Sow the Wind
A Political End-Times Thriller
The election year of 2028 holds no great surprises. The current married, lesbian U.S. President has been a popular figure in the White House during her eight-year term. She has endorsed her Muslim Vice President to succeed her, and he is the odds-on favorite to continue the Administration’s progressive policies.
Pastor James Glazier faces other concerns than politics and the condition of the country, unaware of the dangers that Islam poses through America’s next president. His beloved wife, Janna, lies dying of cancer. His church, falling apart under his stewardship, wants him out. More critically, these and other challenges sorely test James’ faith. He’s moving toward the point of dismissing God in his life altogether.
When James joins forces with another pastor, who opens his eyes to the danger of their out-of-control federal government and the Islamicization of America, his life turns from difficult to impossible. Christian persecution rivals Nazi treatment of the Jews in the 1930s. Violence and anarchy, fostered by the government itself, are on the rise. Whether he wants to or not, James must confront this situation.
Nothing goes right for James. Then God whispers into his unwilling ears.
Chapter 3 –
Light reflected off something ahead of James as he walked toward his meeting, the heat of the morning already oppressive. The summer months had been so dry, and nothing in the forecast spelled relief for weeks to come. Pausing for a moment, he looked up to see a workman on scaffolding chiseling at the stone above the courthouse steps. When he saw what the man was doing, he halted, his feet impossibly frozen to the overheated pavement.
Whenever he’d passed this particular spot, he tended to read the inscription put there long ago. The words and intent inevitably put a smile on his face and gave him confidence this nation would endure despite challenging times, a belief he’d carried since his days in seminary. Events of the last two decades had caused him to rethink that optimism.
The words from Isaiah 9:6 written in stone were: “And the government will be upon His shoulders.” That prophecy had been written over 700 years prior to the coming of Jesus. It was as true then as it was now and would be as far as the eye could see. James mused that the road to that future, however, could be rocky and winding.
One more blow of hammer striking chisel and another letter from that Scripture disappeared. A part of him died inside as he watched. The city council, bowing to the demands of atheist groups, which had threatened unrelenting lawsuits, had finally ordered the removal of this verse.
“Separation of church and state.” James knew that was so bogus as to be ridiculous. The context of the phrase came from a letter Thomas Jefferson had written to the Danbury, Connecticut Baptists, who had complained about the infringement of their religious liberty by the state legislature. The statement wasn’t in the Constitution and meant exactly opposite what many declared it meant. But the argument continued to make inroads in every municipality around the nation as it had for years. Government bureaucrats wanted God written out of the fabric of the nation’s existence. The way people framed it today, Church-State separation was a false argument. The founders intended that America’s government not impose religion upon the people, not that religion was to be absent from the public sphere. But the fabrication resonated with more and more people who either didn’t know any better or who had an agenda for the country contrary to how it was intended. James passed on in mourning, certain he’d never see the institution of government again in the same way.
Arriving at his destination, he entered the church conference room and sat down at his accustomed seat. Several other members of the Ministerium trickled in, and the meeting started on time.
This was another of the seemingly too frequent gatherings of people with whom he disagreed. It’s been said that if a person has issues with everyone around him, maybe he’s the issue. James couldn’t discount that. There were few situations he was involved with these days where he was in agreement with the majority of those in a room. The real problem for James, as he saw it, was his struggle to consistently stand against what was wrong, to boldly voice his position that differed from that of others.
He’d wondered at times why he bothered to attend these meetings. Should there be a point at which he threw in the towel? Up till now he’d justified his ongoing attendance as vital to keeping in touch with the community and other like-minded leaders. Given his tentative hold on all things he held dear, maybe his thinking on this should change.
He looked with envy at Bob Sanders. Clear-eyed and outspoken in what he believed, he was so many things James wished for himself. James kept up regular exercise at the health club and on the hiking trail, but Pastor Bob burst with vitality. James asked him once what he did to get so fit, but Sanders had waved him off. From everything James had observed about the man, he was modest as well as rock-solid in his conservative, strongly biblical convictions, a man dedicated to his family and the church. That confidence gave him a faith that many hated and even ridiculed, all the more apparent when he went toe-to-toe with the other ministers in this meeting. As much as James wanted to emulate Sanders’ self-assurance, he couldn’t pull it off. When others started arguing, James inevitably backed down, leaving Bob Sanders to stand alone.
Naïve at first when he’d begun attending Ministerium meetings, James, like most people, wanted love and approval. He hadn’t said much for or against the concerns that were discussed. Because he kept his mouth shut, the members viewed him as one of their own, even thinking him wise.
In contrast, after a period of time, Bob Sanders’ resolve against much of what the Ministerium stood for became evident. He’d told James once that he spoke out because the sentiments of the other ministers violated his personal covenant with God.
James yearned to exhibit a similar tenacity. God had delivered him through great distress and despair in his previously sinful lifestyle, even as He had redeemed his wife in hers. Without Christ, James would have died because of his foolishness. Because God had been faithful, he and Janna made certain promises to Him that they both intended to keep. Speaking up and taking a stand were an outgrowth of James’ covenant with God. Except he couldn’t do it.
The Ministerium was a group of ministers in the community who met every two weeks. The intent was to lift up the Church in their area, pray for souls, and work toward the common good of the community through their respective congregations. Part of the charter of the Ministerium stated that individual churches would work together on common projects that would give God the glory He deserved. All good as far as it went. What that glory was to look like had mutated over time.
The purpose this week was to develop a new initiative. Because of the difficult issues facing James and Janna, and his struggles within the church, he hadn’t spent any time thinking about potential joint projects. As they got down to business, it was clear some of the participants had.
The twelve ministers came from a variety of denominations. How they dressed in large part provided insight into the person and the church tradition each came from. Some dressed in business casual: slacks, button-down shirt, sweater or sports coat. Others wore ministerial collars: starched, white, authoritative. James used to go the business casual route. As he’d come to have less respect for the group as a whole, he’d begun dressing down to jeans and polo shirt. Inevitably he’d get that look from one or two indicative of their disdain. Counting on God not worrying about what they wore when gathered in His Name, James ignored the veiled sneers.
But James’ attire was nothing compared to that of Pastor Bob. Today he wore shorts, a well-used polo pullover, and no socks with his deck shoes. This summer he’d come a couple times as if from the gym, wearing sweats and a sleeveless tee. That had really gotten the Ministerium wags on their high horses, but Sanders just shrugged his shoulders and grinned when others muttered about his holy disrespect for God.
“I’ve been much in prayer,” Reverend Phyllis began after the preliminaries and snide remarks about Sanders’ dress habits had been dispensed. Dark hair, glasses, stylishly dressed and with a white clerical collar, she led one of the mainstream denominations in town. An outspoken, married lesbian, she boasted that God was working in and transforming her congregation to be relevant to the culture. It left James scratching his head as to God’s intent given her flaunting of His natural order in marriage and family. At one time her church laid claim to having most of the prominent leaders in the community as members. It still had a substantial trust fund that would sustain it for a long time, but its number of attendees had dwindled in recent years.
“We have a sizable Muslim population in the area,” she continued. “We’ve done little to reach out to them. We must be more ecumenical in word and deed. It’s about time we do that.”
One of the two black pastors, Deacon Jones, waved a hand in assent. “I couldn’t agree more that we must bring the Gospel to these neighbors. I will correct you, though, Reverend Phyllis, in that my church has been engaged in prison ministry to incarcerated Muslims for some time.”
Around the table discussion ensued with each minister contributing ideas or comments. James almost found himself nodding in agreement with many of the thoughts expressed. Sanders sat back in his chair with arms folded, a sardonic smile playing at his lips. It didn’t take long for the hammer to drop, making James glad he’d withheld comment.
The leader of the largest church represented, Pastor Tom Hall, PhD, sat forward to weigh in. “After hearing what’s been discussed this morning, I’d like to volunteer my church for this initiative.” Seating as many as fifteen hundred in every service, this offer of his church got their attention.
Slender, thoughtful in demeanor, and wearing a well-cut, dark blue, herringbone suit, Pastor Hall stood up to address the group. “I’ve studied Islam for some years now, and I believe we have much to learn from our Muslim brothers and sisters. Because of my extensive research, I’m convinced we must come together jointly to worship our God. Think of the glory we could give Him as our ranks swell and our voices rise to the heavens in unison. Many other communities around this great nation have come together in ecumenical unity. It’s about time we joined with them.
“To start this proposal off on the right foot, I would be pleased and honored to invite the local imam to hold a joint worship service in my church. From there we could have our Muslim friends come to each of our churches for similar services.”
Deacon Jones stood and applauded. “Brother, that’s what I’ve been hoping and praying for ever since I went into those prisons and saw my persecuted brethren turning to Islam. I said to myself, ‘Deacon, you got to bring these men together in one holy place to worship the one, true god, the god of us all.’ You got it exactly right, Pastor Hall. Might I accompany you to speak to the imam? I know him well.”
“Of course,” Hall said. “Your experience with our Islamic brothers is welcome.”
Pastor Bob Sanders finally broke his silence. “This is not wise. Jesus commands us not to be unevenly yoked. Perhaps—”
“Pastor Bob,” Reverend Phyllis interrupted, “that verse only refers to believers and unbelievers. Clearly that’s not the case here. Muslims believe in god.”
“They believe in Allah. He’s different from the God of the Bible.”
“Rubbish!” The good reverend grew indignant. “God is God. There’s no good reason we can’t celebrate our respective faiths together.”
At this rebuke Pastor Bob rolled his eyes and didn’t say another word.
Not able to stand it any longer, James knew he had to speak, contrary to how he’d always operated in these meetings. He raised his hand. Reverend Phyllis looked at him, but continued the argument she had started. When she paused, James steeled himself and interjected.
“Excuse me, but you’re wrong about Allah being the same as our God.”
Some at the table squinted hard at him as he continued.
“I’ve read a little about Islam, and I know this one thing. The Qur’an definitively says that Allah is not a father and does not have a son. It denies the deity of Jesus and through that implicitly denies the Trinity. Muslims are not believers as the Bible defines us. Either we are in Christ or we’re not. We must be born again in Christ to see the kingdom of God. To share a service with followers of Islam is to bring in a leader of their faith who will specifically denounce Jesus as the Son of God in his prayers, which he’ll recite in Arabic so that no one knows what he’s saying. This is not a good idea.”
James saw no point in continuing. He’d issued his warning. Better yet, he’d actually exhibited some boldness. He noticed Bob Sanders glance at him with new admiration while the room sat in silence. That seldom happened in this gathering where one of the participants always had a word to speak.
Deacon Jones broke the stillness. “In my ministry, Pastor James, I’ve dealt with many Muslims.” His tone was full of sorrow. He spoke to James like one might talk to a child. “Muslims are fine people, and we should not judge them. I’ve learned that they’ll quickly and easily accept Jesus even while still worshiping Allah. I find nothing wrong with that. I challenge you to soften your heart; give this initiative a chance.”
“Deacon,” Bob Sanders said, “It’s well and good you want to be inclusive, but the truth of the Gospel is that it’s not inclusive; in fact it’s extremely exclusive. Jesus must be on the throne. To include a different god in our worship, which is what Allah is, is to corrupt the Christian faith. You’re defining the essence of syncretism, the combining of two or more beliefs into one to make something more palatable. What you’re talking about is Chrislam. That’s heresy and exceedingly dangerous, especially for us as leaders and shepherds. God will judge us more severely if we take people off the true path to salvation.”
“Oh, how I hate this talk of judging!” Reverend Phyllis pounded both fists on the table. “Please, James, Bob, stop it right now! You’re simply not operating in a spirit of love. This is so disappointing.”
“She’s right, you know. It creates disharmony and bad vibes.” Pastor Hall’s condemnation had the weight of a final word.
James glanced over at Pastor Bob to offer a little support. Sanders shrugged and mouthed the word, “Vibes.”
After this dressing down of Bob Sanders like a wayward child, there was little James wanted to say, but a question bubbled up inside him that he had to ask. “Reverend Phyllis, you’re a committed lesbian. How do you think Muslims view homosexuality?”
She tightened her lips into a thin line and stared hatefully at him before finally speaking. “The ones I know have no problem with it.” James mouthed a silent prayer for God to forgive her of her arrogance.
Once again Bob Sanders interjected. “Whenever anyone throws out numbers, the usual count is that there are something like one point six billion Muslims in the world. Of those, it’s estimated maybe ten percent are fundamental, or radical, if you please. These include active members of Islamist groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and others, along with many so-called lone wolves who agree with their ideology, but aren’t members of a group for one reason or another. That ten percent equates to about one hundred sixty million terrorist types. To rephrase James’ question another way, how do you think those one hundred sixty million fundamental-radical Islamists would view your homosexuality, and what do you think they’d do to you if they got their hands on you?”
“This is just so pointless!” Reverend Phyllis threw up her hands. “We’re not talking about all those terrible ones out there. What they do is not Islam. Islam is a peaceful religion. We’re dealing with our brothers and sisters in our community. Why must you two persist in such nonsense?”
“I wonder how many of these brothers and sisters, as you call them, agree with the ones trying to destroy Israel and the United States?” Once Sanders got going, James loved to hear his hard reasoning.
“It’s not pertinent. We must reach out to them.”
“We do them no favors by accepting their faith and coddling them. These are lost souls, not Christian brothers and sisters.”
Reverend Phyllis stood up with hands on hips. “Is there anyone else in this room who thinks this discussion would go much smoother without such dissent?”
There were a bunch of sheepish nods. No one looked at the two pastors who had made the atmosphere in the room so uncomfortable.
Bob Sanders sadly shook his head, gathered his things, and left the room without a backward glance. The others looked expectantly at James. He swallowed, bit his lip, and followed his fellow dissenter out the door.
Chapter 17 –
Police officers put their lives on the line every day. Sometimes the bad guys defeated them, and they lost their lives. The funeral of a policeman who died, particularly in the line of duty, often attracted many law enforcement officers from nearby communities as they paid tribute to their fallen comrade.
The policeman who recently lost his life had found it some years previously. He was a Jew who had come to faith in Jesus Christ. The Messianic Jewish congregation he attended was small, not really equipped to handle the overflow of men and women from the local and neighboring police forces that came to pay their last respects.
Although James didn’t know the slain officer, he had heard about his final battle and respected him. James showed up at the modern, one-story church building late because of visiting Janna at the hospital. He saw he wouldn’t be able to get inside for a while. The line of officers waiting to say goodbye snaked out the door and down the sidewalk. He resolved to wait in his car until the line dwindled somewhat. It was a good thing he did.
The heat was relentless. It hadn’t rained for months. The humidity wouldn’t leave. James found it amusing that Washington elites no longer hesitated to use the term “global warming” once again versus the previously preferred “climate change” when temperatures weren’t so steamy. The foolishness of labeling weather as climate continued unabated.
James parked down the street with a view of the church and the mixed crowd of police and civilians, presumably members of the congregation and other friends. A man with a swarthy complexion walked past him toward the church. For such a hot day, he wore a heavy jacket that was out of place.
As the man passed James, a strange sensation seized his gut. It spoke of danger. With heightened concern, James watched the man approach the crowd. The need to cry out in warning drove him to action. He struggled to unfasten his seatbelt and reached for the door handle. The man pushed his way through the uniformed mass to the outraged cry of several. He paid no heed.
James emerged from the car and took two running steps toward the church. He was about to yell an alert when he heard a faint echo rise. “Allahu Akbar!”
He shouted, “No!” and was lifted off his feet as a horrendous blast erupted from inside the church and moved outward with the force of a tidal wave. The explosion threw James across the street.
His ears rang with deafness. A kaleidoscope of red, black, yellow, and gray overwhelmed him, but he couldn’t hear a thing outside his head. Smoke and fire poured from the building.
Entangled in a rosebush, he pushed away as sharp thorns caught him. They jabbed his bare arms, drawing pinpricks of blood. He brought his hand to his forehead. The blast had knocked off his glasses. He found them in the rosebush and settled them on his nose. That action brought a sense of normalcy, and he realized the thorny insult of the rosebush was nothing. His eyes stung, and with another swipe of his hand recoiled at the stickiness of blood. Feeling around he found a gash on his head bleeding copiously. But his injury, compared to the mayhem around him, was trivial.
Bodies lay everywhere. Mangled blue uniforms lay scattered like bowling pins. The church itself had half its front wall and part of the roof blown away. Flames licked at anything flammable. Many human torches writhed on the ground. Hearing came back to James like the snap of one’s fingers.
From a distance sirens howled. In minutes, multiple fire engines and ambulances arrived. James staggered closer and saw the mangled bodies missing limbs, faces half torn away, blood everywhere. He couldn’t comprehend the carnage.
He tried to pull himself together. He needed to. That was his job. James was one who could provide emotional support now and later. As awful as it was for him to see the slaughter, the psychological damage to those still alive and to the families would be much worse. He raised his eyes to the heavens and implored God to provide him the strength to give of His comfort.
Toward evening, the effort of coming alongside people throughout that day had exhausted James. They needed to talk, to cry, to lament, to express their anger, even their hatred for the perpetrator. He tried simply to be there for them. Few words could bring reassurance in a time like this, and he spoke little. The need was to hold a hand, hug someone, or just sit next to a grieving, questioning person, being a physical presence.
Word had spread about what the attacker screamed in his last moments. Every person there knew he had acted in the name of Islam, the so-called religion of peace. Not so shockingly, as had been their practice for many years, the media reported that the motive of the bomber was unclear. City officials joined the club and disavowed any Islamic involvement. It was a maddening repeat of the willful blindness that had so often been the official response.
The problem contradicting this ludicrous obtuseness was the rash of similar attacks throughout the nation the same day. Shopping malls, police departments, Jewish centers, and churches had all been targeted on this celebratory day of Islam’s greatest victory against the U.S. A proud pronouncement came forth from a group claiming to be affiliated with the Islamic State terrorists that had run roughshod over the Middle East. It warned they would soon destroy the United States and Israel. Their official announcement stated they had accomplished three objectives in this attack. The first was to destroy Jews, the second to annihilate Christians, and the third to decimate the law enforcement structure in the U.S. That many capitalistic business enterprises had also been devastated in a number of the attacks was an added bonus.
The president of the United States commented that no verifiable proof had come forth indicting Islam. She stated that she had decided to withhold judgment until the FBI had made a thorough investigation. One of the memes that subsequently went forth was that Christian radicals had staged the various events to frame Muslims. In mere hours, many segments of the public called for the burning of Christians at the stake. The Republican presidential aspirant, to the continued disappointment of most in his dwindling base, refused to “apply labels”, while the Democrat candidate, the current vice president, wondered out loud when Christians would be held accountable for their many atrocities throughout the centuries.
Locally, the story that eventually emerged and took hold was a confluence of the various narratives. The attacker had a personal vendetta against the police because of a recent run-in he’d had during a routine traffic stop. His Christian beliefs twisted his moral compass causing him to kill as many police as he could. Like Hitler and all other Christians, he hated Jews. The funeral became the opportunity to exercise his perverted rage. As James listened to all this, he knew it was absurd to the point that one had to either laugh or cry, or both, at the deliberate ignorance behind the assertions. Either way, tall tales were being fed to the public, which largely swallowed the lies.
In looking past the media template to the terrorist group’s statement, James had to admit they’d made a pretty good start with this target. It was a brilliant attack in the sense that they’d gotten a triple play, with all three of their goals achieved. The Messianic Jewish congregation held to their Jewishness, yet proclaimed Christ as their Lord. Because the funeral attracted a large number of policemen, they’d wiped out many with a single blow.
Despite the Islamic acknowledgment of culpability, the powers-that-be refused to change their song. Islam was misunderstood and peaceful, a religion that built up rather than destroyed. Anyone contradicting this storyline obviously didn’t understand Islam and were racists. Because most people didn’t like being labeled as such, particularly opposing politicians, the description continued to circulate that Christians were the malcontents and a threat to the well-being of the United States. It was despicable, and those who refused to turn a blind eye could only shake their heads in disbelief.
A further outrage came with the Ministerium calling for a Day of Repentance for Christians who held ill will against Islam. The issue became one in which guilt was placed on the shoulders of those to whom the harm was done, while the responsible party—Islam—became the victim. A city-wide call went out to all Muslims and Christians to attend the service once again held in Pastor Tom Hall’s megachurch.
James couldn’t bear to observe that one, but later heard it was a great “success.” The ministers present jointly apologized to the good people of Islam for the unfair characterization that so many Christian congregations around the country heaped upon them. They vowed to work more closely with Muslims and their communities to bring these two great faiths into harmony.
The distressing aspect of this to James was that Islam worshiped a false god. Allah was not the god of the Bible. To promise Christian unity with Islam was to unite light with darkness, the One true God with the spirit of antichrist. Rather than delivering a lost people from their deception, the Ministerium, and all who supported their initiative, were calling Muslims into further darkness and causing Christians who didn’t know better to fall into the pit of false teaching. This wasn’t a loving action on the part of these ministerial leaders; it was demonic.
“If you like thrillers in which the fate of America is at stake, the hero is a man of faith, and the threat of secularism and Islam is all too real, then Gary Ritter’s book ‘Sow the Wind’ may be just what you are looking for. It’s a novel, but its picture of where we are headed as a nation reads more like fact than fiction.”
Host of “Focal Point” on the American Family Radio Network
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
– Romans 1:20