Olive Branches, Chapter 18

This chapter was written by CooldudeforJesus!

Thursday, September 10 – Timmy Macdonald

“Ahhhhh, home sweet home,” I sighed as I saw my house next to the road. I’d better hurry before Cole gets home and starts blabbing about my meeting with Mae yesterday. I open the door and slam it behind me. 

“HEYYYY!!!”

Whoops. That was a little bit too hasty. I open the door and let my brother in. As soon as he drops his backpack next to the door, he runs into the kitchen, yelling, “MOM!! Guess what!? I saw Tim having a– OWW!!” 

Just at the critical moment I stomp on his foot. Now, if you know me, when I stamp on somebody’s toe, it is NOT something to joke about.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, what’s all the fuss about?” my mom asks.

“Tim just– Owww! Stop it!” 

“Mom, he has been kinda prying into my affairs lately, so could you please just not listen to him?” I say.

“Ok, but let your brother finish talking,” she says.

“But mom, the thing he is going to tell you is not what the truth is, and even if it were, I still kinda wouldn’t want to tell you.”

“Ok, but–”

“Mom,” I say, slightly exasperated, “Just know this: I’m not in trouble, but it’s just something private, ok?”

“Ok, Tim, whatever it is, just be careful.”

“Ok, Mom.”

Cole huffs and storms up the stairs to his room.

Whatever, I think. I’ll go out for a walk later so I at least don’t get pestered.

5 minutes later. . .

As I walk down the street, I think; What should I do; should I try to find Omari’s house or just walk around? Maybe I’ll just walk around. I see a seemingly uninteresting alley, but there is something that draws me in. Maybe I’ll check this out, I think as I walk around. I follow the street, never turning at intersections. The street twists and turns until I’m almost dizzy. Then I hear voices. I know what this means, I thought. Now, I know you’ll think I’m paranoid, but when you’ve been in a gang for about a year, like me, you know what you get when you combine a dark, seedy alley with gruff, hushed voices. . .

A gang.

I want to find out who they are, so I stealthily creep closer, Indian fashion, removing sticks and gravel that might make noises. I hug the ground, keeping in the shadow of a building, and peep around the corner. What I see shocks me. 

In the orange-yellow light of a burning trash barrel, four teens are talking. I can distinctly hear them talking about a rival gang that they hope to have revenge on. But that’s the least of my cares. What shocks me most is that I recognize Thad among the motley group. I discreetly retreat, then try to make a plan. I don’t want Thad to get in trouble, but I have to talk to him, I think.

I slowly backpedal, never turning my eyes away from them until I’m in the shadow of the building I hid in earlier. Then I slowly turn around and saunter away, my skateboarding shoes crunching in the gravel. After walking for a while, I sense that someone is following me. Another great skill, also learned from being in a gang. I silently walk on until I think I’m out of range of hearing from the gang. Then I quickly whirl around, catching Thad’s throat and gagging him with my handkerchief. Then I drag him further away, then unbind his mouth, still keeping hold of his arm, and throwing back my cap. 

“Wha– what?” Thad stammers.

“It’s me, Tim, Thad.”

He looks down, crestfallen, but with a rebellious look on his face.

“I don’t know why I am like this!” he exclaims. “If you knew how no one cares! It’s worthless for you to come and risk your life for me! There’s no hope for me!”

“But you yourself didn’t know that I care about you,” I say. “No, even God cares about you.”

“Ha! God! If He really cared, my life wouldn’t be such a mess!”

Then he quietly proceeds to tell me about why he hates God. He tells me about his history, how he came here and everything.

“So that’s why I hate God!” he says. “It’s His fault! There’s no hope for me!”

There’s no hope for me. How familiar those words are to me. Then I am struck with a desire to tell him about my life; how I said those words, but was saved.

“Thad.”

“Yeah.”

“I know how you feel.”

“Yeah, right.”

“No, really. I used to be like you.”

He looks at me incredulously. “You? You? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“No, I’m serious. I used to do the things you’ve been doing.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”  

Then I tell him about how I became a Christian. As I talk, my mind wanders back to last year; in Montana. . .

****

“Yeah, that’s right! Pin him down!” I boisterously laughed. 

I was the second-in-command of a gang named  the “Fighting Eagles.” We were called that ‘cause the gang leaders (including me) had a screaming bald eagle on our black shirts. We had just ambushed and caught a man whom we thought had a lot of money. After taking his wallet and briefcase, we threatened him not to tell the police or he would be sorry. Living in Miles City, the 20th most dangerous town in Montana, I had joined one of the best fighting gangs in town. I had worked my way up, eventually becoming the second-in-command; partly due to my muscular body, and partly because I knew how to fight well. Well, one day I’d gotten in trouble because my dad somehow found out what I was doing and gave me a big ol’ lecture interspersed with angry exclamations. I got really angry and stormed out of the house. Somehow I walked to the church without even knowing it and just kneeled there right in front of the building fighting back tears. I thought, Why am I here? What is my purpose? Am I really worth anything?. . .

As these and other thoughts swarmed around in my brain, I heard a voice and felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned my head and saw the pastor, the person I probably hated the most. But now I felt that he was my greatest friend. 

Instead of lecturing me, he told me two — just two! — words that changed my life forever.

“Jesus saves.”

I said, “How!?!?”

“Come with me.”

Then for the next 3-4 hours he taught me all about God, why He came here, why He died, what He taught, and finally, why He cares. And right there in that parking lot, we knelt together and prayed. Right then, I accepted Christ as my Saviour. When I got up, I now felt that I didn’t need a gang. I’d found the most important person of my life.

More important than a gang.

More important than even the pastor.

My best friend. . .

JESUS

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Olive Branches, Chapter 18

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