Father's Day Short Story, “The Ambassador”
NOTE: Happy Father’s Day to the dads out there! As a reminder—HIDDEN HUMANITY is now OUT! And it is on sale for $0.99 through June 7! We are working on the paperback version right now, so it will be out soon as well! Thanks to our wonderful Beta Readers who helped make this book the best we could make it. You can read excerpts of their reviews inside the front page of the eBook. Also, if you’ve read the book, we would be so grateful if you would put your honest review online to help the book get more eyes on it. Thank you for your kindness to us! Now, here’s David—
Dear Friends, for Father's Day this year, I want to highlight our fathers who are faithful and sacrificial, even when no one else knows the magnitude of their love. Not all our fathers are believers in Jesus Christ, but the Bible reveals that the faith and behavior of family members leave an impression on others that may lead to their salvation (e.g., 1 Peter 3:1-2). I was blessed by God to have a loving, Christian father who mentored me as a believer, and I am grateful to the Lord to have a close relationship with him and my mom to this day.—David Telbat
Author's Note: The following story is completely fictional. This story is not based upon actual or factual people or locations.
by D.I. Telbat
Irem Hussein repeated a French phrase to her classroom of Arab-speaking women. At the tables, mothers, daughters, and sisters wore the traditional Muslim head covering, many of them hiding much of their faces in case a male walked through the door. After all, the only classroom available for the women's "submission class" was inside the local city mosque.
One young woman raised her hand and asked a question about French pronunciation. Irem knew the woman to be soft spoken in public, but in the classroom of twenty-two women, she showed herself to be a bright young woman, eager to receive all of Irem's instruction.
"Enough language training for today," Irem guided in Arabic. "Now, take out your paper files. Pick out two different colors for our next origami project. Today, I will teach you to make a flower you have not yet learned."
She walked up the aisle of students as the women excitedly chose various colors for the folding project. When she reached the front of the room again, she held up her own two paper selections. Slowly, she coached the women through a series of folds, repeating each step time and again.
"Good!" she praised, even though many of their flowers didn't look like flowers. The women before her had been barred from conventional education, but Irem had been approved to teach the women French and origami. "Now imagine how your efforts and these ornaments will beautify your homes and honor your husbands and families. Take out two more pieces of paper and repeat the process until you have it memorized and perfected. This new flower is something very precious you can teach your daughters and relatives in your own homes."
Irem guided one of the fumbling women through the folds. The poor young woman had a black eye from a recent beating from her husband. The women often arrived with bruises, sometimes even with a limp. However, Irem found that the women had grown in confidence as housekeepers and mothers as they'd attended her simple classes.
As carefully as possible, Irem encouraged them daily to endure their circumstances. When in private, she taught them about Jesus, or Isa, as He was known in Arabic. She told them that Jesus dearly loved them and had died for them, even though many of them were mistreated in this life.
The class ended, and two women approached Irem for extra French homework. Moments later, Irem was alone. She tidied up the room for the male education classes which took place most mornings.
"Irem, come here!"
She looked up to see her father, Abib Hussein, step discreetly into the room. He’d been a stern man during her youth. During her adult life, she'd joined him in a French speaking country as he’d been selected as an ambassador for their country. As the father of two rowdy boys, he'd needed a firm hand of discipline to keep Irem's older brothers in line. But in recent years, Abib had become a quiet, respected man in the community, one of the few with a Western education.
"Yes, Father?" Irem hurried to him.
From his tone, she expected his chastisement for some teaching infraction, but he'd never struck her, not like he had his second wife years earlier. Numerous times, she'd been questioned by an imam on what exactly she was teaching the women in the classroom since they weren't allowed a proper education. But Abib had been instrumental in convincing the elders that it would be to their families' benefit if Irem taught the women the French language and the paper-folding art.
Since Irem had become a follower of Jesus eleven years earlier, she knew that those she spoke to about her faith could report her. Monthly, she was warned by the imam that she restrict her instruction during classes to the two approved subjects alone. She lived under extreme caution, but did her best not to live in fear of the consequences of speaking for her Lord and Savior.
Abib was inches taller than she, and though she held her gaze low out of respect, she felt her father's eyes looking down on her.
"They are coming for you. You must leave immediately." He reached out and set a rough hand on her shoulder. "I've prepared transportation for you. I'll try to delay them."
Irem looked up into his eyes. She couldn't remember ever being touched by her father, not since she was a young child bouncing on his knee.
"Leave? I don't understand."
"Your cousin was caught with a Bible. They forced her to tell them who had given it to her."
Irem covered her mouth as a cry escaped. There was no point in denying she’d been evangelizing all the women in her circle, nor was there any point in asking who had forced her cousin to talk. Male relatives and community elders were all regulators of Sharia Law.
"You're . . . allowing me to leave?" Her voice broke. "Why?"
There were tears in his eyes—another gesture of love Irem had never before witnessed.
"I've known you were a follower of Isa for many years. I discovered your secret faith when you dropped your French book about eight years ago. You had Bible verses written in the margins."
"I remember that day." Irem wiped at her own eyes. "I was afraid you'd see what it was. But you knew?"
"I knew they were not verses from the Quran. I could not report my own daughter, so I searched out who had changed my daughter. I found the truth of Isa in the process. He has been my Lord ever since. He is the reason why I refused the mosque position last year, but I never told anyone."
"Father, I wish I had known!" She hung her head as she sobbed. "Father . . ."
"It was too dangerous at the time. Now, you must go. Quickly, Irem. Our friends will send you to a safe place."
He drew her by the arm out of the classroom.
"But they'll question you," Irem objected, "and they might accuse you!"
"Of course, they will!" he barked. "So, there's no point in both of us being caught. No more speaking."
Irem submitted to her father's forceful guidance out of the mosque's side door. There, a four-door vehicle waited with the trunk open. A stranger with a beard stood with his hand on the trunk. Before Irem climbed into the trunk, she glimpsed a veiled woman in the back seat of the car.
The trunk door slammed and Irem struggled to adjust to the darkness and fumes of gasoline. A pinhole of light held her gaze as the car sped away.
"Thank You!" she gasped in prayer. "Thank You!"
Fleeing her family, her life, and her past was not as painful as she expected. She'd suspected it might be necessary someday to run away, if she knew ahead of time that her faith had been detected. In her heart, she rejoiced rather than grieved. Her father was a believer! He was a follower of the God of the Bible!
In the darkness of the trunk, she prayed for his strength in the face of possible persecution. He might even be executed if his own faith was discovered, or publicly shamed for not hindering her evangelistic efforts. It would be discovered that she’d been privately sharing Jesus for years with many women in her neighborhood.
With wonder, she understood now that God had protected her through Abib Hussein and his own faith.
She had so many questions for her father, but those inquiries would have to wait until glory. Only one thing mattered now: she would see her father again in heaven!
NOTE: As Father’s Day approaches, check out David’s “Father’s Day Short Story Collection,”
available in both eBook and paperback versions with 20 short stories
to honor the fathers in our lives.
COMING UP: Join us next time (June 20) for David’s “Message for Fathers: Associate with the Lowly.”