Mafia Hit Man On Campus
By Bob W.
Sabbath services were usually a time of songs, some laughter, study, and boredom beyond description. Occasionally the boredom could be broken up by watching the deacons, especially if you sat in the back of the gym, and the activity they generated during services was amazing. They were always getting up and down, going here and there, doing whatever it is that deacons do during services, which was obviously not listening to the sermon. Seems as though they were in constant motion, watching, checking and observing.
It was not uncommon to see them escort someone who just walked in off the street, right out the door. Guest were not welcome, period and no exceptions! I have even seen the deacons physically pick an individual up and carry them right out the front door. Letting them politely but firmly know that this was a private service and visitors were not welcome. However if they wanted to talk to a minister........
On this particular Sabbath day HWA was there to give his typical sermon ....Why are you here.... 50% of you people are not going to make it into the kingdom.... you need to pray more....... give more..... It was the kind of sermon that left us feeling very insecure and uncertain of our relationship with our God. Because no matter how much we did, it was never enough.
The law is God prohibiting and requiring; grace is God beseeching and bestowing. The law is a ministry of condemnation; grace of forgiveness. The law curses; grace redeems from the curse. The law kills; grace makes alive. The law shuts every mouth before God; grace opens every mouth to praise Him. The law says, "Hate thine enemy"; grace says, "Love your enemies and pray for them."
As usual the sermon made everyone just a little antsy and uncomfortable. But we were told, being uncomfortable, is what generates growth and maturity. When in reality it generates bigotry and indifference. It reminds me of the definition of a religious bigot: One who hates all other religions, other than his own, equally but separately. That description fits the church to a "T" under the rulership, oops, leadership of HWA.
Stop and think about it for a moment. We even used cute clich‚s such as, "Ahead of the rest, not instead of the rest."....But now I am getting away from my story, so I shall leave this trend of thought for now....Back to the Mafia on campus....
HWA was well into his sermon when in the back of the gym, services were held for all HQ personnel in the gym before the auditorium was built, the deacons were getting ready to escort a suspicious looking individual out of the gym and into the lobby area. They were obviously concerned, stressed and upset.
Their facial expressions seem to indicate they felt they were about to encounter some serious problems with this individual. Looking back at the situation I can honestly say they thought they might die. And I sincerely mean it when I say it was very courageous of them to be willing to give up their lives to save another. In spite of it all, in their hearts, they were willing to give the ultimate sacrifice. This is truly a Christ like attribute.
The man they were concerned about was tall and thin and presented a very indomitable image. By his appearance, he was not the type that you would want to provoke. He was dressed in a black pinstriped suit, white shirt and black tie. He was wearing black wing tipped shoes, highly polished. He wore a white hat with a black band, which he held in one hand, and he carried a violin case in the other, a very specious looking violin case....the deacons were deeply concerned, they thought he was a hit man for the Mafia. No, they were convinced he was a hit man, and that he had a gun in the violin case. They just knew he was there to kill HWA. (HWA received death threats by the hundreds.) Trying to hide their concern with this intruder they very gently move toward him and being as cheerful as possible they escorted him out into the lobby while they waited for security to arrive.
They talked with him for a moment or two, the kind of talk where one rambles on and says nothing. Deacons were good at doing this. They found him to be friendly enough, not hostile at all. But they knew that the Mafia would sometimes project an innocent demeanor while sizing up the situation. One of the deacons made a bold move and admiringly asked him about his violin case. The other deacons were obviously tense, in fact the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Their biggest concern was that this stranger actually had a machine gun inside the violin case. They stood ready to jump him at the slightest false move and sacrifice their lives, if necessary to save god's apostle.
The head deacon boldly asked if he could see the violin. The man looked questionably at the him, and being puzzled about his intent, he hesitated several moments because of the unusual request. His hesitation added an enormous amount of stress to an already difficult situation. He began to slowly and cautiously open the case... To the gasp of the deacons, inside was, of all things, a beautiful violin. It was not a rare, or for that matter a valuable violin. It was simply one that the owner cherished and treasured. Upon closer inspection, because even at the obvious, the deacons were suspicious, no other weapons were found, either in the case or on the person of the suspect.. There was a huge sigh of relief when they realized that he was not a Mafia hit man, just some weird country bumpkin from some obscure place in Montana.
As it turned out the man had just moved to Pasadena and was to start work at AC on the following Monday. He had arrived at the campus just a short time before, and was late for the starting of services. Because he was late and since he was not able to lock his car he brought his most valuable possession in with him, his violin.
It just goes to show you that if you dress the part, and set up a positive front you can fool almost anyone....HWA did it to each of us for years! We swallowed it hook line and sinker. In the case of mistaken identity, the individual was a kind hearted and friendly person. HWA, well we can let his record testify to his greatness, gentleness and kindness, or should I say the lack of it.
Life on campus was full of the unusual and sometimes remarkable events. And just about the time you thought you had seen it all........
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