by Miles Rost
The hut in the middle of the flat expanse of “wilderness” was a tough place for a missionary to live. For Rene, however, it was the place that he called home. It was the place where he was able to meditate and to craft his work for sale. It was the place where he could study, and when he wasn’t working, he could leave and go teach the Word among those who were lost.
It was a hard road for him. Originally from France, he grew up in the tough lands of Algeria and in the palatial estates of Nice. Sand in his skin, and grit in his mind, it took the saving grace of Christ and a couple of good friends to get him where he was able to be of some good. And his place as a missionary took him to the lands of Patagonia. He lived in his hut for many years, and did his work as a maker of threads and cloth. If one asked him how many people he saved, he would say “I have saved none, and gave the Word to everyone I met in Patagonia. That’s all.”
However, it was time to go back to his old home. He had to go back to Algeria, then to France. He had to bury his parents, who had passed on one after each other. With no other siblings, he was the last of his family’s line. And at age 35, if he was going to continue with the family line, he would need to get married.
He landed in Paris, and took a train from Paris to Nice, where his parents lived. Many of the people in the neighborhood where his parents lived, they remembered young Rene. A spitfire of a boy, they would call him. Today, they looked at him as a stranger, and upon recognizing him, he would be looked on with a slight bit of disgust at what he had done in the many years away from there. He did not mesh well there, and people would keep asking him why he was there.
After a few days of getting re-acclaimated, the time came to bury his mom and dad. Everyone in the church, staid and stoic people who weren’t necessarily believers, but were there out of respect, waited for Rene to give the eulogy. And as he stood and walked up to the pulpit, he seemed tired. He unrolled his paper, and cleared his throat to speak.
“As most of you probably know, I’ve been living in a hut for many years. I have lived among the people of Patagonia, away from my mother and my father. I had a spark of life to light my way, put there by both of my parents, of whose light has gone from this Earth. They raised me to be a loving son, and while some here may not think so much because of what has happened in the last few years, I can state that my parents did not leave this Earth regretting what their son has done.”
He took in a breath, and proceeded to let the hounds loose.
“I still believe. I still believe! Through this pain, and through these tears! Through the lies I hear around here, and through the storms that the people in this town create. Through the cries and the words of war, no matter what the people here say, I still believe!”
He wipe a tear from his face, and continued to speak.
“My mother and father, they cared for The Lord. They didn’t say much, but their lives said everything! Their faith was evidenced in how they took care of their friends, and how the people of Nice paid them back with scorn! While I was away, my mother and father did what the Lord would want them to do, and in the days I have been here, I have seen with how much regard they have been given by everyone. There has been very little!”
He wound himself up in his mind, and let go with passion and fervor.
“You white-washed walls! You claim to be here to honor my parents’ memory, and yet you spit on their contribution to a better land. You mock how they raised their son, and the Lord that they worship! For people like us, and in places like this, we need all the hope that we can get! I can see why this town, this country, are doing very poorly in faith! There is no hope among you!”
He took in a breath, and made his final statement.
“My parents will be laid to rest on the hills outside of this city. Their bodies will decay and rot, and will feed the earth once more. Their souls, their true being, are with Christ my Lord right now. If any of you were actually touched by my parents and what they had done in Christ’s name, you will do as they did: Believe in the Lord with their heart, minister to those who need it, and for all that is holy and righteous, shut your mouth and stop being a bunch of gossiping busybodies! That is all.”
He took his paper, walked down the aisle, and sat back in the pew. For a good long while he sat, and waited. He waited for them to come at him screaming about being insulted.
All he received from them was indifference, which reminded him of the last thing he saw as he boarded the plane at Charles de Gaulle, bound for Buenos Aires, then to Asuncion.
He saw an old man turn his back from his son, who was crying as he was carried aboard another plane at a neighboring gate.