“He is speaking to you. Please hear him!” Terrance a red-faced somewhat hefty middle-aged street preacher in an old black disintegrating windbreaker implored the crowd of pedestrians. “How much time do you think you have to atone? God is infinitely loving, but he is not infinitely patient. You may not have tomorrow to finally seek his forgiveness!”
They paid him no heed. Most deliberately avoided looking at him. They drowned him out with headphones or continued to focus on their digital handheld distractions. Devices Terrance referred to as the “Devil's Valium.”
The light changed, and the crowd crossed the street unaware they were walking off into eternal damnation. The street preacher sighed and shook his head. He brushed the snow accumulating on his sleeves and tattered unraveling winter hat and continued to spread the word.
Terrance Williams was a firm believer in fate. Everyone including himself was only following a timeline; each moment was another flash in a chain reaction that culminated into destiny. Every introspective of his life led him to the same obvious conclusion. Joining the Marines is how he unknowingly set in motion his personal journey into self-destruction. It was during his tour in Afghanistan he discovered heroin and that plunge into the depths of sin and depravity were the only way God could remake him from scratch into an iron vessel of divine truth. Terrance was stripped of everything so he could begin life anew a man with attached to nothing he could hide behind with no one who could cloud his judgment. Someone who had nothing to live for besides the service of his fellow man
Like doomsayers scattered across cities all over the world, Terrance was in Chicago pleading for someone to listen. Terrance was out on the streets every day rain or shine pleading with people to be saved. He stood by a sign that read “It’s not too late!” while he implored everyone he could to heed his warning. The response he got usually ranged from ambivalent to hostile. He was unshaken though knowing he would not be there if God hadn't intended for him to meet those he was destined to save. The number of those who he would help seek salvation was small but not insignificant. Some days no one would talk to Terrance or even take a pamphlet, but he could not be demoralized. Even though he mourned the far greater number of people, who laughed at him, spat at him, or just ignored him, lost souls who were oblivious to their impending obliteration he saw every day as a victory.
Terrance knew that god’s tests of faith weren’t always as obvious as say, sickness, hunger, or the torments of the savage winters that lingered for month after sunless month. In the day to day, God’s touch is often more subtle. Rebekah Phillips had recently moved to the city for her first year at a private university nestled away somewhere in the skyline. To Rebekah all of the things alluring about the city were the very same aspects, Terrance found repulsive and disconcerting. It was only in such a place the upper-middle-class liberal arts major and the born again combat marine might ever cross paths.
She was meeting up with her roommate so they could pick out a record player for their apartment. They both agreed it was the first thing they needed to make their newest temporary home a suitable place to host mutual friends. Her waifish frame was bundled up in a fashionable peacoat, her light blond hair spilled out from under the knit cap that covered her ears, and a checkered pattern scarf was wrapped around her rosy frost kissed cheeks. She tucked her clenched hands in her pockets and held her down below her shoulders to trying to shield her face from the stinging snow being stirred up by the gusting wind. Terrance preached so loudly she could hear him over the maelstrom of the downtown lunch rush.
“Please, brothers and sisters there won’t be any Zoar to run to this time. God is saving his wrath not just for a single city or country but for the entire world! Don’t naively believe you can live as you are and impress the Lord with a last minute change! Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee!
The light display was counting down the seconds before the light changed. She had just five seconds to get across before she would find herself stuck on Terrance’s corner having to spend the next thirty seconds listening to his ranting gospel. She tried to speed up but between her boots and the snow covered sidewalk it was apparent, she wasn’t going to make it in time.
“Oh shit,” she muttered.
Worse yet it was a light crowd waiting at the light. Rebekah did her best to try and cocoon herself in the center of the bunch where Terrance wouldn't be able to make eye contact, but it was no use.
“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God, Corinthians! I know these are the times we live in, but he gave us a choice. He can only save you if you let him!”
Rebekah hoped she could just ignore him, but now anger was getting the better of her. She had convictions of her own, and one of those was hateful, backward men like Terrance cannot be allowed to ruin the 21st century!
“If people who drink and have sex are going to hell then you’re going to be really lonely in heaven buddy,” she snapped.
To her surprise, Terrance’s responded with a friendly smile. “Hello miss my name is Terrance,” he said extending a hand.
“Who are you to tell people they deserve to be punished for the life they choose to lead?” Rebekah asked.
“I don’t say anything. It is our Creator who has a plan for us,” Terrance explained.
“His plan is burning all the gay people right?” Rebekah said acidly.
“God created man AND woman,” Terrance emphasized. “I don’t think he could have made it more clear what his intents were,” replied Terrance.
“What are you even doing out here? No one wants to hear your bullshit!” Rebekah snarled. “Everyones sick of people like you using fear to push their beliefs on the rest of us.”
“I don’t want to push anything on anyone. I’m out here because I care what happens to people, even you. If people want to listen or not is their choice,” said Terrance.
“Yeah right well if you care about people then shut the fuck up,” Rebekah huffed.
“Miss, do you believe in climate change?” Terrance asked.
“What does climate change have to do with anything?” Rebekah asked suspiciously.
“Do you believe it’s real?” Terrance asked again.
“Well seeing as how I’m educated yes, yes I do believe in man-made climate change, but I don’t have time to have that debate with you!” Rebekah snapped.
“Well, then why aren’t you out here trying to warn everyone what’s going to happen to them if they don’t change their ways?” Terrance asked.
Rebekah felt her face flush. “Get the hell away from me,” she hissed.
“Faith without action is dead,” said Terrance. He turned away from Rebekah and started to preach to the next bunch of people walking by. God routinely challenges the faith of even his most dedicated followers, but apparently today he decided to go easy on his ever faithful Terrance.