HOME, SWEET HEAVEN INSTALLMENT #23

Chapter Twenty Two

 

 

 

 

 

The big old cinder-block building was crowded with the men of Abdul Barakzai’s community. Such meetings were not uncommon, as the persistence of intrusions by foreign governments had necessitated frequent strategy conferences at the local level throughout Afghanistan.

Two things set this meeting apart from the others. There was scattered conversation before the meeting proper, but it was of a desultory nature and much quieter than usual. The other item was the presence of Abdul’s wife. And not only was she present at a meeting of the men, but she was standing alongside him, bold as you please and naked of face.

This shocking betrayal of tradition gave most of the men there an urge to stomp out of the building after, of course, first relieving Abdul and his wife of their heads. What held them back from doing just that was their respect for the man. He had earned a reputation among them for masculinity and courage. For that he deserved a chance to have his say, not that there was anything he could say that possibly could justify this obscenity.

But the men had not counted on what Abdul had to say. His first few words were met with astonishment, which was immediately followed by skepticism, which descended rather quickly into disbelief.

Abdul bravely refused to stop speaking in spite of the growing unrest among his neighbors. Shaking with fear, his wife maintained her position at his side. As he continued his monologue he confronted them with their own traditions and then the implications, which were impossible to deny as they represented an intimate and beloved part of their communal life. “I’ve been reading this Book.” He held up the Bible that had been given to his wife. “It has become so important to me and is so wonderfully written that I’ve come to accept that my God is the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.

“Do you know what you’re saying, Abdul?” his closest neighbor spoke up. “This cannot be taken lightly.” He had been a good friend. “You cannot just barge in with your blasphemy of our Allah, praise his name, and the news that we’re all – Jews, may our gracious and benevolent Allah be praised.” He spat out the word “Jew” as a repulsive epithet. “We need proof.”

“Don’t you think I needed proof too?” he asked rhetorically. “We wouldn’t be here now in this building if I wasn’t certain of what I’m trying to tell you. Well, here’s the proof.” He reached into a pocket and extracted a folded document. I received it yesterday, from Israel. I had sent the Aliyah Commission in Israel a sample of my skin and samples from my wife and daughter as well. A profile of our DNA was made, which claims that we belong to what is called the Cohen Modal-Haplotyp.”

“Say what?” his neighbor interrupted. “If you’re trying to snow us with big words . . .”

“No, no. Calm down, Rasheef.   What it means is that, according to our DNA we’re genetically close to the Israelites of the kingdom of David. We’re probably of them, but even if not, we’re very close.”

“Close isn’t good enough!” another man shouted out.

“Okay, then. I have another proof, even stronger. I had a Visitor some time ago. But you’ll have to believe me on that. The Visitor explained the exact nature of our ancestral roots.”

“We might believe you,” Abdul’s neighbor said,” but who would this “visitor” be who’d have the authority and knowledge to give you that kind of information?”

“God.” The word hung in the air like a cloud. After a lengthy pause, Abdul embellished on it. “The God of our patriarchs, Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob. The God of the Jews. Our God.”

Another meeting was held in the same cinder-block building two months later. The community in the interim had dealt with this shocking and initially-unwelcome information in a variety of ways, most involving a measure of anger, which, unfortunately, was applied to a disproportionate number of the womenfolk. This anger was mixed with a very real grief as the communal identity was turned upside-down. Given their recognition of the truth of the matter as represented by their own customs, with great reluctance they eventually began to accept their ancient identity. In doing that, they then were forced to confront the personal, communal, and religious implications of that understanding.

Each family was given a Bible, some of which were burned and others treated as refuse. Those that remained in homes were opened, first with hesitation and then with a steady quickening of interest as God stepped in to open eyes that had been closed for centuries. Abdul and his wife were the first to be so affected, as they were given some initial insights into the nature of their Judeo-Christian God. Along with that new understanding came a motivation to accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord, which led to the coming of Wisdom into their hearts.

The second meeting of the townspeople was chaired by a representative of the Israeli Mossad, who was gratified to note that the building was completely filled. Not only were the women present, he saw happily, but their faces were uncovered. “You have the right of return,” he told them, “the right to make aliya, as we call the repatriation of Jews to their homeland in Israel.” This statement brought on a noisy murmur, causing him to hold up his hand in a stopping gesture.

“Let me continue, please. You have that right. But I’d like to ask you to do something better, probably for you and certainly for us. Stay where you are, and you women, beautiful as you all may be, please go back to covering your faces. The world knows nothing about your true roots. We’d like to keep it that way for the time being. We have information that leads us to believe that in the near future you’ll be asked to participate in a battle against Israel. It would be very much to our advantage if you display your nature as you come into that battle to fight an enemy that thought you were one of them. If any of you might harbor any thought that such a deception would be cowardly, permit me to relieve you of that. First, you must know that your real enemy in that battle will be very quick to realize its mistake and will come at you with a force driven by a rage of such intensity that it will take all your courage to stand up to it. Second, your enemy is brutal, stripped of any humanity it may have possessed. It’s vicious, ugly and needs to be stopped by all means available to us, including the initial edge your deception will give us.

“You won’t be alone,” the man from Mossad continued. “You have a very brave man among you.” Abdul’s wife looked at her husband in adoration at this statement. “With our encouragement, he has taken it upon himself to visit a number of communities in your country, offering them the same revelation he gave you, and hand-picking representatives from each of those communities to spread the word to other communities as well. How he was able to do the picking is beyond me.”

I know how, Abdul’s wife thought to herself, echoing the same thought that ran through her husband’s mind. I hope She’ll come back to us.

“Let me tell you now,” the Mossad agent went on, “that your Abdul has given me a big job, which is to go back to every one of those communities scattered throughout Afghanistan and follow up with the same message I’m giving you here. But we back in Israel are very grateful for the opportunity to do so. We thank Abdul from the bottom of our hearts for giving us that chance, and we welcome you all in those same loving hearts as our dear brothers and sisters.”

 

The selfless concern for them exhibited by the tough little agent and the sense of purpose that he imparted to them gave the Afghanis a feeling of relationship with Israel. That tiny, beleaguered little nation now belonged to them in a way that they couldn’t have imagined a few short months ago. This new patriotism toward a land they had never seen was greatly supported by an ever-growing Biblical awareness. The community’s common conversion snowballed from there.

Abdul was aware of the trials facing the nation – their nation – of Israel. He knew that in the wisom of man, Israel was toast. Surrounded a hundredfold by hatred-laden people, it was a wonder that Israel had continued to exist up to now. Sharing their study of the Bible in a new and loving togetherness, Abdul and his wife had been led by Wisdom to read the account of the ancient hero Gideon beginning in Judges Chapter Six.

“I can’t believe it,” Abdul remarked. “There’s a lot of Midianites there out in the fields just aching for a fight. The Israelites are greatly outnumbered even at the beginning when Gideon pulls together twenty three thousand soldiers. Then God keeps reducing the size of the army. Twenty three thousand all the way down to a mere three hundred!”

“So they wouldn’t get puffed up with their own accomplishments,” she responded. “God wanted them to know that it was really Him who was doing the fighting on their behalf.”

“And then they actually win! Three hundred against an army, and they win! I wonder what caused the Midianites to flee in terror from such a small band of fighters?”

“It wasn’t small. An enormous army came against the Midianites on the behalf of Israel.”

“How so?”

“I was directed to an account in Second Kings that allowed me to understand what actually happened.”

Abdul turned the pages to Second Kings 6:15 and read the following:

“And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city, both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! What shall we do? And he answered, Fear not; for they who are with us are more than they who are with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”

 

“Oh,” he said to her, “then, if this relates to the story of Gideon, there was an army of angels surrounding the Midianites and Gideon’s band of three hundred men. It was just that they were visible only to the Midianites, who fled at the sight.”

“Yes. The battle was really God’s, and I expect that, with little Israel now surrounded by enemies, the same thing will happen not so long from now.”

“I just hope that God will permit us to take part in that battle.”

“What do you think, Abdul? That the man from Mossad came here for nothing?”

 

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