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Four Stories: the Second – Father John

November 12, 2012

   This is a story from Ethiopia during the fifth century A.D.

There was at this time a village near the sea and living in that village was a family of three: father, mother, daughter.

In time the mother died and the father grieved deeply for her. Then his daughter became ill and he was beside himself in grief. He was about to lose all he lived for.

As her condition deteriorated, a man from the village came and spoke to him:

“As you know, my wife was born in this village, but I was not. In my village, when someone was sick, we went to a man named Father John. He can heal your daughter.”

“Then bring him here.”

“No, no. You must go to him. He lives far from here. It takes three weeks to go there and come back.”

Dark thoughts filled the man’s mind. He did not know if he dared leave his daughter. What if she died while he was gone? How much more would he grieve if he were not there when she passed?

But, in the end, there was nothing he could do for her other than hope that this Father John might heal her. So he set out.

The trip was arduous, what with the great heat. After about a week he came to a river. He would have to cross the river, then, three day journey he would come to the mountain on which Father John lived.

The land beyond the river was rocky and barren and as he approached the mountain, he saw a old man plowing his field. It was the worst soil he had ever seen and he imagined that the old man who was pushing the plow would have to till twice the land that he had to in his village, just to survive. He felt sorry for him, and, and at the same time, glad that he did not live here.

The old man had so much work to do that he thought it would be best not to disturb him, but, rather, go around his field and start his ascent of the mountain. but as he started to climb, the old man cried out to him, “Where are you going?’

“I am going to see Father John.”

” Well, his place is up there, but he is not in.”

He could not believe the old man. He had come too far.

“You may climb up to his place, if you like, but I assure you that he is not there.”

The younger man was stunned. So he walked back to the old man so that he could inquire as to where Father John might be. But before he could ask, the old man asked his own question:

“Why is it that you want to see Father John?”

The young man explained that he had come to see Father John so that he might heal his daughter who was near death. The old man replied:

” They tell such strange story over on the coast. I tell you I have known this man you call Father John all my life.  He is a sinful man and has done many awful things. I assure you he could no more heal your daughter than I can”

With that the young man broke down in tears, for he thought of all the time he had spent coming to this place and would spend returning, time that he could have spent with his dying daughter.

“All is not lost,” the old man said, “I know someone who can heal your daughter. I will walk to the river with you and I can tell you about him.”

So they walked together for three days and the old man told him the stories of Jesus and His love and when they reached the river, at the place where the young man had crossed before, they prayed and the old man told him that he was sure that when the young man  got home he would find his daughter well. And so it was.

When he reached his village, everyone was excited and happy for him because while he was a way, his daughter became well once more. They insisted that he tell them all about his meeting with Father John. But he told them that when he got there that Father John was not at home, about the old man and all that he told him.

After, he was finished and the others went away to do the things that they must do, his friend, the one who had sent him on his journey, said to him:

“I must come by this evening and you must tell me more about this man who slanders Father John so.”

That evening his friend came by and he told him of the small old man with his white beard and mustache and how he was dressed in the most wretched rags he had ever seen a man wear.

His friend laughed and said, “I see then that you have met Father John after all.”

But really he had met Jesus.

People do not have to see “my ministry.” They need to see another.

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