THE ATHEIST - THE EPILOGUE
Copyright © Ufuomaee
“God loves you,” I say, as I hand over a printed pamphlet containing my testimony to a young child on the street.
Her mother snatches the paper from her hands and slams it back into mine, fury on her face. “You should be ashamed of yourself!” Just as quickly, she drags her child away from me.
Undeterred, I continue to hand out my pamphlets, stopping to talk to anyone that will bother to stop to enquire as to its contents. It’s been my practice for the last three months. I just have this burning desire to see as many people saved from their sins as I can. It hasn’t been easy though. It’s a tough crowd out there, even though I thought being a former Atheist would make me more understanding and resilient in my efforts.
“The Kingdom of God is at hand,” I say to a passing priest.
He takes the pamphlet from me and pauses to look at me and the pamphlet. “Which Church do you go to?” he asks.
I swallow because I never quite know how to answer this question. It has caused so much division in the Body of Christ, and I suspect he will reject me if I do not name his chosen gathering. Still, I respond.
“Actually, we have a home fellowship…”
“So, a cult?” he says, or rather accuses.
“No… Not a cult.”
“You would say that,” he says, and then continues walking. I’m too relieved to see him go to worry about the destiny of the pamphlet in his hand. I’m sure it will end up in the nearest bin or on the ground like so many others I’ve distributed today.
Sighing, I continue to hand out my pamphlets.
“Faith is the key,” I say to a passing hippie. He takes the pamphlet and gives me a peace sign before continuing on his way.
“God is real!” I say to a business man, dressed in a black suit.
He stops and assesses me for a minute. Recognition comes to me instantly.
“Robert? Robert O’Donnell?!” I exclaim, too excited to meet my old friend from grade school.
“Darren? Oh my God, Darren! I thought that was you! What are you doing on the streets?”
“I’m sharing my pamphlets about my encounter with God,” I say, beaming.
He raises a brow. “You what?”
“Yeah… You need to read it. I really think it would bless you.”
“No, I’m good. But, you alright? Do you need a job?”
Sad, I swallow. “No, I’m fine. I actually have a job. I just do this in my spare time…”
“Really?! You choose to stand out in the sun and hand out pieces of paper, in your spare time? You sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, thank you. I really wish you’d read it…”
He smiles. “You know, I will. Will you promise me something too?”
“Ummm… Sure, what?”
He slips his hand into his suit pocket and pulls out a pamphlet and hands it to me. I take it from him and look at the front page. There, written in big bold letters, are the words; “Scientology: Answers for the curious mind.”
“Oh…” I say. He nods and smiles. “I’ll read it.”
“It’s nice seeing you again, Darren. If you ever need anything, call me. My number’s on the back of the pamphlet.”
I nod. “Okay, thanks.” I watch him walk away and heave a sigh. It’s a typical response I get from people belonging to other faiths. Everyone is looking for a convert. I just hope that our meeting today is of God and will bear fruit in Robert’s life.
I look at my watch. It’s almost time for a lunch break. I still want to give another 30 minutes before stopping. I continue to hand out pamphlets.
The next few people are unresponsive. Some walk at the extreme of the sidewalk, just so they won’t be approached by me. Suddenly, someone taps my arm. I look down at the teenager.
“What is that about?” he asks, balancing on his skateboard.
I smile and hand him a pamphlet. “It’s the story about how my life changed. It’s about how much God loves us all.”
“Okay… Christian stuff?”
I nod, wondering if that would cause him to walk away.
“Nice! Give me a few. If I like it, I’ll give it to my friends.”
“Cool! Thanks,” I beam.
“God bless you,” he shouts as he skates away.
Seeing him just made my day. Encouraged, I plough on.
The next few people take it from me and keep on walking. Suddenly, someone walks back holding the pamphlet, annoyance on his face. I know I’m about to get it and brace myself.
“You know, you people are the scum of the Earth! How you can take advantage of people’s desire to belong is shameful! You need to get a life, you ass-hole!” he spits at me, throwing the pamphlet on the ground and stamping on it.
I swallow and pray for how to respond. “Are you okay, sir?”
“Don’t patronise me! Get off the fucking street, and stop spreading lies! Your god is a figment of your imagination!”
At this point, only silence would work. I decide to ignore him and continue to share my pamphlets. He, however, persists in his campaign to stop me from evangelising. He tells the people passing by not to take my “propaganda rubbish”.
After a few more minutes, with no one taking a pamphlet, I think I might as well go for a break. I put the rest of the pamphlets in my bag and begin to walk away.
He shouts after me, “Tell Jesus I said “hi!””
I stop and turn back to look at him. This one is clearly a prayer-point. He sticks up his two middle fingers at me and steps into the road, obviously feeling victorious.
The loud blare of a truck, and the screeching sound of its tyres as it tries to brake suddenly, send chills down my spine. I watch, helplessly, as my prayer-point is knocked off his feet and rode over by the oncoming vehicle.
“JESUS!” I exclaim. Lord, have mercy, I pray.
The driver of the truck stops and comes down to investigate, while a crowd gathers. I also approach the scene, still praying that the man is okay. Someone has already reached the body, and is bent over him. He rises just as the truck driver gets to the victim, and the man rises to his feet, shocking us all. He looks at me. I see panic in his eyes, before he runs off down the street.
I look out for the stranger who I saw attending to the victim, but he’s nowhere in sight. Something catches the light briefly, drawing my attention. I look in the direction of the reflective object and see him, across the street. I can hardly believe my eyes.
Samuel winks at me, slips on his hood, and turns and walks away.
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