Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Conversation (face to face) (10/07/10)
- TITLE: You do it!
By Gregory Kane
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"What's the matter here?"
"I could do with a bit of help actually. This demon's, er, refusing to leave."
"Don't be ridiculous," Andrew snapped, concerned by the muttering and scepticism that was becoming ever more vocal. Thus far they had chalked up three healings, one exorcism, seventeen conversions and twenty-five baptisms. Andrew knew all too well the vagaries of revival crowds and he wasn't about to let the day's meeting go awry.
"Don't you go getting all snotty on me!" Thomas was clearly flustered. "I've spent the last hour rebuking this fiend; I've insisted on its capitulation; I've reminded it of my authority. But it just won't budge."
Andrew looked at Thomas, then glanced round at the swelling crowd. A boy lay writhing on the ground, the man by his side presumably the child's father.
"Are you going to do something or not?" the man demanded, his voice trembling, near to tears.
Taking a deep breath, Andrew pictured in his mind's eye the source of the child's torment: "Foul spawn of Satan," he declared in his best schoolmaster tone, "tell me your name."
There was silence. Feeling slightly abashed, Andrew repeated his demand. A man in the crowd snickered but the demon remained silent.
"He's dumb. Hasn't spoken a word since the evil spirit first came upon him. Must be five years past."
As if to reinforce this, the child convulsed violently, his back rising twelve inches from the bare earth, his arms thrashing, his mouth frothing, his voice a shriek of undisguised horror.
Andrew turned back to Thomas in alarm. "What do you think? Should we call the others?"
"How should I know? You're the one who was boasting about being Peter's brother. Next in line, you said. Let's hold a revival meeting, you announced. Something to do while the others are up the mountain. Well then, Mr my-brother's-the-Rock, sort out this mess yourself!"
Thomas didn't wait for Andrew's response. Barging past a tough-looking Syrian, he disappeared into the crowd.
"I knew this was a mistake." The father's voice was querulous, his doubts and defiance spurred on by the murmuring of the bystanders. "I should have gone straight home when I saw your rabbi wasn't here."
"He doesn't need to be here," Andrew said, surprising himself with the intensity of his retort. "His power is present even when he himself is distant."
"Let's see something then. Throw your magic dust up in the air or babble away in ancient Chaldean. Doesn't bother me what you do, just so long as my Daniel gets better."
Andrew crouched down, placed one hand on the boy's gasping chest. Once again he ordered the demon to leave. But all that happened was that the boy's pupils rolled back inside his head, leaving Andrew staring at two sightless white eyes.
"I should have bought those amulets from that Egyptian peddler. Inscribed with a prayer to Horus, he said they were. Better than this stuff and nonsense."
Andrew didn't pay any attention to the man's grumbling. Chances were, it was the father's fault that his son was demon-possessed. Kneeling on the hard ground, he laid his tear-stained face against the boy's chest and begged God for help. Thomas was quite correct: the day's revival had been entirely Andrew's idea. He hadn't asked for divine permission. He hadn't even prepared his own spirit through prayer. Instead, brimming with confidence and relying on a couple of well-worn sermons, he had called the people together and urged them to repent.
Suddenly the crowd broke apart. People were running from every direction towards a group of four men descending from the mountain. A few minutes later the boy's father returned, dragging a well-known figure by the hand.
"Here he is, teacher," he said. "Your apprentices tried but they couldn't kick the demon out. Is there any chance, do you think, that you could have a go?"
Jesus turned and looked curiously at his disciple. Andrew mouthed a silent "Sorry" which earned a beaming smile from the Master.
Simon Peter's younger brother looked on in wonder as Jesus effortlessly rebuked the evil spirit and lifted the child trembling to his feet. There was so much about God's Kingdom that Andrew had still to learn. Later on, once the crowds had gone home, he would ask Jesus why it had all gone wrong. And he would make even more effort to crucify his treacherous sense of self-importance.
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