top of page

Bethlehem Rescue Mission Chapter 9

Chapter Nine


Ned looked at his iPhone as if he could somehow will it to ring

again, to bring Jes’ voice back. His mind went numb. He slowly climbed to

his feet. His hair was messed up, his shirt hanging out, tears still

staining his face, a shocked look of disbelief etched in stone upon him.


“Who are you?” he heard himself whisper.


“What do you want from me?”


He felt the iPhone slip out of his hand and land on the carpet. His

face had no expression. Anyone seeing him on the street would have thought

he was stoned, lost in some hallucinogenic episode.


Just then the TV began to hum again, but this time it had no effect

on Ned. His ears weren’t hearing. He looked blankly around the room.

Finally his eyes fell on the bathroom. His gaze was suddenly riveted on

the small black trashcan that sat next to the door. Anger began to well up

within him. He was no longer in control.


He rushed to the bathroom, and dug angrily in the trashcan, fishing

out the Gideon Bible. He held it at arms length as if it were on fire, as

if there were some toxic substance upon it. Then he felt himself open the

book slowly. But he didn’t look at the words. His hands gripped both

sides of the book and with the last vestiges of his strength, he ripped it

in half.


He was breathing heavily now, though he didn’t notice it. There was

a crazed look upon his face. He dropped one half of the bible and took

hold of the other half with both hands and began to rip pages out wildly.

He was ripping, tearing and cursing at the top of his voice. He began to

throw the torn pages around the room madly, like a crazed man.


“It’s….NOT….REAL!” he screamed as he tore more pages and flung them

in desperate rage.


“You’re too much scotch, too much propaganda, too much advertising

and decorations,” he yelled, his eyes wild and dangerous. “You’re a

religious opiate. You’re…you’re…” grasping desperately for a word vile

enough to describe what he felt.


The he spied the TV humming. He didn’t even think about it, he took

the remaining half of the book and hurled it violently at the TV screen,

the symbol of so much of his misery tonight. The Bible hit the glass

screen squarely in the middle, shattering the glass and lodging there. The

picture that was suddenly coming into focus went out immediately. He

smiled cruelly. He had finally won.


But from the TV he heard the sound of voices, children’s voices.

There was music, fast paced music. The display was gone, but the machine

had not yet died. It could still let you listen. Ned shook his head

against the noise. He closed his eyes and turned his face away, but the

sound kept coming. Music was playing. More voices. Derisive laughter.

Suddenly he heard a little boy cry out despondently.


“Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is really all about?”


He heard another little boy answer quietly and confidently.


“Sure Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.

Lights please.”


Ned Phillips body suddenly went limp and he collapsed onto the bed,

his knees landing on the floor, his upper body resting on the bed. He knew

this story, he’d seen this movie. A Charlie Brown Christmas. He refused

to look in the direction of the TV, he just listened, his head down, his

eyes closed. The little boy started speaking again.


“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,

keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord

came upon them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them. And they

were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I

bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you

is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you, you shall find the babe wrapped in

swaddling clothes lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the

angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to

God in the highest and on earth, peace and good will toward men.” That’s

what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”


Suddenly the TV began smoking, and the noise cut out. It was the

last sound the set would ever make.


Ned Phillips sat quietly. As the child had spoken, his heart had

quit. His fight had ended. Someone was trying to tell him something. He

was too tired to fight it anymore.


A light began to flash upon his closed eyes. He knew what it was.

Slowly, he raised his head, and opened his eyes.


G


O


D



L


O


V


E


S



Y


O


U







N


E



D



GOD LOVES YOU N ED. The message flashed over and over again.

Ned’s eyes stared uncomprehendingly at the message. Over and over the

message repeated. Ned stared, his mouth open, his eyes dull. Finally, he

responded.


“What is this,” he whispered. “What’s going on? Please tell me,” he

pleaded.


He didn’t know who or what he was speaking to, but he knew without a

doubt that someone was there, someone was listening. He needed an answer.

The neon lights faded away and the room was again dimly lit.


Ned Phillips thought of the gun he would never use. He didn’t know

what was going on, he had no answers, there was no logical explanation to

satisfy him, but he had been shown that his life wasn’t over. As much as

he hated to think about it, hope had won. But what was happening? If he

wasn’t losing his mind, and he wasn’t certain that wasn’t the case, what

was happening to him?


“What’s going on?” he asked again, but respectfully this time.

“Please, tell me,” he asked. Suddenly the bright red neon lights were

flashing brightly again.


B


E


T


H


L


E


H


E


M



R


E


S


C


U


E



M


I


S


S


I


O


N


The message just kept repeating over and over, its red glare shining

on his confused face in the dimly lit room. He stared at it, furrowing his

brow in confusion. For several minutes the message flashed and he stood

staring at it dully. Then, like an electrical shock, he knew. He felt an

emotion more powerful than any he had felt all night. It was surprise.


BETHLEHEM RESCUE MISSION….BETHLEHEM RESCUE MISSION…BETHLEHEM RESCUE

MISSION…


“Oh my God,” Ned choked out.


A baby would be born in the town of Bethlehem who would be a Savior.

The story of Christmas was a Bethlehem Rescue Mission. The Bethlehem

Rescue Mission had been for him, Ned Phillips. All the parts finally came

together as an unexpected peace and joy flooded his soul, a feeling he

could not understand and a peace he had never experienced.


And in room 7 of the Atlas Motel, on Christmas Eve, Ned Phillips

didn’t die. Quite unexpectedly, Ned Phillips found Life.



young man looking pensive

bottom of page