The security of night had blanketed the village. Most of the residents were preparing for an evening of relaxing and preparation for sleep. The only one on the road was a local official moving within and through shadows; finding protection from the buildings that lined the road. Finally he reached the cottage which marked the point of no return on this journey. As he stood near his destination, Leo wondered how he would be able to complete this mission. How do you tell a father and a friend he and his family had to leave town immediately? There was only time to put together the bare necessities for a journey that had yet to be planed. Any delay would mean sure death if not worse.
As Leo stood in hiding, he thought about their long friendship. As children there were many times Carl had stood up for him. Leo was small in stature and never fit in with the other children of the village. As such he was an easy target for the bigger boys. Carl was his only defender. Carl helped him when he started his first business. Regardless, n order to protect himself and his family there was no avenue which would allow Leo to protect Carl. Leo knew if he even got caught warning Carl he and his family might be punished.
When Leo had assured himself he was totally alone, he ran to Carl’s cottage, knocked on the door and without waiting for an answer barged in. Before either Carl or his family could move, Leo gave them the message he came to deliver. Stunned the family froze in place starring at each other. Finally, Carl was able to breath enough to ask the question.
“Leo, how can this be. I have a good business and have been honest with everyone. I am involved in the community. I have always helped those who are struggling.”
“All I know is that you are not only family on the list, Carl. There are others like you who no longer have a life here. Please, just go. And, don’t tell anyone I was here.”
Carl and his family took what they could carry and left under the protection of night. Not long after they had departed the Goon Squad came to their house. Finding no one home they destroyed everything. Then they went on to the next house, and then the next, and then the next. By the time dawn made her presence, the village was nearly pure.
Carl and his family traveled for years until they finally found a place that comfortable to them. It wasn’t home but is was safer and Carl could find work. The family slowly became involved in their religious community and later in different civic organizations. But they always lived in fear that the same thing would happen that drove them from their home. Fear (in all its ugly forms) is such a destructive and paralyzing truth.
Somewhere in their travels they learned that Leo and his family were removed and killed. The news was no better for the others who thought they were safe.
In all its ugliness this continues to be a reminder that proclaiming God is not the same as following God.