Neil Girrard
The following is simply a work of fiction. Take it for what it is. No more. Let it spark some high and holy thoughts about the power of God to see you through all manner of trials. But if anyone doubts that things like this have actually happened, read Foxe's Book of Martyrs.
In September of 2014[1], the World Council of Churches was renamed the Department of Religious Affairs (DRA) and given a real role to play in the government. This government was a patchwork of compromises and conspiracies formed from the economic wreckage that came about after the economic collapse of the United States.[2] This re-integration of "church" and state was made in response to the growing focus on the rights of individuals and their own potential and to the growing collaboration and consolidation of Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, New Age, Hindu, and Muslim beliefs. This compromise, called religion by some, is simply the belief that self is the ultimate god and that the state is the best vehicle in which to preserve one's freedoms to please one's self.
The DRA was given the responsibility to investigate violations of the rights of individuals to practice their own particular religion without infringement by any other groups. Of particular annoyance to the DRA were the groups of fundamentalist Christians who refused to compromise their religion and who took the irritating position that such individual rights as birth control, lifestyle, and religious freedoms were not political but spiritual issues that were to be mandated by law and not left to personal choice. Their outbursts were either characterized by fanatical violence or pathetic self-sacrifice of their own personal dignity. Many of these fundamentalists based their suppositions on the antiquated texts of the Hebrew and Greek Bibles that most of today's scholars now consider to be mere philosophical and historical works valuable only in their historical context.
Because of the disruptive influence of these fundamentalists to the natural flow of society, the DRA immediately commenced arresting known political activists who proclaimed their fundamental beliefs. These activists quietly disappeared and were never seen again, the DRA dismissing inquiries about these people by stating that they had been committed to government-run insane asylums where they were undergoing therapy to assist them in overcoming their antisocial behaviors and tendencies. DRA officials continue to categorically deny all rumors of death camps as "ridiculously absurd."
News Article, *Self* Magazine, March 2014.

"What is the prisoner's name?" the man behind the desk asked as I was dragged into the room and strapped into the surgical chair. My mind drifted out of focus temporarily as I recalled the horrors I had witnessed. Prisoners had been marched or dragged out of their cells and beaten or shot. The guards' long-handled electric prods were exceedingly successful in preventing any uprising on our part although some tried anyway.

A stinging sensation on my face brought me back to the present. My eyes focused just in time to see a gloved fist coming at my face. I remember spitting out blood and at least one tooth after that but how do I describe the indescribable peace that was residing within my soul? I was complete. There was nothing more to do but endure whatever they did to me and then I would be home.

Home. Even the thought brought a smile to my face which did not please my tormenter any and which earned my body several more punishments from his hands. Through my mind trickled the lyrics of a song I had heard years ago, so many years ago, "As they pierced His hands Jesus forgave; now He says you do this too."[3] I looked at my tormenter with a longing for his soul that could only be described as divine and said, "Forgive him, Jesus, he just doesn't know."

This brought on such a fury in the man that soon my mind sank into oblivious darkness as he punished my body. My last sensation was a forlorn regret that somehow I would wake up yet again to experience more of this man's ministrations.

Monday morning, 7:30 a.m., I had just stepped out of my home on my way to work at the office. There was nothing special going on that I was aware of. My understanding of Biblical prophecy told me that the recent coalitions of the various religious organizations into a department of the new world government was a sign that the end was very near. I knew that persecution was likely to come upon the body of true believers but I was still unprepared for the suddenness and the flagrant brutality these people displayed. The hate in their eyes could only be described as Satanic.
That morning I had been grabbed as I left my home, carried back into the house, slammed against the wall, and beaten severely. Even then, there was an incomprehensible peacefulness within my soul, even when they brought my wife and daughter down the stairs. My wife! My daughter!!!

Reality slammed me back to the present with a jarring numbness. The frantic gnawing in my brain felt vaguely familiar as awareness slowly settled in. Drugs! I had been drugged. And there was a strange tingling sensation in my hand that swiftly became intense pain. My hand was being fed through a meat grinder!

I looked away from that grisly scene as if completely detached from it. I looked up at the ceiling and I could see into another place. There He was! Standing beside an indescribably beautiful Presence, He was watching me with a wonderful smile that only beckoned me to come to Him. With absolutely no hesitation my spirit joined His as the frustrated tormenter vented his frustration on my now lifeless body.

Jesus leaned towards me and said, "It won't make any difference right away, but..." Jesus whispered some instructions in my ear and I listened with a growing smile on my now perfected face.

Back in the torture chamber, the tormenter eventually grew calm and ordered his next victim to be brought and the dead body to be removed and disposed of as he closed the victim's eyelids over those staring eyes. When his assistants had left the room to get a gurney and their next victim and he was alone, glaring at the corpse on the table, his heart skipped a beat. The corpse had moved! He wasn't dead - but how could that be? There was no pulse, no heartbeat, no brain waves!
As the tormenter bent over to check the body, the corpse's eyes suddenly flashed open and stared intently and directly into the eyes of the tormenter. The corpse's mouth began to move and the voice croaked out, "Even if one were to return from the dead, you wouldn't believe. Would you?"
The corpse lapsed back into lifelessness, the assistants came in to remove the body, and the tormenter repressed his rushing thoughts into the darkest recesses of forgetfulness where all his feelings of conviction were kept and where they would lie dormant and untroubled for several years to come.

[1] This year is fictional but the circumstances of this narrative are not so far beyond the realm of possibility that it would be inconceivable to be an accurate guess-timation of the near future.

[2] This too is a fictionalization that cannot be truly defended within Scripture but seems a likely result of continuing on in the pattern of economic behaviors exhibited by most Americans and most American businesses and the American government.

[3] Michael Sewell, Heart in a Box, "How Could I Give Any Less." Awesome song! Thank You, Lord, for giving it to Michael!

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