus Christ I order all your evil spirits, helpers to leave Bruce and go into their boxes.” Robert added.

There was a moment of silence. Bruce sat up tall, he looked confused.

“Are you there, guilt”? Robert enquired.

“I don’t want to go not him, not now,” Bruce said.

“In the box you go guilt and never return in the name of Jesus Christ.”

There was not a sound or movement.

“Angels of the Lord strike the evil spirit with your swords….”

“Alright, I am going, I am going.” Bruce replied.

In the name of Jesus Christ I forbid your return to Bruce, his family or anyone close to him or us. I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to stay in the box. The boxes are now to be thrown in the fire made by the angels, never to return. I forbid any other spirits to take their place or to enter the life of Bruce and his family. In the name of Jesus I ask the holy spirit to fill…”

“Oh…my nose… my leg… “Bruce said in a surprised voice. He opened his eyes and looked up at them.

“My nose isn’t blocked, my leg is loose”

“That is the holy spirit Bruce. You are cleansed of evil and we ask the Holy Spirit to enter into your heart, mind, spirit and soul,” Elsie said.

“Say the Lord’s prayer Bruce…Our father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name…” Robert started then Elsie repeated over again. Bruce joined in after they had repeated it three times. He looked up at the ceiling and opened his mouth. He laughed and then a tear streamed down his right eye. There was a long period of silence

“Yes, thank you…I was not alone…. I am not alone”

“You are never alone Bruce, Jesus is there with you and he is going to show you a better life” Elsie said.

There was a moment of silence as Bruce closed his eyes. He moved his head slightly from side to side.

“It is so clear to me now…. my nose is clear”

“We will continue to pray for you Bruce and you can pray to. Jesus has now entered your life and he wants to listen to you and guide you” Robert said.

After another round of prays for Bruce, a total of almost 2 hours had passed. When Bruce was led away from the interview room he was smiling as if he had been drugged. His eyes were glazed and he walked slowly back to his cell. When there his wrist ties had to be cut off and when they were he sat slowly on the edge of his bed. Even the experienced correction officers had never seen anything like this before.  Robert then gave him a soft pocket book version of the New Testament. Bruce read it. He was semi literate but it didn’t stop him. Each night the words seemed clearer and he read it faster. The words were no longer obstacles, but flowed easily.

Within 3 months he was released from prison and given a job as a street sweeper. His nose was no longer congested and his left leg felt loose and flexible. These were two conditions he had since he was very young. He felt lighter, younger and happier because a great burden had been lifted from his body.

He couldn’t share this experience with anyone he knew, they would not understand or believe him but he was now a new man. He could start afresh as if he was 7 years old a time before the spirits of anger, disgust and guilt had taken over his mind and body. He would never perform an evil act again. He had Jesus by his side and he was not afraid to work an honest job or afraid to live. He would choose to walk away from evil. He was now a convert, another saved soul to add to God’s army.

 

 

Chapter 3

As Joanne Thompson went to collect her luggage at the baggage claim, she was aware of the cold. She saw the Melbournians with coats on some of them wet greeting loved ones as they claimed their luggage. Melbourne was having a wet winter and Spring, to make up for the last 6 years of drought. As she waited patiently to get her luggage she noticed some youths looking at her. They probably recognized her. She looked down. The last thing she wanted was to say hello to strangers.

When the sliding doors open, she was unprepared for the cold and wet. The wind was strong and it blew the rain at a low angle that caused water droplets to hit her with intensity. She saw a man in the distance try to open his umbrella but the swirling wind crumpled it up. He ran quickly to the available taxi and got it. It was her turn and she walked towards the next approaching taxi. She heard the distinctive sound of the tires on the wet road as the yellow taxi came and stopped for her.

In an instant a smiling middle-aged Pakistan male taxi driver emerged and quickly ran to her to pack her luggage in the back. He wouldn’t have moved so fast for a male passenger. He probably wouldn’t have moved at all, just popped the rear and have the man put his own luggage in. Joanne could feel her hair being blown wildly, the cold wind against her legs. The taxi driver quickly put her bags in. Joanne got in the back seat of the car.

In side the taxi, it was warm and smelt of new plastic. When the driver got in the car it was very quiet. The car was pleasantly insulated from the bad weather.

“Ambassador Hotel Nepean Highway Frankston” Joanne said.

He smiled but before he could even drive off, she handed him a note with hand drawn instructions how to get there, via the freeway Mentone, not all the way on Nepean Highway, that would add 20 minutes more on the trip. The driver looked at it and took it all in.

“Freeway, not Nepean Highway all the way”. Joanne said.

He nodded. It was just as well, he was going to go to Nepean Highway and clock up extra fare.

The trip from Melbourne’s Tullamarine international airport to Frankston is over an hour. For a Perth woman this is a long trip and she watched the endless procession of city lights flash by her rear passenger window. Every so often the wind howled and the rain was constant. It is generally a soothing sound but not tonight for Joanne. With the time difference between Perth and Melbourne it was almost midnight and she didn’t feel like being in a taxi for about an hour but she had little choice. She wanted to rest her head against the window and maybe close her eyes, but she was not alone and couldn’t do that. The taxi made its way towards Melbourne and it was all a blur of lights through the water droplets of the passenger window. She saw the Crown casino, the Yarra River then highways, car after car. She felt alone, cold and even a little scared. She couldn’t let her guard down.

After traveling for about 45 minutes Joanne was happy to see the large “Frankston” sign indicating the beginning of the freeway and even more happy to see her driver take the turn. She was getting sick of the trip by now and was looking forward to getting to the hotel. The rain was easing but still present. The wipers occasionally wiped the rain away on the slow setting. Alongside the Mornington Peninsula freeway, was blackness and Joanne was surprised that it was so dark, only a flicker here and there in the distance on both sides of houses. When she saw the “Thompson road” exit she looked more carefully but saw little except the road bridge. After a moment she saw “Rutherford Road” exit and then the car zipped by. She saw nothing but blackness but this is where the healing weekend was to be held in 2 days time. On the street directory it is a barren landscape and from the car at night at least that is how it appeared. She would have to return there in the next day or so to get some background footage.

When the taxi arrived at the main reception door of the Ambassador Motel, Joanne was relieved. The wind was still howling and the rain was still heavy. The Ambassador Motel was a red brick hotel/motel straight from the 1970s. It was home for now and Joanne was at least happy to be off the road. It had been a long trip and it was dangerous to be on the road in such weather.

When Joanne opened the door of her room number 17 she was pleasantly surprised. The concierge brought in her luggage and put it neatly by the feet of her double bed. He left her in peace. The walls were a creamy yellow color, warm, cozy very intimate, very Melbourne. The white curtains were a quaint touch framing the cottage type windows. The motel was not attempting to be pretentious by being an ultra modern style motel, nor was it a neglected building from the past. It was not the most exclusive motel but it was convenient for her and in the big suburb of Frankston.

Joanne slowly unpacked her bags and looked for her favorite track pants and top. They were maroon in color, nothing fancy but she loved wearing them when it was cold. She would have a busy day ahead tomorrow so she might as well turn in soon. She opened the drapes a little and looked outside. She had a view of Nepean highway. The window was howling and flags, which she didn’t recognize, were blowing wildly in the wind. Their rope and metal clamps were tapping furiously at the metal poles. She could not see the ocean but she knew it was behind the houses on the highway. The cold wind and rain against the window made her feel lonely and sad. She was a Perth girl and this was not her type of city or weather. This was her punishment for disagreeing with her manager. He had used her “travel” clause in her contract to send her away to the edge of the country to the edge of a large city to do a story that could have been covered by the Melbourne office, if at all. A tear came to her eye. Was this the beginning of the end of her on air TV? Career. She was only 25, and each year the girls get better looking and more obedient. What would happen to her now?

She closed the drapes and put a bedside lamp on. It gave out a gentle glow in the room. She didn’t like complete darkness.

 

As Joanne was ready to go to bed, sad and miserable, Father O’ Shea was seated in his favorite chair by the window in his room in the St.Monica’s vicarage complex in Robinson street Moonee Ponds. The dark red brick building was somber almost forbidding. It was next to St.Monica’s boy’s school, which has stood proudly since 1919.

 

Father O’Shea was seated in his humble room. Above his bed a simple brown cross. On the bedside table, next to his bed, the warm glow of the lamp illuminated the room. In another corner was a small fan heater that blew warm air gently through out the room. Behind it was a small open bookshelf with many books. Against one wall, was a chest of drawers, burgundy in color, old and solid that contained shirts and a few odds and ends of stationery that belonged to Father O’Shea. On top of that, on a white folded tablecloth stood a medium sized color television set. On the other side was a standing cupboard the same color with a photograph of Father O, Shea with the Pope John Paul the second. It was taken in 1986 when Father O’Shea went on his official visit to the Vatican.

To the left of the contents of this room was the window where Father O’Shea sat. The humble room didn’t reflect the imposing man that was Father O’Shea. He was 66 years old, but age had not mellowed him. He still didn’t wear reading glasses. He was solid. His reddish yellow hair was just beginning to go grey.

 

He sat reading a biography of Bob Santa Maria, the man who made religion a political issue in Australia and kept the Australian Labor Party out of office for more than 20 years. From his chair he had a view of a large big tree, that’s all, but he liked it when he heard the birds sing. He was a retired priest and an Edmund Rice Christian Brother teacher. He had been a priest at St.Monica’s Catholic church and a part time teacher at the boys Primary School for more than 40 years. He was past retirement age but still took a few classes a month. He chose to live on the premises of St.Monica’s because he felt comfortable there and hade had been there for such a long time. He was a pleasant looking man, almost stereotypical of an elderly, cheery Irish priest, but things were different years ago.

The Christian brothers of the Edmund Rice order wore black shirts and trousers in summer and a long waist robe in winter. Right up until the late 1970s he carried a leather strap about a foot long, in one of his long sleeves. When he walked the corridors of St. Bernard’s or patrolled the schoolyard of St. Monica’s boys Primary school not far away, the boys stopped their misbehaving. He strapped often, the Christian brothers were known for that and their no nonsense approach to education in general. Father O’Shea was no different.  He was a disciplinarian then and age had mellowed him only a little.

 

He was happy because over the last few weeks he felt he was feeling the pendulum swinging away from faddist secularism to what he considered good old-fashioned Christian values. The invitation to attend the weekend healing in Frankston was just what he was looking for. He would grab the curls of boy’s hair and say “Get a hair cut”. He had seen it all, and heard it all, from what women now wanted, to boys being in touch with their feminine side. The voices of protest waned and faded over the years. He was glad the studies now were beginning to say co educational schools were not necessarily good for boys and that most boys now saw the silliness and vanity of having long hair. He had weathered the secular onslaught against the Catholic church of the 1970s and 80s, and come through on the other side. His faith was unshaken and he stood strong against the accusations of the irrelevance of religion .He was a man of unquestionable conscience and talent. He was not only a good teacher and a faithful follower of Christ, but also a demon slayer.

The devil hates men of strength of character and there was no one he was more afraid of within the Melbourne Metropolitan area than Father O’Shea. There was no chink in his armor that the devil could exploit. Father O’Shea did not yearn to fondle women or boys. His greatest fantasy was to play football and wished he had the ability at his age to still go out there and kick the ball like they did. The devil can’t manipulate a man like that, quite the opposite. Father O’Shea had attended more than his fair share of house blessings, exorcisms and deliverances as a young priest that he got to be very good at it. Archbishop Little asked him to be head brother or teacher of the intervention group of Melbourne which he was happy to do so.

 

Many deliverances or exorcisms were now being done in a subtle way but subtle was not Father O’Shea’s style. He demanded they left their victims and gave them such a verbal dressing down they left with all their emissaries in a hurry. He wrote the book “The devil is real” and it became a favorite of John Paul the second. It was not only based on the many exorcisms that Father O’Shea had performed but also on the quintessential Christian belief and doctrine that evil has an origin and a master. The Pope was impressed by the work. It seemed old fashioned at the time to blame so much of the world’s problems on the work of Satan, but the fundamentalist Pope was of the belief the devil was as active today as he was in biblical times.

Father O’Shea was irritated by much of the modern explanations of mental illness and psychotic behavior. It was as if the solution to the problem was the calming of a sea rather than building a stronger boat. After more than 40 years in God’s service he could tell the difference between a man looking for attention and the work of demons.

 

He saw a program on TV. a few weeks ago about the battle of David and Goliath mentioned in the Bible. Long regarded as a myth the documentary from the BBC explored the biblical encounter from a scientific point to determine its validity. It was long regarded as a myth because of the description of Goliath being 3 meters tall. This would make Goliath approx. 9 feet tall in imperial measurement, something that was considered to be unlikely. The program however highlighted the fact that the Dead Sea scrolls mentioned that Goliath’s height was only 2 meters tall. This would make Goliath approx 6 feet 8 inches tall in imperial measurement, a more realistic figure. Add to that the fact that the city of Garth where Goliath was from had a recorded history of tall men and the myth was now reality.

It appeared to Father O’Shea that science rather than disproving the Bible was now confirming so much of it. The movie Jurassic Park detailed how cloning of dinosaurs could take place by taking the blood from a mosquito which had become fossilized in tree sap all those millions of years ago. The theory being that the mosquito sat on the dinosaur and sucked some blood from it. It then sat on a tree bark when it became trapped in sticky tree sap and became fossilized. It was almost twenty years since that movie was made and there were still no dinosaurs being cloned. Modern scientists had difficulty cloning a sheep yet alone a dinosaur. DNA that was supposed to unlock the mystery of creation, led to more questions than answers. It revealed that we were so unique, even members of the same family were biologically different, that we were further away from primates than expected, our so-called ancestors.

 

Father O’Shea had felt in his heart that man was still God’s creation and didn’t feel the pressure over the last 2 decades to dismiss the book of Genesis or refer to God as “She” because it upset feminists to think God is male. As for the word “Gay” being used to describe homosexuals was certainly not his cup of tea either. To use such a word to describe sodomites was not correct. The church could not accept such sinners knowingly and willingly in its flock as parishioners yet alone clergy, according to Father O’Shea.

He had been faithful to the scriptures and it was this strength that was his armor against Satan. He felt the 1960s generation was fading into insignificance and their immoral and wicked ways had caught up with them. They were demanding to be healthy, young and promiscuous only to find that they were now ageing like everyone else and were facing their own mortality just like every other generation before them. They first tried to live with out God, then they tried to out smart him. Now they knew they could not live without him. God had won, Father O’ Shea had won. God was right and good, Father O,Shea was right and good. He would go to the healing weekend and save those who wanted to be saved. Hallelujah.

 

 

Chapter 4

It was a cold, wet morning in Frankston but the wind had subsided. It was Wednesday, middle of the week, a nothing day. Robert Hill sat in the ABC bookshop café drinking his English breakfast tea. It was 10am, quiet, and classical music was being piped through the shop, which he liked. He disliked noise, especially now since it was school holidays and the children and their mothers would be everywhere in the shopping center especially the food court. He wanted to think to be reflective, to be still, and to pray. In his mind he was conversing with God, thanking him for the opportunity to run the healing weekend with many members of different Christian dominations. He was running it through his mind what more needed to be done.  In three days the weekend of healing would begin and he wanted it to be as success.

 

He had first suggested the idea to his parish priest the Reverend John Fletcher who in turn mentioned it to the Synod. From there the ball rolled quickly. Robert had expected resistance but received very little. Why wasn’t there much resistance? It is difficult to say. Maybe the different factions thought they should work with each other as they had the love of Jesus in common. Maybe it was the desire to combat the publicity of the conspiracy theory book “The Da Vinci code”, or maybe the Holy Spirit working, or a combination of all three, but it was organized. He had wanted a healing place like Lourdes and Fatima where people could come together in this case on a weekend to pray for health and happiness. Maybe if it went well, it could be an ongoing event, he would have to wait and see.     

 

As he looked around the bookstore he heard this mobile phone in his left front trouser pocket, ring. He grabbed it quickly and noticed the old cafeteria lady look at him quickly in a disapproving way. As he took the phone from his pocket he looked at the phone number on his display screen and didn’t recognize it.

“Hello” he said.

“Is this Robert Hill?” The female voice on the other end said.

“Yes, that’s me” Robert replied.

“Hello, this is Joanne Thomson from Channel 9 news, we would like to interview this afternoon if it is possible about the healing weekend.”Joanne said. He knew they were going to call; he gave the reverend his number.

“Ok.” Robert replied.

“Fantastic, how about 2pm at St.Luke’s in Frankston”? She enquired.

“That is fine with me” Robert replied.

“Ok. We shall see you at that time and that location.” She said.

“O.k, bye for now” Robert finished.

“Bye” she concluded.

Robert turned off the phone. He said it was fine with him but it was far from fine.

He didn’t want to be interviewed by a television crew with their tight schedules and superficial, scandalous reporting. He didn’t want his spiritual thoughts or concepts simplified into quick headlines or edited into catchy one-liners, but he knew he had little control of that. He felt that television reporters were creating news rather than reporting. How could they possibly understand the transition he had been through over the last twelve months and how could that be conveyed in a quick television interview?

 

It was July 1995 when a twenty-year-old Robert Hill had attended St.Francis’Church Lonsdale Street Melbourne with his Catholic girl friend Samantha Riley. He didn’t want to go; he was an Anglican and a very lapsed one as well. The number of times he had been to church since primary school you could count on one hand. He felt uncomfortable about the church and he felt physically uncomfortable as well. He had taken Samantha to a motel the night before in the city and had passionate sex with her. Samantha was under a lot of pressure from her parents to be a virgin before she married and of course she was under a lot of pressure from Robert to give herself to him as well. Needless to say she had done this, a few times already and she was feeling guilty.

On this particularly day, they arrived for the 10am mass. Both of them felt uncomfortable wearing the clothes they had worn the night before. Robert had not been able to shave and he noticed that his stubble had made a rash on Samantha’s face. He felt dirty in his clothes as he sat down for the service.

As the service began he wasn’t sure when to stand or sit and had to rely on Samantha to drag his hand down or lift it up. The priest who looked like the Hammer Horror film star Christopher Lee then gave his sermon.

 

Robert remembered listening to the beginning of it then losing interest. It was about the imbalance between the wealthy and the poor. It was delivered in such a boring monotone voice that Robert soon found his eyes wondering around the church, looking at the stained glass windows, the small paintings of the stations of the cross and of course the large crucifix on the back wall of the church. He noticed how realistic and gory it was, the paint that was meant to resemble blood looked realistic and the face of Jesus illustrated such pain. Robert continued to look around the church in general when he felt something delicate land on his head and shoulders. It was as if a breeze had entered the church or an air conditioner   had been turned on. The unusual thing about it was that the breeze neither felt cold or warm but gave him a happy content feeling. He couldn’t help but smile at Samantha who smiled back. He didn’t really understand what had happened but it would make sense a lot later in life.

 

It was 2004 and Robert Hill was now a nutritionist employed by the Community Health Care Centre in Springvale on a part time basis. During the course of his duties he had learnt a great deal of how different communities used different foods not only for nutrition but also medicine in times of sickness. Some of them in particular the South American and Filipinos had a strong belief in Christian healing. He found it surprising that some people thought nothing of eating well and then seeing their faith healer for treatment. Curiosity got the better of him one day and he saw an advertisement in a newspaper about the healing service of a traveling born again American evangelist Timothy Stuart touring Australia. He was holding a service in Narre Warren, it was winter, cold, and he had nothing else to do so what the heck.

 

He was late and on arrival in the Narre Warren community centre he found a medium sized hall full of singing people, swaying their arms in the air with their eyes closed. He picked up a paper hymn booklet. He was unfamiliar with the songs. He looked at it, trying to be a good sport then sat down with the others for the service.

Timothy Stuart then arrived on the small makeshift stage. He was at least 45 years of age, stocky in build with close-cropped grey hair wearing a black shirt and trousers with a grey tie. He started speaking slowly with his American accent, moving from one part of the stage to the other with the microphone in his left hand. As he spoke the crowd muttered, “Yes Lord, Hallelujah, Amen,” in response to his delivery. He then became quite animated, loud and enthusiastic in his delivery. The crowd was also acknowledging him more and more with responses of “Hallelujah “and “Amen”.

Robert thought indeed Timothy Stuart was a great speaker but so far Robert didn’t feel any compulsion to raise his hands in the air and start muttering, praying or singing.

With the crowd now standing and singing “Amazing Grace” with tremendous enthusiasm, Timothy Stuart then asked for people to come forward to receive the Lord.

 The First row went then the second, and then the third. With a swift motion of his right hand and yelling “receive Jesus”!!! the rows of people would fall down in a state of ecstasy. Robert watched them lay on the floor quivering for a couple of minutes as Timothy approached. Row after row of people fell to the ground. Some lay there in pure bliss, others were praying to themselves. Some were weeping with joy.

 

Timothy Stuart came to his row and yelled, “Receive Jesus”!!! And they all fell down on the floor around Robert, but Robert just stood there. Timothy came up to him and looked him right in the eye. Timothy Stuart had wild excited light blue eyes. He put his right hand on Robert Hill’s forehead and touched it gently. He began saying slowly, “In the name of Jesus, enter this young man’s life, he wants you to, he needs you to. If it is your will enter into this man and let him follow your path Lord”. He repeated it and Robert Hill thought for a moment Stuart was going to yell “Receive Jesus”!!! And scare Robert into collapsing. This didn’t happen, Robert just stood there listening to Timothy Stuart repeating his pray for the third time and then he found himself rigid and falling to the floor. He felt hands around him, guiding him down and then he was flat on his back.

 

He found it difficult to move his head; his eyes were wide open. He had a vague recollection of Stuart moving on but most of all he felt his arms and legs quivering .He felt warm, secure and happy .He remembered where he had felt this before, but this time on a greater scale. On both occasions he had a head as thick as a brick, resistant to what was being said around him, and to him, but somehow, God had broken through his defenses.

There must have been something special about Robert because he had not intended to receive the Lord but the Lord had other plans. As he lay there on the carpeted floor, he could feel the tears building in his eyes. He closed them and the warm tears flowed down his cheeks and into his ears. He could not remember weeping like this since he was a tiny boy, but these were not tears of pain but deep contentment and happiness. Nothing and no one ever affected him like this before, and he knew there and then that this was some God and he had a wonderful son. Robert and Jesus had found each other.

 

After that night, Robert was no longer the same man. He couldn’t get enough literature about God and the life of Jesus. He took the brochures, booklets and other reading matter on offer at this hall and read them ardently. He visited bookshops and Christian charity shops, picking up a copy of the bible, the New Testament and literature of the Jehovah’s witnesses.  Robert did not feel uncomfortable with what he was reading, rather the opposite. The literature confirmed and enhanced what he had really believed in the first place. There was no solid scientific evidence of the evolution of all species of creatures yet alone man. Robert believed if there was a long slow evolutionary process that took millions of years there would be many skeletons showing wings becoming legs or giraffes growing taller. Not enough existed to convince him that man was a creation of chance rather than design. The more he read and explored, the more he was amazed how history ran through the Bible and science was only just discovering how the book was more of a record of history rather than a book of myths. Above and beyond all of this, what really excited Robert, was the mystery of evil and sickness.

 

Robert began attending church again and enrolled in the introductory Inner Healing course conducted by the Anglican Church in Frankston. It was during this course that the threads of information and belief came together. It was during this course that he realized that the battles that take place on earth are between the forces of good and evil. He saw personally the deliverance of people afflicted with demons for years simply because the power and authority of Jesus caste them out. It became clear to him why some people are bad and why they become like that. In particular, how difficult it is for them to become good. As a nutritionist it was his job to advise people to eat well and be healthy but it had not occurred to him that spiritual health was needed as well. A depressed and low confident individual will give up healthy habits and will sabotage their efforts to progress simply because the driving force inside them needed to be healed. Self help books and courses wouldn’t help because the conflict was deep within the person  themselves.

The original sin by Adam and Eve led to our death. We sinned against God and this sin was passed on to us all. We are all susceptible to influence by demons and his leader Satan. He offered the world to Jesus in exchange of an act of worship to him.  He entered the body of Judas and then deserted him when his act of betrayal was done He was there in the garden of Gethsemane trying to make Jesus doubt himself and fear his trial. He was there when bad things happened because of bad men and he continues to influence the people of the world because he is jealous of us and wants to anger God. He is there when a person suddenly becomes violent, cunning, manipulative, deceitful, that is his work. He is there to influence the weak, the stupid, the lazy and the selfish. He offers the lure of wealth and gratification at the cost of integrity. He is constantly on the look out for recruits and the greatest defense against him was knowledge, self-discipline and prayer. Robert’s ministry and advanced studies confirmed in him that we had free will but that we were constantly in a state of temptation. Alcoholics are seldom thirsty and many thieves are not poor. The Lord’s Prayer in itself was an asking of God to deliver us from evil and not to be led to temptation.

Robert finished his coffee and left the cafeteria. How could all of that be explained to a reporter?

 

 

Chapter 5

Monterey Avenue in Franskton North, a place in the northern part of Frankston called the “pines” is a sad place. The housing commission homes are seldom vacant of poverty, despair or violence. The sunlight exposes a lot of the untidy houses and front yards with long grass and un repaired cars. The streets are where the cars scream past with a great deal of noise and the angry music of today can be heard. Single mothers push their babies in prams and men often walk with alcohol in their hands. Drugs and alcohol mix here, you can see it in the eyes of the young inhabitants as they walk past St. Johns Anglican Church Frankston north. Many of them could benefit by dropping in but instead the church is patronized by the much older generation. One of these parishioners is Maggie Stohl.

 

Maggie’s house was a simple housing commission home with a yard that had a front wire fence that was less than a meter high and had no cultivated garden. She tried to have the lawn cut each month if she could afford it but it wasn’t easy. Maggie was 63 years of age and a regular church attendee. She was a slim woman with grey shoulder length hair. She wore tracksuit and sloppy tops most of the time because she couldn’t afford much. Her husband who had died recently was an alcoholic and he left her with nothing.

 She enjoyed the services conducted by the smiling reverend John Fletcher. When she pulled her curtain back in the lounge room she could see St. Johns and the reverends residence. She noticed that his car was not there nor was his wife Sandra’s blue ford either. Maggie was very agitated. It was 10am and her grandson was not home.

 

Her grand son Jason was troubled but she felt she had to help in some way rear this 17-year-old boy. Maggie knew her daughter Joanne was an alcoholic and her new boyfriend Sean was not a nice man. Jason didn’t want to live there and Maggie wanted to do the best she could to give him the best life he could possibly have so she offered to have him live at her place. She thought they would argue with her but they agreed. Jason wasn’t sure if he wanted to live with his grand mother either but what he was sure of was that he didn’t want to live with his mother and stepfather.

 

It was only after a month being with Maggie that she realized it was a mistake. Jason didn’t listen to her and went out every night. He didn’t do his schoolwork and no matter what she did, Jason ignored her. His grades plummeted and Maggie was at a wits end as to what to do. It accumulated to the point yesterday when she knew she had to do something about it.

 

It was about 5.30pm when Jason walked through the door of Maggie’s home. He was of slight build and always wore a baseball cap. He had sandy colored hair and a pale complexion. He always looked weak and tired. He usually walked into the house then went straight to his room. On this occasion he lingered in the corridor for some time and Maggie saw a look on his face she had not seen before. She was a volunteer for the brother hood of St. Laurence clothing store at Bayside shopping centre and she was accustomed to seeing young people walk in high on drugs or having a hang over. This was different, Jason’s blue eyes looked confused, startled. When he looked at Maggie, he seemed to look right past her. He then went to sleep and slept till about 10pm.

 

During this time, Maggie didn’t know what to do, whether to keep some dinner for him in the refrigerator or go to sleep. She waited for a long time watched TV then decided to go to bed. As she went to her bedroom, she heard the front door close. Jason was gone again. She quickly looked out the curtains in the lounge room but she could only just see him disappearing in the darkness. She had no idea where he was going and it was pointless to ask because the answer was always “out.”

 

Maggie pulled the curtains back once again and looked out the window to see if by chance the reverend John Fletcher’s car was on the driveway. It was not. She wandered what to do. She had his mobile number but it was expensive to chat on the phone. She thought of ringing the home number and leaving a message but didn’t know what to say.  She was worried, deeply worried.

 

Joanne Thomson sat on the bed with the T.V. on in her motel room. She had her arms behind her back supporting her as she sat on the bed with her feet outstretched and crossed over. She was wearing her black waistcoat and short skirt with black high-heeled shoes. She had just hung up the phone and had arranged her interview with Robert Hill. With the curtains parted the sky was over cast and still windy. Occasionally a gust of wind howled against the window. Along Nepean highway the flags advertising the new Bayside Shopping Centre were flapping violently in the wind. The metal flag wires clashed against the pole making an annoying ticking sound, like a child was hitting the pole vigorously with a coin. It was a windy day, and Frankston being on the bay was even windier. She could not imagine the weather improving by the weekend. She hated the wind; it blew her hair all over the place. She would have to comb it before the interview. It was Thursday and there didn’t seem anyway the weather would fine up in a few days.

She sat on her bed running a few ideas about the interview in her mind when she heard car doors close in the rear parking area of the hotel. She wondered if it was the camera crew. She wasn’t sure if she should open the door and see for herself or wait until they knocked on the door. She sat upright and turned off the T.V. She looked at the door expecting to hear a knock when the phone rang. She picked it up. It was the receptionist. Her crew was here and would she come down to meet them. She sprung to her feet and headed for the door. She was lonely and bored no more.

When Joanne turned the corner and arrived at the main desk, she was surprised to see her crew. It was two men in their thirties, not a young camera man and his sound assistant as she expected. They were both wearing thick jackets and blue jeans. They approached her.

“Hi I’m Paul,” said the taller and thinner of the two. He was prematurely graying with sad blue eyes. She shook his hand

“Hi, Joanne” she said and shook his hand. The second man had a darker complexion almost Maori look about him with straight dark hair. He was quite solid. He smiled as he shook her hand “Ray Garcia” He said.

“Pleased to meet you” she replied.

“Are you ready to go”? Paul enquired.

“Yes, let’s go”. Joanne said and they moved to the main door that led to the rear car park.

Ray got to the door and opened it first for Joanne. She smiled and then the coolness of the day and the strength of the wind hit her.

“My God it is cold” Joanne said.

“That is Melbourne for you” Ray said in a laughing tone as they walked towards the white Toyota Camry station wagon.

“I left Perth yesterday and it was 22 degrees” Joanne said.

“It should be fine by the weekend” Paul replied as he opened the car door for Joanne. She was to sit in the front. Paul would drive.

Getting in the car was like stepping into another world. It was warm and silent. She could not hear the wind or feel the cold.

“Nice and warm in here” Joanne said.

“Don’t get too comfortable, St.Luke’s isn’t far from here” Paul replied. He started the car and looked at the Melway street directory that was wedged under the front driver’s seat. He had the page dog-eared. He looked at it carefully then turned the page. He seemed to memorize it.

“Ok, lets go” Paul said and drove towards Nepean Highway.

 

As the car turned left onto the highway, Joanne saw Frankston properly for the first time. She couldn’t help but notice the grey sky, some clouds quite dark, foreboding some grayish with a white lining. They were in the direction of the bay and it looked like they were in Northern Europe where the seaside towns are painted as grey towns with grey skies. Melbourne looked like that especially when it was overcast. To a young woman from Perth it looked depressing, ugly; to many Melbournians it was cozy. Even though it was spring, the weather had been unusually cold. It was the type of weather for reading good books, drinking red wine and having hearty meals.

They drove for about a minute before they turned left and passed the Frankston Police station on the left hand side with the bayside shopping complex on the right. The station was large and needed to be, it was not a quiet place for the Police. They were soon over the bridge and in Beach Street.

The word “beach” brings connotations of warm weather, people wearing swimmers, convertibles driving around with their tops down, but this was not that type of beach street. The other side of Beach Street led to the beach, this side led towards Karingal and it was grayish. There was a young man standing on the corner of Petrie and Beach Street wearing sunglasses on a cloudy day. He wore a blue and white plait shirt. He wore track pants and white runners. His shirt was not tucked in. He was thin, his shirt untucked He was just staring into nowhere with his hands in his pockets as they drove by. Joanne thought of doing her story with a background against the beach, you know, showing Robert and whoever else taking a casual stroll on the shore, maybe even sitting in the sand and looking over the bay. It was cold and too windy so this was not going to happen.

 

If you are not looking, you will miss St.Luke’s Frankston church near the freeway over pass, that is why it has a tall white tower with a white cross on it that is seen from a great distance on the freeway. Its tower and cross can be seen over the freeway over pass as if to defy the environment around it. Amongst the noise and gray ness of the freeway, the tower is visible for those who choose to see.

 

 As the car turned into the car park of the church grounds, there were no other cars there. They all stared at the building. It seemed quiet and to be honest, it seemed scary. The church building that was less than 50 years old had darkness to it. Why are old churches scary? It had though an aura, energy about it that Joanne couldn’t feel and at that moment wouldn’t understand. It felt safe to those who were comfortable with God and the tall tower seemed very protective of its brethren. They stopped the car and got out.

As they got out of the car, they noticed it wasn’t as windy. The freeway overpass was blocking most of it but it was noisy from the traffic. Joanne looked around.

“Doesn’t look like anyone is here,” she said. They all walked around and looked into glass doors and windows. There was no light or any signs of activity. It was Ray Garcia who first noticed the stocky smiling man on the porch of the cream brick house next to the church. He was almost bald, had half a tidy dark beard and metal framed glasses. He waved to them and Ray waved back. He wore a black shirt and black trousers. Even though it was far away, the glint on his left side shirt pocket was caused, he knew by a gold cross pin.

“Over there” Ray said and Joanne began to walk towards the house. Joanne was glad to get out of the cold. The two men took the camera and sound recording equipment from the rear of the car. Ray touched his crucifix necklace under his shirt quickly. He felt uneasy and so did Paul. Ray was the cameraman and Paul the sound recorder. Paul was concentrating on getting the equipment out of the car while Ray felt a little uneasy as he took out the camera.

Joanne smiled as she walked up the driveway of the cream brick home that was over grown with bushes that seemed to hug the house. There were two cars in the driveway.

“You must be Joanne” the man said in a cheerful English accented voice. He was a stocky man in his late forties with a warm smile.

“Yes, I am” she said cheerfully putting her hand out to him.

He shook it. “I am Graham, the reverend here, pleased to meet you”

“It is so cold” Joanne said and rubbed her arms even though they were well covered.

“Yes we have had a cold snap” Graham replied “but it should fine up by the weekend.

“I hope so” Joanne added. They both looked in the direction of the Paul and Ray as they walked towards the house.

For Paul, it didn’t mean much, just another job, but for Ray it was different.  He felt the cross bearing down on him as if it was watching him like a menacing eagle. He was a catholic Pilipino and being close to a church was to be respectful and awesome. He felt humbled and almost intimidated by it all; the way so many Catholics feel when they approach a church.

As they came up the driveway, Ray sensed a gloomy uneasiness within him. Even though he saw the reverend Graham smiling he felt the power, and the grace that came from him. He could see the rustic cross screwed to the brick wall near the doorway as if the territory ahead belonged to God.

“Hello, I am Graham” he said and put his hand out to be shaken.

Paul shook it first

“Paul is my name” Paul said.

“Hello Paul”

Ray shook his hand.

“Ray, father”

“Pleased to meet you, Ray, come inside where we can be warm.”

 

When Graham opened the front door for them, Ray could see a polished wooden cross on the wall in front of them. It made him feel uncomfortable as they walked in. Ray had never been to an Anglican Church or vicarage. He was had not been to a Roman Catholic Church either for a very long time. Once in, the house was warm.

Ray had taken only a short walk from the car to the doorway of a priest’s residence, but it was enough to anger his demons. Ray felt uneasy of the influence of Satan trying to persuade him not to enter the house yet the allure of God asking him to come in. He had not wanted to do this assignment originally, he could have called in sick, many Melbournians had a cold that week due to the bad weather and was in two minds about it. He knew maybe God would be aware of him and that he was a lapsed Catholic. He even felt that maybe the reverend would question him about his faith and he would not know what to say. In the end he decided to go hoping it would be easy but the last few minutes were not, and it was not going to get easier.

As they stood near the doorway a woman Angela came from the room to the right, which served as an office. She had her nametag on her left lapel of her navy blue jacket and skirt .She had wavy hair that had gone grey a long time ago and had large glasses. She was close to 75 years of age yet moved quickly, smiled and had happy clear blue eyes. She had a dignity about her. She came to them

 Hello, just in here please, Robert and John are praying,” She said in a lowered voice. She led them into a lounge room to their left.

As they entered the room they were quiet. They felt a compulsion to be quiet as if something terrible would happen if they weren’t. The walls were a warm cream color and it was obvious that the room had been set up as a conference room. There was a television set and a video recorder near the door and an open cupboard full of Christian books and tapes. Simple plastic chairs were stacked up against the walls in columns. The group went to the two sofas against the wall and sat down. They put their equipment down on the floor.

“If you could just wait for about 10 minutes or so while Robert and John are praying then you can go to the room.” Angela said in a pleasant but confident voice with a slight English accent. She was an old world woman, standing in front of them, her feet close together. She had the manner of a mother superior and gave the impression she would not take any nonsense from anyone. Graham was not far behind. He approached them.

“Cup of coffee, tea?” He enquired.

“Yes please” Paul said

“Coffee” said Ray.

“Coffee would be nice” Joanne added.

“Good” Angela said and both she and Graham went into the kitchen.

The group sat on the sofa, just looking around, not quite sure what to say or do. This was something out of their experience. Ray looked at Joanne and she rolled her eyes. None of this was having any effect on Joanne at all. It was an old house built in the 1960s with some old people.

After a short moment, Graham entered the room with a platter of cut fruitcake and a variety of biscuits.

“Now you must have some of this before I eat most of it” he said with a smile. Paul and Ray took some fruitcake while Joanne said a pleasant no thanks. Angela came into the room and asked them how they wanted their coffee and tea. Paul ordered a tea, one sugar; Ray and Joanne had coffee, no sugar. Graham took down one of the chairs stacked up against the wall and sat in front of them.

“Did you find this place alright”? He asked.

“Yes, no problems” Paul replied.

“Good, sometimes people go to Carrum Downs, there is a St.Luke’s church there. The film crew nodded politely.

When the drinks came, they were happy to have a warm drink, and for the two of them, some cake.

“It has been cold lately,” Joanne said meekly.

“Yes, but they expect fine weather for the weekend” Graham added with a smile.

“Can I ask if you are all Christians”? Angela said in a matter of fact voice. They looked around at each other. Ray looked weakly.

“I am” Ray said. Paul shook his head. Joanne sort of nodded.

Angela could intimidate without trying.  She looked at them in such a way and they felt like she had caught them masturbating.

“We often have a prayer for visitors, would you like a prayer”? Angela said. There was a moment of awkward silence and every one looked at each other.

“I take that as a no, then” Angela said quite calmly. “Well anyway enjoy your coffee and Robert will not be long.” She finished off and left the room. Graham sat there opposite them not sure what to say. The others continued to drink and have their cakes. After a while he said, “Excuse me” and left the room. Paul and Joanne thought nothing of it but Ray was uncomfortable. He knew Angela and Graham were offended. They could see Angela go to the office room of the house near the front doorway, and they could hear Graham walking around in the kitchen area. Ray felt a little awkward and felt as if he should apologize. He got up and went to the kitchen area.

 

The kitchen was a brightly lit room only a small table and three chairs around it. There were some letters on the table and Graham was standing and reading one of them in his hand. He looked at Ray when he walked in.

“Hello” he said awkwardly. “I’m………..a Catholic” he finished off almost apologetically.

Graham smiled and put down his letter.

“We believe in Jesus, which is the main thing isn’t it”

“Yes”, Ray said awkwardly, like a schoolboy. He took his crucifix necklace from out of under his shirt and showed Graham. Graham looked at it and smiled.

“My mother gave it to me” Ray said. Graham smiled understandingly.

“…She is dead now” Ray added. “She died last year”.

There was a long pause then Graham said

“I think you will get a lot out of this weekend, Ray.” Ray nodded. He left the room.

In the lounge room, Paul was still seated on the sofa, but Joanne was walking around the room, arms folded. She was glancing at the book cabinet that was full of Christian literature and tapes. Ray wanted to say something but didn’t. He didn’t like the way she was behaving in a place of worship. She seemed insensitive to what was happening around her and her manner was if she was waiting for a convicted criminal just about to leave jail. She just looked at him, said nothing. He looked at the cabinet too to see what she was looking at but didn’t notice anything in particular.

After a moment, they heard some footsteps along the corridor and then heard some talking in the office room. The lounge room door opened and Angela emerged. She looked quite stern.

“Robert will see you now”

Paul and Ray gathered their equipment and followed Angela down the corridor.

 

The corridor was dimly lit and straight away it gave an impression different to that of a normal house. The white doors were closed and they had small neat hand written signs on them saying “prayer room 1, prayer room 2 “and so on. Angela led the way to “Prayer room 3” and opened the door quietly as if a sick dying person was convalescing.  She opened the door and held it open without a smile as Joanne and the film crew walked in.

 

As Joanne walked in, she was a little surprised by the young man she saw seated in an old fashioned couch, which looked like it had come from the 1970s. He stood up slowly and shook her hand with a weak smile.

“Robert Hill” he said

“Joanne” she said. He sat straight down.

“Thank you for inviting us” She said and noticed there was a simpler chair directly opposite him. She made her way over to it.

The prayer room was almost devoid of pictures and decorations. It had a small cabinet with religious books in it, and a small round table between them with “The Bible” on it. Immediately, Ray and Paul went to work, Ray unpacking his camera and Paul getting his microphone cables ready.  Joanne looked at Ray,

“Ray, is this angle okay”?

“Fine” he said.

“Lighting okay”? she enquired.

“Yes, we will set up a lamp to enhance the picture.” He replied.

“Because the walls are quite bright, they may cause a reflection” She finished off.

“We will test it soon” Ray said.

At that moment a priest John Fletcher walked in. He was about 60 years of age, almost bald with a pleasant smile and frameless glasses. He wore the black shirt with the priest’s collar, the black trousers and black shoes. He had a silver cross on the left collar of his shirt. He closed the door behind him.

“Hello everyone, I am John, the reverend of Frankston north and Carrum downs”

“Hello” Joanne said.

“I have come into this room to pray with Robert, if you don’t mind that the Lord is with us and will bless us during this time as we communicate in this special room”, John said. There was a long pause then John walked over to Paul who was unraveling some cable

……”If you could wait for a moment, we would like to pray for the holy spirit to enter the room and guide us.”

Paul stopped what he was doing. John and Robert closed their eyes.

John started “Dear Lord, we ask the presence of the holy spirit to fill this room and guide Robert and protect him as well as the others here. Fill us, bless us, heal us dear Lord. Amen”

Robert said Amen as well, so did Ray. Paul and Joanne did not have their eyes closed at all during the prayer.

“Thank you” John said cheerfully and left the room. Joanne seemed relieved. Paul continued to unwind the cable and Ray prepared his camera.

Joanne noticed Robert looking at Paul unwinding the electric cable and plugging it in to an available wall socket. She was right, he had blue eyes. He hand his right hand on his right cheek, eyes almost glazed, calm, disinterested in what was happening around him. Joanne thought he had intensity beyond his thirty years. She had her A5 notebook in her hand and pen.

“Robert, just a few points of clarification…you are 30 years old,” Joanne enquired.

“You are a nutritionist”?

“Yes,” Robert said.

Joanne scribbled down a few notes. Ray was kneeling and aiming his camera at Joanne. Joanne looked at it.

“We need more lighting” Ray said, it is much too dark.

Joanne turned to Robert.

“We shall start soon, we will set up some lighting and then we will ask you a few questions.” She said.

Robert just nodded. As Paul and Ray got their equipment ready, and Joanne adjusted her skirt, Robert tuned out. He found their presence an intrusion. It wasn’t just their noise of shuffling around the room; it was the lack of reverence coming from them is such a special place, a room of healing and prayer. Paul turned on a light on a metal stand and then turned it off. Ray and Paul communicated to each other about the correct balance of lighting and then they set up a few shots of Joanne. She was a beautiful woman. The lighting on her was balanced and they filmed her asking a few questions such as “when did you discover God”…..Where did you get the idea for a healing weekend”?... These were preliminary shots that would be edited into the footage so it would not be monotonous watching Robert’s face all the time talking. This was explained to Robert.

 

After more than 15 agonizing 15 minutes, the camera and light (diffused) was aimed at Robert.

“When did you discover God” Joanne asked in her sweet journalistic voice.

“About 2 years ago I felt that…………”

“Hold on Robert,” Paul interrupted taking his headphones of his ears “you have to speak a little louder, it isn’t clear yet” He finished.

“Okay”. Robert said reluctantly. “I felt a calling about a year ago. I felt there were some questions about life that were puzzling me. I experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit enter my life at a Christian gathering……….I made a commitment to explore these feelings and thoughts, in particular concerning evil and sickness. I became aware that sickness in particular is the result of sin. The resolution or redemption of sin is the key to not only good health, but happiness.” Robert said.

“Do you believe that sickness and evil are from Demons”? Joanne asked.

“Yes, we here in this……….”

“Just a bit louder Robert, you have a soft voice” Paul said interrupting.

“Yes Robert, if you could speak a little louder you do have a soft voice.” Joanne added.

Robert looked up at the ceiling then leaned forward at Joanne.

“Yes!!, there are demons that influence human behavior and these demons control a person’s well being, and with the authority of Jesus Christ we expel them.” He sat back in his chair. Joanne looked at the camera.

“Ray, did you get that”?

“Yeah I did” Ray said.

“Good” Joanne said.

 

After half an hour of interviewing, over and over again, repeating answers, looking this way and that, Joanne decided to go out in the back yard to get some outside shots.

In the back yard there was a lemon tree full of lemons. Ray set up his camera and Joanne got Robert to walk towards the lemon tree. He walked too fast, he got called back, he walked again. He was asked to pick a lemon, it was too fast, so he had to pick another one, much slower, and then turn his head this way, that way etc., all the nonsense that goes along with so many commercial TV interviews, staged performances to enhance a point of view.

 

After this was done, Joanne took a video of recorded intercessions to look at. The whole idea was for her to edit to take a few “exciting” intercessions and put them with the taped interview to create an interesting and entertaining report on this young man and his healing thoughts.

 Joanne went inside to talk to the reverend John and Paul was walking towards the back door of the house his bag of cables in his hand. Ray stood back near the lemon tree and rewound the tape. There is nothing more embarrassing for a cameraman to realize that his video footage had not been recorded, or that the sound was not clear. Ray looked at it, it seemed clear, colorful, particularly considering the overcast weather. Robert was just wondering around in the back yard, just casually looking at the lemons on the tree. Ray had just finished rewinding the video and was about to walk back into the house when Robert looked directly at him, and then walked over to where he was. He then spoke to him in Tagalong, the language of the Philippines.

            Inside the house Joanne was saying good-bye to Reverend John and Paul was standing next to her when Ray rushed past them. He nearly knocked them over and stormed out the door. He looked shocked, disturbed. Paul and Joanne were upset by Ray’s behavior. John looked curious. Joanne said good-bye once more and left the house with Paul behind her.

At the car, Ray was pacing up and down with a great deal of agitation. Joanne and Paul came to him very concerned.

“Let’s go, now”!! He demanded. The others said nothing but got in the car as fast as they could.

 

Paul drove quickly down Beach street towards Nepean Highway. Ray looked frightened. He was shaking as if he had seen a ghost. Joanne didn’t know what to say. They sat in silence, Ray was breathing heavily. Paul looked in the rear view mirror and saw Ray highly agitated.

“Where do you want me to go”?

“I don’t know…just keep driving…. wait the beach, go to the beach!!!” Ray said in a highly agitated state, pointing at the beach in the distance in front of them.

At the western point of Beach street there is a McDonald’s. Opposite that is a car park. Drive a little further west and you have the beach.  The car came to a stop just before the walkway to the beach. It was cold; there was only another car there. The wind was strong; it was coming straight off the bay. Ray flew out of the car, the rear seat as if he was being chased by the devil. In actual fact he was trying to run from God.

 

On the beach Ray ran just past the bushes and stopped on the sand, looking out at Port Phillip bay. The sea was rough, very choppy and grayish blue in color. The sky was dark yet just towards Melbourne, it was lighter in color. The sun was breaking through and the light seemed to be shining on the city. Ray stood there, shaking not from the cold. There was a tear coming from his right eye. Behind him Joanne walked slowly and cautiously in the sand with her high heels. Paul was walking behind her, unsure of what to do. Joanne got closer.

“Ray, what is going on”? She said cautiously.

Ray shook his head and put his hands on his hips.

“You will not believe me.” He said.

“Try me” Joanne said.

“Jesus spoke to me”

There was a long pause.

“Jesus”??!! Joanne said. There was a long pause.

“Some people…” Joanne started

“He spoke to me, in Tagalong, the native tongue of my home the Philippines; it came out of Robert’s mouth”. Ray said.

There was a long pause. Joanne and Paul looked at each other. Joanne looked at Ray, and then came closer.

“He could have learnt the language. Maybe he went there…..” Joanne reasoned

“It wasn’t his voice Joanne”, Ray said.

“Maybe you t thought….”

“I killed a man …………….. I killed a man”!!!! Ray said with his hands on his face yelling. He then turned to both of them, now both cheeks had his tears.

“I killed a man in the Philippines when I was a teenager and I never told anyone, no one, yet Robert knew, he knew. He said I have forgiven you so you can now forgive yourself.” Ray said and wiped his tears. He smiled, and looked up at the sky.

“He actually said that I should give my guilt to him for him to handle for the murder of the man………….He even knew his name………he had seen everything.

 He knew…..I was so sorry. He was a poor man, he didn’t deserve to die. He was trying to rape one of my sisters…..I waited for him one night….and I stabbed him…..I didn’t tell anyone……the following day the villagers found the body, no one knew it was me. I never told. The last time I prayed, I asked God for forgiveness. I didn’t think he would forgive a murderer… Ray said. After a long time he wiped his face and smiled. “A weight has just gone off my shoulders……I feel so relieved. I have been carrying this guilt for a very long time.” He said.

Joanne looked at him. Ray then looked at Joanne.

“Don’t make this man appear as a fake. He is real Joanne and I felt a presence in that house as I approached and Jesus spoke to me in my native tongue with no accent. Joanne and Paul, and you think this is not real, that I am mistaken? If you were spoken to in Dutch Joanne, don’t you think it was it was God’s work, even though you don’t have a Dutch name and not many people knew you learnt it from your mother.” Ray asked?

They both stared at him. He walked a little towards the car. He looked back at them.

“I am free, God chose him to reach me.” He then took the crucifix from his chest and kissed it.

Ray then walked back to the car. Joanne and Paul looked at each other.

“Just let him go, he will be okay,” Paul said.

 

Ray, Paul and Joanne drove to Quayside shopping centre underground car park and parked their car. Paul and Joanne had decided not to talk about what had occurred to Ray. They kept the conversation basic, but Ray was still reluctant to speak. They went to the food court for lunch and had something to eat. Ray seemed distant but allowed Paul to buy him some lunch. They talked about the tape Robert had given them and how they would take it back to Melbourne for editing. Depending on how “good” meaning how entertaining it was they could use it for that night’s current affair program. It was unlikely though, by lunch time the program is already planned. Joanne’s report could go to air on probably by Friday the latest. If it were good, she would get pats on the back and get hopefully a choice of assignments, and maybe get her way back to Perth. If not she would get some more “interesting assignments” and her future would soon be decided. On air journalists especially women don’t last long.

After having lunch, Paul got up to get them some coffees. When he was out of ear shot and at the Donut king counter, Ray said to Joanne that he wanted to contact Robert and the Reverend to pray with them and get a blessing. He didn’t think he could continue working that day unless that happened. Joanne took out her mobile phone and made the call. The reverend John Fletcher was still there and he was glad to help.

 

To make things easier, the ever tactful Paul suggested that he would drive Ray and Joanne back to her motel, and Ray to St.Lukes. When they were finished they would come back to the motel and pick up Joanne. They needed to get some exterior shots of the area where the weekend healing was to take place then they would go back to Melbourne and do some editing.

 

When Joanne arrived at her Motel, she had a great idea. She would watch some of the video Robert had given her and make some notes that she might use for her report. She asked the receptionist if they had a VCR since the Motel had in house movies piped through the rooms, but they did have a VCR/TV combination unit that they used occasionally for conferences and lent it to her. The manager brought it to her room and plugged it in for her. She thanked him and put the electric jug on. She got a white cup and ripped open the “Nescafe” coffee sachet and poured it into her cup. She put the video on and began watching.

 

The tape contained some film footage of an American woman who had been molested when she was a child. Joanne found it boring and fast-forwarded it every so often. She sat on the end of the bed and sipped her coffee. She was about to fast-forward it again when it caught her interest. The woman “Kathy” had her eyes closed and was making angry growling noises. The intercessor was calmly telling her that he forbade in the name of Jesus any embarrassing activity by any of the spirits inside her. Then Kathy spoke in a deep voice, saying she was angry that she now had to leave Kathy. Joanne stopped the tape and took it out. The video/T.V.unit. didn’t have a counter on it so she marked the tape with a scratch of her nail file so she could return to it later. She put the tape back in and commenced watching.

 

Kathy’s voice was that of the demon anger inside her. She didn’t want to go; she had been there since she was five. The male intercessor calmly and repeatedly asked the demon to get in the box the angels had placed down beside her for the demon to get into. At first it seemed it was not going to happen, and then the demon voice was gone, into the box protected by the angels. Joanne was fascinated.

 

The video then jumped awkwardly to the intercession of Bruce Cartwright in prison. Joanne recognized the Australian accents straight away and took great interest. She sipped her coffee and watched with interest. When Bruce became emotional and broke down on the tape, Joanne knew she had some good footage for her report. This would serve as excellent background information. She began scribbling some notes on her note book. As she did this, she thought she saw some movement in the corner of her left eye, at ground level, like a mouse darting from end of the room to another. She stopped the tape and looked in that direction. She noticed nothing. She played the tape again and took down some more notes. She watched the taped intercession of Bruce and then it went into a taped interview with Robert. He talked about evil, its origin and its purpose by Satan to mislead us, confuse us purely out of jealousy that God had chosen us to be his pride and joy and not Satan and his helpers. It certainly was an interesting philosophy that Robert had and she noticed how much easier he spoke when he was allowed to speak without questions interrupting him like the interview she had conducted with him.

 

As she watched the interview with Robert, it happened. It is difficult to describe, for the feeling is different for most people but it is undeniable. Most describe it as a feeling of uneasiness and irrational fear. Joanne didn’t know why, she had a strange feeling someone was in the bathroom. She turned and looked back. The door was partially open. She didn’t know why she felt uneasy but she felt there was someone behind the door. At that moment, the tape stopped, making that loud hissing noise. Joanne jumped up. She backed up to the TV. and ejected the tape. She did it quickly and tried to keep her eyes on the door, as if something terrible was behind it and it was going to come out and attack her. It was ridiculous, she had heard nothing, seen nothing, yet now she felt alone and very frightened. She could feel her skin tingling, and didn’t know what to do. She kept on telling herself over and over again that she was being ridiculous yet she could not keep her eyes off the door. She looked at the phone on the bed side table, about 3 meters near the open door way of the bathroom. She wanted to reach it but she had a vision of a long black arm stretching from the room and grabbing her left hand. The bathroom was semi dark, she could see the glass shower screen, but the gap between the door and hinges were black. She could see nothing through them to see if anyone was standing there. She thought of walking up to the semi open door and just pushing it with her right hand. If someone was there it would not be able to close, and she would feel and hear the contact against the door. What would she do then?

Suddenly she felt like two hands had brushed through her hair lightly. She screamed, grabbed her head and ran straight to the door. She felt as if an arm was about to grab her as she frantically opened the door. She screamed again and opened the door. As she stepped outside of the room into the corridor she didn’t feel safe at all but felt as if a dark invisible spirit was chasing after her, she screamed again and began running towards reception. Suddenly a room door on the right flung open and Joanne flung back. A tall dark man topless and wearing a pair of blue jeans stepped out into the corridor. In that split second, the spell on Joanne was broken. She just stared at him and looked back at the open door of her room. She was shocked, flustered, and unable to speak.

“What’s wrong”!!!?? He said.

She couldn’t answer him because she didn’t know.

He walked quickly over to her open door.

From inside the man’s room Joanne could hear a female voice saying

“James what is it?”

Within a few seconds, James was in Joanne’s room. Joanne just stood there unable to think. A woman with dark messed hair came from James’s room and stood in the open doorway. She saw Joanne and looked in the direction of Joanne’s room. Her shirt was not properly tucked into her black skirt. It was obvious that she and James were fondling each other. The woman looked at Joanne.

“What happened”???!! She said.

At that moment James came out of her room and walked towards them

“What’s going on”?!! he said to Joanne.

Joanne didn’t know what to say.
”I’m sorry I disturbed you both………I’m not well” she said.

At that moment a female receptionist came around the corner in a hurry to see investigate the screams. Joanne looked at her.

“I am ok, please leave me alone” she said. The receptionist left reluctantly.

“I will get my things….my friends are coming soon.” Joanne said and made her way to her room. James and his girl friend were still in the corridor when Joanne came out with her handbag and the video tape in her hand. They went inside their room allowing her the opportunity to walk by without embarrassment. What had frightened her in her room or in her mind was gone.

 

 

Chapter 6

On the approach to Rutherford road exit off the Mornington Peninsula freeway, the land is flat and un assuming. So un assuming Paul missed it. It is not that he didn’t see the sign and the turn off it’s just that there was debate in the car as if that was the location for the healing weekend. Paul continued on and did a U turn at the Seaford road exit and exit and made his way back.

 

The road embankment slopes a little towards the wire fence just before the Rutherford road exit. The grass is in thick bushels and appears difficult for vehicles to drive on. Paul gave it a try and drove slowly. The last thing he wanted was to get bogged, but was surprised the ground was firmer than expected. When they got out of the car they could see how the area had the potential to hold hundreds if not a few thousand people. Even though the paddocks were made up of tough bush grass, the land was almost completely flat. For a few hundred meters towards the North, east and west, the landscape was broken only occasionally by a few green bushes. Ray took his camera out and began filming. Joanne wanted to do walk a little in the paddocks and get a shot of her with some commentary but not only was the grass a little too thick and strong the sound of the passing traffic also prevented it. They would have to do a voice over later. It was fast approaching 4pm, it was cold and it was time to leave. Joanne asked Paul and Ray if they would have a cup of coffee with her in Frankston before they left. They agreed.

 

They drove along the freeway and turned right at Cranbourne road. That road then took them to the centre of the Frankston central business district. Paul kept driving and didn’t ask where or when they should stop. As they road over the railway line bridge you could see the bay. They drove towards it until they reached Nepean Highway. They stopped and Joanne told Paul to turn left. Paul drove and the car was approaching Oliver’s hill when Frankston pier came into view on their right hand side.

“There” Joanne said and Paul drove into the Frankston pier car park. There were a few vehicles in the car park. It was cold and the wind was coming straight off the bay. The pier, the centre point of many photographs taken of Frankston had a few keen fishermen on it. “Sofia’s restaurant was very quiet. It was too late for lunch and too early for dinner. It was also cold so business was unlikely to be good that night.

 Paul parked the car in one of the many empty bays. Joanne sat uneasy in the front seat. They knew she had something on her mind.

She looked at Ray, seated behind her.

“How was your time with the reverend? She said

“Good” Ray said with a smile. He seemed genuinely happy and his eyes were sparkling.

She turned to Paul.

“Paul, what do you think of all this”? She asked.

Paul thought about it for a moment.

“There are a lot of things we don’t understand in this world. My mother was a devout Catholic, as for me I don’t know what I believe.”

“But what happened today, with Ray, do you believe he had a supernatural experience?” She enquired.

Paul thought about it.

“Yes I believe he did” he said reservedly.

“Yes, I Joanne, I did and when I spoke to Robert he can only remember walking towards me and saying something, he doesn’t know what he said. We have all sorts of mediums in the Philippines and I believe that is what happened.”! Ray said excitedly.

Joanne thought for a moment.

“While you were gone I saw the tape Robert gave me and I became very scared.” Joanne said. She looked down almost ashamed.

“I don’t want to stay there by myself and I know you both want to go home but I am scared to stay in that Motel” She said almost apologetically.

“You shouldn’t come close to these things and make fun of it, you need protection….” Ray said interrupted by Joanne.

“I wasn’t making fun of it, I was just…….”

…”Yes you were, I saw you the way you spoke to Robert, the way you behaved inside the house and you showed no respect. God is there, they are good people You don’t treat this as a joke. Some of the questions were wrong…you don’t believe in God?” Ray said angrily.

“I believe in God” Joanne said defensively,

“Do you Joanne; you didn’t want to believe me when I told you what Robert told me”!! he retorted.

“I know…I’m sorry” she said.

“Not just in the Philippines, but many places around the world people don’t go to doctors, they go to holy men and they get well…” Ray responded before being cut off by Paul.

…Ok, let it go, let us calm down…There is a La Porchetta just down the road.”

 

Just a little distance before Beach Street on Nepean highway is La Porchetta. It was a cold day, and not many people were around. The group found a parking spot almost near the front door and went inside.

La Porchetta in Frankston is a large restaurant and being 4.30 in the afternoon it was quiet, but it had warmth to it that they all needed.. They sat at the back and had coffee. It was comfortable there and they sat and talked about God, life and the universe.

Joanne had not known these men only a few hours ago and they were both pouring their hearts out to her and she was doing the same to them. They should have been heading back to Melbourne with the tape and conclude their shift but Joanne didn’t want them to go. She told them what happened in her room while she had watched the tape and how she had become so frightened. Relieving the experience brought a tear to her eye. She was a tough woman, she had to be but the last week had been tough on her. She felt rejected, lonely and disrespected. She felt she was on the edge of a major career break through or break down. She wanted to go back to Perth where it was warm, even though she didn’t want to deal with boss John; she had her family there. She had no one in Melbourne. It was considered a career move, if she made it here she would have more choice of assignments, maybe get a chance to be a newsreader but that was all up in the air.

 

After having coffee they moved onto alcohol and they soon realized they needed to ring the office and their families and friends to explain why they were not home yet. Joanne’s awkwardness of being afraid to stay in her motel room by her self and Ray’s admission of a murder committed in his hometown was bringing them all together. Paul had a girlfriend but he lived by himself, as for Ray he had a wife and two children. They would ring them up and tell them they had to work late. Joanne would ring the Melbourne producer Amanda Fisher and tell her that she had some good footage and was in the process of getting some more. That would do it.

 

A few hours ago they were strangers now they were friends. What appeared to Joanne to be just another assignment had turned out to be something much more meaningful .Ray had come closer to God and Paul was beginning to understand that there was a God. Joanne herself was an Anglican but not a practicing one. What she had experienced in just the last 24 hours had made her question why she had lost her faith years ago.

They ordered pasta, Caesar salad and pizza. The afternoon had turned into early evening and they were all feeling secure and comfortable in each other’s company. The warmth they were feeling was not coming from the wine but the sharing of this unique experience.

 

Portage Indiana is a small place, a quaint place. It was now fall and the air was cool. It was almost midnight. In an unassuming street in an unassuming town, was an unassuming house. It had a light green color exterior cladding. The front verandah had a welcome light on. There were two pairs of shoes out the front near the door. One could see birdseed bells hanging from nails off the verandah as well as little nuts on the verandah railing. Peter Croft liked to leave birdseed bells and nuts out on the verandah for the birds and squirrels. He liked to feed them in the cold months. He didn’t want to see the native life starve. He got some comfort from the fact that the squirrels or raccoons got on the verandah and ate the nuts. He didn’t mind the noise at all of the pitter-patter of their feet on the boards.

 

Inside the warm inviting home was Peter Croft at his computer reading his email He sat in his warm pajamas and robe reading the emails before going to bed. His wife Sharon was asleep.  He was having his hot cocoa which he loved with pink marsh mellows. He was 56 years old, a stocky almost chubby man, and a grandfather to six children.  He had their photographs around the house and the warm orange glow from the table lamp gave the room a homely feeling.  Near the bookcase, a humble wooden cross only a few inches long and wide, was pinned to the wall. It looked like the lounge room of any semi retired middle class man. He was a humble quiet man whom the devil had tried to kill many times.

 

He sat at his computer and smiled as he read his email from John Fletcher in Australia. They had kept in touch and he was now sharing the warmth and optimism coming from them as they reported that their healing weekend was now going to get some free widespread publicity. Peter had been to Australia on a few occasions and he was surprised by the lack of influence by the church in politics in every day life down there. Things were different in the USA and he had given some ideas about how the church could get more young people involved by directly influencing the youth of the country and the habitual criminals. It was he who suggested visiting prisoners and performing intercessor sessions on a large scale. He had excellent results using his techniques in the USA on all sorts of criminals with great results. He was a pastor, a theologian and a senior member of the Christian Coalition of America. He wrote 3 books and toured the country preaching the Bible, discussing social issues and deliverance from the devil. His dream was to have a network of dedicated Evangelists and intercessors touring Australia on a large scale and exorcising the demons that were infesting in the souls of so many people.

 

He answered the email briefly in a positive note and signed off “Peace be with you”. He turned off the computer and closed his eyes. He said a little prayer for the success of the healing weekend. He was the man in the tape who delivered the demons from Kathy in the tape that Joanne had seen. He was the inventor of the “get in the box” command that he gave to the demons with the threat of their limbs being cut off by angels if they refused to obey. He was one of the gentle but persuasive voices of Christian consciousness in the crusade against the evil influence of Satan in the country and the world. His belief and the belief of his followers was that the demons were real and needed to be met and cast out of evil people for them to have a fulfilling and happy life.  He was pleased that the “Family First” party in Australia had one senator in parliament, a major achievement for a newly formed party and a religious one at that.

 

In only 5 years he had seen a major change in Australia’s social fabric. It seemed like the country was becoming more fundamental Christian like the Midwestern USA in defiance of what he believed to be insincere immoral political influences of that country. He didn’t like labels such as “the new right” or “the religious right” and he certainly didn’t like the secular community telling him that religion and politics didn’t mix. All groups seemed to want to influence the government and he seemed to see no conflict with the church trying to influence government as well. Progress was good also in Latin America and it was encouraging to see Australia becoming more aligned with Christian doctrine.

 

As he turned out the light and went to bed, he felt optimistic about the healing weekend. His intercessor training courses and books were being accepted with gusto in Australia and this was a good thing. It was good to see the young people like Robert Hill embracing it. With so many young people following the way of Christ, the devil could never win.

 

 

Chapter 7

It was getting dark as the Grenda’s bus stopped along Frankston/ Dandenong road before Klauer Street. It was bound for Dandenong. The bus was full and inside the weak indoor lights barely illuminated the passengers. Maggie got off the bus with two full green “good for the environment” carry bags. Maggie had gone to Frankston to pick up some groceries and was late returning. She made her way to the traffic lights and pressed the pedestrian button. It was darker than normal, due to the overcast sky and most of the cars traveling along the road towards Frankston had their headlights on. Maggie didn’t have a car so she relied on public transport, especially the buses. Near by was a small shopping strip off Forest drive but Maggie had decided to go to Frankston to cheer herself up as well as get some groceries.

 

As Maggie crossed Frankston/Dandenong road, she thought about making some hamburgers for dinner. She would make extra just in case Jason came home later that night. If it went cold she would glad wrap it and put it in the fridge. She didn’t have much but she did well with her pension.

 

It was cold but the wind had subsided. The pines estate looked dark and foreboding as Maggie turned up the street and began walking to her house. In the distance she could see Reverend John Fletcher’s car in the driveway, he was now home and saw the weak yellow light coming from his home. The church next door, St.Johns of Frankston north was almost hidden behind the trees and bushes that were around the edges of the property. Maggie wasn’t sure if she should just knock on the door and see the reverend or wait another day or just forget about it. He was probably having dinner and decided to post pone it until at least tomorrow morning.

 

As Maggie checked the mailbox she noticed a weak light coming from the lounge room of her house. She had not left it on before she left, so she assumed Jason was home. The two footsteps and porch were dark. She put the two shopping bags down and fumbled with her keys. When she went to insert the key into the key hole, she noticed the white faded door was not closed yet alone locked. She pushed it open and went inside.

 

Inside the house it was cold and Maggie immediately knew the heater was not on or the back door was open. Her housing commission home was very cold in the winter and hot in summer. It was also dark. She could see Jason seated in the main chair watching TV. The table lamp in the corner of the room was on, which was the light she could see from outside.

“Hello Jason” she said as she went to the kitchen/dining room. He didn’t reply but Maggie was not too concerned. She put the groceries on the table. Jason seemed to have the same clothes on. She wondered what kind of life he was living what he was doing that was causing him to be so withdrawn from her. She wished he would just open up and talk to her, maybe she could help, maybe the reverend could help but nothing was going to happen if Jason didn’t want it to happen.

 

Maggie put some of the groceries away but kept the minced beef and rolls out. She took out a mixing bowl and put the mincemeat in it. She added two eggs; some chopped tomatoes and onions to the bowl and began mixing the mixture with her hands. From where she was she could see mostly Jason’s back as he sat and watched TV in the chair, feet flat on the carpet watching the news.

“How are you Jason”? Maggie asked but there was no response.

“Do you want some hamburgers”? She asked. There was a long pause then Jason replied

“Yeah, that will be good.”

Maggie thought that was at least something, he could still talk. She continued to mix the mixture and then cut 3 bread rolls, one each and one extra if someone wanted more.

“How was your day Jason”? She asked innocently but he didn’t respond.

‘Do you want some salad with your hamburger? She asked.

There was no response for a moment, then

“Yeah ok” came from him. Maggie just shook her head.

“I would like you to talk Jason”

“What do you want me to say” he said

“Hello Nanna” she said.

“Hello Nanna” he repeated.

“Did you have a nice day Nana”? she said.

“Did you have a nice day Nana”? He repeated.

“Yes I did thank you Jason” she said. Jason continued to sit there.

“I am sorry I have caused you to be concerned Nana” Maggie said.

“I am sorry I have caused you to be concerned Nana” He repeated.

“I will not be of concern to you any more Nana” Maggie said.

“I will not be of concern to you any more Nana”? He repeated.

She shook her head and took a frying pan out from one of the kitchen cupboards and put it on the stove. She looked at her calendar of churches around Australia and decided to try her luck.

“I will go to church this Sunday” Maggie said

“I will go to church this Sunday" He repeated.

“I love you Nana” Maggie said.

“I love you Nana” He repeated.

Maggie picked up a bottle of cooking oil and was about to pour some oil in the frying pan when a thought came over her.

“Jason I am getting forgetful in my old age, how did grand pa die, did he have a stroke or a heart attack”? She said.

“Heart attack” Jason said.

“That’s right, thank you now I remember. Do you remember his last words?” She asked.

There was a moment of silence.

“He said I am sorry.” Jason replied.

Maggie put down the container of cooking oil. She knew exactly what her husband had said as he was having a heart attack and he did say “I am sorry”. The fact is they were alone when it happened, no one else heard him say it and Maggie never told anyone he said it, yet Jason knew.

She turned to him and looked at him as he watched T.V. still with his back to her.

“Jason could you say something for me”?

“What “? Jason replied

“Just repeat something for me” Maggie said.

“Ok” Jason replied.

“You have to turn off the TV. Though” Maggie said.

“Ok” Jason said then flicked off the TV with the remote control.

“I Jason Mc Caffery” Maggie said

“I Jason Mc Caffery” Jason repeated

“Of Monterey drive Frankston North”

“Of Monterey drive Frankston North” Jason repeated without looking at her

“Accept Jesus Christ as my savior” Maggie said.

There was a moment of silence.

“…and I reject Satan and his demons” Maggie said.

There was a long moment of silence.

“I ask Jesus Christ to expel these demons inside me” Maggie said.

There was a long moment of silence. Maggie continued to look at the back of his head.

He turned around and looked at her.

“Nana, do you believe in the occult”? He asked.

“Yes, I know of the occult” Maggie said

The bottom row of Jason’s teeth stretched up and came over his top lip as if his face had collapsed into his lower jaw.

Maggie ran out of the house as fast as she could to Reverend John’s house.

 

Joanne, Paul and Ray where deciding if they were going to have any desert when Joanne’s mobile phone rang. Joanne answered it. She listened for a moment, put her left hand over her ear and frowned.

“Ok……………St.Johns in Frankston north, Frankston/Dandendong road…

Ok, we will be there.” And put away the phone.

“That was Robert; we have something that we can film now, hopefully if we are quick.” She said to the group.

“Film what “Paul said.

Joanne started to get up.

“It’s called an intercession but it sounds like……………. exorcism.”

 

It was getting dark. They drove slowly because they were not sure where St. John’s Anglican Church was, firstly, but also they were scared. They were not sure if they really wanted to go, particularly Ray. They saw Neville Avenue on the left and Long Island club on the right. As it passed, the group knew they were in “The Pines”. The houses were set far back from the service road, bushes covered the houses and what could be seen of the houses, it was typical 1950’s and 60’s commission homes. St.John’s then came, up barely visible, dark, scary. Paul turned right and went into the car park.

 

The “car park” is an unmade car park. Parishioners who attend St.John’s park there car around and under the trees. They don’t mind, the church and the grounds are cozy. To a secular person, it looks scary. Because most churches are often old well established buildings, they are generally dark because they have much less windows than most modern buildings. It doesn’t help when Hollywood film studios churn out horror movies by the dozens showing dark churches and gray cemeteries. It conjures up in the mind, evil and death.

As Paul went up the dirt driveway of the church, the headlights hit the building, now a creamy yellow color, but for several decades it was grey stone. The ground disappeared from view temporarily and since no one was around, they parked the car right in the middle of the car park .The Church was quiet, there was no light coming from inside. Joanne looked around.

“I can’t see anyone. This is the right church, it must be.” She said.

Within an instant a shadow appeared at Joanne’s passenger window. She gasped.

“Hello are you the TV crew”? The voice in the darkness said. Joanne looked up and still could only see an outline of a young males face, bushy fair hair about 16 years of age. She rolled down the window.

The figure came lower and the face was at the open window, though only an outline could be seen. Paul turned on the over head interior vehicle light. A young man with bushy hair, an acne face and teeth in braces was now visible.

“Are you the TV crew”? He enquired.

“Yes” Joanne managed to say.

“My dad told me to look out for you. Come this way.” He said and walked towards the house that was alongside the church.

They got out of the car slowly and watched the outline of the figure walk towards the house. There was a welcome light on; the bricks of the house were a creamy color. Normally Joanne would just walk after him but this time she was going to wait for the guys to get their equipment ready.

 

As Ray and Paul got the camera and sound recording equipment out Joanne noticed a tall thin man with a dark baseball cap walking slowly up the street. He had noticed them getting out of the car with the light from the overhead interior light on and was curious. He was wearing a red and black square check lumber jacket on, blue jeans and brown work boots on. He had a black moustache that curled down. He had in his left hand a can of VB beer. He suddenly walked across the road and began approaching them. Joanne pretended she forgot something in the car. She put her head inside and spoke to Ray who had his head in the rear seat of the car unzipping the camera bag.

“Ray!!!!, a man is coming”!! She said. Ray quickly got out of the car and Paul was also alerted by the intensity of Joanne’s voice.

He came up to them and in the darkness, they lost sight of him but they could hear him. He came up to Joanne.

“What’s going on”? He said.

“We are going to talk to the reverend” She said.

“Oh…what about”? He said.

“We are doing a report on the healing weekend, this weekend.” She said.

“Healing”?

“Yes,” she replied.

He stood there for a moment.

“What’s going on”? He said. Joanne felt uncomfortable.

“We have to talk to the Reverend now brother” Ray said. The man looked at him slowly.

“Oh” He said and just stood there.

“You can talk to the reverend later but we need to talk to him now.” Paul said.

“Oh” he said. He stood there, a little over six feet tall and in the darkness he appeared menacing. No one wanted to move, just in case he became aggressive.  At that moment the young man returned who had spoken to them earlier.

“Coming”? He said.

The tall man looked at him.

“What’s going on”? He said.

“They are going to see my dad” the young man said.

“Oh” he said.

“You have to go home now,” Paul said to the man.

“Yeah…ok.” He replied.

He turned around and walked back to the other side of the road and continued to walk in the direction he was walking before.

Joanne looked at the group.

“That was scary” she said.

“Ok, take it easy” Ray said and they walked in the direction of the welcome light. There was an outline of a man’s head behind the closed fly screen door. They could not make out any details and then it was gone. For the first time in her young television reporting career Joanne was scared.

 

The young man stepped inside the house and kept the door open for them. They saw him properly now, a tall teenager, with a black t-shirt, blue jeans and white runners. He put his right finger to his mouth and said “Shhh” gently. They saw a crucifix on the wall and they then turned left into the lounge room.

The lounge room was large, but very modest. There were 2 women seated on the couch. One was Maggie, who was shaking like a leaf, very upset. To the extreme east of the room a solid man was looking out the window his back to them. The young man said to the group quietly that his dad and Robert were in prayer.

“Who are you “? Joanne asked

“I am Reverend John’s son Michael”

As a reflex she put her hand out and shook his right hand.

“Joanne” She said. He shook it. He pointed to a small couch and directed them to sit there. Joanne sat down and so did Paul but Ray decided to crouch. He turned on his camera discreetly and put it on his lap. They were sitting directly opposite the two women. The other woman, a slender woman in her forties had her arm around Maggie trying to console her. They were not paying much attention to the film crew. Michael left them there. Ray casually positioned the camera on his lap so the lens was aiming in the direction of the two women. They would appear only in the top left corner of the screen later when shown on TV but that didn’t matter, they couldn’t risk asking to film directly, instead they would have to work with the footage they had.

Ray and Joanne’s eyes met and Ray winked. Her eyes looked at the camera quickly and he winked again. She knew he was filming.

“Is he still there Roger”? Maggie said.

“Yes” he hasn’t gone” said Roger, the man who was looking out the window in the direction of Maggie’s house.

Maggie then looked at the camera crew.

“When he was a young boy, you should have seen him. He had the nicest happiest face; he was the happiest little boy”

At that moment Robert and John entered the room. They both looked very serious.

“Lets go” Robert said to the film crew. They needed no encouragement.

 

Robert and the reverend stepped onto the doorstep, the welcome light still showing their stern faces. The crew came out. Robert spoke to them.

“If you want to turn the camera on when we go inside the house you can, I prefer you don’t use the camera light unless you have to. John didn’t want you to come, this is my idea. I need for you to be quiet and follow instructions. You don’t talk, you don’t make noise, you don’t touch anything you don’t get in the way, ok.” Robert said.

“Ok” Joanne said.

Paul had his large microphone in his left hand and recorder on his right hip. John noticed this and didn’t approve. Robert looked in the distance and noticed a largish woman, Elsie, approaching by foot.

“Good Elsie is here”. Robert said.

As Elsie approached them Robert said

“Hello Elsie” and gave her a kiss on the cheek. John did the same. Elsie looked at the camera crew. Joanne nodded.

Robert looked at Elsie.

“This is bad, according to Maggie”

“Ok” Elsie said.

“Let’s go” Robert said and they all walked in the direction of Maggie’s home.

Robert and Phillip walked up front with Elsie just behind them. The camera crew was following in silence and Ray had his camera aimed at their backs as they walked. It was dark and the vision would be poor but in the end they may get something out of it. Neither of them dared speak as they followed the three to an unassuming white house.

 

They stopped for a moment and Elsie turned to the film crew.

“Do you know the Lord’s prayer?” she said in a gentle voice.

They mumbled the answer.

“If you know it say it to yourself, over and over again and don’t stop saying it.”

From the footpath, they could see the lounge room light fully on, but there was no sound.

“Ray, you can see there is a light on, I prefer you don’t use your camera light, and when we go in all of you stay behind us, to the right of us or to the left of us, not in front of us. Ok.”? Robert said.

They mumbled their answers. Joanne agreed and Ray too but they were terrified.

“Ok, let’s go.” He said and they walked to the door and the welcome light was not on.

 

In the darkness Joanne could hear Robert fumbling with some keys and the door lock, but he didn’t need to, he put his hand on it and it swung open. They stepped in. Joanne and Paul of the crew forgot to say the Lord’s Prayer. Ray did even though he was holding the camera. He kept holding it in a machine gun position not to his face so he could move around the house without risk of tripping over. They went inside.

 

The corridor was dark but the lounge room was well illuminated. Joanne wished she was not there. She could face an angry car salesman, a thief, a conman but this was completely different. Robert, Elsie and Phillip walked into the lounge room. As soon as they did this the camera crew came behind them. There they say Jason sitting on the couch, complacently. He stood up and looked at them. He looked perplexed like someone had come up to him you off the street and said “hippopotamus” to his face.

“In the name of Jesus Christ I forbid any violence or any act of defiance in this house. I call upon the holy spirit to descend and fill this room with the love of Jesus Christ and protect us from any act that is evil harmful or embarrassing.” Robert said.

Jason stood there, still. John walked closer to him and it appeared he was saying a prayer to himself. Then Elsie approached.

“In the name of Jesus Christ, with his authority we forbid any violence in here and we call upon the angels of the Lord to descend into the house. We ask that Jason not be hurt but the spirit of the Lord shall enter him…”Elsie said.

Ray was filming all of it, his camera aimed at Jason. In a split second Jason, flew under the couch. His almost adult framed disappeared like a frightened mouse under the small gap between the carpet and the couch. Ray got it all on film.

Elsie approached the couch as if she had caught her grand son stealing a cookie.

“Jason, in the name of Jesus Christ, come here, we won’t to talk to you.” She said.

“In the name of Jesus Christ I ask the demons and their emissaries to leave Jason as we pray for him and ask the Holy Spirit to return to Jason”. Robert said. He had just completed the sentence as Jason flew from under the couch up to the corner of the ceiling then down onto the couch. Ray didn’t get all of it on film but he saw it as did the others.

Jason was now sitting there with a stunned look on his face.

“There will be no violence or showy behavior here in the name of Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus Christ we ask what ever is holding Jason to leave or you will be evicted and put in the boxes by his angels.” Robert said.

Jason’s head went back. He laughed but it turned to a cry. He gritted his teeth closed his eyes. He started making strange grunting noises.

 “In the name of Jesus Christ I ask you all demons to leave one by one from Jason without any vomiting, burping or other orifices of his body, except from his mouth.” Elsie said.

For a moment it looked as if Jason was trying to vomit into the air. His mouth was open.

“Ok angels; strike with your swords these…” Robert began to say

“All right!!!!, I’m gone” Jason said.

“Who are you”? Robert said.

“Anger” Jason replied.

“Get in the box now Jesus Christ has prepared for you.” Robert said.

“No, I don’t want to” Jason said his head shaking.

“It is not your choice, in the name of Jesus Christ get in the box” Robert said.

Jason threw his head back, gritted his teeth. He opened his eyes and looked directly at Joanne. Then he looked at Robert and his lips spread into a sickly false smile.

“Angels strike these demons with your swords” Elsie said

Jason let out a yelp like a dog in pain and then there was silence.

“Who else is inside Jason now in the name of Jesus Christ” Robert said

Jason shook his head. He opened his eyes and slowly shook his head, looking at Joanne.

“No one, no one I’m all alone” Jason said.

“I know you deceit; we have known each other a long time. How long have you been inside Jason” Elsie said. There was a long period of silence.

“Only about a month.” Jason said.

“Where did you come from”? Robert said

“Cynthia gave me to Jason so I thought I would stay.”

“Go now in the name of Jesus Christ and take any other demons or emissaries with you as we claim Jason back to Jesus Christ.” Robert said.

“No…no no why”? Jason said.

“Go now as we are going to anoint Jason, in the name of Jesus Christ and there will be no violence or rejection from you.” Robert said.

Jason snorted; his head went back and then forward again. Within an instant he seemed clear. His eyes were bright as he looked around. Elsie took a little bottle of oil and dabbed some on her right forefinger. She touched his forehead and made the sign of the cross on his skin.

“In the name of Jesus Christ I anoint you” Elsie said. John came closer and put his right hand on Jason’s head. He said a silent prayer that no one could quite hear.

“We are going to pray for you” Robert said. Jason nodded his head as if he understood. The camera crew was amazed, as it just seemed he was a different person.

 

Elsie led them in prayer and blessing asking the Holy Spirit to descend onto them all. Tears flowed from him Jason’s eyes as Robert, John and Elsie asked the Holy Spirit to enter Jason and forbid the demons to return to Jason or anyone else in the room. Ray continued to film but was aware he was coming close to the end of the tape in his camera. He had found the experience quite moving. Robert pointed to the film crew and waved for them to leave quietly. They did the best they could and left the house.

Joanne Ray and Paul stepped out onto the footpath in darkness. Joanne came up to Ray excitedly.

“Tell me you got all of that”?!! She said.

“I am sure I did” Ray said with a smile.

“Check” Joanne said. Ray began to rewind the tape. He stopped every so often and looked at the small monitor. It seemed there.

“Did you see how he flew under the sofa? I didn’t thing it was possible” Paul said.

“Yeah” Joanne said. Ray continued to rewind the tape. He stopped and looked at the monitor. He smiled.

“Got it”. He said. The others gathered around and looked at the monitor. There right before their eyes a young man jumped under a couch defying physics. This would set the secular world and the spiritual deniers on their head.

“My God” Joanne said.

“Exactly, my God, do you believe in him now”? Ray said to her.

“Well yeah” Joanne said.

“We need to take this to head office straight away and start editing” Ray said.

“Yes, but we need to make a copy as well, just in case” Joanne said.

“Someone needs to take it in to the studio” Ray said.

“I am staying here, I don’t want to go” Joanne said adamantly.

“Maybe we could put this in a taxi and send it.” Ray said.

“No” Joanne said.

 

For a moment they didn’t know what to do with the tape. It was now 8.45pm on a Thursday night. The tape was sensational and it had to be seen, copied and edited and be ready for screening tomorrow but no one wanted to go, the night wasn’t over and Joanne had a room in the Ambassador Motel. If Ray and Paul went then Joanne would be alone in the Motel and she didn’t want that. Also without having a camera she would not be able to film anything. Also they felt something was going to happen and they needed to be close by.

They walked back to the car still excited by what they had experienced and uncertain what to do. In the distance they saw Robert and John talking then saying good bye to Elsie. They could just see their outlines and then Elsie left in the direction of her car about 20 meters away from them. John and Robert walked towards them.

 

St. John’s is only a small church. When the door was opened it was dark. They waited until John went inside and turned on the lights. When he did it revealed a modest church with simple paintings of the Stations of the Cross. In the last pew was a large cane basket full of toys and damaged books for children. John led them to the first pew with Robert not far behind. After they sat down, John spoke to them.

“Jason is resting. Maggie is going back home and Elsie will come back later and check on her.” He said.

“Will he be alright”? Joanne asked.

“We hope so Joanne” John replied. There was a moment of silence before John spoke again.

“The reason we brought you here is because we want to pray for you” He said. They nodded.

“Is that alright” John asked

Ray and Paul nodded and agreed. Joanne didn’t.

“Joanne, can we pray for you”? John asked again.

“I feel uncomfortable about that” Joanne said.

“He saw you, Joanne, he looked right at you” Robert said.

Joanne didn’t know what to say. Ray looked at her.

“You believe in Jesus, what is wrong”? he said.

“I don’t know what I believe” Joanne said.

“This is an important time Joanne. Spirits look for new homes when they have been cast out, it is important that we pray for you to protect you.” John said.

“Please, I am not comfortable” Joanne said.

“Are you staying alone” Robert asked of Joanne. She seemed embarrassed by the question.

“No, I have asked that Ray and Paul stay with me” She said.

There was a long pause.

“What about the tape, what will happen to it” Robert asked.

“We were just talking about that…. we thought that maybe….”Joanne started to say.

“People and objects can carry curses and evil spirits can become attached to them. I suggest we send the tape to someone not here, after we pray in this church for you all and that Satan doesn’t interfere with the tape.” John said.

“How is the tape going to be interfered with”? Joanne asked.

“Satan influenced one of the apostles to betray Jesus, he can influence one of you to destroy the tape, or have an accident, or cause some one to have an accident with you in the car” John concluded. They listened intently.

 “I think he is trying to influence you right now Joanne” Robert said.

“Me! Because I don’t want to be prayed for”? Joanne retorted.

“Yes, why not” John said. Joanne looked puzzled and shocked.

“Ask the holy spirit to enter you and accept Jesus as your savior” Robert said.

 Joanne looked at him and the others. She got up and walked out of the church. As soon as she was gone Phillip led the group in prayer.

 

Outside the church building it was dark. Joanne stood away from the door on the ground of the car park. She couldn’t even see her feet. She was upset, why? She didn’t really know. She felt like she was supposed to be in control of the situation and now she was no longer in control. She was confused, she did believe in God but she wasn’t particularly religious. A blessing, a prayer for her that was something she was not sure of. She felt as if her soul would be breached, the whole essence of what she was would be tampered with. She felt that something was going to control her and make her become something she didn’t want to be.

As she stood there alone, the group inside were praying and being prayed for. Jason was being healed, Maggie was now feeling better, Elsie would return later, and the weather was clearing. Souls were being saved and lost. Change was not just in the air but on the ground as well.

 

 

Chapter 8

Michael Weinberger lived in Chelsea Heights, about a 15-minute drive from Frankston. He had just stepped out into the back yard for a cigarette. He looked up at the night sky and noticed it was clearing. He had a pool but it was empty. The night air was not as chilly as it had been a few hours ago. He wondered if he should clean the pool and fill it with water.  He wondered if there was going to be an early hot summer like the previous year and the hand full years before that. He lit his cigarette and took a puff. He was trying to give up but something was holding him back. He was a stocky man 43 years of age with an ample belly that flooded over his belt. He liked his drink and fatty food. He was trying to give some of it up but something was holding him back. From where he was he could see the TV set in the lounge room. He was the editor of “A current Affair”.  He had been a cameraman than editor of the program for many years.

 

He had just been sitting on the blue couch watching TV his wife Juliet was asleep as was also his only child Sonia.. It was about 10.30pm and he was thinking about having a beer, when the phone rang. He ran inside quick. The TV. Was babbling away quietly, he didn’t want to disturb his wife and daughter sleeping. He picked up the phone; he didn’t quite hear the voice at the other end. He went to the remote control and muted the sound of the TV. He said “Hello” quietly then walked out into the back yard with the cordless phone so he wouldn’t disturb his family. He became aware he was talking to executive producer Roger Mains. He listened intently, Roger never called him at home before, and no one had ever called him from work on his private landline number.

 

He listened to what Roger was saying. He wanted Michael to receive a tape tonight from a taxi driver and start editing it straight away. They had little time and they wanted the tape edited and copied ready for tomorrow’s program. They would do a voice over later if necessary or Joanne would come in later and put her voice over it. Either way it had to be done tonight. Michael agreed. He didn’t ask what it was all about and he knew it was not a good idea to ask. Someone could be listening, something scandalous could be on the tape and channel 9 wanted the scoop. He had to edit such tapes before but he had never received such phone calls late at night about things like this before. He said good night to his boss and put the phone down on the outdoor setting table. He sat down. He picked up his cigarette and took another puff when he heard a car coming down his quiet dead end street. He saw the bright headlights shine on the driveway and through the gate into the back yard. He rushed out quickly to meet the taxi driver. He was convinced the car would wake up his family, so he wanted to take the package as fast as possible.

 

The young taxi driver had turned off the engine when Michael came quickly to the passenger side. The lights were still on but at least it was now quiet. The quiet street was not accustomed to taxi s parking on the driveway especially this late at night.  He took delivery of a simple carton box, which had been sitting on the passenger seat. The fare was already paid for by voucher so Michael just had to bring it inside the house.

 

He entered the house through the rear sliding doors with the simple carton box that was the size of a shoebox. It was heavily taped so he took a pair of scissors from one of the kitchen drawers. He used one of the blades to cut the tape on one of the boxes flaps when he saw Juliet walk past with her tiger pattern dressing gown. She was sleepy and enquired about the noise that had woken her and the box he was now opening. He naturally told her it was work and he had some homework to do. She thought nothing of it. She had a glass of water from the drink bottle in the kitchen and then went back to bed.

 

When he opened the box he noticed it was well padded with old newspaper then a “blessing card”. He read it quickly “Here is a blessed gift for you” it said and then he got the camera tape. He then went inside his “tech” room.

In his “tech” room Michael had 2 DVD players, a VCR and a professional editing machine he brought from work. Sometimes if he was busy he edited some work at home. He took the tape and put it in his VCR and began playing it.

 

At first it was all humdrum, interview with Robert, background shots all that sort of thing, nothing too important until he saw the footage of Jason’s intercession.  After seeing the dark but clear image of Jason flying under the couch Michael’s jaw nearly hit the ground. He knew he had work to do.

 

The night was not yet over and Satan and the Lord had their effect on a town on the outskirts of Melbourne in a country that was on the other side of the world. Michael didn’t know that he was chosen by the producer to edit the film instead of another editor Glen McKinnon. He actually lived closer to the city and was more senior to Michael but he was a devout Christian. The producer didn’t want a bias view of the tape but also reverend John went into a long discussion on the phone to the producer how Satan tries his best to influence the God’s followers. Someone, disinterested in spiritual matters is a harder target to convert, so Michael was a good choice.

 

The taxi trip to his house was no coincidence. Ray, Paul or Joanne would not have been a good choice to deliver the tape as anything could have happened. Many people play the role of Judas in a time of crisis. The devil chooses his recruits carefully and tells them they should help him. Evidence gets destroyed, driver’s suddenly have a strange episode and lose control of their car, and people speak in strange voices and attack others. This is nothing new to the intercessors and spiritual people, but something the secular community find hard to understand. If Satan could tempt the son of God in the wilderness to worship him, trying to destroy a tape is easy. This time Satan would not win. A handful of devout and strong Christians had forbidden him and his followers to have an influence on the tape or those who made it, and those who were now receiving it. The tape and the people concerned were soaked in prayer and protection but the evil prince doesn’t give in easily. He still had plenty of targets and was no longer angry that Ray was now closer to Jesus. Instead Joanne was vulnerable, the reverend and Robert could see that. She was resisting God and she was vulnerable in a world where one can only serve one master. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

 

Jason was just starting to fall asleep in his bed. He felt good, very tired but content. He wasn’t sure why his grandmother Maggie and Elsie were there and smiling but he didn’t have a problem with it. He allowed Elsie to anoint him and then he went into a deep slumber. His demons were gone and the Holy Spirit had reclaimed him. There would be no nonsense from the demons tonight; Elsie had made sure of it. She had a gentle smile but you just got the impression that she would grab any human or evil spirit by the scruff of the neck and pound them. She was a strong willed woman who God chose to be in his service because her heart was good. Satan tried this woman occasionally but others prayed her for and she prayed for herself as well. It was easier for him to find someone else.

 

Maggie was happy too. She was smiling and it seemed as if she had lost 5 years in age. She would sleep well tonight and she had asked Elsie to stay with her. Elsie said she would arrange another woman intercessor to stay with Maggie that night as she felt her work for the night was not done. She had been informed by the reverend that Joanne had refused a blessing and prayer, which came as no surprise to Elsie. She had not really met Joanne properly but women like Elsie are not fooled by ego and vanity. Elsie was ready to leave at a moments notice.

 

Joanne was annoyed at Ray. They sat quietly in the car as Paul drove them towards The Ambassador. It was late, and dark. When they got in the car Ray asked innocently of Joanne why she didn’t want a prayer and a blessing. Joanne exploded.

 

 “I don’t have to have a blessing and a prayer if I don’t want to”!! She snapped back and that was the end of the conversation.

 

Being a Thursday night there were more people around the streets and Frankston didn’t seem so lonely or scary. Joanne knew what she had said previously about how she didn’t want to be alone that night but things were different now. She didn’t feel as scared any more and she didn’t need their company, particularly Ray’s.

           

As Paul drove the car towards the motel he remembered what Joanne had said over the last 24 hours and how she didn’t want to stay in the hotel at night alone. Paul would have preferred to go home, he was tired and he was sure Ray was. He had seen a lot today, experienced a lot and he couldn’t explain it yet alone make sense of most of it.

 

Paul was born into a non-believing family. There was his mother and father, himself and his brother Jim. His family are hard working people and his brother Jim was a publican. Neither of them had any strong views on religion so it was only to be expected that Paul would turn out the same way. By the time he was thirty-six his father had died from cancer, his mother from diabetes and he was alone. He never married. He never had a career but drifted from one job to another. He was 30 when he became part of the camera crew of channel 9, old by anyone’s standard but he was prepared to work for the casual wage they were going to offer him. He had a quiet thinking disposition which gave the impression he was clever but in actual fact he was a good listener in a world and time when most people wanted to talk. He had been a roadie for a while and practiced working behind the console in a sound studio. He became good at it and wondered what it was like to be a sound recorder in a film crew and do some sound affects .He made some enquiries. At first the answer was no no no, then he offered to work for free. He got a call from channel 9 and they put him on a casual wage. He was sharing a house at the time so the poor wage didn’t really bother him. He liked the work and after a year they increased his pay. He had his opportunities to work in the studio but he told them he was happy to be with a film crew. He liked the excitement of it all. If they told him tomorrow his job was gone, he would go, without an argument and go straight to another TV. Channel.

 

As the car came up the driveway of the motel and stopped, Joanne said to them.

“Well I am going to bed. You two can get a room and we can meet in the lobby.”

 She got out of the car and walked straight to reception. She left them sitting there trying to work out what was going on in her mind. The expression “You two”, so distant so aloof so unfriendly. Ray and Paul got out of the car slowly and walked to reception.

 

When Joanne opened the door of her room, she sensed a feeling of happiness. She was alone and didn’t have to explain herself to anyone. She was tired and kicked off her shoes and removed her stockings. She was tired but content. She was glad she was away from Ray and Paul. Ray in particular had been getting on her nerves. She didn’t feel she had to explain herself to him why she did what she did or why she didn’t do what he thought she should do.

She walked into the bathroom that had caused her great concern previously and turned on the spa. She poured some spa gel into the water and allowed the water to fill the tub with such noise. She wondered why spas are so noisy. They sound like a small airplane and they are often too big for one person and too small for two.

 

She made sure the door was locked and turned on the T.V. She tilted it towards the spa so she could see it from there. She went into the bathroom and tested the remote control. She could change channels from the spa, excellent. She made sure the door was locked. She also made sure the blinds were drawn tight and then began undressing.

She took out her make up remover from her beauty bag and a small bag of cotton wool balls. Slowly, meticulously she removed her make up which had been so carefully put on. As it came off, she looked real, more human. She knew how to apply it to emphasize her beautiful blue eyes and her full lips. Underneath all the make up she had skin that was no better than anyone else’s.

 

When she got in the bath, it felt good to have her feet in the furiously bubbling water and then she lowered herself gently in the water. Her calf muscles were sore, always sore because she wore high-heeled shoes most of the time to make herself look taller and more feminine. She rubbed them lovingly under water and began to relax. She put her head under water and allowed it to wash out her hairspray. She moved her body around so the pulsating water hit all around her body and relaxed her. She was virtually weightless and floated gently to the surface. When she was in a good position she looked at the TV. She flicked around to the different channels but nothing really appealed to her. She turned it off and the spa as well. The silence was pleasing and relaxing. Where she was she could see her mobile phone near the TV. It was on and she certainly hoped it would not go on while she was in the spa.

 

Ray and Paul got a room to share. They did have a room with 2 single beds. They asked for that because they were not homosexual and certainly didn’t want to sleep together. The pretty desk clerk gave them a room just above Joanne, thought they didn’t know it. They slowly took the equipment out of the car and to the room above Joanne’s.

In the spa, Joanne thought she heard them go into the room above her but couldn’t be sure. She wandered if she had been too nasty but then who cares. She wasn’t prepared to apologize and go and sit with them.

 

Joanne thought about Ray for a moment. With his thick accent, she often didn’t quite understand what he was saying. She noticed there seemed to be a lot of immigrants in Melbourne and Sydney; that was something she was not accustomed to in Perth. The way Ray said, “tap” for the word “tape” and a few other words were quite annoying. Why did Australia allow so many immigrants into the country when so many of them couldn’t speak English properly?

 

Upstairs Paul and Ray entered the room. It was modest, nothing special. There were no chocolates on the pillows or welcoming fruit baskets. These rooms were allocated for people like Ray, 2 men working together to stay over night and share the costs. Paul was a quiet man at the best of times and Ray was quiet too. He had caused enough trouble with Joanne already so was not in the mood for talking. They put their equipment on the floor. Ray was aware he had only one videocassette for his camera. He would need more and he hoped Joanne would be in a nicer frame of mind tomorrow and they could all go to the city get some more tape and maybe do a voice over in the studio.

 

Paul was looking at the painting of a sailing ship between the two beds. Ray was about to check the battery of the camera when   he had a distinctive feeling something was wrong. He had a feeling similar to that when one becomes aware they have forgotten something important. The only difference is it was about Joanne. He felt she was in trouble. He stayed motionless on one bent knee, staring at the window with the curtains drawn tight. This is what Paul saw when he turned around.

“What is it Ray”? He said.

“I think Joanne is in trouble” He said.

“No I don’t think so” Paul replied.

Ray got up slowly but he was distracted as if he could hear something.

“No I think she is in trouble” He said. There was a moment of silence.

“What do you think we should do, knock on her door”? Paul said

“Yes, I think we should” Ray replied.

“What happens if she is asleep”? Paul asked. Ray thought about it, yes what we they do if she was asleep.

“I am going to go down stairs and listen at her door” Ray said and then he got up and left the room. Paul watched him go; he didn’t know what to do.
 

Joanne was enjoying her bath. She felt relaxed.  She hit the “Pulse” button. In a second the bath was pulsing water all around. She moved her legs around to get the full force of the jets on her tired muscles.

 

Outside her door, Ray could hear the spa going and could hear her move her legs around with a splashing sound. He waited for a moment till the pulsing noise was over. He heard her splashing around then he decided he should leave. She seemed okay.

 

Joanne didn’t hear Ray outside the door. She was enjoying her bath. She could see her mobile phone on the dressing table near the T.V. She wondered for a moment if anyone would call her. While she was watching the phone she had a feeling of a cool breeze enter the room as if there was a draft, an open window or an open door.  She leaned out of the spa to try and see if she could see the door but couldn’t. She sat back. She looked at her phone and thought that maybe it would be a good idea if she called someone just to say hello. She didn’t want to get out of the spa though.  At first Joanne thought she was imaging it, but then she realized she wasn’t. Something was wrong. She felt cold and scared. She felt she could not move. She tried to move her legs but they would not move. She wasn’t sure if it was cramp or whether it was fear, but she could not move her body.

 

The desk phone then rang. She had no idea who was calling or why. She wanted to get to the phone to answer it, but she could not move. She screamed, louder then louder over again, but she couldn’t get up. She mustered all the courage she could to get out of the bath and found she could do it easily. She clutched some towels and put them around her and then she quickly ran to the phone. She caught a brief look at herself in the mirror and it didn’t seem to be her. She ran and picked up the phone but it stopped ringing just as she picked it up. She felt a cold breeze behind her, which made her spin around, but she could not see anything. She then went to her mobile phone and it seemed to be in a different position, she knew it. She picked it up and felt like a thin black arm grabbed her hand, but didn’t want to stop her, just wanted her to know it was there. She pressed the buttons frantically to access her previous calls. She accessed the last phone number, Robert. It dialed. She was frantic and found herself on the floor. It went to message bank. She didn’t know what to do or say, she hung up. She threw the phone on the floor. She could hear footsteps outside her door and then loud banging. Joanne heard a rushing of wind and it seemed to go inside her mouth. She felt her throat spread and a sensation like food entering her stomach. She knew she had swallowed something. For a brief moment she was fine. The banging on the door was still going on but Joanne felt still, calm, no longer tormented. She felt the urge to lie down which she did on the bed. She dropped her towels and lay flat on her back. The room was cool yet she felt quite warm, she didn’t feel afraid, she felt good. The noise from outside the door seemed to fade away and she was no longer aware of it. She closed her eyes. She felt like this once before when she had got drunk at her 18th birthday, the room was spinning slowly.

Amy the receptionist at the Ambassador had heard the screaming as well and had come running to the apartment room. She saw Paul and Ray there. They were all scared; the screaming was terrifying as if someone was being murdered. Amy put her master key into the door and opened it. She opened the door slowly. She wasn’t sure what she was going to see and didn’t want to see what she was about to see, but she knew she had to.

 

Like opening the door of a refrigerator, Amy felt the cold air in the room. She saw Joanne lying on the bed naked, her legs spread wide apart. There was a smell that Amy couldn’t identify. Joanne was lying there just casually looking up at the ceiling. Their eyes met.

“Excuse me miss, are you alright”? Amy said. Joanne didn’t seem to notice, just stared at her.

“We heard screaming, your friends are here, we were worried.” Amy said timidly. Joanne didn’t seem to be registering the conversation. Amy kept the door open but ducked her head out to talk to Ray and Paul, who were anxiously waiting for some information.

“She is just lying there, naked.” She said.

“Any one else there”? Ray asked.

“I don’t know, I couldn’t see anyone.” She replied.

The door suddenly slammed shut startling them.

“Did she close the door or is there someone else in there” said Paul.

“I don’t know” Amy said. She knocked on the door

“Hello, Miss, are you okay”??!!!!! Amy said.

“Her name is Joanne” Paul said.

“Joanne, are you okay”? Amy said after knocking again. Ray took out his mobile phone and started dialing.

“Are you calling the cops”? Paul asked.

“No. She doesn’t need cops, she needs a priest.”

 

 

Chapter 9

On the corner of Nepean Highway and Davey Street is the Grand Hotel. Elsie thought she could stop briefly for a beer and a play of the pokies. As she approached the hotel she couldn’t believe her luck as a vehicle was about to leave a parking bay near the premises. She put her indicator on and waited patiently for the car to depart. There was little traffic around as it was Thursday night. As the vehicle departed, Elsie quickly passed the bay ready to back in. She wanted to reverse quickly into the bay before traffic arrived from behind. She didn’t like to inconvenience other drivers and certainly didn’t want to feel pressure to park. She looked over her left shoulder and was ready to reverse. There was no traffic. She heard laughing. It made her stop and she looked around the car. She looked out the windows but there were no people near her car on the footpath. She saw the lights of an approaching car from behind then heard the horn being blown. She wondered why people were so impatient. She started to park in the bay. She made no eye contact with the driver as he drove by, annoyed Elsie took that 10 seconds of his life. She turned off the engine. At that moment she felt warm and light, the way she usually felt when the lord moved with in her. Then she thought about the laughter she had heard earlier, like that of a late teenage girl being frivolous and care free on the way to a night club. She remembered where she had heard it previously. It was the voice of a demon that had possessed Cynthia; a teenager Elsie had cast out nearly 10 years ago. The girl said she was Lucifer and he was cast out. Was it Lucifer? or just some other demons pretending. It didn’t matter, he was gone, and it was gone. Was he back?

At that moment, Elsie’s mobile phone rang. She picked it up and recognized the reverend’s phone number. She answered

“Hello John, trouble with the lass Joanne”? She said.

“Yes, the Ambassador Hotel” Phillip said in a tired voice. “I will meet you there”.

“Ok” Elsie said. She ended the call. She looked at her watch, it was almost 11pm. It was going to be a late night. No time for beer and gambling.

When Elsie arrived at the Ambassador Hotel, which is only about 10 minutes away, she found Paul and Ray near the door with Amy in quiet conversation. They saw Elsie and seemed relieved. Ray approached Elsie.

“Joanne is in trouble,” He said. Elsie approached the door. She looked at Amy.

“Could you open the door please” Elsie said.

Amy looked frightened but with her master key she tried to open the door to Joanne’s room, but it did not want to open. Amy struggled with the keys. Joanne seemed to say a prayer to her self. She took out her crucifix necklace from under her sweater and placed it on her ample bosom.  She put her hand on the door and it swung open a few inches. They stared at it.  She clutched the necklace tightly with her right hand, as she continued her silent prayer. While this was occurring John arrived. Elsie didn’t even look in his direction as he came up behind her.

“Should I get my camera”? Ray asked. Elsie just looked at him in a way that said “No”.

 Without looking at any one she said.

“John and I are going in, the rest of you go back to your rooms.”

They needed no encouragement, particularly Amy. She was thinking of quitting a week ago and now she felt without doubt that she didn’t get enough pay for this sort of thing.

Elsie and John walked in.

 

The room was dark and cold. Even though it was tidy, it smelt unsavory.  There was a wet patch on the bed and there was the smell of urine. Standing in the bathroom just staring at them was a woman who was once Joanne Thomson. Her eyes were glazed like she was under heavy medication. She was wearing a bathroom but it was loosely fitted. Her left breast was nearly exposed. Her hair looked like she or someone else had pulled it up and left it there. It wasn’t upright completely but it was wet and not ruffled. She was naked underneath the bathrobe and barefoot.

She snarled at them in a growling voice.

 

“In the name of Jesus Christ, I forbid any violence or acts of destructive behavior.” Elsie said. Joanne just smiled and started to crouch down.

“I forbid any disgusting or embarrassing acts in the name of Jesus Christ.” Elsie emphasized. In this crouched position, Joanne opened her mouth and burped.

“Fat ugly bitch” the words came out of Joanne’s mouth but they were not her words or her voice.

“I forbid any profanity, supernatural acts or any other acts in this room in the name of Jesus Christ” John said. Joanne walked over to him and in a voice that was not hers said

“You forbid??...............You forbid nothing.” She looked at him. She took out her breasts and showed them.

“I know you want to feel them John, you dirty old man” the voice said. John looked uncomfortable.

“Use your big dick father, don’t be afraid” It said. At that moment Elsie took out her little bottle of oil from her handbag that she used for anointment.

“I have something special for you” Elsie said and showed the oil. Joanne flew backwards against the wall then scampered under the bed like a spider. In that instant, the robe had fallen off. Elsie stood back and so did John.

“No games now, come out where we can see you” Elsie said. There was no response.

“I ask the angels to remove you from under the bed and sit on the bed where we can see you.” Elsie said.

In a swift motion Joanne was now sitting on the bed, naked, her head shaking in disagreement.

Words started coming from Joanne’s mouth in a language that neither Elsie nor John could understand.

“Stop that showy behavior in the name of Jesus Christ” Elsie said as she put some oil on her right hand and flicked it aggressively in Joanne’s face. It was a tiny amount but it was enough for Joanne to shake her head even more saying “No No No.”
Then a male voice came through her.

“Elsie, my dear you are trying to kill me”!!!

“You are not my husband and I didn’t kill you, in the name of Jesus Christ I command the demon out of you and all their emissaries.” Elsie said as she flicked some more oil on her face. This time the shaking of her head had stopped. Her eyes were now open very wide. A low grunting noise was coming out. Her mouth opened wide.

“No!!!!!” Joanne yelled. Her body then began to shake. This happened for a moment. Elsie put some oil on Joanne’s forehead and John approached her. As he got closer, Joanne noticed him. She growled like a child imitating a dog.

“In the name of Jesus Christ I forbid any acts of violence here” John said. He then put his hands on Joanne’s shoulders. She started to cry.

 

In the room where Ray and Paul were staying, the two men were anxious. They had been talking about taking the camera and filming this event after all they were a camera crew, but they had reservations about filming such a personal matter. After all Joanne was a colleague and this was an intensely private matter. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. They rushed at it. Amy was at the door.

“Your friends want to see you now” She said her eyes as large as saucers. She then left. They looked at each other.

“Let’s take our stuff” Ray said and the two of them picked up their equipment.

 

John was standing in the half open doorway of Joanne’s room. He saw Ray and Paul approaching with the equipment and was surprised. He looked down at the camera that was being cradled in his left arm. John approached them.

“You can’t film Joanne, it is not appropriate” He said softly. He didn’t realize that Ray already had the camera on.

“Is she ok”? Paul said.

“We are going to pray for her for a little longer. I suggest you try and get some sleep” John said.

“Who will look after Joanne”? Ray said.

“We may have to take her to the vicarage where she can be cared for.” John said.

Ray and Paul thought about it for a moment.

“Can we see her.”?  Ray said. John thought about it for a moment and then opened the door a little more. He looked inside and allowed Ray and Paul to peer in.

 

As Ray leaned forward into the room he casually passed the camera into his right arm, cradling it like a baby. He wanted to make sure the lens was aiming inside. Paul and Ray saw Joanne wrapped in a bathrobe. Her face devoid of make up was almost unrecognizable. She appeared as if she had been through a traumatic experience. Elsie was gently stroking her hair and whispering something in her left ear. A single bed stool lamp dimly lighted the room and Ray was wondering if the camera was recording any of it. Elsie looked at them. She helped Joanne stand up. Joanne was in tears. Elsie helped her walk towards the door. Ray and Paul automatically stepped back as did John and allowed them to pass.

Elsie guided Joanne down the corridor quietly. Joanne was barefoot and Elsie had her arm around her waist walking with her as if it was her daughter. John looked at them.

“She needs a good rest at our residence and she needs to be prayed for…this is quite disturbing. Why don’t you both come around to the vicarage tomorrow about 9am and we will talk about it. Elsie will come back later to the room and collect her things. ”John said. Ray and Paul were deep in thought.

“The devil is angry isn’t he father” Ray said. John looked at him.

“Yes he is Ray, it is very complicated but I think that is what is happening. This doesn’t t happen very often. We don’t know yet if the same demons which were in Jason have gone to Joanne or Joanne already had demons.” John said.

“Joanne”? Paul said

“Yes, demons don’t have to make people vomit or do supernatural acts, but they can influence our behavior. I noticed Jason seemed to look at Joanne in his mother’s house, they could have left Joanne to look for another home.”

“Is that possible” Paul enquired.

“It is our belief as Christians that these spirits are wondering in search of a new home, namely a person and they can even return back to where they had come from, that is why we need to look after Joanne tonight.” John added. He then pulled the door closed slowly but not sure to lock it.

“I must go now and see how Elsie is. Please stay here until Elsie returns.” He said. He then walked in the direction in which Elsie and Joanne had gone. Elsie came around the corner and she stopped to talk to John. They talked in whispers, and then John walked towards reception. Elsie approached Ray and John standing there like lost schoolboys.

“He will destroy the world if we let him, gentlemen. We must not let him. He is strong and we must be stronger. Just as Jesus sent out the 72 to the villages to preach and cast out demons in his name, so we too carry on that tradition and faith of casting out demons in his name. I hope you two can be strong in the next few days because it appears as if Satan doesn’t like what you are doing. Excuse me.” Elsie said and went inside Joanne’s room. Paul and Ray left for there room. They said nothing. They had seen and experienced too much for one day.

 

That night was a long night and everyone concerned went to bed very tired. The last 24 hours had been the most harrowing and revealing time for them all. They wrestled with good and evil, their observations and beliefs. For Ray he had experienced God again after a long absence. For Paul it was a discovery of a genuine influence of good and evil in the world. For Joanne, she would discover that she had been vulnerable for a very long time and a prime candidate for demons. For the reverend John, Elsie and Robert there was a realization that something larger than expected was taking place. They were not just on the eve of a healing weekend but what appeared to be a major demonstration of spiritual warfare. This would be testing times and the fact that Satan was trying so hard to ruin the event indicated the seriousness of what the Peninsula churches were trying to achieve. They were all at risk, in particular Joanne, Robert and Elsie. Joanne was the outsider coming into the world of Christ and the devil didn’t want to lose her. Robert was young, almost Christ- like in his behavior and belief. He was attracting attention and his influence had to be curbed. Elsie was the warhorse. He had locked horns with her many times. One day she would be too tired, too old, and too ill to fight him and he would win. That would be the day that the devil scores a major victory in the battle to accumulate souls. He would never tire; never give up, until the Lord decides that his reign on earth is over. Until then he would continue to confuse, divide and conquer those who oppose him and those who were uncertain of his existence. Why was he choosing Frankston? Why didn’t he choose Rome, Paris, Moscow, Washington or even holy places likes Lourdes and Fatima. The answer is he was choosing a place where he thought he could win. His demons of doubt were in great abundance there. He would test the faith of the believers and the doubt of the non-believers. And what of God? He knew the results already. He has seen the unborn the beginning and end of everything.

 

 

Chapter 10

It was about 4 am. It is called the death hour. More people die between the hours of 3 and 4 am than at any other time. When you are asleep it is the time of night your heart beat is at its slowest. It is when you are in your deepest sleep. It is when your concentration is at its worst. Many theories exist as to why that is. Some say it is natural to have a time when a person is at their weakest, just as it would be natural to have a time when someone is at their strongest. It is a time when you have the worst nightmares.

 

Michael Weinberger sat up with a start in bed. He was breathing heavily. His heart was pounding in his chest as he was looked around the dark bedroom. He looked at Sonia next to him in his bed. She had her back to him. He slowly got out of bed and left the room not to disturb her. Sonia was awake, but did not make any movement or say anything. This had happened many times before and she grew tired of asking him what the problem was. Michael would have nightmares every so often, maybe once every two months. When she asked him what was wrong he never told her. Something was not right. Something was tormenting him.

While Thursday evening passed into Friday morning, the cold weather also passed. For those who have lived in Melbourne all their lives know how unpredictable the weather in that city can be. This would be no exception. The cool pressure was receding and a warm inland breeze was approaching. The clouds were not dense enough to cause rain or thunder storms. Within hours the damp ground would start to dry and the ominous threat of rain on the weekend would disappear. People would start making plans for the weekend and the healing weekend would come close to the top of their agenda. In springtime, particular early October, the weather is at its most unstable in the great southern Australian city. You could have bitter cold wind with heavy rain or summer temperatures, it was potluck. Robert had put his faith in God when he chose the first weekend of October as the day of healing. The secular people would put it down to coincidence, but others would see the divine hand of the Lord involved.

 

Ray awoke with a start. For a moment he didn’t know where he was. He looked across the room to see Paul still sleeping. He leaned over and picked up his watch quietly by his bedside table. He looked at it and saw the time was just after 8am. He was still a little sleepy but happy. He got out of bed quietly and looked through the small partition in the curtains at the weather outside. It was sunny, the sky was blue and the clouds were white. He needed to see this for himself.

 

On Nepean highway the traffic was busy. It was Friday and peak hour. He had his mobile phone in his hand. He turned it on. He started walking towards Frankston towards Beach Street and then just kept walking.

The beach was almost completely deserted except for an old man in the distance walking his dog. Ray arrived on the sand where he was only 24 hours ago and he felt the tears welling in his eyes. The sea was calm, the sky a magnificent blue with the occasional white cloud. There was a gentle breeze coming from the ocean. He felt a tremendous sense of victory and happiness as if he had been saved from a major ordeal. He closed his eyes and prayed silently for a few minutes. He thanked God for forgiving him for his sin and sparing his sanity. The nice weather was symbolic of how he felt and he felt redeemed. He felt God was watching over him and blessing him. He decided to ring his wife Carmel. When he heard her on the phone he was happy. He told her he loved her and his daughter Susie. Even though Carmel had little time to hear what Ray was saying because she had to prepare Susie for school, she had to listen to her husband.

 

He told her a little of what had occurred and what he had experienced. He couldn’t bring himself yet to tell her about the murder in the Philippines but he told her everything else. She felt that something profound had occurred. She felt that God had touched her husband .He sounded more loving, gentle and thoughtful than he had been for a very long time. She told him she loved him too and she couldn’t wait to see him. He told them he would be home that night, no problems.

 

 

Chapter 11

Father O’Shea liked to sleep with his bedroom window open a few inches. He liked the cool air to circulate into his room. This morning was different. He could hear clearly a bird singing with its pleasant chirping song. He awoke and looked around the room. There was more light than usual, the days were getting longer. Looking out the window he could see the blue skies. The ducks would soon be swimming on the pond at Queens Park. Father O’Shea felt exhilarated. It was going to be a beautiful spring day, which was for sure.

 

The ducks indeed were wading and a few joggers were jogging around the well-maintained walking/running tracks. Father O’Shea had his silver Thermos with him full of Peppermint and Carmel tea, sweetened with some honey. He had been introduced to the drink by the parents of one of his students and took an immense liking to it. He liked to sit in the yard of St.Monica’s rectory and have his tea but today he wanted to have it in Queens Park, only a short walk away.

 

The park benches were empty so there was no difficulty finding a place to sit down with a view of the pond. He poured himself a cup of tea and looked over the beauty of the park. There was no substitute for a beautiful spring day. He could smell the flowers in the air and the new leaves of the trees. He never tired of the re birth of the world. This morning somehow felt even more special. He had this feeling before several times, 1956 when Melbourne hosted the Olympic games, 1973 during the Eucharistic Congress, 1994 during Melbourne’s first Grand Prix. It was as if the world’s spotlight was on the city and he felt that again. The healing weekend was not going to be a wash out; it was going to be a tremendous success. The weather was good and he felt that for a brief moment, God would interfere and make the weekend a success. He felt happy, truly happy. He wanted to enjoy the moment. When he would return back to his room he would have a recorded message waiting for him from Reverend John Fletcher, asking him for some urgent advice. Yes this was going to be a special day.

 

Joanne opened her eyes slowly. The light of the morning was shining through the partially opened drapes. She could hear birds singing. For a moment she didn’t know where she was. She saw the crucifix on the wall directly opposite her. On the bedside table to her left was The Bible. She could hear the gentle clanging of plates and cups coming from the kitchen. She was in the guest room of the reverend John and his wife Leanne. She got out of bed. She was completely naked, and put on a night gown which was on the edge of the bed. She walked slowly to the door and opened it.

 

In the corridor, Joanne could hear the noise coming from the kitchen as if someone was cleaning up some dishes. She wasn’t prepared to see anyone with out her make up on but she had little choice. She walked towards the kitchen and saw John’s wife Leanne washing some breakfast bowls. She saw Joanne.

“Good morning Joanne”.

“Good morning” Joanne said.

“Sleep well?”

“Yes, thank you” Joanne responded.

“Would you like some breakfast?” she enquired.

“No thank you” Joanne responded.

“Robert and John are in the back yard, they would like to talk to you. Would you like a shower first.”?

Joanne thought about it

“Yes that would be nice thank you.”

“Good, I will show you the room and get you a towel” she said. Joanne followed her.

 

Joanne showered and put her make up on. She didn’t have much choice but to wear the clothes she was wearing the night before. When she went into the backyard led by Leanne she found John and Robert sitting at a pleasant circular iron outdoor dining setting. The weather was surprisingly warm. They were having coffee and some raisin toast. On the table they had a bible and some other printed A4 sheets of paper. When they saw her, they stood up. As she approached them, they could see she was a beautiful woman that they didn’t see last night. She had applied her make up meticulously and she was now Joanne the female TV reporter.

“Good Morning Joanne” John said and he kissed her on the cheek. She was surprised and so was his wife. She kissed him back. There was an awkward moment, and then Joanne kissed Robert on the cheek. He seemed embarrassed.

“Morning Robert” she said.

“Good morning” Robert said.

“Please join us” John said indicated a spare chair.

“Thank you” Joanne said and sat down.

“Coffee or tea”? Said John

“Coffee, white please” Joanne responded. Lorraine then left them.

“We have something we want to discuss with you” Robert said. Joanne nodded.

“Originally we didn’t like the idea of a camera crew coming here to do a story about the healing weekend but we decided it would be good publicity. As you are aware, there has been quite some spiritual activity in the last 48 hours that has surprised us.

“Yes I understand” Joanne said.

“Well we certainly hope so Joanne…what do you think about your experience last night”? John asked Joanne thought about it for a moment.

“I am trying to think about it. It seems so unreal to me. She said.

“I can tell you now Joanne it was real. John replied.

“You were chosen for a reason, Joanne. You have the authority to expose Lucifer and his way of operating because you yourself had demons” Robert said.

“This is the part I am having difficulty with, that a person can have demons inside them.” Joanne stated.

At that moment Leanne brought some coffee and some raising toast. Joanne looked up

“Thank you” She said. They waited for her to go back to the kitchen.

“The closer you come to God, the more Satan will try and tempt you” John said.

Joanne took a sip of the coffee and pondered the thought.

“What should I do”? Joanne said.

“We are so glad you asked” Robert said.

“You must pray and become closer to God and ask for his help” John said.

“I haven’t prayed seriously since I was a little girl,” Joanne said.

“That is why he came for you Joanne; temptation is a sign that Satan hates you, not a sign of weakness. He can’t have you go against him.”

Joanne thought once more about what was being said.

“It happened right throughout history from Adam and Eve, to the temptation of Jesus, the confusion and doubt of Martin Luther, these are examples of temptation on historical scales, but it happens to every day people as well. It is happening right now, to us, all of us. It is happening to Ray, it is happening to Robert, it is happening to you.” John said.

“You cannot deny the experiences that have occurred in just over 24 hours. For us it has been happening for more than a month, people being miraculously healed, others becoming deeply disturbed.” Robert said. He then handed her some A4 printed sheets of paper.

“Read this in your spare time Joanne. Evil has an origin and a master Joanne and his name is Satan. He will destroy the world if we let him.” Robert finished.

“We would like you to tell the world about what you have experienced here and come to us as a Christian again to be strong in your faith, to reject evil.” John said

Joanne nodded “I will”.

“Before you leave today, we would like to pray for you” John said.

“Ok” Joanne said.

 

In the prayer room where previously Joanne had found it difficult to accept prayer, seemed more inviting than it had been previously. Sun was streaming through the open blinds. John, Robert and Joanne entered the room.

“Please sit down” Phillip said and indicated the chair. Joanne sat in it. Phillip and Robert put their hands on Joanne’s shoulders. They all closed their eyes.

“Our father who are in heaven, hallowed by thy name your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this today our daily bread. Forgive us our debt as we forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” Robert said.

“Please Lord, guide Joanne and bringer closer to you so that you know of your goodness. Protect her and those around her as she spreads the word of your work to the world. Amen” John finished off.

“Amen” was said by all three of them. Joanne looked up with a beautiful smile.

“Thank you” she said. Robert took a small box on the bookshelf and opened it. He removed a small fine chain crucifix necklace. He gave it to her.

“This crucifix has been blessed by the reverend.  It is small enough to be unnoticeable but big enough to be of great significance. Keep it close to you forever.” Robert said.

Joanne took it and stood up happily. She unfastened it and put it around her neck. She kissed them both on the cheek.

“I feel fantastic,” she said.

“Onward Christian soldier” John said.

 

 

Chapter 12

Joanne sat in the Mc Café restaurant corner of Ballarto road and Frankston/Dandenong road. She had got a phone call from Ray and Paul. They were hungry and getting their act together slowly. She suggested the McDonald’s Mc café restaurant. John dropped her off there and she was happy to wait for the guys to have breakfast with her.

She had time to read so she read the material Robert and John had given her. She was engrossed by it all.  As she read through the material her mind and soul was becoming more open to the Holy Spirit. The world of Good and evil from a Christian perspective was being revealed to her. There seemed to be parallels before in history to what was occurring right now in Frankston. In one particular town, not from the Polish city of Lwow there had been a detailed account of intense spiritual activity, miraculous healings and many possessions that peaked in August of 1939. It was soon forgotten because of the war that started in September of that year, but not all records were lost. Parish priest Jan Bielawska kept a detailed diary of the events and published a short story in the U.S.A. where he had emigrated.

 

The presumption by some observers, of events that occur in places like Fatima and Lourdes is that God is communicating to his followers through certain people, often in response to a great calamity about to occur or in a time when the strengthening of faith is needed. Of course this doesn’t occur with out Satan trying his best to upset proceedings. Just as the Virgin Mary spoke to the three young girls at Fatima, it seemed God had chosen Robert Hill a humble nutritionist, to spread the word of God. He was just on thirty years of age, had very little Christian involvement and knowledge until recently.

 

The similarity between Jesus and Robert was not lost on Joanne. It was as if God chose Robert and fast tracked him in the ways of the spirit world for the purpose of healing. Was Frankston to be the next place of healing like Fatima and Lourdes? Why not, Joanne thought. The world had never heard of Fatima before the visitation of the Virgin Mary, why not Frankston? Then an incredible thought occurred to her, what if there was to be a vision of Mary or Jesus on the weekend?

Joanne recognized the car as it entered the car park. She watched Ray and Paul get out of the car. They walked towards the café. She noticed them in the distance and waved. They were apprehensive but smiled with relief when it appeared she was ok. Joanne was ok. She was going to go to the studio and edit the tape she had. She was looking forward to it.

 

In the studios of Channel nine, at the end of the corridor behind a Maroon door was the office of producer Matthew Dallance. He had a humble office, no name on the door and a nice photograph of his wife and two children framed on the desk. He was in his late 40,s and had wavy black hair. As he was doing some paper work, Michael Weinberger entered without knocking. He was handed the edited tape to Matthew.  He looked at the tape as it was handed to him.

“What’s this”? He said.

“The tape of the decade” Michael said. Michael looked quite tired.

“I got a call from Roger Mains last night to do some editing. Here it is” He added.

“Well I better have a look then” Matthew said and put it into the video cassette recorder in the corner of his office. Michael stood there for a moment and watched as Matthew watched the tape play. Michael could tell Matthew wasn’t all that interested.

“Can I show you something”? Michael said.

“Yeah sure” Matthew said. Michael leaned over and took the remote control of the VCR and fast-forwarded it. Matthew watched in interest the images as they flashed by on the screen. It was slowed when the filming of Jason appeared. He saw Jason fly under the couch.

“Jesus!!!” Matthew said. “Again please”

Michael rewound it and played it again and then stopped it. Matthew looked at it then at Michael.

“Is it real”? Matthew asked.

“Yes”-said Michael.

“My God,” Matthew said.

“My God exactly” said Michael.

“We better get a voice over now, Joanne is coming in soon, this is incredible” said Matthew as he excitedly took the tape out. Michael stared at him.

“Do you believe in God Matthew”? Michael asked.

“Yes of course” Matthew said.

“Good” Michael said. “Because I didn’t.  I didn’t have a good night sleep last night; I am glad it is here and you have got it. I didn’t tell my wife about this tape but tonight after it has been on TV I will have to explain myself. She is a bit funny about things like that. She thinks it will bring a curse on the family.”

“I will look after it Michael, don’t worry yourself” Matthew said as he casually put the tape on the desk.

“Don’t make fun of me!!!!!” Michael yelled, at Matthew. His eyes were bulging and his right fist was clenched. He had come close to Matthew

“Ok…ok. I am sorry Michael.” Matthew said. Michael was still staring angrily at Matthew. Matthew felt that at any given moment Michael would just attack him if he said the wrong thing. He continued to stare at him and then left the room slowly and quietly.

 

There is a time when it feels good to be alive and spring is one of those times. In Melbourne the air is perfumed with the smell of flowers and full of the sound of birds singing. In September it comes just in time for the football finals and then flows nicely into October. After a few days of cold rain and strong wind the warm spring weather had returned with a vengeance. The ground dried up and the skies clear. The wind was gone.

The paddocks off the Mornington Peninsula freeway near the Rutherford turn off were being slowly transformed. A large truck came with plenty of timber all donated from hardware stores in Frankston as well as volunteer labor. Several cars followed the truck and they stopped awkwardly on the freeway shoulder. In the distance they could see a man standing still looking away from the freeway to the east, his back to them. This is where the temporary stage would go, as well as the cross. They began unpacking the truck and carrying the wood towards Robert, the man standing in the paddock.

 

A short time later the reverend and Father O’Shea had arrived in John’s car. John had known Father O’Shea for quite some years and they had more than a spiritual connection. Both were football fans of the Essendon football club and often rang each other to talk about their team’s dismal performance. John had met Father O’Shea at a catholic conference more than ten years ago. John was impressed with father O’Shea intellect and resolute manner. He was one of the Catholic Church’s authority on Exorcism and the occult.

 

As they got out of the car they could see the make shift stage being hammered together and Robert in the distance. He stood there deep in thought his back to them. They commenced walking towards him on the sloping ground towards the fence line. A section of the fence had been removed, to allow the workers and worshippers to have easy access to the paddocks. It wasn’t sure whether some driver’s would take their cars down off the freeway and attempt to drive in or leave their cars on the road shoulder and walk in. It didn’t seem like a good place to have a healing weekend, as there was no proper parking facility. Vic roads and the council who were responsible for the land in the area were not happy about granting permission for the healing weekend but did so as they were reluctant to say no to Christian groups.

 

The ground beneath the feet of John and Father O’Shea was firm and the grass course. The recent rain had done little to the paddocks. This   was not agricultural land but land close to a freeway and close to a new freeway about to be built. They walked towards the volunteers, men and women who were following directions on the plan and building the stage. Robert turned around and saw them. He approached them with a smile. He shook Father O,Shea’s hand.

“Father O’Shea, it is so nice to meet you finally” Robert said great enthusiasm.

“Pleasure to meet you too” Father O’Shea said as he shook the hand of Robert.

“As you can see the stage is being built, it is coming along swiftly, and the weather has cleared up” Robert said.

“Yes. The forecast is for a beautiful weekend” John added

“I’m really excited about this weekend. I honestly believe God is watching over us right now and guiding proceedings.” Robert said.

“I believe that too” added Father O’Shea.

“Have a look at the cross” Robert said and walked excitedly around the stage being constructed. John and Father O’Shea followed him.

 

Behind the stage under construction lay a large cross, approx 20 meters in length. It was made up of many old wooden railway sleepers joined together. Laying there on the ground it looked immovable. John and Father O’Shea stared at it.

“How is it going to be raised”? Father O’Shea asked.

“We will do it. The base goes into the ground. Some of us then will lift while others will pull by ropes and we will raise it.” Robert said with enthusiasm. Father O’Shea looked at Robert with admiration. He was looking at what he would like to have been when he was his age.

 

 

Chapter 13

 In the privacy of the recording   studio Joanne was putting the finishing touches to the voice over of the tape. She had to admit to herself that the editing of the tape was good. She was also surprised that the tape was in two distinct sections, the first being the intercession of Jason and the second was the rough footage of the experience she had later. It was unedited dark in some areas but it only added atmosphere to the confronting story. She found it surprisingly easy to look at her self because it didn’t seem like her; she had no recollection of the event. The voice over that she had put over the first part of the tape was good she thought. She put across the view of the church and avoided criticism of what was taking place. It was standard for all reporters to get an alternative point of view on camera to create debate on TV and at home, but there was little time for that and Joanne had made the decision not to. She could have contacted the Australian skeptic society to give their opinion of the events but thought better of it.

 

She replayed the highlight of the tape, a few times, of Jason disappearing under the sofa. It was dramatic and confronting. At the end of that segment she put the voice over “what you are seeing is not any sort of trickery or special effect, a young man jumps under a couch that normally would not conceal a kitten. It was dramatic but deserving, this was a battle of good and evil taking place on tape for the world to see. A quick fast forward to the last segment of the tape. It showed the barren landscape of the freeway. Over this Joanne concluded, “Is this the place where miracles will happen on the weekend….”? She was happy with that and then went through the process of transferring the tape to cd. She didn’t have to do it, the technicians could have but Joanne liked the hands on aspect of story preparation.

 

Joanne had her headphones on and didn’t notice Stewart the technician waving his arms at her until he was almost directly in front of her.

“Stewart, I didn’t hear you or see you” she said as she took the phones off her head.

“Matthew Dallance wants to see you” he said.

“Mr. Dallance”? Joanne asked

“Yes, that is right; his office is at the end of the corridor “Stewart said.

“Oh, I will go right away.” Joanne said. Stewart nodded. Joanne looked at the computer burning the disk.

“I will look after that,” he said. Joanne stood up. She was about to see the producer of A current affair.

 

When Joanne knocked on the door, she heard a casual “come in”. When she swung the door open she saw Matthew behind the counter with some paper work on his desk.  He stood up and smiled at her.

“Joanne, come in please”. He said. She came in and closed the door behind her.

He put out his hand.

“Pleased to meet you” He said and shook her hand.

“Pleased to meet you too”. She said and sat down. The office walls were white. She noticed the computer on the corner of the desk and the TV/VCR set up in the corner. It was a conservative looking office.

“How are you?” Matthew said.

“Fine” Joanne said. He was smiling but looking at her intently.

“That’s good. I hope I can make you feel comfortable working here, how can I help you”? He said.

“I am fine, thank you,” Joanne said.

“I saw your report on the healing weekend………..it was very good, harrowing. You have probably noticed the second part is un edited and we wanted to keep it that way, so you can keep that tape.” The statement surprised Joanne.

“Thank you”, Joanne said.

“It is a very good report and I am sure we shall get a good audience……………..do you want to continue with the follow up?”

“Oh yes, this has been rewarding for me, I want to follow it right through the weekend” Joanne said enthusiastically. Matthew smiled and nodded.

“Actually I was wondering………..after this weekend, am I supposed to return to Perth.”? Joanne asked.

“Well, if you want to stay here, I think I can arrange for you to stay for a few months, and then see how you go.” Matthew said.

“Good, thank you” Joanne said and began to stand. She shook his hand again, and went to the door. Matthew smiled as she left the office. He sat back down and was pleased. Joanne seemed to want to work in the Melbourne office, which was good. The other female reporter Rosaline D’Angelo who was now in Perth was difficult, and Matthew didn’t like her or her boss John Sinclair so they deserved each other.

 

On the paddock in Frankston, off the Mornington Peninsula freeway more people were arriving and setting up with tents along the fence line. Father O’Shea and John walked around to the different Christian groups saying hello. John knew most of them as most of them were peninsula based and spent a great deal of time walking around shaking hands. As expected there was always disagreement and tension between Protestant and Roman Catholic dominions but they seemed to be put aside when the healing weekend was first raised in vestry by Robert Hill and organized by him with the enthusiasm of youth  and of course the holy spirit. Father O’Shea had seen a rebirth in the church and spirituality recently and didn’t accept at all some statements by the press that Christianity in Australia was dying. He knew that the average age of parishioners and the number of them in the church was not an indication that Christianity was dying. He had seen young radicals become middle-aged moderates whom he knew would turn to conservatives. He told many non-believers, skeptics and agnostic that the Bible had been around well before their generation and would continue after them. He was as subtle as an axe but he didn’t care. He had lived the truth and walked with Jesus too long to have fashionable thinking try and convince him that his faith was wrong or dying. He had known good and evil and he knew that as death approached, the skeptics and critics began looking for answers to the great questions in life. It almost gave him a perverse sense of pleasure to see their hair turn grey or fall out. The angry young men he taught and punished became fathers and brought their children to his classroom and church.

 

He took a moment to look around. The tents were going up slowly but surely around him. It was approaching lunchtime and the field had an air of great anticipation about it. You could smell the rough grass in the air as well as the surrounding bushes. It was a distinctly Australian country smell  which most people loved. Father O’Shea could see a group being led by Robert pulling the ropes around the huge cross. Amongst all the verbal directions and encouragement John and Father O’Shea watched the base of the cross being dragged towards the hole in the earth. With some frantic encouragement they watched some of the group get behind the cross beam and begin lifting and guiding the base of the cross into the hole. As the group on the ropes pulled and the others lifting began walking forward, the large fixture went into the hole and stayed firm. There was a cheer and some applause. It stood proud over them and one could imagine a man being nailed to the cross. The rustic rotting appearance of the wood made it appear authentic. Robert, John and Father O’Shea were transfixed by its imposing appearance, nearly twenty feet off the ground while the others began to unfasten the ropes and put the discarded soil in the base to pack it firm.

“I think it is time for a prayer” John said and walked towards the group with Father O’Shea behind him.

“Everyone I think it is time we prayed” John said to the group. Most turned to the cross, some bowed, some knelt, but all felt humble before the cross and its symbolism. John led them in prayer. A gentle breeze moved around them and with the cross above them so high and a group of believers below it, they felt at least a little like the first Christians on Calvary.

 

 

Chapter 14

Kananook is sad railway station, the last stop before Frankston station coming from Melbourne and the first station coming from Frankston. Wedged between the freeway and wells road it was unmanned. To the west of it were car yards and a massage parlor.  To the right a noisy freeway. Wells road led to the over railway line bridge that connected to Klauer street. It was noisy but not much was happening there. It had a little graffiti here and there but one got the impression even vandals and graffiti artists weren’t interested in the station like everyone else. Few people got on the station during the day and few got off. It was only convenient for those who lived in the far western part of Wells road. It was a lonely place to be at best of times.

Coming down the high pedestrian bridge was Janette Baines. She had come from Wells street side. She had stopped at the milk bar and bought a small bottle of diet coke and a mars bar. She was 28 years of age and an obese woman. Her skin was pale, her dark hair dyed to a dark Maroon black color. It made her skin look even paler than it really was. She had dark eye shadow and wore a tight fitting pink t-shirt. It was short and stopped before the belly button that was fashionable. Her roll of fat spilled over her black hipster jeans.

 

Even though she was now walking down towards the station she was breathless as she ate the mars bar and drank the coke.  Her massive thighs rubbed together as she made her way to the passenger gates. She looked at her watch; she wanted the 12.35pm train to Melbourne. There was a young woman with a pram seated on the bench as Janette arrived on the Melbourne side of the platform. At that moment the Frankston bound train arrived on the other side of the island platform. Janette looked at it. A group of adolescent boys got off the train with their skate boards and made their way past her with their noisy rolling wheels. The train departed for Frankston. Janette looked at her watch and it said 12.32 pm. She knew there was at least one suburban train at Frankston station waiting to depart just as this other train arrived. She took a sip from her can of coke and finished off her Mars bar.

 

She looked towards Frankston and saw the train arriving. It was one of the new grey trains that she liked. You touched the doors and they opened automatically. Inside they were spacious and there were no doors closing off the carriages. You could walk from one carriage to another. As the train came closer Janette put the Mars bar wrapper and empty can of coke in the bin. As the train approached she jumped onto the tracks and threw herself, stomach first onto the railway line. The train driver wasn’t even sure what he saw and neither was the young woman with the pram who had stood up for the train. Her baby was asleep and saw nothing. In an instant Janette was gone. She had left her 3-year-old daughter at crèche. She had not left a suicide note at home. She had seemed fine to most of her friends. Sometimes the devil wins.

 

 

Chapter 15

It was 3pm and Channel 9 was preparing their promotion of “A current Affair” for that evening and they pulled out all stops. They used their anchorman to do the voice over “Is this young man possessed or is it a hoax. Some believe the video footage is the one of the most authentic of super natural forces at work ever filmed. You be the judge.” They played the promo on radio and TV from 3pm onwards. Just as “A current affair was always advertised nearly every working day on radio, this was no exception. The producers wanted a big audience. They wanted a huge viewer response and they would get one. A current affair always rates well at 6.30pm. Mention anything to do with the supernatural and tell them you have some good video footage and the audience will flock to the TV. sets, even though they would normally go Friday night shopping. But it was going to be even bigger than that.

 

Even though there is up to 18 hours time difference between Australia and the united states,  and  the fact that the video footage had not even be aired in Australia yet, Channel 9 felt there was nothing wrong with promoting their video footage in the United States before hand. Like all good TV stations, they understood that the entertainment value of news reports far exceeds the information value. They had dramatic film footage of an exorcism with a documented super natural act and they were going to share it with the world. The CNN network picked it up straight away and had it showing on its major channels immediately. Instead of Australians having to choose whether they wanted to d watch the TV. Or goes late night shopping; Americans were at home late at night and early morning gathered around the TV. in the chilly autumn air glued their screens. While the workers were driving along the unassuming Mornington Peninsula freeway on their way home, America was abuzz with debate on whether the film footage was that of the activities of the devil or something more explicable.

 

Father Michael Konik had received a phone call from one of his good friends Jan Bielawska. It was about 9am when Jan had called him. He was speaking excitedly in Polish to him about something he had seen on TV and wanted him to come over right a way. Michael was only 20 minutes drive from the Maple Hill retirement home Michigan where Jan had been residing for the last year. Michael was not busy so he thought he would come over and see his old friend and see exactly what all the excitement was about.

 

Michael Konik got into his white 1979 Volvo sedan and began his drive to Maple Hill retirement home. It was a pleasant drive and Michael enjoyed seeing the pine and oak trees on the way. The smell of the forest made him feel young and alive like he did as a young man in Poland, where he first met the famous Jan Bielawska.

 

 Michael was studying in the Archdiocesan seminary of Gniezno Poland in the late 1970s when he had the opportunity to meet Jan Bielawska. He came to give a theological lecture on the campus but it turned more into an autobiographical statement. Michael had never heard of Jan Bielawska but he would soon discover a great deal about the man who would help transform his life.

 

Jan Bielawska was a young 23 priest in Lwow in 1939 when he experienced many strange phenomena in his small Parish in that Polish town. A young woman experienced stigmata and began speaking in a strange language that he was unfamiliar with. Some of his parishioners had become very ill suddenly while some recovered from serious illnesses. All this puzzled Jan until he had an unusual experience himself. In the midst of it all he had a dream that he saw a large cross on a field. People gathered there and who believed would be healed of their illnesses. This came not from a voice but an intuition that it was something he had to. Without haste he organized the construction of a large wooden cross and this was placed in a nearby field. His intuition also told him that he would face opposition to this as the devil would try to stop him. He kept extensive notes on the experience that were later to be published in a book called “The signs of faith.”

During a period of week during the placing of the cross in the field and the gathering of followers to the site, Jan claimed to be visited by strange people. They were mostly men, one was a woman, who told him that he was delusional and wasting his and the followers time. They tried to dissuade him from conducting public times of mass prayer and blessing, but when he continued to do so people were healed. He described feeling weak in their presence but his faith was strong and he over came them. One of them in particular the young priest described as the devil personified. He came to Jan one warm autumn’s day wearing a black robe like a priest. As they talked Jan was convinced his appearance changed before his very eyes. He was fair skinned then quite dark. When he offered for the man to enter the church he refused. He also refused to give his name. Jan asked him to recite the prayer of the faithful, which every Polish schoolboy knows. The prayer asks for a blessing from God to protect them from the devil. The man refused to recite the prayer and vanished. According to Jan he just disappeared. It was August the 31st 1939.

 

That night Jan had a restless slumber. He had conflicting thoughts all night then had a pleasant presence of the Holy Spirit enter his consciousness. He felt that he had done well for his community but more evil was to come. He also had a premonition that God would stop the sun from setting to allow more people to be healed. It was also to show the world that God was still influencing activities in our lives and influencing nature itself.

 

The following day no one had turned up for his public prayer. He heard later from a delivery boy that Germany had attacked Poland without warning and without any declaration of war. The Russians would soon follow and attack from the east. Lwow would disappear from the Polish map and would become a part of the Ukraine.

 

Jan fled his town and parish. He joined the Polish underground but refused to bear arms because he was a priest. He was assisted to the northern part of Poland and smuggled on board a Swedish ship. He stayed in Sweden in exile until the end of the war. He wrote his book about the experiences he had and gave them to a member of the Polish government in exile in Britain.

 

After the war ended he returned to Poland in the naïve belief that the new government would rebuild Poland. Instead he found the Communist government would take control of Poland. The allies had gone to war over Poland being taken by Germany only to allow it to be taken by Russia. He could have been imprisoned even killed for “deserting” his country had it not been for the success of his book.

 

The book was printed in English and Polish. It was one of the many books published by the United Free Press, an anti communist publishing group that wanted to publish stories of the plight of the Jewish people and other victims of the war. It focused a great deal on the stories of Polish Jews and Poles in exile and how they had suffered under Nazi and then communist occupation. The book was circulated in the thousands and read by many poles around the world that were thirsty for knowledge and information of displaced Poles worldwide. It would have been just a moderately successful book had there not been an article written by a Polish Jew named Isaac Leibjek.

Isaac Leibjek was born to Jewish parents in the city of Lwow. In 1939 his mother contracted tuberculosis. Though the family was Jewish they took the ill woman to the small parish where they had heard of miracle cures. His mother publicly converted to Christianity and received baptism. Jan and his parishioners prayed for her. Within 24 hours she was well. The recovery was nothing more than miraculous.

 

When Isaac fled to the United States he became a historian. He read the book and publicly announced that his mother, as well as others, had been cured as was described in the book.

 

The Polish version of the book was smuggled into Poland and passed from hand to hand due to the government’s censuring of western literature, particularly western religious literature. In 1948 the book was unofficially very popular. Unable to stop its circulation, the government decided to confront the contents of the book and its readers. It condemned the book as fanciful, misleading and delusional. In particular the government authorities seized upon chapter 14 as the basis of their criticism. In this chapter Jan had written that he believed God had intervened throughout history and influenced certain people to carry out his work. He mentioned that this occurred not only during biblical times but also much later when he influenced directly the actions of Constantine, Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther and even Rasputin. Jan described Rasputin as a genuine healer who lost his battle with the devil and had succumbed to evil.

 

Without mentioning it directly Jan was criticized for implying that God had also chosen him to be such a divine messenger. The Communist government even used the Vatican declaration that the Roman Catholic Church, the denomination Jan was a minister for, did not recognize the events that took place in Lwow as miracles.

 

Jan took up a quiet ministry in rural Poland and was a figure of division in the Polish community for a decade. The people believed him, the government rejected him. The Church could not or would not authenticate his claims. He grew old; he was forgotten until a Polish cardinal from Krakow became the Pope in 1978. At that time the world attention was focused on Poland and the first non-Italian pope for centuries. The pope publicly acknowledged him and met him. At the time he was 62 years of age and now an official celebrity. His book was republished and there was little the government could do about it. Black market copies filled the land even though it was not published in Poland. Jan was invited to public speaking engagements and lectures. Michael Konik heard him speak and began to correspond with him. It was a correspondence that would last to the present day. They both shared a passion for spiritual healing.

 

Jan tried to persuade the government to build a memorial to be built on the outskirts of Lwow where the healings had taken place, but the town now belonged to the Ukraine and they had no intention of doing such a thing. Jan never lost enthusiasm for the cause but he soon lost enthusiasm for his country. As Poland’s communist system began to disintegrate in the 1980s, he was encouraged to emigrate to the U.S. by members of the Polish community. Under the new Solidarity, pro union party with its charismatic leader Lech Walesa, he could leave the country without any restrictions. A few immigrant clerks were bribed as well and Michael followed soon after. He wanted to be close to the man who had inspired him so much to pursue the priest hood with emphasis on spiritual healing.

 

In the distance Michael could see the Maple Hill retirement home on the outskirts of Howard City. The car pulled up on the small white crushed rock drive. It was a pleasant red brick building with a man made lake at the rear. It was a Polish community aged care facility and it was run well Michael was 47. Whenever he felt tired or sore, he thought of his mentor and friend Jan who was 89 years of age. Until last year he was still doing gardening and caring for himself.

 As Michael got out of the car, he had a brown grocery bag that contained a polish magazine, a polish newspaper and some Polish ginger biscuits. Jan spoke only very little English. He served as a Polish priest by ministering in his mother tongue until he was 80 years old. He was a celebrity in the USA as he had been in Poland but on a much larger scale. It wasn’t just Poles who wanted to hear about his experiences. He attended a few functions hear and there and traveled. He visited Poland and the city of Lwow in the Ukraine. The site where miraculous healings had taken place was now replaced by a timber yard. He went to Israel to retrace the travels of Jesus. He traveled as an official guest to the Vatican for the funeral of his dear friend and admirer, Pope John Paul II.

 

As Michael walked into the Maple Hill retirement home he heard his native tongue being spoken all around him by the Polish nurses and staff. It was just at the end of lunchtime and the familiar smell of Borsch and bigos was in the air. Michael liked all types of food but only Poles have a special love of the smell of bigos or polish cabbage stew. There were small round tables like a café and relatives were gathered around their loved ones.

 

On the walls were photographs of the Pope, paintings of the Virgin Mary and other Polish/catholic paraphernalia. Michael could not see Jan. He approached a largish nurse Barbara Ostrowski and asked her about Jan. She walked him to a room down the corridor, number 17. She just opened the door without knocking.

 

When the door opened Michael was surprised to see Jan lying on top of the bed dozing. He woke up suddenly. Barbara announced in Polish that he had a visitor. At first he didn’t seem to notice then smiled as Michael’ face became familiar.

“Konik” He said.

“Hello Jan” Michael said to him in Polish. Barbra left them and Jan sat up. Michael was surprised by his appearance. He had lost a lot of weight. He was wearing light and dark blue striped pajamas. He looked very old like a concentration camp survivor.

 

Michael sat in a chair by his bed. He gave him the grocery bag and showed him the contents. He explained everything in Polish to him. Jan seemed only interested in the ginger cookies. Michael looked around the room and noticed a bookshelf and a small cupboard. The bookshelf contained mainly religious books and an old color TV sitting on a small table. Jan found it difficult to rip open the ginger cookie packet so Michael helped him. They helped themselves to some.

“So glad you could come” Jan said in Polish.

“It s nice to see you again Jan, are you well”? Michael replied.

“No, a few problems with my stomach, but doesn’t matter.” Jan said as he reached for some loose papers on the cupboard next to his bed. He had a Polish copy of his book on the cabinet. Jan then spoke excitedly about what he had seen on TV about a healing weekend in Australia. He showed Michael some hand written notes he had scribbled and pointed excitedly to some points he had written. Michael read the letter and listened to the rambling of Jan. He noticed that the handwriting on the paper was poor. Jan always had such good handwriting, now it was just legible.

 

Michael tried to read the letter as Jan rambled on. He kept talking about similarities between what he had experienced and what was happening in Australia. He had points and expressions highlighted in the notes with numbers next to them. Michael assumed they related to pages of his book. Michael had not heard about the healing weekend in Australia or seen it on TV so Jan explained it to him.

 

 As he listened to Jan talking in that excited tone he found Jan to be incoherent at times. He mentioned something about his mother coming to see him even though she had been dead since his child hood.  He talked excitedly about the weekend coming up and that Michael should take note. There was a pause as Jan had another ginger cookie. He asked Michael if he wanted a coffee. Michael said yes. Jan got out of bed slowly and walked to the small kitchenette he had and turned the kettle on. He moved slowly as he selected two cups from his small cupboard. Jan had few possessions in his life and even less now. Michael could see Jan’s rosary beads hanging from a hook in the kitchen. As Michael watched Jan prepare the coffee, Jan turned to him.

“I have had my dream again” Jan said to Michael. Michael pretended he didn’t understand.

“Dream”. Michael said innocently.

“I heard a voice and I saw the cross in the paddock before I saw it on TV.” Jan said excitedly. I haven’t had a dream like that since before the war.

“…I saw the sun it seemed very bright, just like in Fatima. The lord affects nature to prove his divine power”. Jan finished off. They sipped on their coffee.

“Something miraculous is going to happen Michael I believe and God has chosen that place and that young man to make it happen. Someone must record what happens there but keep it written and hidden from the guards. They will destroy it and so will the Russians. This must be kept and given to the Vatican as more evidence of God’s work Michael, you must write this all down.” Jan insisted. Michael put the papers aside. Jan picked up a page. It had Jericho” written on it. He showed it to Michael.

“Constantine saw a vision of the cross in the sky, the sun stood still over the earth so the city of Jericho could be attacked. The little girls of Fatima saw the Virgin Mary in the sky. I am having the same vision again Michael, write it down.” Jan said excitedly. Michael looked at the papers. Put them aside.

“Can I get you anything Jan”? Michael asked him.

“I am not going to my father’s house for Christmas. He always was against me being a priest. I will spend Christmas alone.” Jan said. Michael looked at the man who was he mentor, the man who established a Polish church and a healing centre and who was now a broken man. His speak wandered from reality to fantasy, from past to present and future with no obvious boundaries.

“It won’t be long; the Russians are forcing the Germans to retreat.” Jan said. There was a long pause. Michael took the papers and gave them to Jan.

“Can you sign them please”? He asked. Jan looked puzzled

“Sign them, what for”? Jan said.

“So everyone will know you wrote it, they may not believe me.”

“Of course, I understand,” Jan said and scribbled his signature on the each page. Michael smiled. He took his mobile phone from his jacket pocket.

“This is a. ………well a camera, can I take a picture of you.” Michael asked.

“Of course you can Jan smiled.” Jan said and smiled. Michael took aim and took a photo. He put the phone away. He looked at Jan. Jan started singing gently the Polish national anthem. The tears were welling in Michael’s eyes. Jan stopped.

“Don’t worry, Michael, we can go back to Poland after the war. It will be the same again.” Jan said. Michael nodded.

“You have lost a lot of weight, are they feeding you well here”. Michael asked.

“Sometimes I don’t get dinner” Jan said. Michael nodded. He took the papers in his hands and stood.

“I love you Jan, father, friend” Michael said. Jan seemed a bit confused.

“A man doesn’t say that” Jan said.

“Jesus did” Michael said. Jan thought about it.

“I love you too” Jan said. Michael gave him a kiss on the top of his head as he sat there. He knew it was the last kiss he would ever give him and probably the last time he would see him again. Michael walked towards the door.

“Good bye” Michael said.

“Good bye” Jan said. Michael left the room with the papers in his hand.

 

Michael walked through the dining room and out to the main door. Barbara walked out after him. Michael began walking to the car when she stood in front of him.

“He has been like this for a few weeks now” she said in Polish. Michael looked at her.

“Do you know who that man is? That is Jan Bielawska. He was a priest before the war. He was a healer, a teacher and an author. He escaped from the Nazis and the communists and even when he came to this country he looked after the poor and sick. He built two churches. I don’t want to hear about him not getting his dinner or being treated badly, he …….”

“He is given dinner everyday. Sometimes he eats it sometimes he doesn’t. He just doesn’t remember. He is 89 years old.” She said. Michael thought about what she had said. He knew she was right. He walked around her and got into his car.

 

Chapter 16

It was 5pm when Joanne Thomson, Ray Garcia and Paul arrived at the location near Rutherford exit. They noticed someone had put planks on the shoulder of the road leading up to the edge of the freeway. A section of the fence was missing, and there were a few cars parked near the fences. Ray drove the car slowly on the planks and found them to be quite firm. He drove into the paddock area and stopped near a group of vehicles. They looked ahead of them and saw the temporary wooden stage completed with the tall wooden cross behind it. There were white tents around the fence line. Some Christian groups were setting up their tents early. Some would stay the night and the camera crew were prepared to do so themselves. They had brought their sleeping bags just in case. They got out of the car.

 

Joanne was dressed casually. She had flat shoes, blue jeans and a white jumper. She was nicely made up and had her crucifix exposed on her bosom. They could see Robert in the distance on stage admiring the crucifix. Joanne turned to Ray and Paul.

“Ray, I will leave it up to you. Get whatever shots you want.” She said.

Ray looked at her surprised.

“Ok…lets go Paul” He said and they started to take the equipment out of the car. Joanne walked towards Robert.

 

The weather was beautiful and there was a gentle breeze blowing from the west. The ground was firm under foot and the forecast was for even warmer weather tomorrow. Robert saw her approaching. He smiled.

“Hello Joanne” He said.

“Hello Robert”. Joanne said shaking hands. Robert noticed the crucifix.

“It is good to see you are showing your crucifix.” He said.

“Yes, I feel comfortable wearing it.” She said. Robert looked in the distance and saw Ray and Paul setting the camera up for the filming of a tent.

“They are not going to film you today”? Robert enquired.

“No, we did a lot of covering shots yesterday. Today and tonight we may just do some rough footage.”

“Tonight”? Robert said.

“Well….yeah…. we wanted to capture the atmosphere of this event.” Joanne said. Robert nodded. Joanne looked up at the cross.

“It is a very imposing cross.” She said. Robert looked at it, then at her.

“How much of you are here because you are a journalist and how much is here because you believe.” He asked. Joanne looked around to see if anyone could hear her. Ray and Paul were in the distance; other people were in their tents or lingering around them.

“I have never felt like this before Robert. I feel something wonderful will happen on the weekend. This could be an Australian site for miracles such as Lourdes.” She said. awkwardly.

“I am glad to hear that Joanne” He said. They stared at each other for a while.

“You are difficult to reach.” Joanne said.

“What do you mean”? Robert replied.

“It is like you have a barrier that you don’t want to let down.” Joanne said. Robert nodded. He walked to the back of the stage and jumped down, onto the ground. He walked slowly towards the east. Joanne came running after him and jumped in front of him.

“Are you walking away from me!!”? She said. Robert looked surprised.

“What do you want me to say”? He said. Joanne looked surprised.

“…I don’t know. Why don’t you talk more, you seem to have this far away look on your face most of the time.” She said.

“I’m trying to listen…I have asked Jesus to guide me. I pray in my mind. I ask for him to protect me, to protect us, to bless us, to bless all those who come to tomorrow and Sunday.” Robert said. Joanne was surprised. He walked around her and walked towards the stage. She ran in front of him and stopped him, her hands on his chest.

“You are doing it again, walking away from me. Can’t you be normal and talk to me”!!!

She said. Robert looked at her.

“Normal”? He said.

“Alright I m sorry I used the wrong words. I just wanted to talk to you. I find you interesting not just as a journalist.” Joanne said. Robert thought about it for a moment. He was not sure if she was just curious about him or flirting.

“Thank you” Robert said and walked around her and continued to walk to one of the tents. Joanne was following right behind him.

“Don’t you walk away from me, do you hear, no man walks away from me when I am talking to them!!!!” She said angrily, but Robert kept walking.

“Do you treat all women like this”? She said angrily still walking behind him. Robert was approaching a group of people and they were watching curiously as Robert approached them with Joanne following behind. She noticed them.

“Excuse me Robert; I want to talk to you.” She said. Robert turned around. She noticed the group was watching them.

“I want to talk to you alone”!! She said. Robert walked away from the group and into the center of the paddock. In the distance Ray and Paul were doing some filming but they had the common sense not to look or listen. Robert stopped then turned around. Joanne looked at him.

“That’s better…………I think it is rude for you to walk away like that when I’m talking to you…………It’s not nice.” She said. Robert looked at her.

“I’m sorry” He said. He stood there looking at her. She was angry, coy, embarrassed all at once because she just wanted him to kiss her and take her but he didn’t seem to understand.

“Do you treat your wife like this”? She managed to say after a long moment.

“I’m not married” He said.

“Oh…you’re not…your girlfriend.”? Joanne asked.

“I find your questions embarrassing.” Robert said. There was a long pause. Robert was about to leave then he stopped himself. He had been doing that all along.

“I don’t like it when a man ignores me like that, that’s all” She said. He looked at her.

“My father ignored me,…………..my boss ignored me………I don’t like it when a man ignores me” She said. Robert showed signs in his eyes that he cared genuinely for her but this was time for a big hug and a passionate embrace but it was not forthcoming. He approached her slowly and kissed her on the lips without embracing her. His kiss lingered for a moment. She made no attempt to embrace him either. He then stood back.

“Please don’t follow me, you don’t know where I will be going and you don’t want to be there” He said and walked around her. She didn’t even turn to look back at him as he walked towards the tents. She wondered if he was turning back to look at her. It was killing her to know if he was looking back at her but she didn’t want to turn around just in case he caught her looking at him. He wasn’t.

 

Chapter 17

It was 4.30pm when Jan Bielawski began pacing up and down in the main lounge room of Maple Hill retirement village accusing everyone of taking his papers. He had to be convinced by Barbara that he had given his papers to Michael a few hours earlier. Jan was confused but there was little he could do about it. He asked for his coffee outside.

 

The afternoon air was cool. Jan sat reclined in his deck chair rugged up with a blanket sipping on his coffee. From the verandah he had a nice view of the man made lake at the rear of the property. There was no one else out there except him. The other inhabitants and staff were inside. The staff could see him from the lounge room through the large glass verandah doors. He put his coffee down at a table near his chair and folded his arms. He could see the geese wandering in the distance. He remembered when he used to round up the geese on his farm. They would go into the poppy fields and eat the milky poppy seed. They would fall asleep and he would laugh at them. The farm was gone now, first partitioned by the Russians then becoming a part of the independent Ukraine. They put a road through it. These memories that were so dim for him in the past were now so clear.

 

As he sat there he felt a warm feeling come over his body. He got a sense or feeling that his parents were with him. He saw them in front of him yet he could still see the lake as well.  They looked well and happy. He felt a pleasant sense of contentment with them near him. The vision of the lake became replaced gradually with the vision of his parents and a bright light. He became engulfed in it and he wanted to be in it. It was time for him to pass from this world to the next and he was ready. In an instant, he was gone, peacefully, beautifully, to be with God.

 

 

Chapter 18

It was approximately 6.30pm when Robert finished collecting some fire wood and put it near the front of the stage. He thought it would be a great idea to have a bonfire near the stage to warm those who decided to stay over night. He was happy with the atmosphere. The weather was beautiful and a group from the Baptist church of Frankston north was putting on a barbecue for who ever wanted to take part. Robert felt a tremendous sense of camaraderie that he had not experienced before. People were gathering not as if it was going to be a normal expo but a pilgrimage or mission. The large tents were large enough to accommodate many people, the reason being that group healings could be done in privacy. The sleeping bags were brought and the area would be prayed for and blessed throughout the night. Joanne and Ray were talking to a group of people and interviewing them. Soon it would be dark and there would be no light for filming. Robert wondered what would occur then. Would their thirst for excitement and news worthy ness be satisfied?

The air was getting chilly; many cars were passing by on the freeway. Robert looked in that direction and wondered as to how many cars would turn off the freeway tomorrow. The place was not positioned well for car parking. People could park along the embankment that was quite steep or park on the large dividing strip. If people wanted to come they could come. The land they were on belonged to Vic roads. A section of it was being used for the new Mitcham freeway. It was basically wasteland and they didn’t object to the land being used as a healing retreat, just as long as they left the land without damage.

 

As Robert was looking in the direction of the road, he noticed Ray was filming him. With the last rays of sunshine he imagined that the vision of a large cross at sunset with a man standing motionless in front of it was too photogenic for a cameraman to pass. Robert turned around after a moment and lit the bonfire. The flames climbed high and illuminated the cross against the dark sky. It did look good, most people would agree and it probably would have looked better from the highway.

 

Clem and Nancy Mc Clelland were watching TV in the lounge room of their modest house in Mentone, when A Current Affair came on. They had put their dirty dinner plates on the sink and sat by to watch the TV show. They had heard about the program over and over again advertised on the radio so they thought they would watch it.

 

Clem was a retired accountant, 66 years of age and his wife Nancy was a year older than him. They sat on the coach and their daughter Trish was in a wheelchair next to them. She was paralyzed from the waist down due to a car accident in which she was the only survivor. She was 37 years of age, their only child. She was once a pretty woman but had put on so much weight in the last six months since her accident. She had long dark hair and was a bank manager in the city when a car crossed onto the wrong side of a highway and struck her vehicle. It killed her husband, who was driving at the time. They were childless but had been trying to have a child through IVF for 5 years without luck. Nancy McNamara was convinced she would never have grand children and now in a twist of cruel irony, she had a baby again, her own daughter.

 Trish was no longer a medium sized woman. Her weight gain made her a large woman and both Clem and Nancy found it difficult to cope with her. She had incontinence, and just getting her in the wheel chair was difficult. They were too old for this but didn’t want to show it or say it. They loved their daughter but she knew she was a burden on them. They insisted she stay with them and that they would care for her but she was so uncomfortable about the whole thing. She had lost her independence and was miserable about it. She tried to help them as best as she could but half her body was useless. Her arms could only pivot and move her around so much, like getting in and out of bed; the rest had to be done by her mother or father. She often wished she could pass away but didn’t want to burden her parents with more grief. She was afraid to live and afraid to die. She was not the type to play wheel chair sports. She was a red wine woman who loved good restaurants with her husband but he was gone and so were the good experiences.

 

As they watched the program they were engrossed by what they saw unfold before them. They were practicing Christians and believed in Jesus, God and the devil. The dramatic footage of Jason flying under the sofa captivated them. They watched the program intensely. When it concluded with the mentioning of the healing weekend taking place they became very curious. Clem muted the sound on the TV set and looked at his wife Nancy.

“What do you think of that”? He said.

“I believe it” Nancy said. There was a long period of silence.

“I would like to go if you would take me there” Trish said. Clem looked back at his daughter.

“Ok. Trish. I am not sure about wheel chair access but we could try.” He said. Trish nodded. Nancy looked at her daughter.

“Darling, your spinal cord is severed, you know that it can’t be healed” She said.

“I would like to go” Trish said. They were silent.

“Ok dear, we will take you” Clem said. He turned to the TV. and turned the volume back on.

 

The program was a success. It had a large audience but more than anything else it had a large audience response. Hundreds rang and accessed the website for more details on the location of the Healing camp. People began to make plans to visit the location either for worship, curiosity or for healing. The small gatherings of the devoted were not to know this as they sat by their small fires and barbecues. They already had a portable toilet there and other utilities, they were quite happy to stay the night. Joanne and her camera crew had decided to go home determined to return tomorrow.

 

Robert sat by his large tent alone and looked up at the stars admiring their magnificence. He had a strong white cup of tea that he got off the portable gas barbecue they had. Others were in small groups quietly talking or singing softly. The large bonfire was burning gently. The light from the flames illuminated the large cross occasionally. He turned to his right and in the dim light coming from the open entrance of his tent, he saw his mother standing there, just looking at him. He quickly got to his feet.

“Mum” he said. Maureen Hill stood there for a moment and smiled. She approached him. Robert stood there for a moment.

“Robert”. She said and hugged him.

“How are you”? Robert asked.

“am fine, how are you”? She asked.

“Good” he said. She looked at him for a moment. She was a medium sized woman, 54 years of age. She dyed her hair a burgundy color.

“Come sit over here, near the light” Robert said and encouraged her to sit near the tent’s opening from which the light was coming. He got her a chair and she sat down. She looked at him with concern.

“I saw the report on Current Affair.” She said.

“Was it good”? Robert asked.

“Yes it was Robert. Did it really happen like that, the young man disappearing under the sofa like that”? She asked.

“Yes mum it did, and I have seen more” Robert concluded. Maureen looked at him. There was a longer pause than usual.

“Why are you doing this?” She asked him. Robert was perplexed by the question.

“To help people, mum. What is wrong with that”? He said.

“I thought you wanted to start your own business” She said. Robert thought about it for a moment.

“I am doing important work mum. I am doing what Jesus wants me to do” He replied.

“Is it what you want to do” Maureen asked.

“Yes, it is” Robert replied.

“For how long Robert?” She asked. He thought about it for a long time.

“Why are you asking me this?” He asked her.

“You used to visit me a great deal, now you don’t.” She said.

“I know, I know. I have been busy” Robert said.

“Are you going back to work after this”? Maureen asked. Robert thought about it.

“I am not sure mum. I feel God’s calling.”

“What about your future Robert…what about a career”? Maureen asked.

Robert looked at her.

………..I will look after you like I used to…you are my son” she finished off.

“Why don’t you want to look after me now”? He asked. Maureen looked at him for a moment and this time it was she who didn’t have an answer.

“I must go now Robert” She said and stood up.

“Will walk with you,” He said.

“No, it’s alright” Maureen said. She took out a small pen torch from her handbag and turned it on. She waved good-bye and walked off in the direction of the highway. Robert watched her disappear into the darkness from whence she came. She would give him her whole world if he loved and admired her like she wanted him too. He had survived temptation.

Chapter 19

           

Mary and Abraham Klomp were your typical Avonhurst residents. The Dutch retirement village in Carrum Downs on Frankston/Dandenong road was a nice retirement village. The residents were well looked after and they seemed to enjoy the company of their fellow countrymen in their twilight years.

 

In residence number 17 Abraham Klomp and Mary Klomp lived for the last 2 years. The front of their ground floor residence was neat and tidy with a little garden with red and yellow tulips. Of course there was a little garden windmill. On this particular night it was quite warm and they had their main door open. They had their fly wire screen door closed, to allow the gentle breeze to come into the home.

 

 There was nothing on TV so Abraham sat in his usual chair in front of the television, reading a book about the history of the Dutch resistance in World War 2 that he had been a part of. His wife Mary was in bed reading the local newspaper. She saw the advertisement for the healing weekend. She pondered it. Abraham was 83 and Mary 81. While he read his book Abraham took a puff of his cigarette. He had smoked all of his adult life and most of it inside a house. He wasn’t going to change his habits now. Mary never smoked. She was a thin woman, healthy in her younger years, now fading away. Abraham had a large potbelly and the reddish face of an alcoholic. He had cut back his drinking in his the last year or so but the damage was done.

 

As he sat there, and she lay there, they were both in their own world. Mary looked in the direction of Abraham. She called him. “Abraham”.

Abraham heard her. He put down his book and came into the bedroom.

“I would like to go to the healing weekend tomorrow or Sunday” She said.

“What”? He replied. She said it again but this time in Dutch and handed him the newspaper open at the page with the advertisement. He looked at it.

“Mary, you don’t think this is true do you?” He said in his dismissive tone of voice.

“We are old, there is nothing that can be done for us” He said and put the newspaper on top of the sheets.  He went back into the lounge room and continued to read the book.

“We don’t go out much any more,” She said.

“I can’t see as well as I used to, you know that” He said.

“We can go with Elsie and Jan, they are going” She said.

“We’re not going” Abraham said. There was a long pause.

“I want to go” Mary insisted.

“No” Abraham said. There was a long pause.

“Then I am going by myself with Elsie and Jan” She said. Abraham stopped reading his book and put it on his lap. He came into the bedroom.

“No you are not going. I don’t believe in that stuff so we are not going.” He said.

“Does that mean I can’t go unless you go?” She said. Abraham looked at her indignantly.

“What Mary, why do you want to go”? He said. There was a long pause.

“I feel my time has come” said Mary.

“Nonsense Mary, you will live to a hundred. Me, well that is another story” Abraham said as he went back to his book. There was a long pause.

“Look after Anita and Peter.” She said, about their grand children. Abraham put down his book and entered the bedroom. He looked at her.

“Mary…what’s wrong”?

“You are always pushing them away” She said.

“Well I can’t pick them up they are too heavy.” He said. She looked at him. There was a long sad pause in her eyes.

“Did I make the right choice Abraham? I could have married Andrew.”

“Andrew”? Abraham enquired.

“Andrew folerkootsma……….he wanted to marry me.” She said.

“He was a womanizer…is that what you wanted” He said.

“Did you ever cheat on me Abraham”? Mary enquired.

“No Mary, no, what kind of talk is this.”?!!!!! He said. She seemed to look away. She got out of bed slowly. She put on her slippers and walked to the kitchen area. She turned on the light. Abraham looked at her leave and was concerned. She had been like this before. He went to one of the cupboards and picked up one of her bottles of her medicine.

“Here Mary, have some of your medicine” He said and poured a teaspoon out for her. He offered it to her and she swallowed it. He guided her towards the bedroom. She sat down on the end of the bed. Abraham removed her slippers for her. He bent down to the ground and looked at her.

“Mary, are you alright”? He asked her. She replied in Dutch, a mish mash of words that were incoherent. On the bedside set of draws on her side of the bed was a picture of Jesus. She looked at it and went to reach for it.

“Jesus” She said. Abraham took it and gave it to her.

“Yes, Jesus,” He said. He started to pull back the sheets. He guided Mary into the bed.

“You need to rest Mary, we will go tomorrow to the healing place, and I will take you” He said. Mary smiled at him and reclined in bed. She continued to look at him. She said to him in Dutch.

“You are a good man”. He looked at her.

“No, I’m a grumpy old man, you are a good woman” He said. He tucked her into bed and went back to the lounge room. She lay there holding the picture of Jesus against her chest. Abraham went back to the lounge room and picked up his book. He started reading it again.

 

Abraham lost track of time. He must have been reading for about an hour when he heard Mary stir in bed.

“Is there someone here”? She said. Abraham put down his book and went into the room. He found her sitting upright and confused.

“No Mary, just us” He said and encouraged her to lie down. She did so with the picture of Jesus on her breast.

“You need a rest Mary” He said. He left the bedroom and closed the door. He quickly went to the phone, and dialed Elsie and Jan. He waited for what seemed to be an eternity for them to answer. When Elsie did, Abraham spoke to them in Dutch and told them to come over urgently. They wanted to know what the problem was. At that moment, Abraham heard Mary talking but he couldn’t understand what she was saying. He dropped the phone and ran to the bedroom.

 

He found Mary laying flat on her back her eyes wide open. Her hands were by her side and the picture of Jesus was on top of the bed sheets resting near her left hand.  She seemed to be mumbling something he didn’t understand to someone other than himself in the room. Abraham forgot he dropped the phone and ran back to it. When he got there it was Jan on the line wanting to know what was going on.

“Just come over idiot”!!! He yelled and hung up. He ran back to the bedroom.

 

Mary had her eyes closed and was smiling as if recalling a happy event. He touched her hand He began to panic.

“Mary” He said. She didn’t seem to hear him but continued to smile. At that moment he heard Jan and Elsie at the door. He ran to them and unlocked the fly screen door.

“Quickly” he said and almost pushed Elsie into the bedroom, Jan, dragging his feet behind them.

 

When they entered the room, Mary was smiling. Elsie sat on the bed and touched her left hand and wrist area.

“She is dead” Elsie said. There was a long pause.

“No”…………..we were just talking.” Abraham said. Elsie took the photo of Jesus nest to her left hand and put it on the dresser. She stroked her hair back and tears started to form in her eyes. In Dutch she said” She is gone.” Abraham was dumfounded.

“We were just talking………we were going to go to that healing place tomorrow” Abraham said. Elsie got up and took a handkerchief from her cardigan sleeve and wiped her eyes. She approached Abraham and told him once more in Dutch that she was gone.

 

 

Chapter 19

Raymond Jess, the minister of Justice in the state of Victoria had watched the” A Current Affair” report and was affected by it as were most people by the intensity of the imagery and significance of the report but also because the name “Robert Hill” seemed familiar. He watched the program in the lounge room by himself with a glass of red wine. The film footage of Robert didn’t mean anything to him yet the name did. After turning off the TV and pondering the name for some time, he made the connection.

 

Approximately 6 months ago he had received an email from Robert Hill asking for permission to conduct inner healing sessions inside Victorian jails on a voluntary basis. Raymond Jess responded that it was a matter for the administrator of each prison to decide if such programs would be allowed. He then received another email very shortly from Robert Hill stating that his healing group had already approached one jail and were refused. The minister however could over turn this refusal if he agreed. Raymond Jess then responded to the email saying that since the administrator of the jail didn’t accept the voluntary healing program he was not prepared to do otherwise.

 

Raymond Jess didn’t hear anything for approximately a month when he received an A4 size envelope from Robert Hill. Inside were little booklets and printed literature about the success of healing seminars in the USA as well as articles about the origins of evil. Raymond Jess didn’t even read them except for the letter. It started off politely; enquiring, then became almost demanding in tone and content. Raymond Jess was not accustomed to the directness of Robert Hill and his “pompous” nature. He came across as a self-righteous man with the manner of a Sunday school teacher.  Raymond Jess in particular didn’t like the reference to the devils helpers. The implication was that he and his government were on the side of Satan and not the lord. This rubbed Raymond Jess the wrong way. If there was one thing he didn’t like it, was a loud, arrogant bible bashing bastard. At one point in the letter Raymond Jess was asked about his faith.

 

It was customary for Raymond Jess to ignore or politely respond to the letter but on this particular occasion he wanted to be direct and rude as he felt Robert Hill was. He thought about the correspondence for a few days when he heard that one of the state’s jails had agreed to members of the Anglican Church attending a prayer session with some of their inmates. The administrator assumed they were there to pray with the Christian prisoners, but instead it turned out to be what appeared to be were intercessions. Raymond thought the proper word was “exorcisms.” One of the practitioners was Robert Hill. He was not officially clergy so he had no right to perform a service that a prison chaplain didn’t perform.

 

Raymond Jess watched the group carefully from a distance. There was little he could do. Reports came back of prisoners screaming then becoming placid. He didn’t want to accept such cures were really occurring or were real but he was loathed to reject their services. Raymond Jess was not particularly fond of “Christian” groups in general. They had their place but it was not in government or in government departments. They could do their hand clapping and tambourine playing somewhere else.

 

As he sat there and finished his wine he wondered about the healing weekend and was certain it would be a dismal failure. He was convinced the evil in man comes from man and is exasperated by poverty and other social conditions. The notion that the evil of the world is spiritual was ludicrous to him. The idea of a healing weekend, a sort of “Hill song” festival was something that appealed to the bible belt of America and not the cynical Australian culture. In Raymond Jess’s opinion religion was a form of control on the people. People wanted to believe in miracles and they wanted to believe in a God. How many people would genuinely be cured on this weekend and how many of them could be medically verified. There seemed to be a delusional group emerging in the community that was turning to religion and other forms of spirituality to solve their problems. The rise of the Family First Party was a sign that some members of the community were putting their faith in the politics of religion to solve their problems and not themselves.

 He wouldn’t be going and he would not be sending any best wishes to Robert Hill.

 

Jessica Lane had just put her two children to bed. They were Catherine and Ben. Catherine was 9 and Ben was 7. Her husband had died a year ago and it was difficult to be a mother and father to her children but she was managing to do it reasonably well. She was a part time secondary school teacher who was a councilor and now the mayor of Frankston.

She sat down in her sofa. It was 9pm. She was deep in thought about the healing weekend story she had seen on TV and was giving it some serious consideration. She had not gone out to the location nor had she been asked to but it was happening right here in her municipality. What happens if it is a tremendous success, she would have to be a part of that. What happened if it was a dismal failure, how could she distance herself away from it?

 

Jessica had not a religious bone in her body but certainly had plenty of drive and enthusiasm for her job. Good publicity kept politicians being re elected and she wanted to keep being re elected. She got up off the couch and sat by her dining room chair and took an A4 writing pad and pen which she always had on one of the seats and began drawing. She did a rough outline of her face and in the background she drew a cross. She had seen it that day on the way home in the afternoon. It would be difficult for her to get a photographer to come out tomorrow at such short notice so what could she do. She thought about it for a moment and then remembered her friend Andy the owner of a timber store who was a keen amateur photographer. He had a good digital camera.

She went to the phone and dialed his number.

           

She spoke to him briefly about work and his family, the usual thing that most people do who often don’t care and then began asking about his camera. She had seen some digital photographs before that were excellent and some that were terrible. If she used his camera, would it take a clear enough picture for her to send to" The Frankston Leader” newspaper?

 Andy said his camera was a 6 million-pixel camera and that was more than adequate for a photograph to be submitted for the paper. He also told her that if the subject matter were strong enough the photograph would be accepted regardless, just as newspapers around the world accept photographs of Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles even if they were on the cutting room floor originally.

 

She thanked him for his useful advice and told him she might want him to take a picture of her tomorrow about midday if that was ok. She would buy lunch. He agreed.  She put down the phone and pondered the thought. She could stay by the freeway’s edge and have a photograph taken with the cross and pilgrims attending in the background, which would look great. But what if the healing weekend turned out to be a dismal failure or a con?  She thought. It would appear as if she approved of their activities. She thought about it for a moment then came up with a brilliant idea. She would go there and have her photograph taken. She would keep it. If it was a success she could send it to the newspaper Monday morning. The paper was usually ready for print by lunch time by she was told and if there was nothing much happening she could get page 2 or three. If it were a failure, well she wouldn’t tell anyone she went there and wouldn’t send the photo. Good idea. She wasn’t stupid.

 

It was close to midnight and the red glow of the bon fire embers was now casting a dim light on the cross in the field. Robert sat behind the stage, not in front of it and had a blanket wrapped around him. He had sat on the ground for at least an hour in meditation. He wished to be alone with his thoughts and the others were talking amongst themselves. They were all getting tired and soon most of them would go to bed including Robert. During this hour he went through thoughts of great happiness and contentment to fear and doubt. He even though at one stage he saw a wolf in the fields looking at him. He continued to pray and asked God for guidance. He remembered what he had learnt in a lecture, that we are not the perfect children in a world that was also not perfect, but our father in heaven was the perfect parent. We are to trust him and run to him like a child in distress runs to his loving parent. He wondered if his idea of having a healing weekend would work and then he had tremendous enthusiasm it would. He felt that maybe God was looking down on the world and for a brief moment in time there could be a focus of love and caring in a small corner of the world in which prayers for healing would occur. He knew God would not give him all the answers to all his questions at this moment in time but that did not mean he and his believers should stop asking. They had faith and they believed God would help them. As it says in the bible, when more than 2 people come to ask for something in Jesus name he will be there. He wondered if he should become a vicar or just return back to his practice as a nutritionist. He was throwing all these questions at God and not getting the answers fast enough. Robert knew he had to be patient and acquire grace. Our God knew the birthday of the unborn and the day of their death. He knew if tomorrow would be a success or failure. Like an audience watching a film at the cinema, we have to wait for the story to unfold. It wouldn’t make any sense and we would not have the full experience if we saw only parts of it.

 

Robert stood up and walked to the cross. There was a dying bon fire near the church of Christ tent with a few people gathered around. Robert had a large pot full of water near the bonfire that illuminated the cross. He poured the water slowly over the fire. He then walked over to the group.

“I am going to bed now, I was wondering if we could have a group prayer before we go to sleep for the night”? He said as he approached them. They mumbled in agreement. He sat near amongst them.

“Hold hands” he said and they did. Robert closed his eyes.

“Lord, thank you for bringing us all together here for a special purpose. Guide us, protect us, and fill us with your holy spirit tonight, tomorrow and the following day as we ask for you to heal the sick according to your will. We are humble before you lord; please forgive us for our weaknesses in my mind and body. Only if it is your will, show your followers your forgiveness of sin and power of healing through the Holy Spirit and your son. Let us be a witness to this majesty. Amen” Robert said.

“Amen” they said.

A solid man with a ginger beard and glasses then spoke.

“I ask that Jesus protects us from Satan so that he doesn’t not appear amongst us or interferes with your work tomorrow. Amen”

“Amen” they all said. They looked at each other and smiled. They were happy. They slowly dispersed and went for their tents. Some had torches others had weak lights coming from their tents. Robert went to his. He was alone, no one from his church wanted to stay the night, but he. This was something he had suggested and organized. He felt alone but he would think God things during the night.

 

As he went to his tent he took a small torch from his pocket and shone it around his large tent. He saw his Dolphin torch. He picked it up and shone it at the cross on the paddock in the distance. It was an imposing structure, a symbol that brought great comfort to Robert as if it was trying to embrace them all. He had come so far and tomorrow would be a day of great expectations.

 

 

Chapter 19

It was just after midnight when Constable Sandra Baxter pulled into the food plus store on the corner of Ballarto road and Mclelland drive Carrum Downs. She was with her junior partner Dominic Mamo. He was a trim dark man, 24 years of age. Even though he was only four years older than him, to Sandra, he looked like a boy. She wanted to get a can of coke, as she was quite thirsty. She parked in front of the store away from the fuel pumps.  Dominic Mamo was entering details into their running sheet. They had been called to a pub brawl at the Sands Hotel in Hall road, but by the time they had got there they were too late. The perpetrators had absconded.

“Do you want anything” She said to her partner who was busy filling in details.

“No thanks.” he said without looking up. She got out of the vehicle and stretched her legs.

It was a beautiful night, cloudless and a little on the cool side but a beautiful night. Sandra, who was twenty-eight, put her hands on her hips and reclined back stretching her back? Every since she had been a policewoman, and that was only a period of one year, her back was sore and she had put on weight. She looked around at the service station and it was quite dark. The block of land around the food plus store which were once empty with tall over grown grass, were now being built on. Sandra wandered what kind of shops would go there. Ballarto road was quiet and Sandra was concerned it was not going to stay like that.

 

She made her way to the store. There were no customers in there. As Sandra walked towards the door she caught a quick glimpse of her reflection. She had put on a lot of weight and she was upset about that. The night shift was responsible. She didn’t like driving the car all the time. She didn’t like being so sedate and sluggish.

 

As she entered the store the middle aged woman of Indian decent said hello. Sandra said hello back and began looking at the magazine rack. She could see her patrol car clearly from where she was and could see Dominic looking at the patrol sheet. She remembered how keen she was when she first became a policewoman, now she felt as if she was an old hand at only 1 year of service and at 28 years of age. She had a quick flick through the magazines then went to the drink refrigerator. She thought about it for a moment. She liked coke a cola but she was putting on weight. It was time to start drinking more health conscious drinks. She selected Pepsi Max. It had the best taste of all the diet colas. As she walked past, she noticed the hot dogs on the rotisserie. She knew better than to eat that sort of food but she was hungry and lazy. She should make her own snacks and keep them in the car but she had not made progress to that way of thinking yet. She selected a hot dog, put it in a stale roll and selected a small container of tomato sauce. She went to the counter and paid for it.

As Sandra walked to the car she could feel Dominic looking at her. She had the Pepsi in one hand and the hot dog in the other. She was conscious too that her shirt was opening between her buttons and her bra could be seen. It wasn’t like that when she was thinner. Dominic was looking at the hot dog. As she came to the car, she skillfully opened the door with two fingers of her right hand without dropping her can of Pepsi.

As she got in the car Dominic said

“Hungry”?

“Yeah” She said.

She still had the goods in her hand when she noticed a strange look on Dominic’s face. He seemed to be looking past her at the driver’s window. She turned quickly and there was the face of a large bald brutish looking male in her open window. She had not seen him come to the car neither had Dominic; it was if he had come out of the ground. Her hands were full and she could not see his. She could see his big head and his torso. He was a huge man approx. 30 years of age, wearing khaki trousers. If he was going to attack her she was helpless. In that split second of not knowing what to do, she was motionless.

“Hello” He said.

“Hello” She replied, putting her hot dog and Pepsi on her partner’s lap. Her eyes never left him. She felt that at any second he would plunge a knife into her chest. She still could not see his hands. He crouched down and put his massive forearms on the window ledge of the patrol car, there were nothing in his hands but he had them almost touching Sandra. Casually she put her right hand on the handle of the revolver. She also felt Dominic put his right hand on her left wrist. Why was he doing this?

“My father said I should talk to the police when I do something wrong” He said.

“Yes, your father was right” Sandra said. She felt Dominic’s hand leave her wrist.

“Yes, I should,” He said.

“What did you do”? She asked.

“I killed my flat mate Gary.” He said.

“When did you do that”? She said calmly.

“About 15 minutes ago.”

“O.K. What is your name” She asked

“Andrew. My friends call me Angry or Angry Andrew, but I don’t think I am.” He said.

“I don’t think you are Andrew, how did you kill your flat mate”? She asked.

“I stabbed him with a bread knife” He said.

“Why is that Andrew”? She said.

“He made fun of me.” Andrew said.

“Where did you kill your flat mate Gary” Sandra asked.

“In the flat” He replied.

“Where is your flat”? She asked.

“It is just up here Mc Clelland drive,” He said indicating.

“I have to get out of the car, excuse me Andrew,” She said. As this happened Dominic got out as well. Andrew stepped back, his hands by his sides. He was about six feet four in height and quite large.

“Can you show us where you live.”? She asked.

“Yes I can” Andrew said.

“Can you come to the police station with us Andrew”? She said. He seemed puzzled by the question.

“Your father said you should talk to the Police when you do something wrong, I need you to come to the police station.” She said.

“Alright” He said.

“I need to put these hand cuffs on you; otherwise I will get into trouble.” She said. There was a moment’s pause in his eyes, and then he put his hands forward.

“I need to have them behind your back” She said. He put them behind his back. Sandra went behind him and quickly put the handcuffs around Andrew’s wrist. She opened the back door.

“Can you show me where you live Andrew?” She said as she guided Andrew into the back seat of the car.
”Yes” He said as they got in.

 

There was a sense of relief on Sandra’s face when they got in the car. Andrew was secured. She started the car and reversed. .

“Number 47 A” he said as Sandra left the fuel station.

“Ouch” he said as the car hit a bump then turned left. Sandra looked back at him.

“I have not got any seat belts on,” Andrew said.

“It is okay; I will try and drive slowly.” Sandra said.

“It‘s against the law,” Andrew said. Sandra looked back at him.

“Not if you have someone wearing hand cuffs,” she replied.

“Ok” Andrew said.

 

Number 47 A was actually an old white weatherboard house. There was a gate on the side and as the patrol car came up the driveway, they could see and hear the American Pit bull terriers barking at the headlights. The house seemed run down, the front door slightly ajar. Sandra turned off the headlights. She looked at Dominic for a moment. She looked back at Andrew.

“Andrew, my partner Dominic will look after you and I will go inside and see your flat mate.” She said.

“He’s dead” Andrew replied.

“Yes but I need to see him.” She said. He said nothing. Sandra got out of the car and walked to the front door.

 

When Sandra arrived at the door slightly ajar, she could hear the TV. She took a deep breath. She opened the door and stepped into an old fashioned home. It had grey carpet. She walked into the lounge room. She saw a new TV set that was babbling away and old brown furniture. She scanned the room and noticed the doorway to the kitchen. She could see a leg covered by blue jeans and a brown boot on the old vinyl floor. She approached it slowly. On the floor with the top half of his body reclining against the wall was Andrew’s flat mate Gary. Sandra went pale. He was a largish man, approx.35 years of age, with sandy brown hair and a down turned “handle bar” moustache. He had a large bread knife in his chest. His eyes were open and he had a can of beer spilt on his left side. There were two bar stools toppled over near him. The kitchen drawer was open and it exposed kitchen utensils. On the kitchen bench was some diced up potatoes. It was obvious that Gary was sitting at one of the bar stools at the kitchen bench drinking beer while Andrew was dicing potatoes. For whatever reason, Andrew just plunged the knife he was using into his flat mate’s chest. Sandra took the radio from her hip and called her station for the homicide squad to take photos and evidence.

 

In the patrol car, it was quiet. Andrew was sitting quietly in the back seat and Dominic was quiet as well. He noticed Sandra emerge. She approached the car.

“I have called the homicide boys, we have to wait till they get here,” She said to Dominic. Dominic nodded. Sandra then looked at Andrew.

“He is dead Andrew, just like you said. What did he say that made you so angry?” Sandra asked him.

 “He said I had a small dick” Andrew replied. Sandra nodded then walked away from the car. She stood on the driveway out of earshot listening to her radio. Dominic turned to Andrew and looked at him. Andrew gave him and evil smile and said

“You should have been a baker”.

 

At the end of the shift, Dominic would give notice of his resignation. His uncle wanted him to be a baker, and help him run his bakery rather than be a policeman. When your dead uncle’s voice comes from a stranger telling you that, you take notice. Dominic wanted to play cops and robbers; he didn’t want to play angels and demons.

 

 

Chapter 20

At the Ambassador hotel, Joanne Thomson had a different room. She had been reading the New Testament. Every so often she clutched the cross around her neck. She felt a distinct sense of warmth and security. She felt Jesus with her and she prayed honestly. She was awkward, but she asked for Jesus to care for her and forgive her for all her mistakes and sins. She was peeling back the layers of her soul and once she got started it was difficult to stop. She realized it was ridiculous to exclude him God from her life as if he was a domineering father, when yet he was quite tolerant of her and all of us. She wasn’t afraid anymore to be alone; she had the protection of Jesus and his angels that night. Tomorrow would be a new day an exciting day and the first thing she was going to do was apologize to Robert for making an ass of herself.

 

She did the sign of the cross then put the book on top of the bedside table next to her. She turned off the bedside lamp.

 

Ray Garcia had just put his 2 girls Emmanuela and Christine to sleep with his wife Angela in their modest South Yarra flat. It was only one railway stop from Richmond where Ray worked and he liked the area. They had been there for 5 years and now had enough money for the deposit on a home. After putting the children to sleep he asked Angela to sit in the lounge room with him. She sensed he wanted to say something important. He hadn’t had a chance to tell her everything he had experienced over the last few days because Angela had a full time job as a receptionist and was busy with the kids.

 

He told her about what he had seen and felt during the last 48 hours and that he also wanted his wife and children to be there with him at least tomorrow. He felt this healing weekend was going to be far beyond a get together of believers but an event that they shouldn’t miss as a family. He couldn’t however bring himself to tell his wife that he murdered a man, but he told her everything else. He didn’t want his wife to know he was a murderer. He wanted that to be with something he and God shared. Angela listened. She knew her husband well and both being Catholic they felt they should attend the event.

 

Ross Worthington was a solid man. He was the official treasurer of the Frankston North and Carrum Downs branches of the Anglican Church. It was almost 11pm. He was tired. He was about to go to bed when the phone rang. He heard the voice of Mark Bishop on the other end of the line. He was calling long distance from Fort Lauderdale.

 

Mark had been watching TV and seen the report about the healing weekend. He heard the name “Frankston” mentioned a few times so he thought he would pick up the phone and make some calls. Mark Bishop was 84 years of age. He had been an Anglican all his life, his wife as well, now deceased and he had spent some time in Melbourne and Frankston during World War 2. He asked Ross if he knew Frankston well. Ross Worthington was almost 50 and had been in the Frankston area all his life. They talked for awhile, Mark telling him that while he was stationed in Melbourne he met a girl from Frankston and she invited him over to her parents place. They took a train from Melbourne and went to Frankston a week before Christmas. It was quite hot and they went for a swim. He wanted to know if the Grand Hotel was still there. When Ross Worthington told him it was he could feel the happiness in Mark’s voice. Mark had tried to buy a beer there in uniform but the hardnosed publican knew he wasn’t 21 and he didn’t like yanks. He told them they were not doing enough in the pacific to help Australian troops and they were too busy having a good time with Australian women in Melbourne rather than fighting. He didn’t dare tell him that he had an Australian girl waiting for him just out the front door.

 

Without beer, they went to her parent’s house. They were not home; they had been busy working so they had a few hours to themselves. Mark decided he had to lose his virginity then and there because he didn’t know how long he was going to live, so he made it with an Australian girl. Mark told him her name was Colleen Fisher, did he know her by any chance? Ross felt like saying he couldn’t possibly know the 150,000 people in Frankston but said only that he didn’t know her.

 

Ross then went on about how he went to war in the pacific. He had been training to be an electrical engineer back then and after the war, completed his studies and worked as an engineer with Lockheed. He helped develop sophisticated radar for the U.S. defense forces and then went into business for himself. He started a company called Bishop and Fuellor   electrical systems with his life long buddy Bob Fuellor. He told Ross that he married and lived in California for 43 years until his wife died, then decided to move to Florida, Fort Lauderdale to be near his 2 sons and grand children. He told Ross how old they were.

 

After more than 20 minutes on the phone, Mark started asking about the church and the finances. Ross was embarrassed to be too revealing about their details as their parish was small and had only 20 regular parishioners at one time. Ross told him however that at any given moment they were in over draught most of the time and that he had to hold onto checks because sometimes he didn’t have the funds to clear it. Mark understood and told him his local church had the same problem a few years ago, but things were ok now. Mark was wheel chair bound but he made an effort to go to church once a week.

 

 Out of pure curiosity Ross asked if Mark had been back to Australia since the war. No, no came the reply from Mark Bishop. Roy told him he should return and they could swap a few war stories with his father, who was 83 and have a beer at the Grand Hotel. They both had a laugh. Mark seemed touched by the gesture and Ross added that if the bar tender was still there and he still didn’t like yanks, they could go somewhere else. This brought laughter to Mark Bishop and he thanked Ross profusely for listening to him and extending an offer to visit. Ross confirmed their mailing address. Mark asked him how much it was to subscribe to their parish newspaper. Ross told them they only had a pew booklet and received a copy of the “Melbourne Anglican” that cost $1.00 a copy. With mailing costs that would be about $6.00 a week. Mark thanked him, and said he might call up one day to say hello and if Ross was ever in Fort Lauderdale drop in and see him and he would put a few shrimps on the Barbie for him, ha ha.

 

Ross hung up the phone and thought that Mark must have been quite a character in his younger days and maybe he would appreciate a book about old Frankston that he had on the shelf. He had it there for years and it had some great photos. He took it down and thought he might send it to Mark.

Mark hung up the phone with a smile. He remembered the cheeky nature of The Australian and how they seemed to face adversity with humor and cheer most of the time. He met some nice Aussie soldiers and he found them to be genuine and warm towards him most of the time. They knew they needed each other and since they were no longer in Australia fraternizing with their women they had a war to fight, end of story. The U.S.A needed Australia as a land base to launch their attack on Japan, and they needed the hard and tough Aussie digger to fight in the jungle to help them. Aussies knew they needed American firepower to repel the Japanese; they didn’t have enough of their own to win.

Ross took out his note pad and pen from his desk drawer and did some calculations about the yearly subscriptions of the magazines and a donation for the church as well. He wrote a check for $100 thousand U.S. dollars.

 

And so the faithful slept as Friday became Saturday. Like the pilgrims who first came to America there was an air of excitement and fear amongst them. They had joined together for this exciting event, an opportunity to allow God to show his grace amongst them for such a short but important time.  Putting their differences aside was easier this time than ever before for various reasons.  One of them being the realization that if they didn’t work together in the name of Christ they would appear not only amongst themselves but also to the secular community as confused rabble. A healing seminar would unite them, as this was the ultimate expression of Jesus’ love for us and the depth of his forgiveness. It was the work of Satan to divide God’s family and they needed to show resolve to resist him which was the will of the father.

Another reason was the fact that the baby boomers were getting older and they were searching for answers to their questions in life. After so many had walked away from Jesus, they were now looking for him again. They didn’t get what they were looking for in music, drugs and sex. There was no longer the denial of their lives leading to death, which they had wanted to avoid so much. If they had to face it they at least wanted to be prepared with the right faith.

 

Thirdly, the personality of Robert Hill played a large part in the successful organization of the healing weekend. He had not tried to secure the occasion under any denominational banner. Instead he wanted it to be a celebration of the healing work of Jesus and he wanted all Christian denominations to take part. He discussed the program every step of the way, encouraging the denominations to have their own tents, to take turns giving speeches and the opposition melted away. He was persistent and seemed focused only on allowing the work of Jesus, the Messiah to take place. There was no ego, no bravado about it. How could they refuse?

 Each year in Frankston they came together at Easter to walk along Nepean highway and place the cross on Oliver’s hill. Because of safety concerns the walk was cancelled and the gathering now took place at Cranbourne instead. This healing weekend was another example of the denominations working together but this time not just for a celebration but a purpose that if successful would be annual. As a nutritionist Robert understood the necessity of good nutrition but he had recently discovered the necessity of spiritual health that was completely lost on the secular community. Jesus said it was not what went into the body that could defile you, it is what came out of the heart that did.

 

 

Chapter 21

The sun had not risen over the factory and warehouse roofs yet, the morning air was crisp and everyone on the field was asleep in their tents except Jeremy Brock. He was one of the Roman Catholic healing groups that had chosen to take part. He was uncertain if he wanted to go into the priest hood. He was 20 years of age. A largish young man he had the love of the lord foremost in his mind most of the time and that is why he thought he was considering seriously joining the priest hood. He still had doubts though and his pastor told him that he should carefully consider his feelings towards God.

 

 He found it difficult to sleep that night, he was not much of a camper and he was too anxious and excited about the day to rest. He stood up and walked to the opening of his tent. He looked around and noticed his group was asleep. He looked outside at the cross in the distance. The cross looked protective, inspiring. The air was still, crisp and exhilarating. Jeremy left the tent and walked towards it. A carpet approximately six feet three feet wide, red in color was laid down in front of the stage. It was rolled out approximately 20 feet like the red carpet that went down the aisle of a church.

 

His tent was near the highway so it took a good walk to get to the cross. The grass was wet with dew, but still firm. He heard the crunch as he walked on it and made his way to the cross and the temporary stage. He avoided walking on the carpet that was to remain clean as long as possible. When he arrived he looked up at it and said a little prayer of thanks for the morning and the hope of a great day. He looked around at the field and saw the white tents dotted along the fence lines. In the middle of the field was a man, a thin dark man walking slowly towards the cross. He was wearing a dark suit, a blue shirt with white stripes.

 

Eugene Tomasello stood in the middle of the paddock and was looking at the cross. He was 64 years of age. His body was full of Arthritis, his left hand, swollen, his knees and feet also swollen and painful. The medication worked but most of the time, the pain returned. He inherited the condition from his mother who died with complications of the condition more than 30 years ago. Eugene was tired of the pain. Slowly he got down to his both knees. It was painful but he wanted to suffer before the eyes of God. He took the gold crucifix around his neck and clutched it tight. He kissed it, held it tight and began to pray as he walked on his knees towards the cross. He felt every tuff of grass in his knees but he didn’t care. There was a carpet laid out in Lourdes and many Christian pilgrims walked on their knees towards the cross. Eugene wanted to do this. He drew closer to the carpet edge.

 

Jeremy watched this. He dared not interrupt him as Eugene made his slow procession towards the cross. As he placed his swollen knees on the carpet there was only slight relief from the pain, and it could be seen in Eugene’s face. He had tears streaming down his cheeks though it was difficult to determine if they were tears of pain or joy. He kept his eyes on the cross as he walked on his knees focused on his task. Just as he arrived at the stage, he bowed his head in deep prayer. Jeremy could only look at him with sympathy. He then noticed Robert Hill approaching them.

“We have our first customer” Robert said to Jeremy. Then bent down and put his arms around the shoulders of Eugene. He whispered something in his ear. Eugene said something that Jeremy couldn’t hear. Robert then stood up and walked over to Jeremy.

“Shall we pray for him”? Robert said. Jeremy looked surprised.

“I am not an ordained priest,” Jeremy said.

“”Are you full of the holy spirit”? Robert asked

“Yes, or course,” Jeremy replied. Robert looked at him.

“That is all that matters”. Robert said. Robert then walked over to Eugene and directed Jeremy to follow. Robert got down on his knees next to Eugene and Jeremy did the same on the other side. Robert put his two hands on Eugene’s left shoulder, and Jeremy did the same on Eugene’s right shoulder.

“In the name of Jesus Christ I ask that you see Eugene before you Lord. You know all your sons, he comes before you suffering. I ask that you if it is your will you will forgive Eugene of his sins and release him from his pain. Eugene, repeat after me. In the name of Jesus, forgive me for all my sins” Robert said.

“Jesus, forgive me for all my sins”. Eugene repeated.

“I reject Satan” Robert said.

“I reject Satan” Eugene said.

“Forgive me Lord of my sins” Robert said

“Forgive me Lord of my sins” Eugene repeated.

“If it is your will, grant me healed” Robert said.

“If it is your will, grant me healed” Eugene said.

“And now let us pray in silence for a moment, asking Jesus Christ our savior to be present in spirit and heal Eugene.” Robert said.

 

 

And then there was a moment of silence as all three closed their eyes and prayed. After a moment, Eugene threw his head back as if he was about to burp.

“Thank you Jesus” Robert said.

“Thank you Jesus” Jeremy said.

After a minute, Robert opened his eyes and took his hands off Eugene’ shoulders, Jeremy did the same. Eugene opened his eyes and looked up at the sky.

“I feel warm.” Eugene said. He used Jeremy and Robert as supports as he stood up slowly.

“I feel warm in my knees and hands.” Eugene said. He turned around and began walking slowly in the direction from which he came. He took a few steps and then a few more. He seemed to walk more freely. He turned and looked at them with a look of joy and astonishment and slowly extended his crippled left hand. He looked at the fingers extend straighten slowly. He smiled at his hand then at Jeremy and Robert. He waved with his hand. Robert and Jeremy waved back. Eugene then took his right hand and put it into his suit pocket. He took out a wallet and opened it with his previously crippled hand. He started walking back to Jeremy and Robert at the same time looking at his wallet as his left hand removed some bills.

“I don’t feel any pain, the pain is gone.” Eugene said as he approached them with money in his left hand offering it to them.

“It’s God’s gift to you, he asks only for your obedience” Robert said pushing the money away.

“I want to give a donation, take it please” Eugene said as tears were falling down his cheek and as he was trying to put it in Robert’s hand.

“Take it, I want to give it” Eugene said. Robert took it. Eugene got down on his knees. He looked up at the sky and the cross.

“Thank you, thank you. Praise the Lord” Eugene said then he started crying and opening his arms to the sky.

“I have returned to you my Lord, I have returned to you. He then put his arms around Robert and Jeremy’s feet and wept. Robert and Jeremy were touched by the moment. Robert bent down and touched Eugene’s head, Jeremy did the same. Eugene continued to weep at their feet.  Robert felt awkward holding the money in his left hand but could do little but keep the right hand on Eugene’s head. After a moment Eugene got up to his feet. He did a sign of the cross and walked away slowly. Robert watched Eugene go and every so often he looked at his left hand which was still swollen but whose fingers were moving more freely.  Jeremy looked at Robert with elation.

“Jesus is with us today, he will not leave us, he is amongst us, and he will guide us, our savior.” He then looked up at the sky.

“Thank you Jesus for showing us your forgiveness”…Jeremy said. At that moment, a young woman had emerged from Jeremy’s tent. Jeremy noticed her and she noticed Eugene walking by. Jeremy yelled out.

“He is with us; he will lead us out of darkness, our redeemer. Jesus is here, blessed be to God in the highest!!!  He then turned to Robert and said.

“I will join the church, I will be ordained. I will be his servant” Jeremy said with great emotion

“Amen” Robert yelled

“Amen” Jeremy replied. Robert then embraced him.

 

The healing program was officially to start at 9am. A brochure was printed with a schedule. There was to be an official welcoming speech by all the Christian denominations represented, then a recital of the Lord’s Prayer. There would then be 5 minutes contemplation. Then people could go to the individual tents to seek healing.  The Baptists and the born again brought baptism baths for full immersion for those that wanted to be baptized.

It was unknown as to how many would attend. By 8.30 am the area was a hive of activity. Cars were pulling off the road and onto the road shoulder, while some went straight onto the large dividing strip. The fast flowing traffic began to slow down. The weather was pleasant and the food vans began to arrive. It appeared as if there it was going to be a successful day. Joanne Armstrong turned up.

 

Out of the car came Joanne, Ray Garcia and Paul. From their vantage point on the road shoulder they could see the spread of people and the cross standing so proud and protective in the distance. A Christian band was playing on stage. Ray and Paul unpacked their equipment and Ray began to do some filming. Joanne was dressed more sensibly with slacks and flat shoes. She knew that high-heeled shoes in such an area were not practical. They could film her from the waist up with her smart jacket if necessary.

 

At the main entrance were a group of volunteers handing out programs and had collection tins. It was agreed all donations would go to all the churches evenly. Joanne took a program. She made a donation and so did Ray. Paul didn’t. A crowd was gathering at the front waiting for the opening, welcoming address. Joanne noticed that most of the people were elderly. They had brought cushions, transportable fold up seats and blankets. The camera crew made their way to the front; after all they were the press. Joanne looked around and saw the Anglican tent of Frankston and made her way towards it. She left Ray and Paul to get some background shots.

 

As she approached the tent she saw it was a hive of activity. They had an urn going and a gas barbecue was nearby. They were milling around, some having coffee. She noticed a few familiar faces, such as Elsie, Reverends John and Graham. They noticed her and greeted her warmly.

“How are you my dear”? Elsie said.

“I’m fine” Joanne said. She took out her crucifix from under her shirt and showed Elsie.

“You see”. Joanne said.

“Good”.

“Would you like a coffee or tea” John asked

“No thanks” Joanne replied. She looked around but could not see Robert anywhere.

“Where is the TV crew? Graham asked.

“Just there” Joanne said indicating Ray in the distance. They looked.

“The report went well on TV John said.

“Yes, we had quite a response.” Joanne said.

“Well we hope that we get a good turn out here, I think we will.” Graham said. Joanne nodded.

“Is Robert here”? Joanne asked

“Well he was a few moments ago,” Elsie said looking around. Joanne looked around.

“Well nice to see you all, I will be around.” Joanne said.

“Bye for now” Elsie said.

“Bye” Joanne said.

 

She walked away from the group and looked at the crowd in general. Ray was filming the stage area and tilting the camera up at the cross. If Joanne was right Ray was trying to film the sun rise as a background to silhouette the cross. It was a good effect. She walked towards the front of the stage. A few personnel were setting up the p.a. system and there were some seats being placed on stage. Joanne looked around casually. She looked at the crowd building up; people sitting were sitting down on blankets. Amongst these people, she noticed Robert Hill was one of them in the front sitting cross-legged. He was looking right at her. She was a little surprised and embarrassed. She walked over to him.

“Hello Robert” She said innocently.

“Hello Joanne” He replied with a slight smile. He didn’t make any attempt to get up. Not often was she physically looking down at someone, but it still didn’t make her feel dominant.

“I didn’t know you would be sitting there,” she said. Robert then stood up. He smiled, he seemed genuinely happy.

“Beautiful day isn’t it”? He said looking around at the sky and the crowd.

“Yes, it is Joanne” said.

“Come this way” Robert said as he walked her away from the stage area and began walking in the direction of the highway.

“So far so good, people are coming Joanne to hear the good news, to be blessed, to be healed.” Robert said.

“Well yes, that is good. The station received many calls, even from overseas.” Joanne said as she followed him.

“Excellent,” Robert said. They continued walking until they were almost at the fence perimeter. People were arriving and already there were many cars parked along the road edge and embankment. At first they thought there would be trouble parking the cars on the grass, that they would get bogged if it rained. It didn’t rain and so far there had been no parking problems. They stopped walking. Robert looked at her.

“And how have you been”? Robert asked Joanne.

“Fine”. She said.

“Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get supernatural activity on tape like you and the crew did, then to put it to air and have thousands if not millions see it?” He said.

Joanne looked at him.

“It is a battle on earth between good and evil Joanne. Our almighty father wants us to return to his family. The devil will do anything to prevent this. If you haven’t been made aware of it many have experienced both Jesus and the devil at work. It is a showdown almost and we are all involved. You have been affected, I have been affected, and many have been succumbed to good or evil. This happens every day but during the last 48 hours this spiritual warfare has intensified right here. Surely you have seen this.” Robert said.

“Well I must admit, what I have seen and experienced myself has been quite intense.”

Robert looked around, he saw the TV crew at the front of the stage. He noticed Ray look in his direction. While still looking at Ray in the distance he continued to speak to Joanne.

“Can you understand why it is difficult to speak to the media, to speak to a camera crew when most of the time there is a genuine lack of interest? Most of the time the media want to entertain and edit an interview or segment to create maximum excitement.” Robert said. He then turned around to look at her.

“Is that how you feel about me” Joanne asked

“Where will you go, what will you do after this Joanne”? Robert asked.

“What do you mean”? Joanne enquired.

“Jesus said you cannot serve two masters. You can’t be a slave to money and God. You have seen God and the devil at work and I hope it has made a significant impression on you to make you think about your life.” Robert said.

“Is there something wrong with being a journalist”? Joanne asked.

“It is not the profession; it is what is in the heart that matters most because that is what Jesus saw. The reluctance by myself and many people in the public eye is that they feel the media manipulates them, there words, and presents a story to the people more for entertainment than information.” Robert said.

“Do you think I do that “? Joanne said. Robert looked around.

“I believe all journalists look for the essence of good story telling and their producers and editors edit more to give the public a point of view so as to engage their attention.” Robert said.

“Well you didn’t really answer the question, Robert; do you think I do that”? Joanne asked. Robert looked directly at her. He nodded.

“But it doesn’t have to be like that Joanne. You can make things different. Look for and record the subtleties in life, the essence the meaning of what happens here, don’t just look for headlines. I hope this is the beginning of a long journey in your life in which you will follow Christ as I am now.” Robert said.

“The devil doesn’t stop Joanne and will not stop until we worship him or until the end of the world. Reject his evil influence and continue to allow Christ to enter your life as you did before. Don’t let the secular world control your career and your views. Become pure and have a clear conscience.” Robert added. Joanne looked at him.

“Record this event Joanne. Record our love for Gods son who came on earth and conquered pain and suffering for all of us. God has already allowed you to record the supernatural gift given to Jason. The devil interferes all the time but we prayed and he retreated. He then chose you and maybe more at the studio where you work. For a brief moment in time and in a small place we want to invite Jesus to come to us and cure his children. This is what we believe in Jesus Christ Joanne and this is what we ask him to do this weekend.” Robert finished off. Joanne looked at him, confused, upset, perplexed. She just wanted to talk to him in a pleasant manner and yet she felt he had demeaned her. Robert noticed the look on her face.

“I’m sorry. I have nothing against you personally, I haven’t been fair.” Robert said. Joanne nodded.

“I will be speaking soon; they gave me a small segment.” Robert said.

“So this is nerves”? Joanne asked. Robert looked at her and smiled. It was a smile of warmth she had not seen before. He looked up and noticed her camera crew was approaching. He looked at her again.

“I do think you are very attractive, if I may say that” Robert said almost apologetically. Joanne was surprised. She didn’t expect those words to come from his mouth. He looked up as her crew approached.

“Here is your team” Robert said. Joanne turned around and saw Ray and Paul approaching. She didn’t want to see them at that moment. She wanted to know what this character Robert was all about. How could he just say that?

“Hello Robert” Ray said and shook his hand as he held the camera in the other. He introduced Peter to him and they shook hands.

“My wife and daughter will be coming later” Ray said.

“Good, I am glad. I hope you get some good footage.” Robert said. At that moment, the P.A. system was making some noise. More people were seated, they would soon begin.

“Just about to start I believe” said Robert looking at the stage. They all looked except Joanne who looked at him. He was about her age, quite good-looking. He looked at her and this time he was embarrassed. He looked away and then began walking towards the stage. Ray and Paul followed him getting their equipment ready. Joanne walked behind them. She was furious. Robert had walked away from her just when she wanted to say something to him. It was this attention/ignorance way of behaving towards her she found both compelling and frustrating in men. She didn’t like it when they seemed to like her then leave her.

 

People began to sit down and gather on stage. The Frankston Baptist group opened proceedings and gave an official welcome speech to the gathering crowd. They had a group of musicians with them and they broke into “Amazing grace”. It was a song most were familiar with and they joined in with great enthusiasm. The field was full of greatness and warmth as most joined in. Robert looked at Joanne and she began to sing along. Ray looked a little embarrassed almost sheepish but he aimed the camera at Robert and Joanne singing. They stood and they sang along with the crowd and there was a wonderful feeling of togetherness. After, they sang, “How great thou art” and indeed the air was electric with God’s love.

 

Father O’Shea then came forward on behalf of the Roman Catholic denomination, then Graham from the Anglican church of Frankston. The others followed and then it was time for the Lords Prayer. In a most moving gesture, they had agreed amongst themselves to say the Lord’s Prayer together. The crowd responded and said the prayer as well. When it was over, Graham waved Robert over. He noticed the others were looking at him as he approached the stage. Graham spoke to him, as there was a moment of silence and anticipation as Robert got on stage.

“Robert, could you say a few words before we have our 5minutes of contemplation.”?

“I thought I was going to speak later” Robert whispered.

“You organized this event. You are full of the holy spirit.”

 

 

. He looked around at the crowd, they were beginning to talk amongst themselves and lose concentration.  Graham came to the microphone.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the man whose idea it was to have a healing weekend and helped greatly in its organization. He is also part of the healing team of the Anglican church of Frankston and Carrum downs area, Mr. Robert Hill.”

 There was applause. Robert came to the microphone. He looked out at the sea of faces. He had never given a speech before to such a large group. Here was his moment, nutritionist, healer, and common man, Son of God.  When he started to speak he noticed his voice sounded funny, quiet, subdued. He noticed people in the crowd were not listening. He told them they were about to have 5 minutes of quiet meditation and prayer. He stopped for a moment and then his heart began to pound. He became determined and raised his voice.

“We are gathered here in the presence of Jesus Christ. He is watching us now, he is waiting for us to praise him and allow him into their life. For just a small moment in time, we ask Jesus to come to us and free us of pain and suffering. He is waiting for us to show complete submission to him, to ask for forgiveness for our sins.” Robert said. He noticed Ray was filming. There was a long pause. At that moment he felt light, almost as if he was going to lift off the ground. He felt that occasionally when he was in prayer or talking about God. Instead of fighting the feeling, he closed his eyes and allowed it to fill him. He submitted.

“I can feel it now, ladies and gentleman. Believe it; believe in him like I began to believe in him. I want you all to say after me. Father forgive me for I have sinned.” Robert said.

The crowd responded with a murmur.

“Father forgive me for I have sinned”!!!! Robert said in a louder voice.

The crowd responded with more conviction.

“Please come into my life” Robert said and the crowd repeated it.

“When more than one person is gathered in my name, I am there” Robert said .The crowd repeated it.

“I reject Satan and all his demons” Robert said and the crowd repeated it.

“If it is your will, heal me” Robert said. The crowd repeated it.

“Heal me” Robert said. The crowd repeated it. After a moment, he said it again.

“Heal me” Robert said.

Now close your eyes everyone and think of Jesus by your side. Say to yourself slowly about 20 times, I have sinned Jesus, please heal me.” Robert said. There was a murmur. Robert noticed a lack of unity. He began to chant it.

“I have sinned Jesus, please heal me. I have sinned Jesus please heal me.” Robert repeated. Slowly but surely the crowd became louder and in unity. To hear the chant said over and over on that glorious morning to honor Jesus, to admit sin and ask to be healed was joyous. The crowd continued to chant about 20 times then Robert ask them to be still to allow Jesus to be amongst them. It was very quiet, beautifully quiet but it became disturbed by a young woman named Rebecca getting out of her wheel chair. She struggled in the center of the crowd as they made way for her. She was a young woman in her twenties She wore a brown pair of trousers and a brown jumper. She started to walk towards the stage. She started crying loudly as she walked. Her walk was stiff but visible. She continued her walk and it was obvious her gait was getting easier. Robert saw her and encouraged her to walk to the stage. She continued to do this. Ray the ever-watchful cameraman was filming. She walked right up to Robert. She whispered in a breathless voice.

“I can feel my toes.” She said looking up at him. Robert took the microphone and put it to her mouth.

“I can feel my toes” she said and everyone heard it. There was loud applause.

 

The woman was still standing when many stood to applaud. Mrs. Eileen Johnson stood to applaud but blocked the view of her husband Bob Johnson in his wheel chair. As she stood up she put her right hand on his left shoulder momentarily. Bob Johnson put his right hand to his heart. Eileen Johnson was watching what was happening at the front of the stage. Bob felt around his chest. Eileen sat down and noticed Bob clutching his chest.

“Bob are you alright” Eileen said with concern.

“My chest” Bob replied, as he continued to feel it.

“Your chest”? Eileen said. Bob was feeling it, breathing deeply. He looked at her.

“I can breathe deeply” He said and began breathing deeply with a look of great excitement on his face.

“Eileen, look at me” He said. Eileen looked at him.

“Are you okay”? She said. Bob breathed in some slow breaths. He breathed in slowly.

“I think it is gone Eileen.” Bob said.

“Really”!! Eileen replied. Bob continued breathing.

“I feel warm inside my chest, as if a warm hand is inside it.” Bob said and smiled at her.

Eileen had tears in her eyes. Bob had been suffering from Emphysema for a few months to the point where he had to be in a wheel chair because his breathing was so labored. For the first time in a long time he had prayed with passion. It was the first time he had conceded to himself that he had not been a good man most of his life and he could have been a better father and a better husband. In his prayer, in his heart, mind body and soul he apologized to Jesus. In the privacy of his own mind he was sorry for what he had done and how he would be different if he had his life over again. He never thought that God was listening.

 

The lady was still on the stage with Robert. He asked her name as he spoke to her in the microphone.

“What is your name”? Robert asked.

“Rebecca” The woman replied. Robert looked at her.

“I believe God has touched you today. Believe in him ask him to enter your life so you never know such suffering again.” Robert said. He then guided her towards the people behind him. He looked to the crowd and spoke into the microphone.

“Please pray for yourselves and your loved ones or go to the tents here for private healing.” Robert said. Some got up and moved towards the tent, others came toward the cross. Others stayed in their seat for prayer.

 

Ray and Joanne saw this all, their journalistic instincts got the better of them. They rushed towards Rebecca who had got out of her wheel chair and walked towards stage. There were people all around her as she stood near the stage; she had a dazed look on her face. Ray began filming her.

“How are you”? Joanne asked. The woman looked up. She had a look of ecstasy.

“I have been touched by God. Look at my feet.” She said and began to wiggle them then began to do some side steps.

“Mary Atkinson” She said.

“How long have you been in a wheel chair”? Joanne asked.

“Six months…I have motor neuron disease……….there is no cure” Rebecca replied.  Rebecca continued to move her feet.

“It feels better the more I move, my legs are weak but I can feel a tingling sensation through them”. She said. Ray continued to film as Mary began to walk towards camera. The crowd around her began to applaud and say “amen”. Joanne could see Robert in the background and approached him.

“A few words please” Joanne asked. Robert smiled.

“Ok”. He said. Joanne waved Paul and Ray to come over. As they were approaching she looked at Robert and said.

“I am still working so I need to earn my money”. Robert managed to smile.  Ray and Paul finally got ready as Joanne asked.

“Tell me do you think the woman is cured”?  Robert thought about it.

“I don’t know, it is God’s will.” Robert replied.

“Yet she seemed to get cured while you were speaking” Joanne asked.

“We were praying” Robert said.

“Why did it happen now, not before” Joanne asked.

“What do you mean” Robert replied.

“Why didn’t God cure her before why now”? Joanne asked. Robert thought about it.

“It is the confession of sin and the combined prayer, we believe being amongst many followers strengthen a person’s faith and intensifies their sorrow. God looks for people in transition in their life and decides if he wants to help them.” Robert said.

“Is it you that is the healer”? Joanne asked. Robert thought about the question.

“No, I am just a humble servant trying my best to fulfill Gods will.” Robert said.

“What is God’s will”? Joanne asked.

“God wants his family together, to love him, and serve others. He judges us not by our success the way our society does but by the way we treat others. Material gain means nothing to him.” Robert concluded. Joanne stood in front of the camera, the cue to stop filming. She turned to Robert.

“Thank you for that” Joanne said.

“You are welcome,” He said. Joanne walked away and so did Paul. Ray stood there for a moment and looked at Robert.

“He has chosen you Robert. I believe he has to fulfill a mission. I believe it.” Ray said. Robert smiled.

“Thank you for saying that, but I believe that…” Robert started to say

“No, God makes saints and holy men Robert. I believe he chose you.” Ray said interrupting Robert. He then walked away to join Joanne and Paul who kept a discreet distance.

 

Clem Mclelland was driving the Land drover wagon along the freeway when he noticed how busy the area was where the healing weekend was taking place. He slowed down and wondered where he would park the car. A car flashed past him and blew the horn in anger as Clem slowed the vehicle down. He looked to the right and he assumed the large dividing strip was the best place to park.

 

Beside him was his crippled daughter Trish McClelland. He didn’t really know why she wanted to come. She couldn’t be healed. Her spine had been severed in a car accident and no surgery could fix that. He didn’t want to argue with her, she wanted to come and it was the least he could do. Clem didn’t believe in miracles. Only a miracle could get Trish McClelland out of the wheel chair. Trish believed only a miracle could help her that is why she wanted to come. Clem slowed his car down. He heard two loud horns behind him but he didn’t care. He moved over to the right onto the large dividing strip. As the car went over the firm close-cropped lawn, he was glad. He thought originally that maybe his car would have got bogged, but instead the ground was firm. There were already a few cars there. Clem turned the engine off. In the distance he could see the rising mound of dirt which would make up part of the new freeway. He looked across at his daughter Trish and wondered how he could get her across the freeway quickly avoiding two lanes of fast moving traffic.

“O.K. Trish, here we are” he said as he got out of the car. She said nothing but continued to look in the direction of the stage and cross.

 

As Clem got out of the car, he noticed it was getting busy. Some cars were slowing down to stop while others were zooming past at a fast speed. He hoped he could maneuver the wheel chair in the firm wild grass. Clem took out the wheel chair from the back and assembled it. He noticed the ground was firm and wheeled it towards the passenger side of the car. He opened the door. Trish had her seat belt off. It was the most difficult part, trying to get her bottom onto the seat of the wheel chair. Trish managed to do it with a few grunts and groans. She found it difficult as time went by because she was getting larger. Clem had wanted to say something but what could you say to a woman who had everything to live for then had a tragic accident.

 

Clem wheeled the wheel chair through the grass towards the edge of the freeway. He felt ridiculous for a moment because he was looking at on coming traffic. It looked ridiculous to see a woman in a wheelchair with her carer on the edge of a freeway. The traffic disappeared only for a moment and so Clem pushed Trish across the road. He felt the sharp pain in his left wrist when he did this. Just the angle his wrist was on and the pressure caused it sometimes to hurt him. He had an industrial accident when he was 54. He had cut deep the nerves in his left hand between his thumb and forefinger. It didn’t cause him any pain until recently when Trish was in her wheel chair. On certain times, on certain angles with certain amounts of pressure he felt the pain.

 

As they arrived at the fence line there were a group of volunteers collecting money in metal tins. Clem stopped and took out his wallet. Trish looked up at him as he took ten dollars out and put it in one of the tins. The young woman had a t-shirt on which said “Ambassador for Jesus”. She said, “bless you” as he did this and he continued to push Trish towards the congregation.

“You didn’t have to give them anything” Trish said. Clem looked surprised.

“They are a charity”, they need all the money they can get.” Clem said.

“The Roman Catholic church is the richest organization in the world” Trish said.

Clem ignored her and continued to wheel the wheel chair onwards.

 

The tents were around the property perimeter. Most had flags or signs out the front advertising their denomination. Clem stopped for a moment. He looked around.

“Well dear where would you like me to take you” Clem said. Trish looked around. She saw the Frankston Baptist church tent and said

“Try there”.

 

Inside the Baptist church tent there was a charismatic man in his thirties with fair hair walking around 2 men and 2 women. They were standing there, eyes closed, their hands palm upwards. He was lively and cursing the devil and asking Jesus to enter their lives. He then put his right hand on the forehead of the woman closest to him and yelled “Go in the name of Jesus”!!!. The woman fell backwards. She was quivering in ecstasy. He then moved along and did the others one by one. Each fell one after the other. A group of young men and women were in the corner of the tent just looking. One of them indicated for Clem to wheel Trish into place. He did this. For a moment the healer/intercessor paused. He approached Trish and in loud showmanship voice said

“And what causes your infliction”?

“Paralysis” Trish replied in a soft voice.

“Paralysis! let us see if we can evict the leader of the demons from your body and get you to walk out of that chair. Make the devil mad, are you prepared to walk sister?!!” He said in a loud voice.

“Yes” Trish said quietly.

“Are you ready to confess your sins before our Lord Jesus Christ” the man replied.

“Sins”?!! Trish replied.

“Yes you must confess your sins before you can be healed” The man said.

Trish looked dumbfounded.

“Sin, I didn’t sin. A car slammed into my car and killed my husband. I didn’t sin. The person who crashed into me sinned. He is dead too, he should be here to confess his sins to me.” Trish said.

“We all have sin, neither of us is pure. We ask God to forgive our sins. Jesus asked us to not sin again. We confess our sins to our Lord and we ask him to heal us.” The man said. Trish thought about it for a moment.  The healer said to the group around him.

“Let us all pray now, for the forgiveness of our sins and ask that the power of the Lord will come down and cure us here today.”

Clem closed his eyes and said a prayer too. He had not been to church since his niece Christine was baptized, and that was a few years ago. He was tired and at his wits end. Trish was making life difficult for him and his wife. Nothing was good enough for their daughter; she had not joined any support groups to help herself. She was just wallowing in self-pity. He found it felt good to close his eyes, to be warm, to see and feel the warm redness between his eyes as he spoke to Jesus.

When Clem opened his eyes, he noticed Trish had her eyes wide open. He had no idea whether she had closed her eyes at all. The intercessor was just opening his eyes as well as others who were in the tent. One lady in the corner seemed to be talking to herself.

“Amen” the intercessor finished off. He then moved onto a woman who stood before him. Clem took this to mean he had to leave the tent. The healer was not going to lay his hands on Trish. Clem put his hands on the handles of the wheel chair to lead Trish away. He swiveled her around and noticed it was quite easy to maneuver her out of the tent. He didn’t realize the pain in his wrist was gone, as it came and went over a period of time. This time it was not there and it was not coming back.

 

It was about 11am when Elsie and Jan arrived at the healing location with their passenger Abraham Klomp. He was dressed nicely, in his grey suit as if going to church. Though he looked pleasant, his manner was far beyond that. He was upset, angry, grumpy and generally unpleasant company. He didn’t want to go to the healing centre, his wife Mary did. She was dead now, what was the point.

 

After the death of his wife Mary, Abraham was devastated. She had been an ill woman for a long time but she always recovered. This time she didn’t. He sat in the front passenger seat quiet, for a change, brooding as the car slowed down near the Rutherford road exit. Cars were now parked precariously on the side of the road and the large dividing strip between the two directions of travel looked like the only spot to park. Jan drove the car slowly over the grass. There were people getting out of the parked cars. Abraham looked at them. He noticed a young man, fit and muscular with his attractive girlfriend. He had a camera with a long telephoto lens attached to it, around his neck. Abraham wondered why this man had brought a camera, what was he hoping to photograph? They had been quiet in the car for the last 10 minutes. Every time Jan and Elsie had tried to start a conversation; Abraham had been abrupt, angry or rude. They thought it best to say nothing.

 

The car came to a stop. Jan got out of the car slowly. He had a hip problem and Elsie came to his side to see if she could assist. Abraham got out of the car slowly, despondently.  As he did this he noticed an ice cream van slowing down. The driver looked in the direction of the cross as if to work out how he was going to get to that location. Abraham said nothing, but the look on his face was obvious. He had nothing but contempt for the man. Even though Abraham was not religious even he knew it was in bad taste for such a salesman to turn up. He waited for Jan and Elsie to join him and then they decided to cross the busy road.

 

At the main entrance there were two elderly gentlemen collecting donations in metal tins. As the group approached the collectors, Abraham walked by. Jan stopped and put some money in one of the tins. He then walked up to Abraham who was waiting for him and Elsie.

“I don’t give t them money” Abraham said. Jan became angry and began arguing at Abraham in Dutch and English. He told him off for not having respect for the church, the charity workers and being just down right selfish. Elsie intervened and asked them to go on. Abraham did. He didn’t want to say any more and as for Jan he was sick of arguing with such a pig headed man.

 

Father O’Shea was in the Roman Catholic tent provided for by St. John Paul’s college having a cup of coffee. They had a large set of tables set up with Christian literature and about 20 seats set aside for prayer and reflection. There were a few people seated quietly praying, some at the stalls. Father O’Shea was seated behind the table having a coffee and a fruitcake. He was wearing a summer shirt and a pair of slacks with a gold cross on his left shirt collar. He was casually looking around the tent when Abraham, Jan and Elsie walked in. He noticed Jan and Elsie approach the table and look at the literature. On display were all sorts of Christian books, school brochures, Bibles even Bibles in different languages. He noticed them pick up a Dutch bible and begin talking excitedly about it in Dutch. Abraham wasn’t interested. Even though Father O’Shea knew no Dutch he could tell Abraham was not being complimentary. He noticed the Elsie and Jan just trying to ignore him. Abraham went slowly over to one of the seats and sat down. He didn’t pray or show any signs of reflection, he just wanted to rest. Father O’Shea saw his opportunity to approach him. He came up to him with an outstretched right hand.

“Hello I am Father O’Shea,” He said. Abraham looked at him and shook his hand.

“Abe” he said. Father O’Shea sat next to him.

“Have you come here to get some healing” Father O’Shea said.

“No, my wife wanted to come here but she died only yesterday. My friends wanted to come and thought it would be good for me to come, whatever.” Abe said. Father O’Shea continued to look at him intently.

“Has it been good for you to come”? Father O’Shea said.

“No, I don’t believe in that.” Abe said.

“Why is that Abe”? Father O’Shea asked.

“Religion is something created to control people, to stop them from being lawless.” Abe said. Father O’Shea looked at him.

“You don’t believe Jesus ever lived”? Father O’Shea asked.

“I don’t know. It doesn’t make any difference. Life is tough, you die that is it. I don’t believe there is a heaven; I don’t believe there is a God. We have evil people on this earth and they live for a long time and you have good people like my wife Mary and she is gone. Where is the justice in that? Abe said. He noticed Jan and Elsie were helping themselves to a free cup of tea from an Urn provided generously. Abe noticed them and called out to them, in Dutch, to get him one. Father O’Shea looked at them and back at Abe.

“You want a cup of tea”? Father O’Shea asked.

“Yes”. Abe responded.

“You come here, you don’t believe in God and you would like a free cup of tea and sit in a seat allocated for healing and prayer.” Father O’Shea said. Abe looked at him and started to get up. Father O’Shea stood up in front of him and looked down.

“I would like you to stay for a little while” Father O’Shea said. Abe got up and stood up to him.

“Listen, don’t preach to me” Abe said.

“Are you scared?” Father O’Shea said to him.

“Scared, of you, no” Abe said angrily. At this moment Jan and Elsie came. They were upset and began speaking to Abe in Dutch then turning to Father O’Shea and saying not to take him seriously as he was upset about his wife dying.

“You think God killed your wife Abe”? Father O’Shea said.

“Why doesn’t he take the murderers of this earth before he took her, what kind of God is that”?!!! Abe said angrily. Jan and Elsie were telling him it was a terrible thing to say when Father O’Shea answered.

“Maybe she wanted to go” He said.

“Her, go, you must be joking and leave her children and grand children behind.” Abe said with a clenched fist raised at chest height. He walked past Father O’Shea and went to the tent entrance and exit area. Elsie looked at Father O’Shea.

“I am sorry, he is upset, his wife wanted to come here and she died last night” Elsie said. Father O’Shea nodded. At the entrance/exit area of the tent, Abraham turned around and muttered loud enough for everyone to hear.

“You are just ripping people off”. Father O’Shea decided to pursue him.

 

Abraham walked away towards the paddock in general. Father O’Shea stopped and watched him. Elsie and Jan were standing nearby, concerned, watching the drama unfold. Other people were gathering around.

“Coward” yelled Father O’Shea. Abe came storming back to Father O’Shea.

“Me!!!!?…………. Coward, I was in Indonesia Father before it was a holiday destination” He retorted.

“I was in Vietnam, during the war” Father O’Shea responded.

“I was not a coward then and I am not a coward now” Abe said shaking his fist in front of Father O’Shea.

“You are afraid to believe in God and his son, that is your problem,” Father O’Shea said.

“God took my wife last night, and there are plenty more left on this earth that don’t deserve to be.” Abe said but was interrupted by Father O’Shea.

“Maybe she wanted to be with him.”

“What!!!!…. she could have been with me” Abe responded.

“That is what you wanted, not necessarily what she wanted” Father O’Shea replied. Abe looked at him with indignation. Then with the open palms of both his hands he thrust them at Father O’Shea in a sudden push. Father O’Shea stumbled back, and then Father O’Shea punched Abe in the face. The blow was so sudden and strong it stunned the onlookers and Abe ended up on the ground. The people around were shocked and some came to Abe’s attention and others came between them. They were not only shocked that an elderly priest would hit a man but also with such speed. Abe got up; he was bleeding from his lip. He wiped it. He looked at Father O’Shea with a look of disbelief, sadness and fear. This was the first time he had been hit in the face since he was a teenager. He had hit others but this time he was on the receiving end of some violence for a change. He felt a tear coming to his eye, not from pain but sheer embarrassment. His assailant was still standing there, his friends and onlookers were milling around. Abe walked away towards the freeway.  He noticed people watching him as he walked past them. He felt hot, angry and embarrassed. He had never expected the priest to hit him. As he walked, his face was hot with indignation and then the tears streamed down his face. He missed his wife; he was not going to come home to her ever again. He wondered where she was and if he would ever join her. After more than 53 years of marriage they were separated.

 

As Abe approached the entry/exit area of the paddock a few people were staring at him with concern. One person actually asked what happened but Abe continued walking towards the car. He heard a voice behind him say, “Leave him alone”.  Abe turned around; to his dismay it was Father O’Shea following him. Abe just assumed that he was not being followed now he had Father O’Shea behind him. He didn’t know what to do. He stopped on the edge of the freeway and waited for a break in the traffic. When it came he ran across the road towards the direction of Elsie and Jan’s car. He turned around to his right behind himself and noticed only Elsie and Jan on the roads edge. Maybe he had imagined Father O’ Shea’s voice that is what he thought when he noticed Father O’Shea on his left almost alongside him. Abe panicked a little, not knowing what to do. He continued to go towards Jan and Elsie’s car. He dabbed at his mouth with a handkerchief to slow down the bleeding of the lip just as he came to the car. Father O’Shea came to him and put his right hand around Abe’s waist. Father O’Shea with his left hand guided Abe’s right hand with the handkerchief to the bleeding lip. Abe didn’t know what to say or think. Father O’Shea had said nothing. Father O’Shea then took the handkerchief from Abe and tucked it into Abe’s left pocket. He looked at him for a moment then left. As he walked past Jan and Elsie he gave them a respectful look then continued walking. Abe stood there sheepishly, completely still and quiet, like a schoolboy who had been caught shoplifting and his parents had arrived to take him home. His lip was still bleeding. Elsie gave him her hanker chief and he began pressing it against his lip. She didn’t say a word. She couldn’t understand how men at their age could act in such a way. She knew Abe was obnoxious but was it necessary for Father O’Shea, a priest, to provoke Abe Was it necessary for Abe to push a priest like that and then of course for Father O’Shea to punch him?

 

Jan appeared concerned as he opened the doors for them all to get in the car. When Abe got in, Jan looked at Elsie and gave her a wicked smile. Elsie didn’t approve but Jan couldn’t help himself. Someone had shut Abe’s mouth, the first time in a long time.

 

On arrival back at home, Abe thanked Elsie and Jan for driving him to the healing location. He was subdued. Elsie and Jan would go back tomorrow. They wanted a blessing or healing prayer from their church but had to forgo that because of Abe’s behavior.  Normally they would share a cup of tea but since his wife Mary was gone, it would be different. They waved him good-bye at the door and went towards their room. As soon as they turned the corner and thought they were out of earshot of Abe, Jan couldn’t contain himself and smiled. He turned to Elsie and told her how much he hand enjoyed watching Abe get a punch in the mouth. Even Elsie had to smile. It is not as if just a man had hit him, but as if God himself had done it.

 

Inside his humble apartment, Abe looked around as if Mary would suddenly come around the corner. He looked at the large bed and realized she would not be sleeping with him that night. He sat down in his favorite TV watching chair in the lounge room. He gently touched his lip and felt the scab. He wandered if he could sue the priest that hit him but he was certain no one would be on his side. As he sat there, he remembered his bloody handkerchief in his jacket pocket and decided to remove it so he could soak it over night. As he put his hand in his left jacket pocket, he felt something. Amongst the handkerchief, he could feel something that felt like string. He took it out and found a tightly bundled ball of string amongst it. He put the handkerchief on the lamp table near his seat and looked at the string. He had no idea what it was or why it was in his jacket pocket.

 

He started to unfold the string slowly. It was black and tightly bound. As he did this he became aware it was wrapped around something. He continued to unwind the string until he saw a small wooden cross. The string was a necklace. He dropped it to the floor like he had been fondling a spider. He looked at the cross on the floor as it lay there innocently. He had never seen it before and he was sure it didn’t belong to Mary.  After a moment, He picked it up and looked at it again. How did it get into his jacket pocket? He wondered. How long had it been there? He felt the cross; it was made up of one piece of wood, half the length of his smallest finger. It was smooth and tan in color. It had a simple eyelet at the top in which the string went through. He wondered if Mary had put it there. She had a few crucifix necklaces but he had never seen this one. It puzzled him. He put it down next to the handkerchief. He picked up the handkerchief and then it all made sense. He remembered feeling Father O’Shea hand in that area as he put the bloodied hanker chief into the jacket pocket. Abe became angry. The man had not shown sympathy at all but used the act to slip a necklace into his pocket. Abe felt conned.

 

He took the necklace into the kitchen and put it into his small kitchen bin. The flap top flung back and the necklace fell on top of the old potatoes Mary had put in there. He saw it momentarily before the swivel top stopped swinging. Abe took his hanker chief to the laundry and placed it into his full laundry bucket where he was soaking his white shirt. He was angry now, no longer humbled by the experience. He had a good mind to complain about Father O’Shea but he had no idea who to call and he was aware that he had pushed him first. Even though he was angry, he somehow felt a strong desire to sleep. He questioned it but suddenly he felt tired. He closed the front door of his apartment and went to the bedroom to lie down. As he lay on the bed he felt afraid. He was alone, he had not been alone for a very long time and the house was too quiet without Mary. He lay on his back and thought about the funeral to be organized. He asked the funeral directors to speak to his son about the arrangements, as he was too upset. His son asked if he wanted some company but Abe politely declined. He didn’t want his son to see him cry. Looking up at the ceiling thinking of his sweet wife, he felt a tear come to his eye. If he passed away then and there it would be ok by him, he really had nothing else to live for. He drifted off to sleep.

 

Abe had been asleep for sometime when he had a sensation of immobility as he lay on the bed. He felt like he was no longer alone in the bedroom. He couldn’t describe it. He felt he couldn’t scream or move. On top of his chest, he felt a heaviness descend on him. He tried to move but couldn’t. He felt as if someone would walk into the room and plunge a knife into his chest.

Abe awoke. He sat up and looked around in the room. He had been lying on his back. When he did that he tended to have nightmares. He wished he could see Mary again, even if she would tell him that he was having a nightmare. In the kitchen, he could hear the water bottle bubble. It happened occasionally. Sometimes when Mary and he were watching TV they could hear the water bottle bubble. It could be a sudden change in pressure that would create a vacuum and cause that noise. It could be the same thing again, even though it sounded like someone was having a drink from it. He got out of bed and decided to investigate the sound even though he was frightened.

 

The kitchen looked the same as Abe came in. There was no one at the water bottle or in the kitchen. Even so he felt uneasy. It was only 3.15pm and the afternoon light was streaming in. The phone rang suddenly in the lounge room. It startled Abe. It rang 3 times. He walked over to it slowly. He picked up the receiver. He didn’t say hello. He listened. The phone sounded dead. He didn’t hear the dial tone of someone hanging up. He placed down the phone then picked it up again. He heard the dial tone. The phone was working. Maybe they had hung up after he had hung up. Why would they do that? Suddenly the phone rang again. He picked it up.

“Hello” Abe said.

“Why didn’t you answer before” the voice said. Abe listened to the voice. It was a man’s voice, not young, not old, approx 40 years of age. It was cultured, educated and warm. It could have belonged to a newsreader or a professional voice over man.

“Who is this”? Abe asked.

“Why didn’t you talk to me when the phone rang before”? The voice asked again.

“I wanted you to talk first” Abe said. There was a long silence then the voice said

“I understand”. It was calm.

“Who is this”? Abe asked again. There was a long silence.

“Why” the voice asked.

“I told you why I didn’t speak to you first now you must answer my question” Abe said.

There was a long silence.

“The devil”, the voice said. Abe went cold. It could have been a prank call but somehow he felt terrified. He remembered what Mary once said to him that the devil was not a pointed chin man with horns growing out of his forehead. He was a spirit that could charm and influence. This voice was just that. Abe listened for laughter but there was none. He listened to hear if there was anything else but there was none. Abe could hear his own heart beat.

“Who”? Abe said as if he had not heard.

“I told you” the voice said without humor, anger or malice. A gentle soothing modulated voice. Abe thought for a moment and it was as if Mary was talking to him. He remembered the necklace in the kitchen bin. He went to it and pushed the swivel flap. There it was sitting on the old potatoes where he had just left it. He picked it up and went to the phone. He dangled it close to the mouthpiece. He listened. The voice was gone, there was silence. Either the voice was gone or the caller was still listening. Abe hung up.

He stared at the phone resting on the cradle. It was probably a prank call. Abe could call his telephone sever and have the call traced but what would that prove. Maybe it was someone just having a bit of fun and they were now gone because they thought they would be recorded or traced. Who knows? It could also be that it was something more sinister than that.

 

Once his wife Mary had got together with some of her friends. They had talked about angels and other messengers visiting the houses of people who had died or who were about to die. He had no time for such old wives tales, but now he was not so sure. He looked at the necklace and put it on. He tucked it under his clothes and it was against his skin. He was surprised it felt quite warm. Thoughts of Father O’Shea were gone, instead replaced by thoughts of his wife. He felt maybe she would be pleased if he wore it. He decided he would go for a walk. He was no longer tired. He felt good. The cross was close to his heart and it didn’t feel cold at all.

 

Chapter 22

Sergeant Anthony Nardella of the New York Police was sitting and watching television. It was late at night and his wife and children were asleep. He had the television on low volume so as not to wake up his wife and kids sleeping upstairs. He had his cellular phone on the coffee table on silent ring. He was sipping a glass of bourbon and coke. When he was on late shift it helped him sleep. He was 35 years old and was proud of his job. He sat in his chair with his sergeant shirt on but wearing track pants and slippers. It was comfortable; he didn’t care what he looked like. He was a solid man with a bushy moustache. Bourbon and late night television helped him to relax. He had seen a quick clip of the dramatic intercession of Jason on T.V. and pondered it. The story had been picked up and sent around the world and the U.S. networks. He personally had no such experience like that but being of Italian American descent and being a Roman Catholic he had heard stories from the old people about demon possession and the work of angels.

 

As he sat there, watching T.V. he saw his mobile phone vibrating on the coffee table. He picked it up and looked at the number. He didn’t recognize the number. He answered the call and listened. It was a doctor from a nearby hospital. His friend and accountant Jacob Schleimann had passed away. The doctor told him that Jacob wanted Anthony to know of his passing. Anthony thanked the doctor and informed him he would be at hospital to attend to the details within an hour. The day had finally come, now Anthony was gone. He turned off the phone and wondered; what was going to happen now?

 

In Cranford New Jersey, in Highbury Street is a row of beautiful homes. Some of them date back to a time before the First World War. They have three floors, a basement and attics. They are well looked after and are a fine reflection of the high standard of living America experienced at the time. The homes with their white picket fences have manicured lawns and the American flags hang proudly from the door arches on July 4th each year. It is a nice neighborhood. People say good morning to each other. People like to walk in that area. Crime is nowhere near as high as other suburbs. It is a nice place to live.

 

Number 197 Highbury Street is no exception. It is a bluish grey color with white window frames and verandah. On this verandah is a white wooden outdoor dinning setting. It is here that on a warm summer’s day you would see Jacob Schleimann and his wife Dorothy sitting close to each other both reading a book. They were both fond of tea and pastry on the verandah and there was always a white and blue Delft pottery tea set sitting on the table full of their favorite brew for the afternoon. They had no children.

 

Jacob was a private accountant until he retired. His wife Dorothy ran a florist until her retirement. They were at a glance, an odd looking couple. He was tall, dark and thin. He always had a thin moustache that was black until he was 73, and then he decided he was not going to dye it anymore. He had thinned out on top and wore circular lens spectacles. He was Jewish though he had never been to Israel. He was born and bred in New York but he looked more like a light skinned Indian or even an Arab than a New York Jew.  He had a nice smile and a good sense of humor. He told everyone he didn’t look like the average Jew boy. It was his sense of humor that attracted his wife Dorothy Weinburg in 1960.

 

Dorothy Weinburg was born in Germany in 1940. She was the only child of a German soldier Peter Weinburg. Her earliest memories were of him returning home in uniform. He had a quiet and concerned frown on his face. He didn’t speak about the war. She knew he had served on the Russian front then came back home when the war was ending. Her mother Henrietta was a frail thin woman. They immigrated to the USA in 1947.

 

The Weinburg’s set up a delicatessen in a New York neighborhood. Most of their customers were Polish or Polish Jews. A few Germans came but mainly Poles and Polish Jews, the people their country had tried to eliminate. Peter Weinburg didn’t like to sell that much.  He did the bookwork and ordering. He left most of the selling to his wife and Dorothy. Later as business boomed, they hired more people. In the end Peter also opened up an import grocery business and cut out the middleman. Not only did he bring in deli goods from Europe and sell them in his shop, he began to distribute the goods to other stores. His daughter Dorothy helped in the shop until 1960 when she met the tall dark and handsome Jacob.

 

He walked into the shop one day and bought cucumbers, dark Polish Rye bread and pastries. He always had a smile for her and she was instantly taken by him. His hair at the time was a little over grown, with curly locks. Dorothy was an attractive fair haired and skinned woman. They were complete opposites. He had a good sense of humor and joked about any subject, while Dorothy could only listen to him and smile back. Her brooding parents had brought her up to be serious but in 1960 America there didn’t seem too much to be serious about. Peter never said anything bad about him, Jacob was a customer like everyone else but he did have something to say when his only daughter began dating him.

 

Even in 1960, Peter found it difficult to accept Jews, especially one that was coming to his family. He didn’t accept that he belonged to the master race but he found it difficult to be friendly with them. He knew Jacob was a Jew instantly the first day he saw him, you learn that skill when you are German, especially a German soldier. He however could understand what his daughter saw in him. He was handsome and could pass as Italian, Greek even French and he was always polite and friendly towards the family. When it was obvious Dorothy wanted to be his wife, Peter asked his daughter if they had discussed culture and religion. It turned out they did and the fabulous part about it was Jacob was not a strict Orthodox Jew. He didn’t feel the need to marry in the Synagogue and Dorothy didn’t feel the need to marry in the Lutheran church either. Peter actually liked that mind set. He was happy to see young people in the new country not following the strict guidelines of tradition and culture. It was a secular world and he was happy that Jacob had no intention of converting her to Judaism.

 

They married that year, and had a happy life. After years of trying they however found that they could not have children and decided not to adopt either. Peter and Henrietta were not too concerned they didn’t have grand children. They enjoyed the company of their son in law and daughter as they lived a life of a carefree couple with a double income well before it was considered a life choice. At no stage did they appear unhappy. Jacob shared everything with Dorothy including a family secret he had not shared with anyone.

 

When Dorothy and Jacob were in their thirties the TV series “Roots” about several generations of African slaves was very popular on American television. For awhile, everyone talked about their heritage. Jacob and Dorothy talked about their heritage too. Jacob’s mother had died in a concentration camp in Poland, she was an only child. His father had immigrated to the USA with his uncle, in 1948. Dorothy confided in Jacob that her father was a soldier during the war and she didn’t want to discuss his activities or make it known to the world about his past. Jacob told Dorothy about his past and in particular how his family had gone from Israel to Poland, a few hundred years ago. Dorothy didn’t seem that interested so the subject lay dead for quite some time.

 

In the late 1980s, Jacob saw the opportunity again and felt the need again, to speak to Dorothy about something that was very important. He had seen the movie “The Seventh Seal” on video with Dorothy and wanted to talk to her about it. History and culture were generally of little interest to her, but Jacob needed to talk to her about his past and had his chance a few days later.

 

 On the verandah of their home, he asked her what she thought of Caiaphas in the movie and his curse of wondering the earth forever for striking Jesus. Dorothy shrugged it off. He asked her if she thought curses were true and she shrugged it off. Jacob said nothing about it again.

 

In July 2004, Dorothy passed away peacefully. After 44 years of genuine marriage bliss, she was gone. She had no children, no siblings. Her family’s bloodline was now ended and Jacob was devastated. She had been sick before but her irritable bowel syndrome turned to cancer and there was little anyone could do about it. In November of 2004, Jacob was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The operation was successful but Jacob felt his days were numbered. Even after the healing process, he still felt sore and had small traces of blood in his urine. He was 67, not old but not young. He needed to see his doctor again and he thought maybe it was time for him to prepare for what he thought would be bad news. He decided to put pen to paper about something that had been bothering him since his engagement to Dorothy.

 

In the summer of 1960, Jacob and Dorothy were madly in love. It was an exciting time for them personally but also for their country. A young senator named John F. Kennedy would run an exciting campaign to eventually win the presidency of the United States. He didn’t wear a hat, he was young, and had some fresh ideas. The youth of America loved him rather than the staid Richard Nixon. Jacob and Dorothy’s engagement party was to be held at Starlite receptions, a venue a few blocks away from where Dorothy and her parents lived. On the night before the event, Jacob’s father wanted to speak to Jacob. He had a look of seriousness on his face that Jacob had not seen since his mother had passed away 8 years previously.

 

His father Ralph was a pleasant hard workingman who was a supervisor at General Electric. He was a quiet soft-spoken rotund man who wanted the best for his only son and worked hard to pay for his schooling to become an accountant. On this particular occasion, before going out to dinner, Ralph asked his son to sit at the table. Jacob had no idea what to expect. He half expected his father to tell him that he was adopted.

 

Sitting at the table and staring at his son, Ralph began talking about the family tree. He had a wooden box that Jacob had seen on a few occasions. Most of it Jacob knew except that his father continued to go back a few hundred years. As for the box, Jacob knew there were photographs in it as well as some old coins. The box was always kept at the bottom of his parent’s bedroom closet. Jacob opened it on a few occasions and went through the old photos of his parents and played with some of the coins before his father found him. He was told not to touch the box again and it was taped over with clear sticky tape. Ralph told Jacob it contained memories of his family and he didn’t want it disturbed. Jacob lost interest anyway and didn’t disturb it again.

 

The same wooden box was there again in front of him.  It was just over a foot long and a little less than that wide. The tape was still around the box but due to age and heat, it had melted a yellowish color around the edges. Ralph continued to talk to Jacob about the importance of the contents of the box. If his father wasn’t so absorbed about what he was saying, he would have noticed that Ralph didn’t seem very interested.

 

After what seemed an eternity, Ralph had difficulty trying to open the box. He got a knife and cut around the edges. He then lifted the box. Inside the box were some scattered black and a white photo of his parents and some coins, just as Jacob had remembered; however underneath the photos was a false bottom. Carefully Ralph put his fingers around it. It was thin wood covered in black cloth that matched the lining of the box. If you didn’t look hard enough, you would assume it was the bottom of the box. He carefully removed the false bottom and it revealed a brown leather envelope. Ralph took it out. He put his left hand in and removed a thick document that seemed to be wrapped in black cloth. He unwrapped the cloth and removed the document.

 

Jacob was now fascinated as his father put on the table a document that was bound by a few pieces of simple string on the sides, in a crude attempt to make a bound book. The top piece of paper was yellowish in color and appeared very old. It had Hebrew writing on it. Ralph showed the page and explained it was the family tree going back approx. 2000 years. He slowly turned the page over to reveal more writing and diagrams. The document was less than an inch thick. As Ralph continued to flip the pages the paper changed. There were entries in Polish, dates, names of towns and other dates that Jacob didn’t understand. Ralph continued to flip the pages and then to his amazement there were typed pages in Polish, paragraphs with dates. Following that there was hand writing in English. It was written with an old fountain pen in blue ink. Jacob looked at it and saw the name and date of his parents wedding as well as his birth date. Jacob was impressed. His father noticed his curiosity. He said.

“I did this part”

Ralph then turned the pages back slowly to the beginning as if the document would disappear in front of his eyes. He pointed his right finger at the first entry. He looked at Jacob and said.

“This is our first known ancestor, can you read his name”?

Jacob looked at it. Hebrew was not his strong point.

“No” He said.

“It says Caiaphas, do you know who he was”? Ralph asked. Jacob had no idea.

“He was the head priest at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus.” Ralph said. There was a long pause. He stared at his son.

“He had Christ arrested. He interrogated him, he handed him to Pontius Pilate. He insisted that Jesus be crucified.” Ralph said. He waited for the words to sink into Jacob’s mind.

“Our ancestor persecuted and killed the man the Christians call the son of God” He finished. Jacob was 22 at the time. He looked at the entry. It seemed old, but not that old.

“Who wrote this?” Jacob enquired.

“One of our fathers, over 150 years ago. He copied documents he had and passed them onto his sons, just as I am passing them onto you.” Ralph finished. Jacob looked at the document.

“I am telling you this for two reasons. You are my only son and you will soon be married. If I didn’t show you this or tell you this you may have not known about the importance of these documents.” Ralph said. Jacob thought about it. His mind was reeling.

“There is more” Ralph said. He put the documents slowly and carefully wrapped into the leather envelope. He looked at Jacob.

“They say the Jewish people are cursed because they rejected God’s son, this is what many Christians believe. I believe we have been cursed too. Over the last 150 years or so since the entry of this document, there has only been one child in the family and they were only male. It continues today. You are my only child and you are a male. You may have only one child, and that child may be a male, however, you are marrying a gentile.” Ralph said.

“What does that mean”? Jacob asked.

“The curse may be broken. She is a Christian. Maybe you will have plenty of children, maybe you will have none. It may also mean the curse of Israel and the Jewish people are broken. Maybe it will mean the arrival soon of the Messiah, or the return of Jesus.” Ralph said.

“What”? Jacob said. He stood up indignantly. He walked around the kitchen. He had to think.

“Is this all true” Jacob asked.

“Unless our ancestors are lying, it is true” Ralph replied. Jacob walked around the kitchen finding it difficult to comprehend what he had heard. He was going to ask his father why he had not told him this before but he had already explained that.

“Who else knows this”? Jacob asked.

“Only us as far as I know. I believe that my father told his Rabbi many years ago but he dismissed it.” Ralph said.

“Are there any other descendants of him, or just us?” Jacob asked.

“I don’t know, but I do know you are one of the last if not last male descendant of Caiaphas.” Ralph finished. Jacob thought about it for a moment.

“It doesn’t mean a thing, it was so long ago”. Jacob said.

“Or it means absolutely everything.” Ralph replied. He put the book into the box and covered it as it had been before. He stood up.

“Well I am hungry, shall we go to dinner”? Ralph said. Jacob looked at him disbelieving.

“Tell me when there was a good time to tell you this?” Ralph said. Jacob said nothing. Ralph picked up the box and took it back to the cupboard. As he walked he said

“You can pick it up from me when I die”.

 

After the death of Dorothy, and with his impending medical condition, Jacob gave a great deal of thought to what his father had said and the contents of the box. Firstly, he could not have children. In the early sixties, before IVF, couples like Jacob and Dorothy would remain childless unless they adopted. It wasn’t quite clear who was responsible for the infertility and neither Jacob nor Dorothy wanted to find out. They lived their lives happily without children. They stayed eternally young.

 

On Christmas day, the first Christmas day Jacob spent alone without his wife since he had met her, Jacob wrote a letter to one of his clients, Sergeant Anthony Nardella of the New York Police. He was a nice man with three children and a devout catholic. He had rung him up and told him he would send him an important letter, as he had no next of kin. Anthony accepted the compliment without knowing the details of what the letter would contain. Jacob wrote to Anthony explaining everything what his father had told him and the location of the box which was now in a safety deposit box. He had put Anthony Nardella in his will to be the beneficiary of the box on his passing. Anthony was to make the information public, after Jacob had passed away. Jacob didn’t want the information to remain secret. He was unable to produce any children; his family bloodline was now gone. Maybe the curse, if any was gone as well. Maybe it would mean nothing as Jacob thought all those years ago or maybe it would mean everything as his father had put it. Either way he couldn’t think of a more respectable man to entrust this information to.

 

Each day Jacob felt a little older and had a little more discomfort awaiting his operation in February. Maybe the curse would be broken when he passed away, he didn’t know. How long did he have, he didn’t know, one year, maybe. Cancer had found him and it had returned even if for a short period of time. It was an unwelcome guest and difficult to repulse. In his loneliness, he took some comfort in the fact that he had a wonderful marriage and that after he went maybe a Messiah would come.

 

 

Chapter 23

The morning passed to midday and many were healed and blessed on a dry paddock near Frankston. The Lord heard the prayers of the faithful and in his wisdom decided who should be healed. They sang songs they prayed and some didn’t understand any of it leaving disappointed. Not all who pray for healing are healed. Not everyone who asks receives.

 

Ray had some good footage and wanted to return to the office to edit the video, Joanne too was keen. They wanted to follow up their previous report with another informative and entertaining segment. Joanne wondered from stall to stall being a journalist and sometimes being just curious. She was surprised how genuinely friendly most people were. She bought a barbecue sausage and a jar of strawberry jam from the Anglican Church stand of Frankston North. She was told Joan Danko made terrific jam so she bought some. She put it in a plastic carry bag. She wondered around soaking up the atmosphere. There was a carnival atmosphere in the air and it felt good. She looked casually in the distance at the cross and could see a man far behind in the distant paddock looking at her. He was slender, wore blue jeans and no shirt. He had a darkish almost olive complexion. He had his arms folded and was looking directly at her. She wanted to look away but her eyes were fixed on him. He smiled and beckoned her with his right hand to come over to him. Normally she would ignore him but this time she felt a compulsion to come to him.

 

She walked towards him and passed the cross. He was at least 20 meters away. Even though she couldn’t see him that clearly he looked very handsome. He had wavy dark hair. As she approached, his arms were by his side revealing a muscular, well-defined chest and abdomen. He smiled broadly and Joanne was gone for all money. He looked like he could do a commercial for Cinzano, or for Sicily. He looked like the type of young man who would take his shirt off at any opportunity to soak up the sun and show off his chest.  He looked like the type that could wear a white pair of trousers, and a white summer jacket that he would toss casually into the back of his Ferrari.

 

As Joanne drew closer she saw he had beautiful eyes, they were not black or brown or even blue as expected, but green. She was now only 7 feet from him and he smiled with his movie star smile.

“Hi” He said.

“Hi” She replied.

“Are you enjoying the gathering” He said.

“Yes, very much” Joanne said.

“Are you a believer Joanne”? He asked

“Yes, well……….I think so” She replied.

“Think so,? You have some doubts”? He replied.

“Well sometimes I wonder if people want to get better and if it is their own subconscious minds that make them better.” She said.

“Yes, that could be true, do you believe in Jesus was the son of God”? He asked.

“Well yes I do.” She replied.

“And you believe he is a living son of God that can influence us all here on Earth, Just like he influenced you”? He asked. Joanne thought about it. She looked at him. He was so good looking. If he asked her to run off with him right now she would have. If he asked her to lie in the grass with him now she would. She wished he would just take her and stop the silly talk. There seemed to be a very long pause.

“You are very beautiful” He said with a smile. She nearly fainted.

“Thank you”. She said coyly.

“Will you work for the church after this or continue to be a reporter”? He asked

Joanne thought about the question. What an unusual question, of course she would continue to be a reporter.

“I would like to see you still be a reporter” He said.

“Thank you” She replied.

“You cannot serve two masters” He concluded. Joanne thought about it for a moment.

“Do you really believe these people can protect you from sin and evil”? He asked.

“I think, if their faith is strong enough they…..”

“No I meant you, not anyone else” He interrupted her. Joanne thought about it. He tucked his hands into his front pockets. As he did this she could just see some dark pubic hair over the top of his jeans.

“I don’t know,” She said.

“Good, think for yourself…you don’t have to believe everything you hear or everything you read in the bible.” He said with a wicked smile. For a moment, Joanne was confused. He smiled at her and disarmed her.

“I like you a lot” He said. Then he cupped his right hand around her left breast. She wasn’t shocked or offended. She just stood there. He got closer to her.

“I have been watching you for a long time” He said with a smile as he drew closer.

Joanne didn’t know what to do. She stepped back. He looked at her, he looked disappointed. Then she looked back and saw the cross and the gathering. No one was looking in her direction.

“Do you think they can help you?”………do you think they can save you”? He asked. The conversation was now menacing. He seemed to notice that she was uncomfortable and he stepped back. He looked concerned then smiled again, that charming smile. He was young, maybe 23 but then older, then maybe ageless. Joanne started thinking, “Who is this man”?

“What is your name”? Joanne asked.

“Me? John” He said after a long unnecessary pause. Joanne knew it was a lie. Men had lied  her to many times.

“Would you like to come and have a look around back there”? Joanne asked quite confidently. The man looked past her at the congregation in the distance.

“No I don’t think so,” He said. She looked at him and found a confidence she never knew she had.

“I want you to say, something for me” Joanne said.

“What is that”? He said.

“I want you to say that Jesus is my savior and all those who believe in him have power over the devil” Joanne said. The man looked at her. He was annoyed, then angry before he gave a wicked smile.

“I shall see you later” He said and began to walk away.

“Where shall we see each other?” Joanne asked. He stopped and looked at her. He was annoyed.

“You won’t see me, I will see you” He said.

“You think so,” Joanne said confidently.

“Yes” He replied. She stood there looking at him. He was no longer smiling but looked quite intense and angry.

“I saw sitting on the front fence crying when on your eighth birthday because you didn’t get the presents you wanted. I know the day you will die” He said and walked away.

Joanne watched him leave and then he stopped. He turned around and looked at her. She turned away and walked towards the cross and the Christian gathering. She wanted to turn around one more time to see if he was still there but she decided not to. If he was still there what would that mean? If he had disappeared it would just scare her even more. She was not sure who he was or what he was. One thing for certain was she no longer felt safe.

 

Evelyn Rose was a sweet woman in her 60’s, with grey hair and a broad smile. She had done a great deal for her son Harry who was now 38 years of age and almost completely blind. She held his hand in public and guided him. She loved him and he loved her. He was her only child. She was grateful to the Lord for giving her such a beautiful son, though he was only beautiful in her eyes. He was a solid man with short-cropped dark hair. He was fond of his mother. She had taught him the piano and now he was proficient in the playing of the instrument. He could only see partially, as he had tunnel vision but his hands had become sensitive and had developed sight of their own. He had to get close to the keys at first and the sheet music but his hands after awhile began to remember the keys that only the blind would know. He played beautifully and was fond of Gershwin and Bacharach.  Evelyn was proud of him. They had each other and though she knew one of them would be left alone, naturally she assumed it would be her, it didn’t sadden her. She had been given the hand in life and now she had to play her cards.

 

Evelyn was a content and happy woman. She found the time to see her friends, she found time to go to church and work at the Word Christian shop in Langhorne Street Dandenong and for her life was good. Here at this healing venue she had her eyes closed and swayed gently in prayer amongst the many faithful. Holding her son’s Harry’s hand, though she knew it was unnecessary, it made her feel special and important. Harry had never married nor had any children, and even though she yearned for grand children, Harry was still her baby. He needed her to find things around the house that were beyond his sight and she was more than happy to do that.  She felt pity for herself or her son. She never questioned why she had a son that was retarded. They were family and she felt humble in the presence of God.

 

As they stood there swaying in prayer, the both of them they came to the attention of Robert Hill. He was moved by there obvious love for each other and the Lord. Harry had his collapsed white blind cane in his right hand while his mother held his left tightly. Robert wondered why he didn’t have a warm relationship with his mother. For a moment, he wished he could swap places.

 

 He approached them. Evelyn didn’t see him approaching as she still had her eyes closed and praying as were many others around her. Harry didn’t see him either as he approached him from his right side, however he was aware of the presence of a man there. Robert went behind him. During the recital of the prayer being led by a speaker from the “Catch the fire” ministry a chant of “touch me, heal me” began amongst the congregation. At first it was unenthusiastic but then began to build in coherency and intensity. Robert stood behind Harry and stared at the back of his head. He felt genuine pity for the man who could not see clearly his mother’s loving face.

 

Harry was chanting over and over again “touch me, heal me” like the others imagining that Jesus was beside him. Then he heard the gentle voice of a man behind him whisper in his right ear “In the name of Jesus I am healed”. Harry stopped for a moment and stopped his prayer chant. Instead he repeated, “In the name of Jesus I am healed.”

Within a second, the fog in Harry’s eyes began to lift. His width of vision began to widen like a curtain across a cinema screen being drawn back. He stopped chanting and looked around. He couldn’t believe he could see so much He wondered if this is what normal people could see.

 

There was a moment of silence intended for meditation and internalization. The people around Harry and Evelyn were beginning to sit down, even Evelyn, but she noticed Harry looking intensely around him from side to side. He hand never done that before, because he could never see that well. Objects either came to him or him to them, now it looked like he was seeing the world for the first time.

“Harry” Evelyn said gently.

 He turned to her and looked at his mother. His eyes were not strained; they seemed focused and wide with amazement. And then he said one word

“Mum”. He was looking at her. He was looking at her hairline, her face and her dress. He could not stop looking at her.

“I can see you now” He said. Evelyn was joyfully speechless.

“Harry, you can see”.!!! She said.

“Yes” He replied. He put his hand out to her face and she did the same to him. It did not go unnoticed. Ray saw them standing and touching each other’s face. He turned the camera on them and started filming.

“How did this happen”? Evelyn asked.

“I heard a voice” Harry replied and looked quickly around him. He could not see anyone in particular. There were people around him, young, old, male and female but none of them seemed to match the voice he had heard. Robert was walking away in the distance, his back to the commotion. Harry wondered if it was him. Also in the same direction was a thin man with a brown beard and bushy hair looking right at Harry. He had an olive complexion, and looked like he could have been from the Middle East. Their eyes met but there was no acknowledgement. Evelyn stood in front of Harry and began asking many excited questions of her son. He couldn’t answer her; he was distracted by the width of the stage that he could not see before. His mother started kissing him. She began saying to all those next to her “He can see, he was blind” and many gathered around him. It caught the attention of the party on    stage and they asked what had happened. Evelyn was only too happy to mention that a miracle had been performed and her son whom had been of poor sight since he was five could now see well. Ray filmed it all, he knew he was running low on tape but he would continue to film until it was gone. What a story they would have tonight.

 

Michael Konik, had a busy day and was very tired. He had been informed of the passing of his beloved mentor Father Jan Bielawski. The funeral would be on Monday and he would preside over the mass.

He sat down in old but comfortable chair by his beside. He had a small modest house in Michigan provided for him by the Parishioners. Michael Konik liked reading by the bed. He sat and put Jan’s papers on the bedside table and began reading what Jan had written. Most of it was just a scribble in Polish but Michael did the best to try and decipher it. It rambled on sometimes incoherently but the general theme was that God would show the world a sample of his divine influence on this earth in Australia. Jan had become excited about the news report on TV and had started writing. He had claimed that he had his dream again but he was an 89-year-old man, he was no longer of sober mind. What was he to make of it? He continued to read the manuscript and was taken by a paragraph quite legible. It said that every so often God shows the world he is still here by performing miracles. Jan had believed we were over due for a display of miracles. In 1858 it was Lourdes France, then 1915 it was Fatima, Portugal. In 1939 it was Lwow Poland and now in 2006 it would be on the edge of suburban Melbourne, Victoria Australia. Why did he believe that? Michael thought. Michael knew of many documented cases of healing right around the world and healing taking place, why was this event in Melbourne any different?

 

He put the papers down and thought about it for a moment. He went to his computer and decided to access a website with the contact details of thousands of Catholic churches around the world. Narrowing his search to Catholic and Polish churches in Victoria he found the details of a Polish parish in Maryibrnong, west of Melbourne. When he opened it he had contact details including a phone number. He decided to give the number a call. He looked up his little international phone book and ascertained that Australia was 14 hours ahead.  That would make it early afternoon in Victoria. He decided to call.

 

When the phone rang in the parish office Josephine Sliwa answered it. She was an unpaid volunteer who came to the parish offices as one of the secretaries to read the correspondence of many of the parishioners and do some general office work. The office was a small but tidy one. It had a brown crucifix on one wall. The room was dark with cream-colored wallpaper.  The window was fully open to allow the warm air to drift in. It became perfumed by carrying the scent of the many rose bushes and other flowers in the garden.

 When Josephine answered she answered in English. On the other end of the phone conversation Michael was surprised to hear English. He asked her in English if she could speak Polish. When she answered “yes” in Polish he introduced himself in their native tongue.        He informed her about the death of Father Jan Bielawska. Josephine was saddened by the news. He was well remembered by Polish community and was still a celebrity. Michael asked if there was a head priest he could talk to. No was the answer, he had gone to a healing service. Michael mentioned the healing service that was taking place near Frankston and Josephine replied it was the same one. Michael was quite excited that some one from the Polish Catholic community would be there. He wanted to know what was taking place and was keen for the priest to call him as soon as possible. The name of the priest attending the service was Father Andrew Szalek.

 

Father Andrew Szalek was a tall thin priest, 53 years of age who drove an immaculately cleaned and maintained navy blue Ford Sedan. It had a small necklace with a crucifix hanging from the rear view mirror. On the left hand side of the rear of the vehicle he had a sticker of the Polish eagle, near the left rear light. It was parked on the congested dividing strip opposite the large gathering on the paddock. Towards the front of the praying and talking crowd stood Andrew Szalek, motion less. He had come to the healing service more out of curiosity than a desire to partake in the service or to help. He didn’t like the carnival atmosphere of the service and was skeptical of works of healing in the first place. He felt this type of healing service with its public out pouring of emotion was more in the vain of American Evangelism and not what he condoned.  He had come in plain clothes without his clergy shirt, to observe proceedings and was stunned by what he saw.  He noticed Robert Hill walk towards the blind man Harry. It was a deliberate and focused walk. The look in his eyes was not that of a joyful hand clapping priest but more of a zealot. He was full of pity and then walked deliberately behind Harry. He whispered in his right ear and then it appeared as if Harry was healed. He could tell by the rapid way Harry was moving his head that it appeared as if Harry had just seen the world clearly for the first time.

 

As Robert walked slowly towards the fence perimeter Andrew Szalek pursued him. When Robert arrived at the fence he looked around him. He became aware that someone was coming up behind him. He turned and saw Andrew Szalek. He was staring intently at him.

“By whose authority do you do these things”? He asked of Robert. Robert was surprised by the question.

“Wasn’t that question asked of the Lord”? Robert replied. Andrew became angry.

“Don’t you bring our Lord into this; you are not an ordained priest!!!” He said.

“That is true; do I have to be a priest to ask God to heal someone”? Robert replied.

“Don’t you lecture me! You work outside even your own church” He said.

“God is everywhere, he doesn’t need a building to see and hear his flock.” Robert said.

“You give false hope. Many of these people will have their illness return” He said.

“And, what does that have to do with me” Robert replied.

“You are not the Messiah, and it is left up to priests like me to explain to people how the Lord works, and where will you be Mr. Hill. You will be gone and it will be up to my church to explain…”

“Your Church”? Robert questioned. Andrew went quiet. What did he mean by “my church”? Did he say that because he was a Catholic priest? Did he say that because he was a Polish Catholic Priest?, or did he say that because he was a  53 year old Polish Catholic priest upset that a Roman Catholic was not performing such deeds?

 

Andrew stood there then walked away. As he did this he walked past Elsie who was coming to give Robert a big hug. She looked at Andrew as he walked past her and she knew he was unhappy. She put that out of her mind and smiled broadly as she gave Robert a terrific bear hug.  Young man, nutritionist whatever, Robert was turning out to be the best salesman for Christianity and healing for a very long time.

 

Just as there is a day, there is a night. For a top there needs to be a bottom. As there are those who are good, there are those who are evil.  Trent Harris was such a person. It was not his fault originally. He was born like everyone else and needed love like everyone else but instead he received the wrong love from his uncle. Raped, mistreated and unprotected by his mother he had nowhere else to live so he chose the street. He walked with the evil one and heard all the bad things he had to say about him, that he was worthless and bad. He sold his body for money, that was something he was at least good for but as he got older he wasn’t as good looking any more. He wasn’t a cute boy anymore but became a skinny tall young man. His plump cheeks had gone replaced by a gaunt face, pale eyes and no smile. He went to the wrong parties, he met the wrong people and he did the wrong things. He smoked marijuana and with his already fragile state of mind, his conversion to one of the devil’s helpers was complete.

 

It is easier to steal for the 50th time than the first time. He walked away from his old life and into a path of darkness, evil and despair. He smoked more; he drank more and worked less until he didn’t work any more. When he walked in public he thought he was invisible. When he drove his car he saw headless figures on the road. Worst of all were the voices. He heard them at night and they were persuasive evil voices. They seemed to guide him to do things he didn’t want to do but when he did them he felt good. They would leave him for a while only to emerge later and so again would begin his compulsion to obey them.

 

Today he awoke, 11am. He had a mattress on the bedroom floor. He walked around the flat naked. He went to the open packet of potato chips and began eating them. He had not shaved for 3 days nor washed. In that time his flat had been his prison. He had not got out at all.  He then made a strong cup of black coffee and began drinking it and then eating the potato chips. Today would be different. He had a mission he had to accomplish and it had to be done today. He would no longer be alone; he didn’t want to be alone. Today he would take his journey and be with Satan.

 

After finishing the potato chips and coffee he put the cup in the already full sink and decided to do the washing up. He wanted the kitchen sink to be clean. He washed the dishes, and then wiped them slowly, methodically lovingly.  He put the items away in their cupboards.

 

After that he walked into the bathroom. He looked at himself in the mirror and decided to clean himself up. He took an electric hair clipper and then ran it through his   hair. He watched the long locks of dark hair fall onto the floor. He then shaved with a blade. He shaved slowly and methodically. When that was done, he went under the shower. He showered for quite some time, he wanted to be clean. This was his special day.

 

On the kitchen table, lay a drawing pad. It had some sketches of bizarre creatures and people with strange faces. Trent Harris sat down, nicely dressed in a white shirt and red tie, with dark trousers and shoes. He looked as if he was going for an interview except for his almost bald head which made him look menacing. He took the black pen that was near the paper and began writing. He started “Dear Lord, you have forsaken me. I have longed to be one of your children but why did you turn away from me. The time has come for me to change my life. I simply cannot go on like this any more. I have no master or slave. I am nothing”

 

Trent put the pen down then put on his long dark coat. He looked around at his flat. He closed the door then gave it a little kiss as he was on the landing.  He put the keys on the door mat, visible to anyone. He then went to his old car around the back of the block of units.

 

It was a beautiful afternoon on the paddock. Many people came forward to touch the cross, others just prayed like Bruce Cartwright. He sat on the ground, his arms on his knees. He felt good to be amongst these people. He had received a blessing at the Anglican Church tent and saw Robert. Robert remembered him and they shook hands. Bruce felt he had been forgiven and was free of his past. He could forgive himself because God forgave him. Bruce sat down on the lawn near the stage. He wanted to soak in the atmosphere of the day.

 

Nearby Bruce noticed a priest. He wore the black shirt and white collar. He looked like Spencer Tracy and that was what attracted Bruce’s attention. He had the same well-groomed silver hair, the same physique and the same pleasant manner. Bruce didn’t know from which church he belonged. He walked around the crowd and shook hands with some and greeted others. As he came closer, Bruce saw Trent standing behind the priest. He had his hands tucked into his black coat. He was staring at the priest intently. Bruce had seen that look before in jail. It was the look of a psychopath, Bruce himself was guilty of that stare. The priest stopped walking right in front of Bruce and his line of sight of Trent. Bruce became anxious; he couldn’t see Trent any more. Bruce stood up quickly and looked at the priest. The priest looked at him with a gentle smile. Just as he did this Trent came up behind him and plunged a knife into the priest’s neck, right hand side. Bruce lunged at Trent. Trent had removed the knife and watched the priest go to the ground. Bruce grabbed Trent’s right hand wrist, and it felt surprisingly weak. With his body weight pushing forward Trent’s top half of his body bent over backwards and he fell down with Bruce on top of him. Trent stared at him with a blank gaze, his hand still holding the knife. Bruce began twisting Trent’s wrist. Trent let out a scream and dropped the knife. A crowd had gathered. Some one came and kicked the knife away; other men came and grabbed the other arm. Trent was screaming, but not in pain. Bruce got off Trent’s chest and with the help of the others bent Trent’s arms around his back. He continued to scream. The priest however could not. He lay on the ground bleeding profusely as others tried to help him.

 

A young man took his red tie off and put it around Trends wrists and tied them firmly behind his back. As this was done, Trent stopped screaming. They sat him on his rear, his knees crossed. He stared ahead into nothingness. The tears came to Bruce’s eyes. He could have saved the priest if he was just a little faster. Trent had shown all the signs of a sudden violent attack. Sebastian French, a 19-year-old student had his Nokia mobile phone out and was filming it all on his cellular phone. It was the latest model, a high-resolution picture that would appear on the news tonight as well as the other video footage they had.

 

From all around they came to see this deranged man seated on the ground staring blankly ahead. The priest, whose name was John Henry from Anglican Dromana parish, passed away in front of them all. The police were called. The crowd was not angry, but stunned as to what had occurred. As he sat there on the ground there was no inkling as to why this man had killed not only an innocent man but also one of God’s workers. In the brightest daylight are the darkest shadows.

 

 

Chapter 24

Inside maximum-security jail Robertson Unit, Jones County in Texas, was Dan Rockford. He was in cellblock 17, East Wing. This was death row. Dan Rock ford was a large man, well over 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds. He sat in his chair in his Spartan room writing on his desk.  He had just had breakfast of scrambled eggs. He had asked for a writing pad and pen everyday for the last two weeks. He was facing execution tomorrow. Today was his last day.

           

On large forearms were large tattoos of various symbols including skulls and the names of women. There were 8 names in all, the names of his victims. He was a strangler, in a time when most murderers used guns or knives; he liked to kill with his hands and with his hands he killed. Before his murderous spree he was a courier for a transport company. He had a full head of hair, he was 30 pounds lighter and he was good looking. He had a pleasant smile and it was this charming smile that led women outside into car parks and let him even into their homes. He just strangled the women. He put his both hands around their neck and squeezed with all his might. Within seconds they were helpless. They couldn’t breathe or scream. Their eyes bulged, they went blue then he put them gently on the ground. Why did he do it? He didn’t know. He liked to see them die, the drifting away from this world to the next. He put them gently on the ground, never violated them, and then walked away. He could have got away with it for years if it wasn’t for his tattoos.

 

After each victim, he had their name tattooed on his forearms. One of his co-workers noticed the new name of “Rebecca” on his right forearm after the murder of Rebecca Harrison a 27-year-old prostitute was reported in the papers. The article mentioned the names of previous victims who had been strangled. The police were called and his fingerprints matched those they found on the drinking glass in one of the victims apartment.

Dan denied all charges, claiming the police had him framed. He appealed against every day of execution that was set for 4 years then suddenly, he admitted his guilt and dismissed his lawyer. He confessed to the crimes and wanted to be executed. What had caused this incredible turn around? He had read the small book called “Jesus was there” by Jose’ Michaelo Sanchez.

 

 Jose’ Michaelo Sanchez was a convicted rapist and murderer who was executed in the state of Florida in 1995. From the time Jose’ was born his life had been hell. As a boy a family member had molested him. His father was an abusive alcoholic who had beaten his mother nearly every day. His mother was also an alcoholic and could not look after Jose’ the only child.  He did poorly at school then drifted into a life of crime and drugs. He raped and murdered several women. He was 22 when he raped and killed his last victim, 17-year-old Maria Pasquale. Just before he struck her with a small rock, she took the crucifix from around her neck and showed it to him as he lay on top of her. She said “Jesus is watching you”. He struck her with the rock several times till she died and then left her in the park, under some underbrush. He walked away but his life was to change.

 

The following night he could not get the image of Maria Pasquale out of his mind and the words she had uttered. He wondered if it was possible that Jesus had seen him. It had never occurred to him that God knew what he had done. He attended the church service for the burial of Maria. For the first time in his life he was aware of the pain he had caused others. The reverend made a speech and referred to how we would all be accountable to the Lord at our passing and he would judge us by our actions. Jose had never given religion much thought. He was barely literate but he had the urgency to read the New Testament.

 

He bought a cheap copy from a second hand bookstore and began reading. He encountered the gospel of St. Matthew 10 verse 29-32 about God knowing when a sparrow falls to the ground, and that every hair of our heads has been counted. Most of all, that if we confess to Jesus our belief in him then he too will confess us before his father. There and then, it all made sense. God knew what happened to Jose in his life and he knew what Jose had done in his life. Just as he was hurt, so too did he hurt and that was wrong. There was no need for that.

 

A week later Jose visited the grave of Maria Pasquale. He touched the shiny marble headstone with his hands and wept. He apologized to her for what he had done. At that moment he wished for redemption and his luck being on the run had run out. He had been watched by an under cover police officer.

 

 During the funeral service earlier, an undercover police officer had taken note of all the people who attended the funeral. He noticed Jose at the back. He didn’t speak to anyone, he came alone, he didn’t offer condolences to the family, and he didn’t fit the profile of a mourner. The under cover police officer took a photo of him using his mobile phone camera and then followed him. Jose walked home; he didn’t appear to have a car. The family was shown the photo from the mobile phone. They didn’t know who he was. The police watched him for several days then they followed him to the cemetery. There they watched him cry and touch the tombstone. When he left they had the tombstone dusted for fingerprints. It matched a partial hand print they had found on the bloody rock he had used to bludgeon Maria.

 

The following day Jose was at the front door closing it when he was met by two detectives and placed under arrest. The story differs according to who tells the story. Jose said he was going to hand himself in, the police say they apprehended him at the doorway just as he was about to leave the home. Regardless, Jose admitted to the killing and the others as well. They were dumbfounded. He didn’t even want a lawyer.

 

Jose told the police in calm detail how he had raped and killed all his victims. They had very few leads as most of the crimes happened at night. Also, it was a bad neighborhood and to be perfectly honest, the Police were in no real urgency to solve the case. The confession by Jose and his declaration to the Police of his belief in God surprised them.

 

Under Florida law, a multiple rapist and murder qualifies for the death penalty. Jose didn’t object and actually volunteered for his date to be brought forward. It was so unusual that the local TV station ran a story on him. There was even talk that he had been conned into giving his confession, but none of it was true. Some even believed he was using reverse psychology, which is by saying he was guilty and wanting to be executed, the state would be sorry for him and would grant him a pardon. None of this was true. He was guilty and he wanted to answer to God no one else.

In prison he wrote his book, 13 thousand words long titled “Jesus was there”.  In it he detailed his life of abuse and crime calmly and factually. He placed great emphasis on the message over and over again that he was now aware Jesus was with him all his life and Jesus had not abandoned him. He took out his hatred of the world on everyone particularly women and it was wrong. He received some spiritual guidance during the writing of the book and he realized his life would have been different if he had given himself to God and trusted in him.

 

Jose was executed and his book was published and released in Christian bookstores and Jails. Dan Rockford had received a copy and read it. It changed his life. Every day Dan wrote on his writing pad. He was convinced that Jesus would come soon. He believed the devil had been cast down to earth to wreck havoc and destruction on the earth because his time as the prince of evil was up. Dan believed that 2 prophecies had already come true, the first being that the land of Israel had been returned to the Jews. The second prophecy was that the last days of the end of the world had already begun commencing in 1914. He believed that by adding a day for a year to Daniel’s prophecy (Rev.12:16,14) the year of the beginning of the end of the world was 1914. This was the year of the First World War, known at first as the Great War. This was then followed by an influenza plague, the great depression then the Second World War. Following the end of the war was the nuclear age and now we are in the age of religious fundamentalism. Dan theorized that the return to religious fundamentalism was a return to the most important issue on this planet, our relationship with God. He believed the social fabric was breaking down all around the world, namely that people didn’t believe in their leaders any more and they didn’t believe in the church. Satan caused this confusion. The Jews desire to build their temple and the Muslim world’s determination to attack the supporters of Israel would engulf the world. He could not see any solution to the stale mate. The extremists were diametrically opposed to each other. Nothing was more important to the Christian, the Jew and the Muslim than the complete ownership and control of the whole city of Jerusalem.

 

Dan’s writing at first was viewed with suspicion, the guards watched intently but it soon became obvious that Dan Rockford was a changed man. He passed on his writing to the prison chaplain who photocopied them and returned them back to him. Sometimes Dan passed them onto the prison guards. As he sat there and wrote away in the full knowledge he was condemned to die within two weeks brought him happiness not grief. He was to depart this world and face his final judgment. He wanted as many people, particularly people like him, to know Jesus. He no longer believed in men or their government, only God’s government with Jesus on his right side would he trust. 

 

 

Chapter 25

It had been a long day, an eventful day on the paddocks of the outskirts of Frankston. Some had been saved and healed, some were tempted and one died. Elsie had a long day. She had gone home after a morning of intersession and prayer. She had heard about the murder of the priest that afternoon. She was not there to see it but had no doubt that it would make the news in a big way. She also noticed that the event had changed inexplicably. Instead of it being a joyful Christian celebration, it took on a more meaningful, somber and even frightening mood. In the afternoon a teenage girl ran screaming to the catholic group of Frankston. She claimed a man approached her on the perimeters of the paddock. She felt weak in his presence and noticed no sound when she was close to him. She found it difficult to walk away from him but when she did, she noticed the sound of the gathering returned and she could move freely. She could not provide an accurate description of his appearance. The group went looking for him but found no one in the neighboring paddock even though it was almost devoid of any bushes. Another Roman Catholic group that came from the city prayed for another girl. She began to convulse and then became incredibly strong. She had to be held by four men and two women, their prayers almost ineffective on her until, she was splashed on the forehead with holy water.

 

As Elsie walked around the paddock in the late afternoon, many people were still present and cars were still stopping on the highway. Elsie was glad she had brought a comfortable pair of shoes. It was a beautiful afternoon and the weather forecast was for a mild night. Another bonfire was planned as well as a large camp fire sing along. In the distance she could see Robert Hill just walking behind the cross, looking up at it. She approached him.

“Hello Robert” She said.

“Hello Elsie” He replied. She came closer to him, as he stopped and looked more intently at her.

“It has been a successful day so far, but of course it was tragic about the death this afternoon.” She said. Robert nodded. He looked up at the cross and spoke.

“The window to God is open. The evil and goodness in this world are leaving and entering like flies and bees searching for food on a hot summer’s day.” Robert said intently. Elsie saw he was serious. She thought about it.

“I didn’t think of it that way” Elsie said.

“Think about it Elsie. We have had people cured but we have also had people resist us. Others have reported seeing a stranger walking near the fence yet he doesn’t wish to approach the congregation. Have you noticed how there seems to be more women affected by this then men.” He finished off. Elsie thought about it.

“Yes I believe you are right”. She said.

“It is like this is the Garden of Eden once again and we are being challenged to follow the way of the Lord or Satan. It is affecting women more because Satan is reaching out to them like he reached out to Eve. He is appealing to their ego and vanity so as to steer themselves and their partners away from God.” Robert concluded.

“He has not steered me away from God”. Elsie replied. Robert thought about it.

“He is not attacking you. He is influencing others around you, just as he is influencing others around me. We must pray intently over and over again tonight for I feel tomorrow is going to be bigger than today, and I don’t just mean in attendance. I think something extraordinary is going to happen.” Robert finished off. Elsie nodded and moved on. Robert was serious, and she felt he was right.

 

The news went to air with all the drama that was expected. The major TV. Channels took up the story but it was channel 9 that showed the most. It showed intercessions people praying and people being healed but nothing got more attention than the short camera phone video taken of the murderer Trent Harris being held flat on his stomach then being made to sit on his knees with a vacant stare on his face.  The TV stations thirst for video clips was satisfied. In a world where people are distracted constantly, here was some earth moving images for the world to see, good or bad. Whether it made people rejoice or revolt didn’t matter as long as they were watching and not bored. The healing weekend that would not have been even mentioned outside the Christian community in the Frankston area was now big news around the world. People were beginning to focus again on spiritualism and the role of God in earthly activities. The skeptical and the secular were now on the back foot. With most people growing up in the post Second World War era of rationalism and materialism, the emphasis had suddenly swung to the evidence of God in our lives rather than the lack of evidence of his existence. Was it true that an evil spirit could possess the body of a young man? Was it true that the origin of sickness is sin?

As Joanne Thomson watched the story go to air in the Bendigo street studio, she felt both happy and disappointed. The chief editor and Ray had included her introduction but excluded other interview clips she had on film. Still it appeared as if it was her story more than anything else which is what it is all about. She had been successful, she had made a good report over a period of two days and there was one more day to go. She could have the day off if she requested it but there was an expectation she would go. She had met her producer Roger Mains and he was so different from what she had experienced in Perth. He smiled politely at her but didn’t look at her the way her other producer in John Sinclair did. Here she was a worker, like every body else in a much larger city and she wasn’t sure what she thought about that. She could stay here, for how long, indefinitely, hard to say. She knew however she had to make a choice not only for her career but whether or not she would follow the teachings of Jesus or be a passive observer of him.

 

It was a warm beautiful night, the moon shone brightly above and you could see every star in the sky. It was cool but pleasantly cool. The Yarra River was black like oil and it reflected the moonlight and the stars above. Michael Fletcher stood at Southbank, location of the crown casino. He had a whisky glass in his hands, almost finished. He was looking out on the Yarra, walking around, staggering a little. He had been crying, the tears were dry on his cheeks but his eyes were red. He came to the attention of the crown security team. Two men dressed smartly in suits approached him.

“Excuse me sir, you can’t wonder outside with a glass” One of them said. Michael turned around. The channel 9 editor stared at them. He wanted to say something, he put out his hand with the glass and they took it off him.

“Ass holes” He hissed at them. The two security men said nothing. Michael staggered a little closer to them.

“Ass holes”!! He said louder to their faces. One of them gave him a gentle push backwards.

“Don’t touch me………..I am the editor for channel 9. I will have you sacked.” Michael said.

“Go sleep it off,” the other security man said. Michael staggered away. He made his way to the fence by the Yarra. Every step he took was slow and deliberate, not because he was so drunk but because his heart was heavy. He stopped at the river and looked at it. It brought back a terrible memory.

Michael was 16 and living in Mildura, the Victorian border town. It was a beautiful night like this. It was a full moon and you could see clearly in the country. He had been invited to a teenage birthday party on a farm. By the time it was midnight, nearly everyone was drunk, including him. Teenage boys and girls were asleep on the floor, having sex in the bushes, vomiting, smoking marijuana and Michael was wondering around the property that backed onto a small stream. He saw Brendan Davis fondling Joanne Harpley, at the rivers edge. He hated Brendan Davis for all sorts of reasons. He was the better-looking, richer, smarter boy of the class and he had Joanne Harpley, and Michael didn’t. He watched from a bush and noticed how Brendan fondled Joanne’s left breast. He undid her blouse and bra and kissed her forcibly. Joanne walked away from him; it was all too much too sudden. Brendan was drunk, he looked at her. She wandered away slowly. Brendan watched her go. It appeared Joanne wanted a breather, not sure whether to return to his embrace or continued walking. Michael watched with jealousy. Brendan turned away and lit up a cigarette. He looked at the dark quiet stream. There were cattle in the distance but they were asleep. You could hear the music of the party in the distance. Michael watched Joanne Harpley in the distance make her way back to the party. Michael looked at Brendan at the edge of the stream. All around them were rocks of various sizes. Michael picked up one that had a pointed edge and the base of it fitted nicely in his right hand. He walked up quietly behind Brendan who had his back to him. Michael raised his right arm back quickly. The sudden movement created a little noise and Brendan turned around. For a split second Brendan didn’t see what hit him, only who. He received strength and motivation from who knows where, and slammed the rock, the pointed part into Brendan’s forehead.

The impact knocked Brendan flat on his back, the back of his head just touching the water. His eyes were wide open, his mouth agape, and blood trickling from his wound. Michael was stumbling. He looked for a moment at Brendan lying there and then kicked him. There was no reaction. He didn’t know if Brendan was dead. He could have been just unconscious. He grabbed Brendan’s ankles and just pushed Brendan into the stream. He watched him float down beneath the water level. Michael expected Brendan to surface spluttering for breath but he didn’t. Michael stood there just looking. Because he was drunk, it didn’t feel real, it felt like a dream. He stumbled back into the bush. He looked back one more time at the stream; black liquid reflecting some moonlight on the surface and noticed Brendan was not surfacing. He looked at the rock in his hand and began rubbing it. He tossed it into the stream. As it hit the water it made a large splash. He heard a girl say

“What was that.”? Michael hid quietly in the bushes. He saw a girl he knew Samantha walking along the rough track with a boy, holding hands. They stopped for a moment and looked at the ripple in the water.

“Over there” she said to her boy friend but he didn’t take much notice. He was kissing her around the neck and soon she began to kiss him. He watched quietly. After a moment Joanne appeared.

“Hi, have you two seen Brendan”? She enquired.

“No,” Samantha said and continued kissing her boyfriend. Joanne appeared confused and walked away. After a moment Samantha was lead away by her boyfriend. They were heard a little later lying in the grass. Michael walked back slowly to the party. He thought nothing of what had happened nothing at all.

As Michael approached the farmhouse, there were young people everywhere. He stopped in the darkness. He watched to see if anyone was looking in his direction. He was drunk and so were most of the party guests as well, too intoxicated or amorous to notice him. He walked wide of the property and made his way to the porch where the old bath tub full of ice and drinks were. For a moment, no one was there so he took a can of VB and sat in one of the chairs. He saw a fat girl coming out of the house onto the porch. She took no notice of him. He opened the can and began drinking. He smiled and closed his eyes. He was happy. He had some power in his life.

 

They never arrested Michael, nor suspected him. The property was full of young men and women, mostly intoxicated. No one saw anything. It took two days before they knew he was missing. His parents just assumed he had wandered off with a girl and was staying at her place. When the police finally searched the stream, his body was in a state of decay. It made the local news and the local parish priests and social commentators made comment of young people being unsupervised and drinking without restraint. What was the 1980s coming to.

 

Just like most people don’t like to hear the Christian name of one of their former lovers, Michael didn’t like to hear the name “Brendan”. The night Michael had seen the video footage of the exorcism of Jason he was upset. He showed his anger at his producer, because he also heard the name Brendan when he was in a café having a coffee before work. A girl called out “Brendan” to a young man walking by and he came in and sat with her. Something as innocent as that and Michael was on edge. He was already wandering if there was a God and he was tormenting him.

 

As he stood there and looked at the Yarra, the water reminded him of that stream all those years ago. Tonight, he had an argument with his wife Juliet over nothing. That was his problem, Michael argued over nothing, got angry over nothing, and killed a boy he was jealous of over nothing. He decided to go to the casino. He had seen the footage of the demented Trent Harris and the dying priest at the healing service. Why after so long was he being haunted by a murder he committed all those years ago. Michael was distressed, he was about to walk away when he saw a young man lying on the footpath. He was bleeding from his forehead. He looked like he had fallen flat on his face. Standing over him were two young men. One of them had “Ambassador for Christ” on his shirt. They were talking to him, gently. Michael walked over to them slowly. As he approached them he could hear their American accents. The out reach workers were trying to save souls. He had seen them before, they were in Sydney during the Olympics and now they were in Melbourne. He looked at them then stopped. One of them, a young sandy hair man, Jimmy Collins looked at him. Michael walked around him and continued to walk. He heard an American voice say “Don’t walk away from him”. Michael stopped. He didn’t know who “him” was. He turned around and saw Jimmy Collins looking at him.

“I know you want to talk to someone, talk to me” Jimmy said. Michael approached him.

“Do you have any idea what is going on in my mind” Michael said. Jimmy looked at him, without fear or apprehension.

“No I know you want to tell me” Jimmy said. Michael looked at him.

“I killed someone, do you know that. I was a little younger than you and he even looked like you, I killed him. What do you think of that”? Michael said.

“You want to be forgiven right”? Jimmy asked. Michael stopped and thought about it.

“I will not be forgiven. I am a murderer.” Michael said.

“Why don’t you let the Lord decide if he forgives you?” Jimmy said. Michael thought about it.

“Where is God when you need him?” He said and swayed on his feet.

“He is here right now and he wants you to give yourself to him” Jimmy said. At that moment the other out reach worker, came towards them. The man on the ground was still lying there calmly.

“Are you afraid”? Jimmy asked.

“Me, I am not afraid, do you understand I am not afraid of you or anything you American prick” Michael said as he clenched his right fist and showed it to Jimmy right under his nose.

“Prove it” Jimmy said. Michael put down his fist. The other man Luke Granger, looked at him.

“Just say the words, I accept Jesus as my savior. I reject Satan and his demons.”

Michael looked at him and smiled.

“I accept Jesus as my savior. I reject Satan and his demons.” Michael said.

“Say it 5 times” Jimmy asked. Michael smiled.

“Ok, smart ass. I accept Jesus as my savior; I reject Satan and his demons. I accept Jesus as my savior.” Michael continued. He said it with out feeling and after 5 repetitions he stopped.

Luke looked at him.

“Lord please release him from his suffering”. Luke said. Michael looked at him and smiled. Before he could say anything he felt like he was going to vomit. His body shook and he could feel something coming up to his mouth.

“Please Jesus, release me from suffering” Jimmy said. Michael repeated the sentence without hesitation and with feeling like any person who is ill clutches the medicine he thinks will cure him. The Lord knew he was suffering and wanted to be free of it.

 

There was a growling sound and Michael fell onto the ground. He started shaking and then it was over. His eyes were clear and he stood up. He didn’t seem drunk, he felt lighter than he was. He felt happier than he had been for many years. He looked at the two out reach workers in amazement.

“He is gone” He said. Michael looked around him and looked up.

“It like the old me has gone, .I feel light…I feel young.” He said.

“I feel free” Jimmy added. Michael looked at him.

“I feel free” Michael said.

“Talk to God. Tell him all your sins, burden him.” Luke said. Michael listened and for a moment he thought about Brandon before he struck him. He imagined he was saying sorry to him, and then he smiled. He felt joy and happiness, a warm feeling coming all the way from his lower spine right through the top of his head. He felt a rush of internal love he had not felt for a long time. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the feeling. When he opened them he saw the two out reach workers walking towards the man on the ground. Jimmy looked back at him as if nothing had happened. Michael wanted to say something but didn’t know what to say, he stood there and then he said the two words we all want to hear when something good has been done “Thank you”. Jimmy smiled.

“You are welcome.” Jimmy replied. Michael smiled. He had not been this happy before. He could hear clearly, see clearly, and think clearly even though he was intoxicated.

 He started to walk along the footpath then went onto St. Kilda road.  He walked and walked without effort until he reached the War Memorial on the corner of Domain road. He looked at the impressive structure, illuminated in the night, with its Victorian type sculptured figures on the corners, and he was happy. A cool breeze touched him. It was a beautiful night. He felt the urge to lie down and did so on his back. He looked up at the stars then closed his eyes. He felt a gentle breeze on top of his body. He thought it was the wind but the wind doesn’t descend to the ground like that at such a low altitude. The Holy Spirit was touching Michael and he didn’t know it. He had made a terrible mistake when he was younger and suffered the guilt for so long. The Lord was now welcoming him back to his family that he left so long ago. He had many bridges to cross, one with his wife before she left him. He needed to show her the man she never knew and she would then see that God and Jesus are real and working in the world today.

 

 

Chapter 26

The sun was about to rise over the factory roofs. The air was warm, it was quiet. It was Sunday, the last day of the healing weekend. Only occasionally a car went by on the freeway.  The green grass highlighted the white tents. It was a pilgrimage; the tents alongside the fence line were full of the faithful and curious, one thing in common; followers of Christ. The large cross in the center of it all seemed protective like out stretched arms over the flock.  It was quiet, beautifully quiet.

On the edge of the freeway, a car stopped. A largish man, Douglas Peters got out with a digital camera. He noticed the tranquility of the setting and began taking photographs with his digital camera. As he did this, the sun was coming up over the factory roofs. As this happened, the cross cast a long shadow on the paddock. It looked fantastic from where Douglas was and he took some more pictures. He looked at the beautiful scene. From the car he took out his laptop computer and attached his digital camera to it. He typed out the details of his friend in Oklahoma Ritchie Daniels and sent him two photos, one before the sunrise, one just after. He typed out the simple message, “Hello Ritchie are you there”? Douglas waited for a moment. He looked at his inbox to see if there was any response. At first nothing, then came back “Yes, I am here, love the photos, thanks. Keep looking.” Douglas smiled and wrote back “I will.” He closed up the laptop and went with it and the camera to the paddock.

 

Douglas Peters was an I.T. specialist. He came to Australia in the early 1990s and realized he knew so much about computer technology that he decided to open a business. Business was good so he decided to stay, why not, he didn’t have to worry about the snow anymore in Philadelphia and he met a nice Australian woman so he decided to call Australia home. However, he never forgot the U.S.A. and his friends there, in particular Ritchie Daniels. He met Ritchie Daniels at a summer Christian camp in Denver Colorado. They hit it off immediately, even though on the surface it looked as if they were very opposite. Douglas was a sloppy teenager, very loud and out going while Ritchie Daniels was a quieter more urbane man from Okalahoma. They both like Chevrolets and God, it is something they both had in common. Douglas moved to Australia, Ritchie became a Republican senator and a publisher. His company “Life Tree” specialized in Christian literature, non fiction and fiction. It did well and it was through his publishing business that Ritchie had produced his own book “The Stages of Evil”. It was meant to be just another one of the many books on the shelves of Christian bookstores but it became quite popular and controversial simultaneously. The book was a paper back, a little thicker than a booklet, approx. 100 pages long yet it struck a cord with many readers and critics.

 

In the book the senator believed that throughout history God and the devil have influenced people on Earth at the same time, at different times and places (stages) to see which way human kind would be influenced. In his book he mentioned how the Devil influenced, Eve, then Cain, and then the people around Noah even Jesus at the time he wondered in the wilderness. This was hardly controversial; however, he went on to talk about modern times and whom the Lord and the devil had influenced then after. He mentioned that Constantine vision of the cross was God’s attempt to spread the word of his only son throughout the Roman world. Hitler was influenced by the devil to engulf the world in a war to eradicate the Jewish people. In his book Ritchie argues that Hitler had little formal education, very little personal charisma and appearance but through the influence of the devil was able to seduce his people into thinking that the Jewish people were responsible for the world’s problems. As further proof that the devil was at work directly on Hitler was evident in the last year of Hitler’s life when the once convincing dictator became a confused weak old man, only 56 years of age. The devil had abandoned him, just as he had abandoned Judas, leaving them confused, vulnerable and unable to live with them selves. Some thought he was right others, even in the Christian community thought he jumbled history and theology in an uneasy blend. However the greater controversy came later in the last chapter.

 

Ritchie was convinced that while there had been several horrific examples of the devil at work, we were over due to see an example of God’s work on earth that would convince even the skeptics of his presence. In his book he claimed the vision of Paul, the sun standing still at the battle of Jericho, the vision of the cross by Constantine were all visions of the presence of God which influenced the world. As well as the earthquake and blackening of the sky at the time of the crucifixion, Ritchie believed, the world was going to see a physical example of his presence, such as a major flood, an eclipse of the sun, or other physical phenomena that the end of the world and judgment day was near.

 

Ritchie was informed of the healing weekend as a matter of usual email correspondence between Douglas and himself. What got Ritchie interested were not only the possession of Jason being filmed but also the reports of healing and violence taking place simultaneously. It was as if the Devil and the Lord came down to earth to try and influence some people to see who would have the greater influence. Add to this the fact that the young man Robert Hill was not an ordained priest, nor a theologian. He was a trained intercessor, and not that experienced, yet he seemed to get unfriendly Christian denominations to agree to a healing weekend with spectacular results.

 

As Douglas walked across the paddock, his footsteps were quite loud. The tents contained the sleeping faithful. It was so quiet it was like everyone was dead. Another one of the controversial theories of Ritchie was that God may choose to show us he is alive by raising the dead.

 

Douglas didn’t have to walk fast before he heard the scream of a young woman in one of the tents. It sounded like it was coming from the large uniting church tents to the eastern side of the paddock. Curious Douglas walked in that direction. As he grew closer he saw a woman slowly walk out of the tent. She had long red hair and was wearing a very long old-fashioned nightshirt. She walked slowly almost glidingly along the grass. Douglas took his camera and began taking photographs. Her long white night shirt made her look like a ghost as she walked slowly to the cross. She seemed oblivious to Douglas as she stopped at the cross. She kneeled down at the base of the stage and seemed to pray. Douglas noticed a knife in her right hand. She seemed to pray with her eyes closed. A group of young people came out of the Uniting church tent and approached her slowly. They were looking at her. They were muttering to themselves saying things like “She stabbed her”. The group approached slowly. Douglas went around her and approached the cross. He saw a career building photograph taking place. He framed the cross to his left, her just below it and a startled group behind her. They approached. One of them a man about 30 with a ginger colored beard approached her from behind. He began speaking to her quietly from behind. There seemed to be no response. He came closer to her and began talking to her. Douglas walked closer. The man with the ginger beard shook his head with disapproval at Douglas but he was not going to miss this opportunity. The man asked her

“Who are you”?

“I am he” She replied.

“In the name of Jesus Christ, I ask you your name”? The man enquired.

“I am death, and I have come to kill the evil one” She replied.

“There is only evil inside you” He replied. Suddenly she jumped up, with the knife in her right hand and shook her head and shook her arms.

“No, he is here. He comes to mislead you; he is not here to save you. It is far too heavy for anyone to carry the burden of sin. No one can save you from sin and suffering.” She said. Douglas took one more photograph. She turned and looked at him. He saw the stare of anger and hatred that he had never seen before, from something that was in a young woman’s body that petrified him. As she stood there, a largish woman came with a bowl of holy water. She put her right hand in it and splashed a fine spray of it at the woman’s face. She didn’t flinch. She turned to the group and the woman splashed some more holy water in her face. She stood there for a moment then collapsed on the ground, flat on her back screaming. She then struck herself into the stomach. She with drew the blade and was about to strike again when the group converged onto her. There was yelling and screams of “watch the knife” as they subdued her. She was angry and hissing at them, and even though she was only of slight build she still thrashed violently. The woman with the holy water approached. She dipped her right hand into the bowl and marked the sign of the cross on the thrashing woman’s forehead. Douglas started taking photographs. The young woman screamed violently as if she had been struck with a hot poker.

“In the name of Jesus, release her” someone said. Then the others were starting repeating it until it became a mantra. She yelped in a loud voice, and then stopped. She let go of the knife and a look of calm came over her.

“You are safe Sandra, you are safe” the group was saying and other words of encouragement. A young woman, Michelle, came from the tent area, slowly crying. She had a wound to her left thigh that was bleeding through her blue jeans. She approached Sandra crying. The group looked at her some said to her to go back but she stood near Sandra and looked down at her crying. Sandra noticed her and began crying. The group took possession of the knife and Sandra sat up like a young woman should. Sandra embraced Michelle.

 

Father O’Shea had heard the commotion and approached the group. He looked at them and said to them

“We need to have a prayer now, go to your tents and get everyone to pray.” They knew he was right and slowly they went to the tent. Others were gathering at the entrances to their tent. Father 0’Shea walked towards the tents and talked to the ones watching him.

“Group prayer now, for everyone, the devil is angry and he will stop at nothing. This is his work” and went to his tent. He had a look of intensity on his face as he entered the male tent of the Anglican Church Frankston branch. Robert Hill was lying down on his sleeping blanket, but was wide-awake and saw Father O’Shea come in. Father O’Shea looked at him.

“We must be careful” Father O, Shea said.

“Yes” Robert replied. The others in the tent gathered round.

“Let us pray” Father O,Shea said and they knelt, and so did he. He started to recite the Lord’s Prayer. He then asked for a blessing and then they all held hands. Father O, Shea looked at the other men in tent and spoke to them.

“Excuse me gentlemen, could I have a word with Robert alone please”? The men left the tent.

 

 Robert was alone with Father O’Shea, most senior Australian Roman Catholic exorcist, intercessor and authoritarian on demonic possession. He looked intently into Robert’s young eyes.

“Satan wants you, you know that don’t you”? He said.

“Yes, I do” Robert said.

“Have you had strange thoughts, strange dreams, heard…” He started

“…….yes all of that” Robert replied.

“He has wanted me for more than 50 years. Satan will never tire. Will you tire”?

Father O’Shea asked. For a moment Robert didn’t know how to answer him.

“I have seen the Holy Spirit burning brightly my son; it is a flame that is not often seen especially in this day and age. The church needs men like you who not only have a desire to serve but to spread the word with the same conviction that drove missionaries around the world to face hostile nations and die for their convictions. The church is dying because it has too many people who speak from their mind and not their hearts. If you don’t wish to allow Jesus to touch you fully and carry out his work then walk away now because Satan will find a void in your belief, a chink in your armor a weakness in your defense. I don’t say this to many young men but I say this to you that you should be ordained and dedicate yourself to God fully, for it is not often I see a man who is being led to our Lord such as you. This is your time Robert, use it wisely choose wisely.” Father O,Shea said. He walked out of the tent. Robert watched him go and no one so far until now had convinced him in his heart of what he should do now with his life.

It was now clear to him, he should join the priesthood; it is not just what God wanted for him but what he wanted for God.

Father O’Shea walked to his tent with tears in his eyes. He had seen himself in Robert the way he was all those years ago. His only regret in life was he wished he had a son just like him.

 

 

Chapter 27

It is difficult exactly to determine why they came, but they did. It could have been the fact that it was a Sunday, a traditional day of worship, or that it was a beautiful day, or maybe that the news report motivated them, but they came. They were in larger numbers than on Saturday and they were different. There were the believers, the devoted, the pilgrims and the curious. The curious were in greater numbers than the previous day and they walked across the freeway, staring at the cross. One man got down on his knees and walked towards the cross, his hands in prayer. He was noticed and soon others got behind him on their knees and a long procession towards the cross took place. Some people took out their video recorders and mobile phones and began filming.

 

Half an hour before they were scheduled to start the Uniting church choir began singing, not hand clapping gospel songs but soul inspiring hymns in keeping with the mood. There was now a feeling of togetherness and warmth that is experienced in large gatherings such as at Lourdes and Fatima. They had seen so much, experienced so much and there was more to come. Leanne Creedy, the daughter of one of the managers at IGA supermarket Seaford, rang her father on the mobile phone and he agreed to donate 400 dollars of meat and bread to the group. The collection tins became full and one of them couldn’t rattle. It was cut open later and it revealed a thick wad of $50.00 bills equaling $1000.00. A gentleman wrote a check for $5000 and put it in a tin.

 

Robert saw this and was overcome. The band stopped momentarily. He came to the microphone and called out to the group “We believe in the scripture Luke 10:1 that Jesus taught his followers who then taught us to fight demons. Welcome, together when we believe in God and Jesus that we can defeat evil and sin.”

 

At that moment Joanne Thomson, Ray Garcia and Paul arrived. They saw the procession and got out of the car quickly. Ray grabbed his TV. Camera, Joanne was looking at the sun to find the best angle. She stood with her back to the cross but her face was in shadow. Ray got his camera ready and Paul took out a flexible reflective disk. They played with it until it reflected light onto Joanne’s face and Ray could film the procession in the background. They filmed it a few times until Joanne got the speech right. In the distance mayor Jessica Lane had arrived. She saw the film crew and wanted to get in on the act. She approached the camera crew and waited patiently. When the filming was done, she approached Joanne. She shook her hand and introduced herself as the mayor. They chatted and Joanne decided to do an interview with her and the procession in the background. The mayor was happy. She beamed with a smile from ear to ear and mentioned how great it was for the council to be involved in the event. She didn’t mention that the land belonged to the state government and the only notification the council had was concerning the traffic along the freeway. The council assured the worshippers they wouldn’t issue fines to vehicles parked on nature strips or the dividing strip.

 

The crowd settled, some sat, and others walked around to the stalls and got some hot tea and coffee. One of them was Adam Norris. He was a thin man, 50 years of age ginger colored hair, a small-cropped beard. He looked weak and confused. He looked around at the different stalls at a distance. He was with his sister, Colleen Norris. She was younger and plump. She walked with him and every so often held his left arm as if to give him balance. She would look at him, and say, “Are you ok”? He would nod then walk on a little bit. She asked him if he wanted a cup of coffee and he nodded. She left him standing there. He looked in the distance.

 

Amanda Anderson was 14 years old. Her fair hair was brushed back and secured in a ponytail. She wore a white shirt and tartan skirt. She was the apple of her father, Peter’s, eye.  She was scheduled now to read the Sermon on the Mount. They adjusted the microphone for her. This was to be her big day. She had the King James Version with her. They introduced her and the crowd politely applauded. Some were too busy drinking and attending the stalls. Others sat and were ready to listen, while others like Adam Norris just stood there.

 

With her clear and articulated voice she began reading the Sermon on the Mount.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…”. Her father was so proud he got his camera and began taking pictures of his daughter, her back to him and the crowd watching all framed nicely.

“Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted…” she continued.

 

Colleen Norris got her two free cups of coffee and walked back to where she had left her brother Adam but he was not there. She looked around and noticed him approaching the speaker Amanda Anderson. He walked slowly towards her, his elbows into his chest. He had his back to her but she knew what he was doing, it was not the first time this happened. Amanda kept reading.

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works…and glorify…”

Amanda stopped. Adam had stopped only 5 meters in front of her. He had his hands clasped at his chest. He opened them up and showed his palms to her. Amanda, her father and the choir on stage could see the open wounds on the palms of his hands. He held them for her to see. There was a trickle of blood coming from his forehead. A group from near the stage approached him. Colleen gave her cups of coffee to a bystander and came to her brother as the others approached him.

“It’s ok, this has been happening now for awhile, just take him over there.” She said and began guiding her brother to the Northern side of the fence, with the group. Adam seemed confused, as did young Amanda as she watched him being led away. Peter Anderson urged his daughter to continue, which she did. Where were Joanne Thomson and her film crew? Far away too busy talking to the mayor.

 

A short time later Robert was inside the large marquee of the Anglican church of Frankston. He was chatting to people and having a cup of coffee and a donut. He was in jovial spirits. He had a good night sleep full of prayer and hope for the day ahead. As he talked to members of the public who had come in to see the literature on display he noticed his parents in the distance on the paddock. His mother was walking around her arms folded; his father was walking behind her, slowly. He had not seen his father for the last 3 years. His hair was grey and he was paunchy. He was dressed in a grey suit and he looked very uncomfortable. He followed his estranged wife who walked around the paddock looking for him. For a moment Robert wanted to walk away but then he knew he had to face her. If he could face other people’s demons he could face his own.

As Robert stood at the entrance of the marquee, it was his father that saw him first. He looked at him and there was a look of sadness. A moment later his mother walked over to Robert his father in tow. Robert could tell the alcohol had got to his father. He looked like a tired defeated man of only 52 years of age.

“Robert” His mother said as she approached him. Robert didn’t say anything. He looked at his abusive father that he could no longer stand a few years ago. His mother looked at the urn and noticed people having coffee.

“Excuse me” she said and went to the urn to get a cup of coffee. Robert looked at his father and shook his hand.

“How are you dad”? Robert said. His father shook his hand awkwardly, almost embarrassingly. He looked unwell.

“I’m ok”, how are you”? He said.

“I’m ok” Robert replied. His father looked at him and said

“You look good”

“Thank you”, Robert replied. There was an awkward moment of silence.

“I’m not well Robert”. He said. Robert nodded.

“I heard” Robert said. His father looked at him. Gone was the anger of the man replaced by a frailty that Robert had not seen before.

“I have to have an operation to remove one of my kidneys, also type 2 diabetes.” He said. Robert stood away from the tent doorway as people were trying to get in. Robert walked away and guided him towards the paddock. They stopped. Robert could see his mother taking her time to get a cup of coffee while his father’s back was to her.

“Did mum ask you to come”? Robert asked.

“Yes, but I thought I should” His father replied. He paused for a moment.

“I am sorry that I made so many mistakes Robert” He said.

“Are you getting back together with mum?” Robert asked.

“No” he replied. “She doesn’t want me back.” Robert looked at him. He could see his mother in the background chatting to the volunteers in the tent and looking at the literature.

“Look after your mother Robert. You are all she has” He replied. Robert nodded. There was a long awkward silence.

“Are you proud of me Dad”? Robert asked. His father looked at him.

“Of course I am Robert, you were always a good boy” He said and his eyes were welling up with tears. He gave him a big hug. It surprised Robert. Robert could see his mother approaching quickly with a cup of coffee. She had to see what was going.

“Aaaah, a nice cup of coffee” She said as she took a sip. She didn’t know what to say and neither did Robert.

“Did you see the news about what has been happening here”? Robert enquired.

“Yes” they both said. There was a moment of silence.

“I don’t think I will be a nutritionist/dietitian.” Robert said. His mother looked puzzled.

“You were going to open a health food store, work on the weekend and work part time as a dietitian.” Hid mother stated. Robert nodded his head.

“It’s all different now mum. I want to work with those poor in spirit not just in health.”

“And bills………how are you going to pay them, or have you just forgotten about all that important stuff.”!! His mother asked in a snide tone of voice. Robert looked at her.

“This is important stuff.” He said. His mother just looked at him.

“Let him do what he wants to do with his life” His father said. His mother ignored her ex husband’s remark.

“I think I will go into the priest hood mum, I want to” Robert said.

“The Anglican Church is different Maureen from the Roman Catholic Church, they can marry.” Robert’s father said. His mother was dumbfounded. She just looked at Robert.” What is it mum!!!! What is it, are you desperate for grandchildren, do you want me to make lots of money so you can take it easy, what is it with you”?!! Robert asked angrily.

“Don’t speak to me like that”!!! She retorted.

“Leave him alone Maureen” Robert’s father said to his wife. He was angry and there was a hint of the aggression that had been there for most of his adult life. Maureen looked at her ex husband and was afraid. She looked at Robert and was upset. She leaned forward and kissed him on his right cheek. She walked away, his father moving slowly after her. He came back and said to Robert.

“She will be ok, don’t worry.” Then he followed her. She never looked back. Robert walked away back to the tent and he never looked back either. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

 

And so the day continued. The crowds came, more than ever before, songs were sung, prayers said, people healed, people disappointed. Some came for the spiritual value others came for the entertainment and out of curiosity. One of the highlights of the day was mass conducted by Father O’Shea. It was generally agreed that an open air mass be conducted and Father O’Shea was Robert’s desired choice. Robert wanted Father O’Shea to conduct the mass out of respect of his age and his standing in the Christian community.  Robert also wanted to show the Roman Catholic Church that the healing weekend wouldn’t have a reformation church bias. The mass was started at 11am and was a great success. People sat down to listen, knelt to pray and to absorb God’s word for the day.

 

Halfway through the service, Stewart Dores came to the Uniting church tent. He had volunteered to help cook sausages for the lunchtime crowd. When he arrived he saw most of his friends from the parish sitting on the grass listening and participating with the service. He waved to a few of them. He went to the barbecue that he knew well with “Uniting church of Frankston” crudely hand painted on the side. He looked around and noticed some large polystyrene boxes. He opened them up and noticed plenty of sausages in the boxes, as well as eggs and tomatoes. Someone must have taken the sausages out of their packets and just emptied them loosely in the box. He didn’t care. He started the gas barbecue and began cooking sausages.

 

As the service finished Stewart had plenty of sausages on the barbecue. The church was asking for donations only. People gladly gave a dollar or more for the sausage that was placed in a slice of bread. You had a choice of mustard or tomato sauce, sausage with or without onions. No doubt it was popular as was other barbecues at the other tents. Some of the Uniting Church parish thanked Stewart for cooking and even the pastor Ian Dales said “Thanks for contributing, you have done well”. Stewart smiled and gave the Pastor a sausage with onion and sauce. Ian gave a dollar coin. He walked away and was happy that Stewart had brought some sausages for the barbecue, as they had not yet organized who was to purchase them that day. Stewart was surprised his church members were so pleasant towards him. He told them he would cook for lunch and was glad there were plenty of sausages for everyone. Ian thought Stewart brought them, Stewart assumed someone in the parish provided them. It was a mystery who provided the sausages but there was plenty of meat and bread for everyone.

 

Sonia Dogherty had to look after her two brothers Matthew 11 and Adrian 9. They didn’t want to go to the healing venue, Sonia wanted to go, and since Sonia was 19 and the older sister she had to look after them.  They sat in the back of the car, laughing, making jokes and generally being kids. Sonia put them in the car and told them it was only for an hour or so. They had mobile phones, they had a Pac man and of course they had each other. It didn’t stop them from teasing their sister. She drove from Mornington and she had to listen to them fooling around in the back seat for the twenty minute journey by car. She turned to them constantly telling them to be quiet; to behave themselves but what was the point. They used their mobile phone to take photographs and look at them. They photographed the back of their sister’s head and laughed incredibly about something only they found amusing. What do you expect from bored boys?

 

By the time Sonia arrived at the location she was ready to hit both of her brothers with her vinyl covered street directory. Adrian had undone his seat belt and undone his trousers so his brother Matthew could take a photograph of him showing his buttocks out of the window. Sonia was angry but there was little she could do. She was not their mother or father so they knew their rights they didn’t have to listen to her. She parked the car on the dividing strip and looked back at them. She was flustered and annoyed. She asked them if they wanted to come, “No, what for” etc they said. She didn’t like leaving them in the car but it was not hot. They were not babies; they knew they were not to talk to strangers. Sonia wouldn’t be long. She wanted to say some prayers and then return to the car. She would take them later to Southland shopping centre to see a movie, but she just wanted to experience this.

 

She told them one more time that they were not to leave the car. She made sure they repeated the statement and understood. She was concerned about leaving them in the car but this was a religious gathering, the people here would be decent, she shouldn’t worry. She got out of the car and left them alone, with the windows open. They said they would be alright. They watched their sister cross the highway by foot and join the congregation. They really did want to go with her but they thought they were too tough and cool to follow her.

 

Adrian activated a game on the mobile phone and showed his brother. They had just started to play. There was the sound of the cars passing monotonously on the highway. Then there was no sound not even a footstep on the ground. They both looked out the window on Adrian’s side and saw a man’s face in the open window staring at them. He just wanted to talk.

 

Sonia was finishing her prayers. She had her necklace wrapped around her hands in prayer. She thanked the Lord for listening and decided to walk back to the car. She was at the road’s edge when she noticed something was terribly wrong. She could see both her brothers distressed. They thought they were all grown up and she saw them crying. Adrian in particular was staring at her sister, tears streaming down his cheeks. Matthew was crying uncontrollably. She asked them what was wrong but they didn’t answer, they appeared and behaved like children who had been lost in a forest over night. She searched their faces for an answer but they wouldn’t talk. Adrian managed to say, “Let’s get out of here”. She started the car and drove towards Frankston. She didn’t know what to do, whether to take them home or go to Southland. She was responsible for them and now they were crying uncontrollably, what she was going to do, what would their parents say. She shouldn’t have left them, she knew that, mum and dad would be angry. She started crying too and that made her brothers cry even more. They would talk about what happened to them much later in the future.

 

 

Chapter 28

Trent Harris had spent the hours in the Frankston Police Station. He was staring blankly at the wall for a long period of time. Occasionally he rocked back and forward. He was in a cell by himself, not hand cuffed. Every so often he would close his eyes and have an imaginary conversation, not loud enough for anyone to hear. He didn’t want a lawyer, which was something different. Detective Petro and Gibb came to interview him for the murder of the priest. They asked him to turn around so he could be hand cuffed. He did this. They hand cuffed him and he grunted like a wild dog. They lead him to interview room 2.

 

Duty sergeant Sam Valaris had set up the two cameras and tape recorder in the room. Trent was brought in. He was angry but not resisting. They sat him down. Detective Petro and Gibb said nothing. They were concerned that Trent was too violent and unsettled to be interviewed. They would give it a try. They had their book. Detective Gibb said out aloud “This is a test. This is a test for the record of interview of Trent Harris.” This was done to commence proceedings. Valaris checked that the cameras were recording and so was the tape. Trent said nothing.

“You are not obliged to say anything but anything you say will be recorded and used as evidence in a court of law. Do you understand this caution?” Petro asked him. Trent said nothing. Valaris was watching through the glass screen of the interview room. They continued to stare at him, waiting for him to say something. Suddenly, the expression on his face changed. He looked confused as if he didn’t understand why he was inside the room. He looked around and looked up. He looked at the both of them as if he had never seen them before. Even experienced Homicide detectives Gibb and Petro had not seen anything like this before. Trent then began to speak, slowly in a polite voice. He didn’t want a lawyer, he answered all the questions the detectives asked him, except the reason why he stabbed the priest. His answer was simply “Don’t know”. It looked like he genuinely didn’t know. Valaris had seen this once before. A young man had once been brought to the station last summer when he was on duty. He had killed his parents because he heard voices in his head telling him to do it. It was summer and Valaris was not wearing his tie. His crucifix was exposed through his open shirt. Valaris had escorted the man with two other officers to the toilet with batons drawn, just in case the man became violent. He didn’t. Just as he was about to go back to cell he looked and noticed the crucifix on Valaris chest. He asked him if he was a Christian. Valaris told him he was. He expected the young man to make a sarcastic remark or even get violent but he didn’t. He seemed to change, like another personality came into his body. He looked confused then calm. He sat down and gave all the admissions concerning his murderous deeds. His reason for doing it was “don’t know” but he seemed genuinely remorseful.

Valaris had told the story to his family and his sister who was a teacher at Carey Grammar. She told him that Judas was confused and wrecked with guilt after his betrayal of Jesus. The school of thought was that just as the devil uses people for his evil deeds, he abandons them when it is done, like a gang member who sacrifices a partner in crime to protect himself.

 

Joanne Thomson looked around a little, Ray filmed a little. She did a couple of stand in front of the camera shots then decided she would go back to the office. The film crew agreed to go back, but Ray was reluctant. He felt more was going to happen but he was not the boss and he had to spend time with his family.

 

On arrival back to the office, they did the usual thing of submitting the tape to the editor. It was a magnificent day and Joanne looked out the window. She could see the blue sky over the Melbourne landscape and yearned to be by the seaside again. She was lonely, a long way from home and without romance. She sat at her temporary desk with her temporary computer. There was an A4 writing pad on it. She had not done any doodles on it yet. It was a large open office, and she was the only one there. The film crew had gone down the corridor and put their equipment away. As she sat there and heard the noises of the film crew putting away their equipment, she saw him.

 

One of the fashion editors Cheryl Dixon was walking down the corridor with a man. They were laughing. She watched as they walked past the large windows of the modular corridors. He was tall, wearing a white summer jacket and trousers. His hair was fair and wavy, his eyes were brown. He had a fashionable three-day growth that seemed to enhance his finely chiseled jaw. He had his sunglasses on his head and he wore a thin black and white horizontal striped T-shirt underneath the jacket. He had a beautiful smile. He was looking and talking with Cheryl like “hey, I just parked my Porsche can I see you for a moment.” Their eyes met and Joanne melted. She envied Cheryl for being with him. Cheryl’s eyes met Joanne’s and Joanne came to the open doorway.

“Joanne, how are you”? Cheryl said with excitement as she walked into the room. Joanne noticed the man with her was wearing white European leather sandals, no socks. They approached her; Joanne didn’t know what to do.

“Hi” Joanne said.

“This is my brother Sean” Cheryl said. “Brother”!!! Joanne thought.

“Pleased to meet you” Joanne said and shook his hand.

“Pleasure” he said and shook Joanne’s hand. He had a firm grip yet soft skin. He had a thin metal gold chain around his wrist. He smiled, he had the most beautiful eyes, and he was gorgeous.

“Sean came to say hello and see me working” Cheryl said.

“Yes, today is too beautiful to work” Sean said.

“Joanne is from Perth” Cheryl said.

“Perth, wow you are a long way from home” Sean said with some surprise.

“Yes, I am not sure if I am going home or not” Joanne stated.

“Why is that”? Sean asked.

“Because Joanne is on a shot term assignment here however it may extend.” Cheryl answered.

“Well we hope it does…………I mean that is what you want isn’t it”? Sean asked innocently. Joanne didn’t know. He was another reason why she would like to stay. Did he have a girl friend she thought?

“I’m not sure” Joanne finally replied.

“Have you been doing some sight seeing”? Sean asked.

“Not much, I have been working” Joanne replied.

“I’m going to the casino now; would you like to come along”? Sean asked. Joanne thought about it, was he asking her out? Was this just a casual remark like I am going to anyway but would you like to come along?

“Yes, I would like that” Joanne said.

“Great, ok.well we can go now if you like………..are you finished for the day”? Sean asked.

“Yes definitely” Joanne replied and stood up.

‘Well ok…………..I shall see you later then” Sean said to his sister and kissed her.

“Ok,” Cheryl replied. Joanne went with Sean to the doorway. Joanne stopped in the corridor. He smiled and indicated his right arm for her to go in the direction of the exit and Joanne complied. As she walked down the corridor Ray Garcia was coming out of the audiovisual storeroom. He was going to see Joanne about the tape especially if Joanne wanted to do some voice over but he noticed she seemed pre occupied. He watched the young good-looking couple walk past him. Ray could see they both liked each other.

 

Adam Norris was seated in the corner of   the Roman Catholic tent of St. Francis of Frankston. He was with his sister Colleen. She was drinking a cup of coffee. He was seated there quietly. There were a few people milling around in the tent, looking at printed material on the bench. Adam had a distant vacant look on his face. His sister occasionally rubbed his left thigh. Douglas Peters knew he was there. He not only saw the man have his stigmata, he wanted to see it for himself, close up. He approached slowly. Adam was sitting calmly staring.  The blood coming from his forehead had been wiped away but the residue was still there. His sister Colleen looked up at Douglas. Douglas drew up a chair and sat in front of them.

“Hello” he said.

“Hello” Colleen replied. Adam said nothing. Douglas looked at Adam’s hands. He had handkerchiefs tied around the palms.

“Has anyone come to see you both”? Douglas asked.

“Yes, a priest. They want us to see them on Monday.” Colleen said. Douglas looked at Adam who seemed to be in a trance.

“How long has this been happening”? Douglas asked.

“A few weeks. The bleeding has become intense since last week.” Colleen said. Douglas looked at Adam intensely. Adam began to look at Douglas.

“Hello” Douglas said.

“Hello” Adam replied slowly. He stared at Douglas for a moment as if searching his face. A trickle of blood appeared on his hairline then slowly trickled down his cheek. Douglas took his camera out and began taking photographs.

“What are you thinking”? Douglas asked him as he took the photographs.

“I am thinking of Jesus on the cross” He replies.

“Are you in any pain”? Douglas asked.

“No”. Adam said as he closed his eyes. “I feel warm, I feel loved I feel safe.”

He then lifted his hands. Adam untied the handkerchiefs to reveal blood coming from the palms of his hands. Douglas took some photographs. His sister sat there tears in her eyes.

“Who is your savior”? Douglas asked.

“Jesus of Nazareth”, Adam replies.

“Do you reject Satan”? Douglas asked.

“Yes, I reject Satan.” Adam replied.

Adam looked at Colleen. He seemed confused.

“Are you alright Adam”? Douglas asked. Adam took his time to answer. He looked at his hands.

“Yes, I feel weak.” He replied. Douglas noticed a group gathering around them. Douglas looked at them.

“You should pray for Adam” He said. He stood up and one woman took his seat. They gathered around him. Douglas indicated to Colleen to join him outside the tent.

Outside Douglas spoke to Colleen.

“This is a Stigmata. No one really knows why it happens. Some people have exhibited real blood coming from their wounds while others think it is   something else. Either way if it is not faked, and this isn’t, it is difficult to explain.” Douglas said.

“We know it is a stigmata, but why has it occurred to Adam.

“No one knows. It seems to be a deep emotional identification with the suffering of our Lord. How did this all start”? Douglas finished off.

“He was never religious and then he began reading the Bible. He got baptized, he quit working and then…this happened.” Colleen finished off. Douglas nodded his head. He gave her his business card.

“Call me, if anything else occurs. I investigate and report religious phenomena.” Douglas said. Colleen looked at the card. She looked at him.

“What is going to happen to him”? Colleen asked.

“I am not sure” He replied. He then said good-bye and walked away in the direction of the car. He didn’t want to say that Adam would most likely not be the same again and may even die from his Stigmata. There is a school of thought that it is a slow but ecstatic death. Even in the Tibetan Buddhist religion there is a belief in phenomena called Rainbow light Great Enlightenment in which some people seem to go into a trance and want to be alone. They appear to be having conversations with invisible beings. This is often just before they die, and then their death is highlighted by a flash of bright light in the colors of the rainbow. Their body decomposes instantly and only their finger and toenails are left.

 

Colleen watched Douglas leave. He seemed knowledgeable and caring. She didn’t know why she didn’t say it but Adam had been speaking to himself a lot lately and it often was not in English.

 

 

Chapter 29

Ritchie Daniels sat in his study. He had his computer on and was listening to classical music. He liked to listen to classical music, especially baroque music with headphones on. He was reclined in his chair and it was almost midnight. His eyes were closed and he was in another place and another time. He was a night owl. He found it difficult to go to sleep before 1am.  Ritchie Daniels was 38 years old. He had sandy hair and a fair complexion. He was soft spoken and polite .He liked to have his computer on, listen to music or have the TV all at once. He had the TV on mute and if something got his attention he would take the head phones off and turn the volume up. This is how he saw the report of the healing event in Australia.

 

On the warm wood paneling walls of his study were the school trophies and important framed photographs in his life. One of his favorites was a photograph of himself shaking the hand of Billy Graham, just after Ritchie became elected senator for his first term. He had heard and seen Billy Graham, the evangelist all his life, and it was indeed an honor to meet him. Ritchie felt the Holy Spirit move him in his early thirties to involve himself in ministry by focusing his father’s publishing house on spiritual literature. Whether it was good timing or good business sense it worked and his business boomed. He became a member of the Christian Coalition and printed a lot of their work for free. He also associated with the Intelligent Design scientists by not only publishing some of their work but actively telling them that as a Christian he not only supported the theory of creation but wanted it taught once again in the schools. With this pedigree it was only a matter of time that he was approached and asked if he would like to be on the Republican Senate ballot. He was flattered and said yes. He didn’t see himself as a politician but he was quite prepared to influence the country with his views. Whether it was 9/11 or just a fundamentalist revival of Christianity in the USA but Ritchie and the president rode the wave to office.

 

One evening as he was in that same room, on a warm July day, Ritchie sat at his desk and was reading a manuscript submitted by a preacher in Alabama. It was titled, “The devil is real”. It was a beautiful afternoon and every so often Ritchie looked out the window and wished he had gone with his wife Julie and 2 sons Jake and Tristan to the baseball game. Jake was 13 and Tristan was 9. He had spent some time with them in the morning but needed to do some reading in the afternoon to catch up with some submitted manuscripts.

 

As he sat there reading the manuscript submitted by a Baptist preacher and proclaimed exorcist, he felt a cool breeze in the corridor. He something was dreadfully wrong. He knew there were no windows open, and there was no wind outside. He thought for a moment, maybe the kids had come home and left the door open but there was not a sound. He looked through the open door of the study and could see the corridor. It was eerie. He thought an intruder had come into the house and half expected to see him walk casually past the door. Next to his computer, between the computer table and the wall he kept his baseball bat, glove and ball. He got out of his seat and picked up his baseball bat. He strained his hearing for a sound but heard nothing. He put down the manuscript, on the corner of the table. It was fastened only in the top left hand corner. The pages spread everywhere. Ritchie stepped back from the computer. He was convinced someone was in the corridor. He waited…………waited…waited but heard nothing, then he just had a feeling someone or something passed in front of him and stopped near the computer. Maybe it was his heightened sense of imagination but he felt something was there. Suddenly the manuscript fell to the ground. Ritchie jumped. Objects that are not properly balanced can move slowly until they fall. Objects that have been placed in a small kitchen bin for quite some time can be heard to suddenly fall. That is because they were not properly balanced and moved imperceptibly and eventually fell. Or that is the theory anyway.

Ritchie looked at the fallen manuscript. A chill came over his body. He felt as if a spirit had come into his house and disapproved of the manuscript. He said a prayer out aloud and felt calmer. He picked up the manuscript. He had just read a chapter about how the devil doesn’t like people reading about his activities and his methods of operation. The manuscript clearly stated that a prayer should be said before reading it. Ritchie had not done that. He was convinced more than ever, like the author of the manuscript, that the devil and his emissaries were not dead or asleep. He was working harder than ever before and trying to affect the world in a more insidious way than the communists could ever do, and that was not to attack the people of the nation but have the nation of people attack themselves.

 

Ritchie did not know how the world would get out of the mess it was in now. It was not unemployment or poverty that was the problem that could be cured; it was the drug problem that seemed to have no cure that was claiming more and more victims and perpetrators of crime. It seemed as if the devil had come to earth and was making his last stand. Ritchie like other Christians looked for signs. Sometimes they saw them, sometimes they thought they saw them, but they kept looking and they looked the world over for anything that looked like it was not of this Earth. It could be in a forest in Europe, on a farm in Latin America, a home in Okalahoma or on a field near Frankston Australia.

 

Ritchie got up. He had fallen asleep. The CD had come to an end. He looked at the clock on the wall and it said almost 2am. He was very tired and wanted to go to bed. He went to the computer and turned it off. He noticed an email from his friend Douglas investigating the healing site in Frankston. The subject on the email was “Stigmata.” He opened it up quickly and read it. The photographs from Douglas digital camera were also attached. Ritchie couldn’t sleep.

 

           

Chapter 30

At 6pm, the crowd began to disperse. There were still plenty of sausages and hamburger on the grill, but it had been a beautiful long day and it was time for many to go home. The collectors had gone, the cars that had been parked off the side of the road were going, and some tents were being dismantled. Robert was still there, so was Father O’Shea. He had accepted any offer to stay over night at the Frankston North Parish so he thought he would stay till sunset.

 

It had been a glorious day, not only for the weather but for what had happened. There was the usual prayer, singing and healing. Many people felt they were cured, many felt touched by God that they had not experienced before so it was a tremendous experience. Many people, such as the middle-aged generation seemed to get a great deal out of the services. They were a cynical generation that walked away from religion in the 1970s. Now it seemed they had come back. Was it their fear of their own mortality or were they finally reconciling their lost faith. It was difficult to tell but more were satisfied than disappointed.

Robert took some hamburger off the grill with some coleslaw. He went out to the front of the cross. He took a seat with him and sat in front of the cross. He ate his meal slowly looking up at the cross in front of him. He was happy, the happiest he had ever been. He felt he had contributed a great deal to the opening of the window to Jesus that weekend. It was an idea he had for a long time, a desire to bring people to Jesus the way he was brought to him which. It was just an extension of the way people were brought to Jesus more than 2000 years ago. Robert often wondered what it would have been like to live in Judea at the time and to hear of Jesus of Nazareth coming to town from the children running in the streets. What would it have been like to stop your work and follow the crowd, to see him and his apostles heal the sick. The people of the western world had forgotten true values. Life wasn’t what you could get, but what you already had. Money didn’t save you from ageing and dying.  Robert wished they could have found a place where they could have full immersion baptisms in a river or lake but none were suitable or available. This paddock that was close to the entry ramp of the new freeway would have to do. It was all about coming to a place, stopping for a moment and thinking about our savior, praying to him and receiving blessings. When the door is open by God, no man could close it.

 

Finishing his meal, Robert put down his plate. He felt light, not heavy. He felt like this when he thought of God. He felt at peace, calm, serene. He felt as if God was trying to tell him something and he would be there to hear it. As he sat there, his eyes closed, his group in their tent packing up saw him. His pastor saw John Fletcher saw him and spoke to Reverend Graham of the Frankston North parish.

“He is going to Ridley College next year” He said.

“Really”, Graham replied.

“Yes, this has been a very special experience for him. I believe the Holy Spirit has done its work on him as well as others”. He said.

 

Peter Douglas had had a long day as well. He had taken photographs, emailed his friend Ritchie and now it was time to go home as well. He was tired. He walked to his car parked on the side of the road and was about to get in. He liked to look at the sky, after all he was a photographer at heart and he was always looking at the sky. He looked back at the beautiful blue sky, starting to darken. The sun had gone over to the west, it would be dark soon. The tents that were still there seemed to glow a bright white. The sky was blue, cloudless except for…………..and then he saw it.

 

At first he thought it was a weather balloon, a small circular object in the sky. He watched it for a moment and realized it was a cloud; only that it was getting larger. He continued to watch it and noticed it seemed to be moving closer. There was no wind yet this cloud was fast approaching. He quickly took out his camera and began taking photographs. The cloud caught the last rays of light from the setting sun and seemed to glow. It continued approaching the paddock. It was low and bright. This was not normal. He ran across the paddock.

Joshua Coleman was walking across the paddock, holding his mother’s hand. He was deaf and mute been since birth. He walked around with his mother receiving prayers and being by his mother’s side. He was fluent in Auslan and communicated to his mother with the Australian hand signing who often interpreted what he said to others. God’s word in sign language carries the same power as when it is spoken or written. Douglas was running across the paddock yelling, “Look at the cloud, look at the cloud”!! It got everyone’s attention; it was moving quickly and was the only cloud in the sky. It seemed to be dropping down. There was a great deal of commotion. Joshua was looking around confused. He could feel his mother pulling on his arm. He didn’t know what was taking place. Father O’Shea called out “Everybody, gather together” to the crowd and they all shuffled together and looked up.

As they stood there, they stared at the cloud. There was no denying it, the cloud moved faster and was lower than a normal cloud. There was also no denying it that it stopped just over them. It glowed white so bright that it illuminated the ground. Douglas began taking photographs until he realized that it looked like a normal bright cloud close up, only different from the distant. He ran back to take some photographs of it contrasting it with the background.

 

On the freeway going home to Frankston was the Jackson family consisting of Mr. Jackson 48, his wife Suzie 43 and his teenage boy Daniel 17 and daughter Larissa 15. As they approached the paddock area Mr. Jackson could see the cloud brightly illuminated over the paddock. It was already getting dark around them yet the cloud shown brightly almost like a mirror reflecting light onto the ground. He had plenty of time to see it in the distance and so did the family. He slowed down and parked the car to the side of the road. They all looked at it.

“Look at that” Mr. Jackson said as he looked at the spectacle. Suzie took the digital camera from the glove box and took several photos. She reviewed them through the review screen to ensure she had them. They sat there and stared at it. They drew attention to others and other cars began to slow down and then stop.

 

While Douglas took photos, Father O’Shea and the intercessors led the team in silent prayer. Father O’Shea asked for God’s healing to be bestowed on them. Some sat down, some lay down, and others stood. The light around them was undeniable. Robert then once again like he had done many times before recited Matthew 18 (20) about Jesus being present when two or more people gathering in his name. There was a moment of quiet, of meditation and reflection. There was no wind, there was no cold.  Robert had his eyes closed then he opened one of them. He could see the paddocks in the distance darker than the ground in front of him. He smiled and thanked the Lord. He began to feel light, a sensation that passed from his legs right up into his chest and shoulders.  This was the greatest feeling for Robert. He had searched, read, studied and journey internally and externally and found Jesus, the son of God, the prince of peace. His quest was over, his faith confirmed. He felt so light he felt he was levitating off the ground. His body felt rigged but he dared not look in case it broke the spell the Lord had cast.

 

During this time, time itself lost meaning and measure. No one was looking at their watch. There were moments of silence and the group of approx. 100 didn’t want to move. They bathed in the light and some were praying gently, others began speaking in tongues. A man collapsed and shook violently. Joshua stood there, he watched all of this. He recited the Lord’s Prayer to himself over and over again. He looked at his mother who then looked at him. As clear as a bell he said his first word to her “mum”. She couldn’t believe what she heard. She was speechless instead of her son.

 

Douglas took photographs continuously until he found the camera heavy. He couldn’t lift it to his face. He tried, but it was too heavy, so were his arms. He suddenly burst into tears. The more he tried to stop the more difficult it was. It seemed to last for an eternity but it was approx. one hour then the light stopped. It could have been that the sun finally set and no longer hit the cloud or it could have been just another reason. The group looked at each other and hugged each other in the semi darkness. The cloud broke up immediately and seemed to move quickly to the west. They would not forget this moment. On the road in the distance, cars blew their horns. Some motorists thought they had rigged up a light show, others knew better. 

 

While this was happening Mark Bishop was asleep, it was early morning in Fort Lauderdale. He was having a pleasant dream. He had a dream that he had once many years ago when he suffered concussion in the World War 2. He had been shot just above the left breast and lost a lot of blood. His army comrades had brought him to hospital. The wound was not that serious but it was difficult to stop the bleeding. While on the operating table he began to hallucinate. He saw his mother looking over him and he called her name. He thought he saw another figure a man he believed was Jesus looking down on him. He had a feeling that it was not his time to die. Surely enough he recovered. He told his wife about the experience much later in the 1970s. He read about it back then, it was referred to as a near death experience and many people had talked and written about it even Ernest Hemmingway.

 

 Mark had gone to bed that night feeling happy. He had written a check for a church that was doing good work and needed the money far more than he did. Now as he lay in his bed, he was having the same dream again, this time it was not his mother looking down on him but his wife. She seemed serene, healthy and happy. He was floating in the sky, he was happy to. He wanted to be with her. He could see Jesus. He saw him but this time he was clearer than ever before. The light was brighter than ever before but it didn’t hurt his eyes. This time Mark felt it was his time and he was ready to go. He drew closer to Jesus and even closer still. He felt his spirit leave his now dead body. He was now with his loved ones and savior.

 

It was now dark, the tents were being disassembled. The air was now cold. As they packed there was still an excitement in the air. A few people had received the Holy Spirit, and were healed of their illnesses and handicaps. Others were speaking in tongues. Some were hugging each other and crying. Some like Peter Dominich was praying. He was convinced of what he had seen today as the work of God. All weekend he wondered if he should attend until know. He saw an excited couple talking, as it appeared one of them could now walk. He saw a mother and her son taking excitedly as it appeared her son could now talk. Nothing yet had happened to him. As he stayed on his knees a blond girl no older than 7 approached him. While he was on his knees, her face and his were the same height. She came up to him and began speaking to him in Croatian. She told him that he needed to follow God and abandon his drinking. His wife loved him but he needed to love her as he had not been a good husband. The girl walked away. Peter stayed on his knees. Now something had happened to him. He heard in his own language what only God could see. He was a doubting Thomas no more.

 

It was about 9pm when Douglas emailed photographs around the world concerning the glowing cloud and the illuminated ground. He sent them to Ritchie and several other websites but the evidence he was using would be his undoing. By using a digital camera it was almost impossible to detect if the photos had been altered and at exactly what time of the day it had occurred. The skeleton crews working late on Sunday night checking the emails were not impressed. Only the government owned Channel 2 published one photo on the late news because it looked spectacular, but the effect could easily have been created with a basic photo shop-editing tool by changing the contrast. Even Channel 9 had not carried the story because it was anti climatic considering what they had reported earlier. As in the past and in the present, evidence is questioned. One needs faith as to what happened. Those who experienced it knew it happened, and those who doubted it would continue doubting it.

 

  Orwil Street Frankston is where Robert Hill lived. The long driveway separated the two long rows of flats on the block. He lived towards the rear. He parked his car around the back on the fine white gravel car park and made his way in the darkness to his home.

 

When he opened the door and turned on the light, he was greeted by his dark dingy flat. The murky yellow light didn’t make the flat appealing in any way. It was always dark and cold .The main window faced south but never saw direct sunlight because of the other flats on the other side. The carpet was grey, the furniture plain. No matter how clean it was, it looked dirty.

 

He put his keys on the table and went into the kitchen. He turned on the light. He looked around at his home and was depressed. He disconnected the phone from the wall and had his mobile turned off. The last thing he wanted to hear was anything from any one. He took a small bottle of water from the refrigerator and sat down. He took a mouthful of water and looked around his flat. He never really liked it; he had to take it quickly because he needed to get away from his mother. He was thirty, alone. It is difficult to afford a good flat or even get one by yourself because in Frankston many young men are drug addicts, or considered drug addicts and/or irresponsible. He thought if he chose a very average place he would have a good chance of getting it that he did. He furnished it with second hand furniture from second hand stores but didn’t care. It was functional and he was humble. After receiving the Holy Spirit he didn’t feel like impressing anyone. He brought a girl home one night. She looked at the furniture and he realized she didn’t want him. It would have upset him only a few months earlier, but such things no longer concerned him. His neighbor was a single mother with a young baby. She had eyes for him and a year ago he would have tried to get into her bed. Now he was not interested in her. He was beginning to wonder about people’s motives particularly women. He knew they didn’t love him; they just wanted to be looked after, no different to his mother. He didn’t tell her deliberately where she lived so she turned up at his place of work and demanded to see him. She demanded to his manager to see Robert as she was his mother and she had a right to see him. What was he going to do about her? She wouldn’t go away, she wouldn’t understand and she wouldn’t leave him alone. The closer she got to him, the further he wanted to be away from her. His life had changed and was changing. He found he could not be among the friends he had previously.  They were liars, selfish, weak and had other weaknesses of character that he found difficult to accept. He was most happy with his Christian group, reading and talking about Jesus. After this weekend he could not go back to his old job. He had tomorrow off but he didn’t feel he could be a nutritionist with justice. He felt the lord calling him and the call of his mother to go in the opposite direction.

 

On Beach road Brighton are some beautiful house, the type that have windows that over look the bay. They have wicker furniture on the balcony and telescopes. One of these belonged to Sean’s family. His parents were not home, they were interstate and Cheryl no longer lived there. Sean had taken Joanne to the casino, then coffee somewhere else then dinner in Brighton. They were staring lovingly in each other’s eyes since dinnertime. He took her home upstairs to his bedroom and made love to her. Joanne wanted to be with him. She forgot about work, she forgot about ringing the station to ask them about work tomorrow. She was clear to stay another night in the Ambassador Hotel, then come in tomorrow for her next assignment. But as she lay there in the arms of her lover, who was asleep, she could see the streetlights reflecting on the ceiling. She would ring up tomorrow and see if she could have a few days off. Yes, that was a good idea; she needed time to think about her future, and what next assignment she would do.

 

Sean snored but it didn’t bother Joanne at all, though it usually bothered her if she didn’t like the man she was with. She got out of bed and walked towards the window. With her naked body, she stood behind the drapes and looked out over the bay. She could see the city in the distance and the lights of a ship not far away. She felt happy. She had felt this way before but this time she felt it was different.  Maybe she could stay in Melbourne longer than she thought and Sean could be a big part of it. Was it too soon for her to think like that? She wasn’t sure, but what she was sure of that he came from a good family and they would have lovely children. Children? She had to think about it, was she thinking of children already? Did she want to leave her job for a family? She wasn’t sure; it was all a bit much. She wanted to be the wife of a man such as Sean, and maybe the time was right. Not many new that she had come from a normal family and that she was lucky to be the pretty one. Her sister was nowhere near as pretty as she was.

 

She played with her hair as she looked out over the bay. She felt her necklace tangled up in it. It felt like some of her hair had gotten into the chain linkages. It had got tangled up when Sean had run his hands vigorously through her hair in bed. She couldn’t find the linkage end of the chain so she gave it a snap. The chain broke easily; it was not an expensive chain. She didn’t see it or hear it but the crucifix fell to the floor.

 

Harrison Van Cleef was having a late night. He lived only a few blocks away from where Sean and Joanne were. His study however didn’t face the ocean; it faced the backyard of the next-door neighbor’s home. There was nothing exciting ever going on there so Harrison concentrated on writing his articles for the Herald-Sun editorial. Harrison was a youngish man, going fashionably grey at 47. He was one of the main editorial writer’s of the Herald-Sun. Some considered him a right-winger, a conservative, yet he seemed difficult to pin down. One thing for certain he was controversial, and seemed to go against public opinion. It was difficult to say if it was natural or co incidental, even he didn’t know. When people seemed to support environmental issues, he questioned them. He was one of the few who questioned openly the views and values of minority groups. Just when the right thought they had a new “one of their own” he surprised and offended. He saw some value in labor politics and he was not supportive of Religion. His acid pen, his outspoken views kept him in a nice house in a nice suburb of Melbourne yet somehow he felt he didn’t quite belong to the community of that area. He was going to write an article about the bickering taking place in the leadership of the liberal party in Victoria when a few phone calls an hour earlier changed his mind.

 

He like many had seen the television report of the healing weekend but didn’t pay much attention to it. He then started hearing about people being healed and then the hour of daylight over the paddock. He knew he had something to write about. As he sat there with his Caro substitute coffee in a mug next to his computer he typed furiously. In two hours time he would have to email the article so it would make the press for tomorrow. He was annoyed that in this day and age people still believed in miracles.

He had the internet minimized on his computer so he could look up websites as he wrote. He thought people were fooling themselves if they believed in miracles. He wrote how people through autosuggestion could exhibit unusual behavior such as the convulsions of exorcism or spontaneous healing. Without spending too much time looking up the Internet he typed out a few examples of people claiming to be healed when they were not. They displayed euphoria when they attended these religious festivals and it was the euphoria and autosuggestion that made the lame walk and the blind see. The body was a complex organism and the belief of getting better amongst some people was so high that it resulted in partial recovery. Research showed their recovery if genuine was usually short lived. He had been to the USA and seen the rising tide of Christian fundamentalism in that country and its influence on politics. He wanted the church and the state to be separate entities and he was concerned the religious right in the USA was now trying to spread its influence to Australia. The Family First party already had a senator in this state and more were to follow. Since the September 11 attacks intolerance and bigotry were now rampant in American politics.  The teaching of creationism was becoming an issue in the schools here as it was in the USA. The religious right had no right to influence government the way they were doing now. It took more than prayer to beat cancer that is what Harrison thought and he was annoyed at the church for putting on displays claiming to heal people. Sickness and death had explicable origins and explanations, as did the cures. It was wrong for the church to involve themselves in such practice when the best practice was medical practice.

 

There was scant evidence that prayer healed many that weekend or the religious sites of anywhere around the world really healed people, Harrison wrote. The body has an incredible ability to often heal itself, without miracles but the church was not able to accept that. The Amazing Rhandi, the magician who campaigned strongly against Uri Geller once said that people want to believe in the supernatural because it was more interesting and exciting than reality. People wanted to believe that somehow somewhere there was an all-benevolent deity caring for us on the planet.

 

As Harrison finished his article he knew it would anger many of his reasons but it was important for his readers to be informed. He wondered how much was given in terms of donations to the various churches that weekend and if any of them would return the money if in the end it was proven their disease or incapacity returned. Probably not, he thought. People needed to be wary of miraculous cures. People had the ability almost unaided to convince themselves of anything and it was dangerous if not unhealthy to put faith in medically unproven cures.

 

 

Chapter 31

The following morning was a normal morning, nothing great about it. Peter slept in, his phone still disconnected. He stood on the edge of Frankston pier and looked in western direction. Dark storm clouds were approaching from the horizon. Soon the warm wind would be replaced by a strong cold gale and it would rain. Being one of the planners of the healing weekend he had hoped and prayed for good weather and his prayers were answered. Now it was if God had been holding back the wind and the rain and it was time to allow it to engulf the city. God had granted good weather for the special weekend and now it was time for the rain to come.

There were only a few fishermen on the pier with their lines cast into the ocean. He wondered how men, and it was usually men, who liked fishing and could sit sometimes for hours and often caught nothing. The first disciples of Jesus were fishermen. How did Jesus come up to them and just ask them to drop what they were doing and join him. Why did they follow him? What did he say? What did they see in him? How would these fishermen react if Robert came up to them and asked them to join his church, would they? Would they be touched by the Holy Spirit to follow Christ?

 

The wind was getting stronger. Robert looked at the waves. He wondered what would happen if he just jumped off the pier. Would he fall into the water or would he rest on top of it if he thought he could. Would God grant the miracle? Would it be enough if the fisherman saw him to convince them to follow the way of Christ? Jesus cured the sick, raised the dead, walked on water, forgave, preached and yet many did not believe him, even Thomas, one of his disciples. It was a wicked generation then and it is a wicked generation now.

 

The wind was getting stronger and cooler. Robert went into the bayside pier restaurant “Sofia’s” and stood waiting for service. It was empty yet he waited. A waitress directed him to a table and he ordered a cappuccino. He took the brochure of Ridley College out of his jacket and began reading it. He looked at the colorful brochure of the theological campus with the course details. He felt happiness. He had made up his mind. He would study for the priest hood, the Lord willing. He no longer cared what others would think. He had submitted willingly.

 

As his coffee arrived, he heard some people behind him and the waitress that put his coffee down. He heard them walk past him and their voices but couldn’t decipher what they were saying. He casually looked up and noticed it was Joanne and Sean. They didn’t notice him. They were led to a table and they sat down. Joanne was now facing Robert. Sean had his back to him. She had not seen him yet when suddenly their eyes met. For a moment, Joanne was shocked, then embarrassed. The look on her face was obvious, “what should I do”? She waved, he waved back. Sean turned around and looked at Robert. He was handsome. Sean smiled. Robert was fine but Joanne was embarrassed, awkward. She was only three tables away and she was unsure whether to say hello to him, ignore him, or even ask him to join them. Sean could see she had a rash around her neck; many women get that when they are nervous.

 

Robert continued to drink his coffee. He was almost finished, when Joanne called out “Robert”.

 Robert looked up. She was smiling and Sean was looking at him. Robert came over.

“Hi” she said and shook his hand.

“Hi,” Robert said in return.

“This is Sean” Joanne said, indicating Sean. They shook hands.

“Pleased to me you” Sean said.

“Hi” Robert said.

“Robert was the man I was doing the story on this weekend” Joanne said to Sean.

“What was it about”? Sean asked.

“It was a healing weekend” Robert said. He looked at Joanne and she was very uncomfortable. In all the time she had spent with Sean she never gave him an explanation why she was in Melbourne. She must have had other things preoccupy her mind.

“Healing weekend” Sean nodded, obviously unaware it had occurred.

“Yes, it was a success” Robert added. Sean nodded.

“Won’t you join us for lunch” Joanne asked.

“No thank you, I have got a few things to do” Robert said.

“Ok,” Joanne said.

“Nice meeting you” Robert said to Sean and he returned the pleasantries. Robert then went to the counter and paid for his coffee. He walked out into the car park just as it started raining. She watched him go. Sean noticed her rash, she was embarrassed. She had a man quickly; she didn’t discuss the healing weekend project with him.

 

As Robert walked to his car in the car park, he thought about the rash on Joanne’s neck and then remembered her crucifix necklace was not there.  Did she deliberately not wear it?

 

As he got into the car, it started to rain. Good timing. He started the car and left the car park. Robert was not to know that Joanne wasn’t sure where she placed the necklace. Maybe it was still in the hotel, maybe in her handbag, she wasn’t sure. It was gone, may be never to be found just like her.

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

“The Healing Time”

Copyright ©Rick Rendell 2006.

22 Dion Drive

Carrum Downs 3201

Victoria Australia

 

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