Clicking. I could hear it, the constant noise hammering away at my eardrums. Uneven in rhythm, it played at my senses. A bubble of frustration rose in my chest. Why wouldn’t it just stop? Just go away? I let out a small growl into the darkness. The cold was seeping into my bones, the only heat coming from my faith, my hope. A hope that was being constantly challenged.
I sat, restrained and bound, on an old wooden chair. In front of me, stood a solid metal table. The room was small and damp, designed to entice fear. In my head, I could see their faces. The ones who had captured me, locked me up because of my faith.
The clicking continued. My frustration grew. My growl, turned into an insistent scream. How many days had I been here? How many nights had I gone without sleep? I closed my eyes and began to pray. My head began to clear and my frustration disappeared in waves. Taking a deep breath, I began to feel calm.
The solid metal door slowly swung open. In stepped two solidly built men. The first, slightly taller and with darker hair, wore a menacing look. Silently, he walked over to my chair, and loosened my bonds, until I was able to stand and slip my hands over the back of the chair. With rough hands, he grabbed me and directed me to the door with a harsh shove.
We stepped out into a dark corridor, the cracks on the stone floor jutting up in places. I knew where we were headed. The same place the three others had been taken before me. As we walked, the clicking grew louder. But it had a constant rhythm now, an almost pleasant noise. The one holding my wrists let out a soft grunt. The clicking ceased. Without time to think about what had just happened, I was pushed through another solid door, greeted only by silent darkness. It was even colder in here, but I could tell the open space was much larger. I was pushed into a cell, my bonds removed and the barred door closed and locked.
With another grunt, the two males turned around and walked back through the door, closing it behind them. The silence was deafening.
“Hello?” I called into the darkness. The response that came, startled me to near death. A total of 14 voices called back to me. Each taking their turn to greet me, and tell me their name. I sat there, stunned. I told them my name and asked the only question that came to mind.
“Are you all here because of your faith?” A synchronised yes, came flooding back. I just closed my eyes. Grief assaulted me, and a tear slid down my cheek. Why had He let this happen? All we wanted was to get His message to the people that needed it most. Instead we had been woken in the middle of the night, snatched from our cots and forced into an old SUV van. That was days ago, now here we sat, in a cell.
The one that introduced herself as Sara, spoke first.
“I believe God has a purpose for us being here. He must know how we are feeling, how it hurts us that he let us be here, but he must have a plan. Some sort of goal.”
Another said, “It’s no wonder people loose their hope in this country. How can you believe in the grace of God, when this is what awaits them if they show any sign of faith?”
I shook my head. “It is just a test. He needs to know we are in this for the right reasons. What better way to do that, then stick us in a dark cell?”
What I didn’t admit, was that I found my hope was dwindling too.
I mean, what could become of this? There was no hope of escape, others had already tried that, and been killed for it. I got up and moved around, testing the area of my cell. I guessed it was about three meters squared. Next, I tested for any loose bars, but, as I figured, I had no luck.
Days turned into weeks, and nothing changed. Nothing apart from the numbers in our cells. More people joined us, and a routine began to form. We were fed cold rations, twice a day. Every other day, we were led out into a courtyard, almost like in the maximum security prisons, and allowed and hour of sunshine. The bread was stale and the water tasted unclean. Most began complaining, and prayers of hurt and betrayal could be heard almost constantly. Once in a while, a single person would be taken away, and not return. All that was left to do, was wonder and fade.
It went on like this for weeks, maybe months, and my cellmates reached an all time low. I kept praying, hoping, but nothing would help them, and I felt my own spirit plummeting. As I sat there, late at night with my back against the cold stone wall, an old primary school song came back to me. It was one of my favourites, always running around in my head when I was little.
I began to hum softly, trying to remember the lyrics of faith. The woman in the cell next to mine joined in, her lovely melody blending with my own. Turned out, she knew the song too. Chills spread over my skin, as happy memories of friends and praise flooded me. My humming grew louder, and so did hers. Soon, the lyrics came to mind, and I began to sing. The woman changed her tone, and waited a couple seconds before she began to sing in rounds.
Others began to pick up the tune, joining in at the chorus, and humming the verses, until soon the song was known by all. The song picked up momentum, and people started clicking their fingers. Clicking. That noise was so familiar. Then it hit me, the clicking I had heard the first few nights I had been here, had been keeping the beat to songs of praise.
The clicking soon gave way to clapping, and shouts of joy were able to be heard over the melody of the song. People began to pray, others cried tears. All of our energy was focused on God. The most important thing, the one we had forgotten. As the song reached it’s peak, it was obvious that Sara had been right. God had a bigger plan. And just then, as the chorus ended, we knew that somehow, it would all work out.