Joshua in a Troubled World: A Story for Our Time

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9780385511827: Joshua in a Troubled World: A Story for Our Time
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The bestselling Joshua series takes an invigorating, timely new turn as Girzone’s beloved hero spreads his message of love and compassion from the streets of our nation’s capital to the blood-soaked lands of the Middle East.

Joseph Girzone possesses a unique ability to make Jesus’ words and actions come to life for contemporary audiences. His fictional depictions of Jesus’ return to the present-day world—the Joshua series—have inspired millions of readers. Joshua in a Troubled World is at once a magnificent continuation of his perennially popular series and an enlightening perspective on the political paranoia and destructive acts of vengeance that fill the front pages of our daily newspapers.

Arriving in Washington, D.C., Joshua walks along Pennsylvania Avenue with a cool detachment and determination that sets him apart from the bustling crowds. Under ordinary circumstances, he would no doubt be seen simply as a man wrapped in his own thoughts. But in these security-obsessed times, his Middle Eastern appearance and his spontaneous stops at various churches, temples, and mosques inevitably arouse suspicions. Taken into custody by two government agents, Joshua challenges the legal and moral justness of their actions and they reluctantly release him to continue his mission. It is the most difficult and controversial mission he has ever undertaken—a plan to unite Arab- and Jewish-Americans and to work with them to resolve the bitter wars and religious animosities in the Middle East.

Peopled with prominent figures such as Ariel Sharon, and moving from Washington to Beirut and then to Oslo while the peace accords are being hammered out, Joshua in a Troubled World explores the most explosive issues of our day and offers a realistic, compassionate assessment of the things that divide us and the beliefs that can serve as a foundation for a new, more peaceful world.

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About the Author:

JOSEPH F. GIRZONE retired from the active priesthood in 1981 and embarked on a second career as a writer and speaker. In 1995 he established the Joshua Foundation, an organization dedicated to making Jesus better known throughout the world. His bestselling books include Joshua, A Portrait of Jesus, and Never Alone. He lives in Altamont, New York.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

chapter 1

Pennsylvania avenue was flowing with pedestrians crisscrossing in every direction like a floating colony of ants. Busy and confusing as it was to the casual eye, one man in that vast crowd stood out. Calm, detached from all around him, he walked with determination. Under ordinary circumstances he would appear as just different, but in the current heavy atmosphere of political paranoia, the man’s Middle Eastern appearance set him apart as possibly sinister. Though poorly dressed, he did not seem like a homeless beggar. His resolute gaze indicated he was a man with a purpose. What kind of purpose? Who was he? Where was he from? What was he doing at this particular time in Washington, D.C.? What made him stand out was his total lack of interest in the sights. Ordinary visitors gawked in every direction, unwilling to miss anything. This man appeared disinterested in everything around him. His detachment caused wonder and aroused suspicion in anyone whose concern was the security of the area. As the stranger walked closer and closer to the White House, he was approached by two neatly dressed men who asked for his identification. Of course, Joshua had none.

“I think you better come with us,” one of them said, flashing his badge as a government agent.

“Why, what have I done?” Joshua asked with a calm, confused look.

“Never mind! Just come with us and don’t give us any trouble.”

As the three walked along, the younger of the two asked Joshua how long he had been in Washington. “I just arrived,” was the quick reply.

“Where did you come from?” was the next question.

Joshua’s vague response told them nothing, increasing their suspicion. A black Ford pulled up along the curb. The driver emerged and opened the rear door. The two men directed Joshua to get in, then took their places on either side of him as the car sped off down the street to an FBI office.

Dan Halloran had been working for the Bureau for a little over a year, having finished his law degree at Georgetown just a few months before. His father had been in the military, spending his last years as a briefing officer at the Pentagon, so they had connections enough to find good positions for family members. Dan was dedicated to his new assignment of monitoring approaches to the White House. Like his father, he was clean-cut, rigid, seeing life in black and white, with no possibility of shades in between. His partner, Tom Clark, was older. He had been an agent for over ten years and was slightly more casual in the performance of his assigned duties, at least as casual as the agency’s discipline would allow.

Sitting on one side of the table with Joshua sitting across from them, the two men interrogated him.

“You said your name was Joshua?” Dan Halloran asked him.

“Yes.”

“What is your last name?” the agent continued.

“I rarely use my last name,” Joshua replied.

“I don’t care whether you use it or not. What is it?”

“Ben-Youssef.”

“Is that Palestinian?” Tom Clark asked him.

“No, the name is Hebrew.”

“Hebrew? Sounds Arabic to me. Are you an American citizen?”

“I belong here, if that is what you are asking.”

“Answer the question,” Dan insisted. “Are you an American? Do you have an American passport?”

“I never needed one.”

“What is your nationality?” Dan asked impatiently, realizing this was not going to be an easy day.

“I have no nationality. I am a member of every family.”

“Then you’re an illegal alien?”

“That is your term. I am not illegal, nor am I here illegally. I have been here long before you were born.”

“Are you just being difficult? Or are you hiding something?” Tom interjected.

“I am hiding nothing. You are the ones who picked me off the street although I had done nothing wrong and have no intention of doing harm to anyone. Why do you suspect me? Because I am poor? Because I look like someone you prejudge to be evil? If I have done nothing wrong, then why do you interrogate me? You are the ones who are doing what is unjust, profiling people because of the way they look and the clothes they wear. Fear does terrible things to people, pushing ordinarily normal people into doing things that would be unthinkable in ordinary times. I am surprised and saddened that this could happen in this beautiful country.”

“Since you cannot prove your citizenship, you must be here illegally,” Dan continued with mounting frustration.

“How many people walking down Pennsylvania Avenue carry with them proof of citizenship? I am not alien to America. I have always been here, and I will always be here. Unless you can prove that I am an illegal alien, I ask that you release me.”

Realizing that they were getting nowhere and that the man was right in saying they had no legal cause to hold him, they fingerprinted him, took his name, declined to demand his Social Security number, since it would be futile anyway, and released him. However, for the whole period of Joshua’s stay, he was shadowed everywhere he went. His every movement was watched and recorded, his every word written down.

Joshua continued wandering through the city, casually enjoying the sights as he walked along, but without appearing to be a tourist stretching his neck to miss nothing. His real purpose was to meet certain individuals, and even though he had been sidetracked by his arrest, he knew just where he had to be and at precisely what times he should be there. Even this apparently unforeseen incident had been taken into consideration.

Joshua’s encounter with the police plainly evidenced the threatening atmosphere pervading the country. It was not always like that, only during times of national stress when people’s basic human rights are often trampled, and the lives of so many innocent people are destroyed, and their reputations and businesses are ruined by the all-pervasive paranoia. Certain government officials will have their way for a few years, then the people come to their senses and realize they have been blinded by zealots whose obsession threatens the rights of everyone. Then the life of the nation drifts back to normal. Hopefully this current obsession would also pass before it did more damage to people than the evil it was trying to prevent.

Continuing his walk around the city, Joshua turned up North Capitol, stopping at St. Aloysius Gonzaga, an old Jesuit church in the heart of the city. Knowing he was being followed, he gave no heed, for he had a much better surveillance system that made it possible for him to be always a giant step ahead of them. After entering the church, he looked around and spotted a man halfway up the middle aisle. He was kneeling with bowed head, deep in prayer. Joshua approached and tapped him on the shoulder. Startled, the man turned and looked up.

“Yes, what do you want?” the man asked in a deep, brusque voice.

“I have come to answer your prayer,” Joshua replied.

“How do you know what I was praying for?”

“You are praying for your son. You are worried about him because of the company he has been keeping lately.”

“What is it you have to tell me? But, first of all, who are you? What is your name?”

“My name is Joshua. And I know your son well. He is a good boy, and you are afraid that he is mixed up in something that will bring him harm and will bring shame upon your family. You are afraid something terrible is going to happen to him.”

“How do you know all these things? I have never told a soul.”

“I understand. But I tell you your son is protected from above. Nothing evil will befall him. He is disturbed over the plight of your people and wants to do something heroic, but he has innocently approached the wrong people.”

“Sir, you are right. I know what you are saying. That is why I am so afraid. I have heard of those people. I grew up with some of them, but they are nothing like our family. We are a good, honest people, and hardworking. My son has always been a good boy. I pray to God that nothing will happen to him.”

The man extended his hand to Joshua. “My name is Benyamin. I came here years ago to escape trouble in my country. Bethlehem, where I lived, was supposed to be a city of peace, but we have never known a day of peace. I thought that if I brought my family here, we would find peace. For a while we did, but now it is all turning sour, and I am afraid things will get worse. People follow us because we look suspicious and our names are strange, and because we came from Palestine.”

“Benyamin, do not worry! I know you well. You and your family are people of deep faith. God has something very special for your son to do. Do not worry about him! God has answered your prayers. Your son will be safe.”

“How do you know?” the man asked.

“I know. Trust me. Go home and tell your wife to be at peace. All will be well with your son.”

“I don’t know who you are, sir, or how you know, but you already make me feel at peace,” the man said as tears began to flow down his cheeks.

As Joshua turned to leave the church, the man continued his prayers, this time thanking God for all His goodness.

As soon as Joshua stepped outside, he noticed the two agents casually watching from across the street. It brought back memories of days of old, when scribes and Pharisees and their henchmen followed him everywhere he went, jotting notes, cataloging his every move and everything he said and the names of the people close to him. He knew that this would be even more ...

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