"Six months! It's not much time to reach half a billion people, is it?"

 

John Doorman was talking to Raymie Strait as they winged their way from London to Johannesburg, in South Africa.

 

But Raymie's head was a cauldron of other thoughts and emotions at that particular moment.

 

His mother -- Irene as he now called her -- had not taken his departure well. She didn't think he was ready for such a task; but Rayford... (Raymie liked the idea of his parents being spiritual brother and sister now.) Rayford had defended Raymie, reminding Irene of how much the boy had matured in the past year and a half.

 

Raymie felt sad for Irene. He knew that he still secretly felt like the little boy that she imagined him to be. But he was also thrilled about being trusted by his father with so much responsibility at such a young age, and he wanted to prove himself worthy of it.

 

Here he was, only fifteen years old, and acting as technical advisor to one of the world's twelve tribal judges. Who could have believed that the spoiled little brat who whined at the slightest inconvenience prior to the collapse of America was now an important leader in a worldwide religious movement!

 

Rayford's words came back to him. "You can do it, Raymie, as long as you remember each step of the way that you can't do it... not without God's help."

 

"Help me to remember that," he prayed for about the hundredth time since he had been designated to travel with John.

 

John Doorman had never had children of his own. He had never even been married. But he liked Raymie, and he showed a genuine concern for the boy's welfare. That was one of the factors that prompted Rayford to release Raymie into John's care. Together John and Raymie had been given the task of finding 12,000 genuine believers in the countries that made up Southern Africa and West Africa.

 

John's comment, echoing inside Raymie's sub-conscious, finally caught up with him, and Raymie responded.

 

"Yeah. It is a very big job, isn't it?" he said. "But we can do it, remember? We can do it if we just remember that we can't do it without God's help."

 

John nodded agreement, paused for a moment to ponder the truth in what Raymie had just said, and then went on:

 

"I have some ideas, Raymie," he said, pulling a small notebook out of his shirt pocket. "I want to get your thoughts on them."

 

One of the things that Raymie liked most about John was that he treated him like an adult, at least when it came to spiritual matters. Since John had learned to listen to others, he regarded Raymie as he did the other members of the Twelve Tribes, as a spiritual brother.

 

John's plan, as he explained it to Raymie, was to set up four separate bases in Johannesburg, one for translators, one for teaching, one for printing and distribution, and finally, an administrative and communication centre where he and Raymie would work.

 

"Sounds good to me," Raymie said.

 

"But it could take us six months just to train our first set of workers," the former Jehovah's Witness missionary lamented. "And we'll need hundreds of teams like that before we're finished."

 

"Remember what Dad... I mean, what Rayford said about us just being judges?" Raymie asked. "I think it means that we don't really have to teach everyone. God'll teach them if we just sorta make ourselves available."

 

Raymie patted the briefcase he was still holding in his lap. In it were the studies that Rayford had sent with each of the six teams.

 

"There's a lotta good teaching in here about listening to God, and about listening to one another. You 'member how you guys learned so fast from each other when you stopped being religious? We just gotta get them to do that too."

 

John didn't want to say anything to discourage Raymie, but unless he could duplicate Rayford's "big bang", as the group had come to call the explosion in Neville's lounge room, he was doubtful about his ability to get people to "stop being religious" as Raymie so aptly put it. He too whispered a prayer under his breath.

 

They were met at the airport by two married couples and two single men. Moses and Rebecca Mhlongo were in their late twenties, and had two small children, six-year-old Lebo, and Miriam, who was just over a year old. Ringo and Sylvia Laka were a middle-aged couple from Nigeria, but they had travelled to Johannesburg to link up with the others. Abdullah Ibrahim and Marcus Pietersen were both single, both from Johannesburg, and both in their early thirties. Only Marcus was of European descent. The others were all native Africans, and each had some knowledge of at least one native language.

 

When everyone had been introduced, and a few comments had been made about the flight from London, they climbed into two vehicles for the half hour drive to the communal apartment where they were all living.

 

On the way, John and Raymie learned that all six of the new recruits to their tribe (the tribe of Manasseh) had sold their possessions and put their wealth into a common purse. They had just moved into the three-bedroom apartment, which Abdullah, a government scientist until a few weeks ago, had previously been living in on his own.

 

John was keen to get started, so when they arrived, he launched straight into a business meeting, starting with questions about how the believers, who represented several different denominational and religious backgrounds, were dealing with their differences.

 

"Some problems were there on starting," confessed Abdullah in a strong Indian accent. "We were seven at first, but one woman was going when things were not as she wanted. Allah showed that we too would end up like her if we did not learn to listen to one another; so that is what we did. We simply listened."

 

John looked over at Raymie, who just smiled knowingly. "Well, thank God for that," he said. "Now if we can just find 11,992 more recruits like you people in the next six months!"

 

Rayford had concluded that the Temple in Jerusalem was going to take 220 days to complete, and he believed that it would take an equal period of time for each of the Twelve Tribes to come together as well. The others listened intently as John explained this theory to them, and they too were overwhelmed with the task that had been set out for them.

 

John then went on to explain his plan for four bases in each major city.

 

 

Fortunately there was more than enough cash from what each had received for their possessions, to rent four apartments, buy a truck, and get the presses rolling on literature. It was agreed that the apartment already being used by the local team would become the administrative headquarters, where John and Raymie would live and work.

 

Abdullah and Marcus volunteered to start immediately with translating. Between them they knew two tribal languages, Afrikaans and Arabic. If they should need a rest, or if they were needed elsewhere, there were others in the team who could do translations in still more local languages.

 

Moses, who had been previously appointed as the group's accountant, agreed to locate and rent three more buildings, and to place orders for literature in English straight away, while printouts in other languages were being prepared.

 

 

Ringo produced a notebook with the names of contacts the team had already made before John and Raymie had arrived. He and his wife, Sylvia, took upon themselves the responsibility of inviting these contacts to move into the education centre (as soon as they had one) and to start learning the ways of life within the Twelve Tribes.

 

Sylvia reminded them that the woman who had left had threatened to make trouble for the group. She asked how they would protect themselves from recriminations if other members backslid and turned bitter.

 

"Apart from leaders, there is no need for people at one base to have informations on other bases," Abdullah said. "We can work in cells. For members and leaders, other names will be used. That way, even if they are tortured, they will simply not be able to give informations."

 

Again John and Raymie exchanged glances as they observed how they themselves were little more than catalysts for something that was running of its own steam... well, at least of God's own steam.

 

Within two weeks, all four spheres of operation were up and running. Four others had moved into the teaching centre, where Ringo and Sylvia were acting as instructors. One of the new recruits possessed knowledge of yet another tribal language that the others did not know, and so she had been designated to join the translation team as soon as she had finished the basic training course.

 

Master copies of audio compact discs and printouts of key articles by Rayford were already being produced at the translation centre by the end of the second week. That is when the first order of literature arrived at the distribution centre. An order for another print run, this one in Afrikaans, was placed, and it was due for delivery the following week. Moses was now out shopping for a fourwheel drive vehicle to be used to deliver the literature to more remote areas... as soon as a new recruit could be trained to do that.

 

In a matter of weeks, the whole process would be repeated in places like Accra, Capetown, Harare, Monrovia, Kinshasa, and Lagos.

 

It was Raymie's job to answer the mail, and he was already receiving letters from people in South Africa who had heard of the Jesan website, and who wanted to adopt their lifestyle.

 

 

It was also Raymie's job to keep Rayford informed in England of what was happening. His regular epistles served the double purpose of putting Irene's mind at ease about his welfare.

 

What was happening in Johannesburg and beyond was not unlike what was happening in other cities where tribal judges had landed. Rayford had made contact with his counterpart in the Eastern Hemisphere, a man named Chaim Rosenberg, who was based in Sydney, Australia. Chaim was in his sixties, and he too had commissioned six judges. They were to cover all of Asia and Micronesia. The six Eastern judges were based in Sydney, Tokyo, New Delhi, Karachi, Beijing, and Hong Kong.

 

Over the next six months, the number of members in each of the tribes increased roughly threefold every month. They worked quietly, trying not to arouse attention. The rest of the world was so intoxicated with a philosophy of love and peace at that time, that they hardly took any notice of the Twelve Tribe's activities. Even in countries where missionary activity had previously been outlawed, there were only cursory attempts to stop them when they pasted up posters in the middle of the night, or when they undertook other activities to alert believers to what God was doing.

 

But, although the doors were open, not many were walking through. They still only managed to find about one soul in 50,000 who was prepared to meet their standards. What they were fashioning was obviously going to be an elite team of spiritual commandos, who would be able to give godly leadership to the world, in what would soon become the darkest period in earth's history.