Jarion heard the two-word phrase ring in his mind all morning and all afternoon. By six in the evening, the recurring thought began to annoy him. He knew the Lord well enough to know when Jesus was trying to get his attention, so he conceded. Jarion set his dinner plate on the table top, snatched the remote control, and turned off the television.
“Fine. You win Lord. You know what kind of day I’ve had, but apparently you want me to do something for you. Let’s get this over with.”
Jarion sat back into the deep pillows of his leather couch and lifted his head toward the ceiling. He closed his eyes, inhaled slow deliberate breaths and relaxed. He breathed and waited.
Anastasia’s english dialect was well enough to get by on. She’d learned a handful of useful words and phrases during her year-long visit to the States, and always kept close to her relatives for safety. Her American-born cousins were wild and reckless at times. Often, they disobeyed the wishes of her aunt, in favor of taking on some spontaneous adventure.
This time, she followed them into a seedy looking part of town where they had been separated. One minute she was standing next to them among a crowd, and the next minute they were gone. As concern quickly turned to panic, Anastasia jostled her way past the wave of strangers, through the exit, and out onto a dim lit street corner.
Следуйте за Мной
She heard the words in her native Russian tongue, float through her mind. A wave of peace settled over her. Anastasia crossed the street and sat at a park bench facing the main road. She folded her arms, bowed her head and began to pray. In the distance, a church clock tolled ten strikes, as the moonlight reflected off the roofs of parked cars along the street.
“J-Man, what’s up brother? What are you still doing awake? Don’t you have work tonight?”
Todd held his cell phone cocked between his ear and shoulder, as he juggled a glass of milk and a bowl of ice cream toward the living room.
“Yeah, I’m in my pajamas. What do you-”
He stopped just short of his recliner, totally enthralled by the conversation coming from the other end of the phone.
“Jarion, are you sure? I spoke with my sister about an hour ago. She said the kids were spending the night with a friend from church. Why would they…”
The words penetrated right through Jarion’s conversation, mentally smacking Todd between the eyes. He knew the Holy Spirit’s influence when he heard it. Todd set his bowl and glass on an end table, and glanced at the television clock: 10:15PM; Way too late for three fifteen year-old girls to be out in the streets of Downtown New York City.
“J, I need you to tell me exactly what you saw in your vision.”
Natasha almost missed the subtle vibration of her cell phone against her hip. The music in the bar was loud, and the crowd was tightly packed. She reached for the phone and checked the caller ID, as the young man dancing with her wrapped his arms around her waist. Uncle Todd had called seven times in the last four minutes.
“Oh no,” she whispered. Natasha suddenly realized she had no idea where, in the crowd, Ana was hiding. She reached over and snatched at her twin sister’s blouse.
“Hey you witch,” Mishka shouted. “you’re gonna rip it!”
Natasha shoved her phone into Mishka’s face.
“Oh dude, we gotta find Ana and get the heck outta here.” Mishka said.
She reached for her own phone. Checking the caller ID, uncle Todd had called her twice in the last two minutes. She also missed a voicemail message.
“Tasha, I’ve got a message from uncle Todd. We need to go now.”
Mishka plugged a finger in one ear as she jammed the phone against her opposite ear, to listen to the message. Natasha grabbed her sister by the arm and led her through the crowd. The girls desperately began to search for their cousin among the party goers.
It was crazy, but Todd trusted Jarion with his life. Jarion, always had some type of special connection with the Lord, that Todd never understood. He simply chalked it up as one of the special gifts he’d often read about in the book of Ephesians. Jarion’s visions had never been wrong before.
After calling his nieces several times, to no avail, Todd quickly jumped into the car, still clad in pajamas.
“This is insane. Todd, what are you doing?” He whispered.
The words spoke into his heart as clear as if someone were sitting next to him, in the passenger seat of his Prius. Todd backed out of the driveway, shifted into drive, and floored the gas toward downtown. As he drove, he placed a second call to Mishka’s phone intending to leave a message.
Anastasia was deep in prayer, when she heard the tingy beep of a compact car horn coming up the road. In the darkness, she could just barely make out the driver waving in her direction. Instinctively, she grew cautious, but the Holy Spirit spoke into her heart again.
As the car pulled up to the corner, Anastasia smiled at the driver.
Natasha and Mishka huddled inside a grimy bathroom stall, holding Mishka’s cell phone between them; their faces ashen.
‘I know exactly where the hell you three are right now. I’m on my way to pick you up. Get your butts outside this instant!’
Uncle Todd’s voice was livid. Mishka pressed four, to replay the message.
“You don’t think…” Natasha started.
“No…there’s no way.” Mishka said.
“But Mi-Mi, what if he really does know where we are? What if he’s really on his way here? We have to find her.”
“I know dude. Just shut up, a minute and let me listen.”
Natasha suddenly heard a whisper resonate within her heart.
“Oh man, I’m going Mi-Mi.” she said, opening the stall door.
“Tasha, where are you going? Nobody knows where we are. Will you just chill and let me figure this out?” Mishka had to run to catch up with her sister.
The girls waded through the crowd and out to the street corner, where they both froze. Standing across the street, staring at them both, was cousin Ana and Uncle Todd, wearing his New York Jets PJ pants and Joe Namath T-Shirt.
“Girls, a word please!” Uncle Todd said.
Natasha looked at her cell phone. 11:04PM. She and Mishka would be grounded for the next ten years, she figured.
The next evening, the girls sat at the dinner table with Mom and Uncle Todd. The six o’clock local news blared from the living room television. The top story was a report on a late night shooting at a downtown bar, on the previous night. Witnesses recalled an armed man storming inside the bar at approximately 11:11PM, opening fire on the crowd before fleeing.
Todd and the girls rushed the television in time to see a photo of the very bar they had been in last night. Silence gripped the room.
“The Lord told me to follow Him.” Anastasia said. “I left that place, and sat where He told me to go.”
Todd’s cell phone rang. He answered without checking the call. He knew who it would be.
“J-Man…thank you brother.”
Matthew 9:9 (NIV)
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.