Chloe had worked hard at making her stay in Prospect Heights both safe and stable. She arranged to turn the satphone on for just a few hours each week--the times when her father was most confident of being able to contact her. She increased her water supply by retrieving water from the toilets upstairs. When that was depleted, she made her first and only venture outside, to get water and food from two neighbouring houses which had been deserted shortly after the attack. She moved out of the basement in the second week and back into the rooms on the ground floor. But she continued to use the basement as her latrine. Because there were no deaths in her immediate vicinity, she was safe from disease as long as she did not travel too far afield. Overall, she spent her last week at Prospect Heights in relative comfort.


Just three weeks after the attack, a rescue bus pulled up in front of the house and offered Chloe a lift to a ferry that would take her and hundreds of other survivors up Lake Michigan to Port Elgin, on the east side of Lake Huron. From there, they were taken by bus to holding camps near Toronto.


Chloe was only in the camp for two days before she was taken to the airport. She had not heard from her father for five days, but she was not surprised when she was issued with a ticket on a Pan-Con flight to London. She was also not surprised when she found her father waiting for her after she had passed through airport security ... but she certainly was excited. They embraced and rejoiced, backing off so that they could look at each other before embracing again. The stress of the past weeks erupted in profuse tears for Chloe. But she sensed that her father was still holding something back.


"Any word on Mom and Raymie?" she asked.


"They're fine," Rayford said. "They're still in Regina, but it shouldn't be long. I've signed papers for them to come to England when they're released."


But Rayford's thoughts were on something else.


"Chloe, can you sit in the cockpit with me today?" he asked.


"Are you kidding? No one could keep me from it!" she giggled.


Rayford added, "I've made some important decisions about serving God. We need to talk about it."


Chloe had been doing a lot of praying herself, so she could appreciate what she thought was her father's decision to attend church. "I understand," she said with a smile as they walked to the plane. She reached out and squeezed his hand, grateful to have him near her once again.


"There's more to it than you probably realise," he said. "We'll talk about it after take-off."


Inside the plane, Rayford was totally occupied with routine safety checks, communication (both with the control tower and with the passengers), and with flying the aircraft. But when they were at cruising altitude and the seat belt sign had been turned off, Rayford handed control over to his co-pilot and moved to the navigator's seat, where he and Chloe could talk more privately.


"There's so much I need to say," he began. "First off, you should know that I personally don't have a house or even a room in London."


"We'll manage. I'll get a job," Chloe promised.


Rayford searched for words to tell her the depth of his new commitment.


"We don't need jobs," he said. "In fact, I'll be quitting this job soon... to work for God."


Chloe's eyes opened wide. Something strange was going on.


"Quit your job?" she asked in amazement. "How would we survive? You're not even trained to be a preacher." She said the word "preacher" with a bit of a sneer.


"But I already am a preacher," Rayford replied.


"Where? What church?"


"No church. I just talk to people about God... on the street."


"What? You mean you're a street preacher?" Things were looking stranger still.


"No, I just offer literature to people, and sometimes they stop and talk."


How embarrassing, thought Chloe. Her father --a distinguished airline pilot--spruiking on street corners. She continued to picture him shouting to an indifferent crowd, with a Bible in his hand. But she tried to hide her feelings.


"You don't need to quit your job," she said. "With what you earn, you could pay someone else to do it, and we could still put our family back together again."


"Chloe, honey," began Rayford. "Can you give me a few minutes to explain? It's very important to me for you to know exactly what's happening."


Chloe was genuinely keen to get the bigger picture. "Sure," she said sympathetically. "Go ahead." She settled back in her seat to listen.


Rayford began at his airport encounter with Reinhard, hours after the attack. He told of how he had always felt that religion as taught in the churches was shallow and escapist. But he admitted that he too had been shallow and evasive when it came to the things of God.


"These guys in the van got me reading what Jesus actually taught," he said.


Chloe had never responded to religion as taught by her mother, so Rayford knew he could not reason with her as he would with Irene. He needed to start with something more basic.


"You can't tell me that what you've been through these past three weeks hasn't made you think about God," he said with a knowing smile.


Chloe nodded. She had often prayed for help, especially during those first few days in the basement. But prayer for her was something that you only did when all else failed. It wasn't fair to burden God with things you could work out for yourself.


"Well, I've come to see that our whole existence is part of a plan... sort of a test... where God watches to see if we'll serve him, or if we're going to insist on doing our own thing."


Then Rayford appeared to shift tack for a moment. "All the prayers in the world won't keep us from dying one day. Yet most of our prayers seem to be asking for just that... prayers that we will not suffer, not die, or just not be too inconvenienced." Rayford felt that he was not making himself clear.


"What I'm trying to say is that, if we're going to pray at all, we need to be asking for something other than selfish things."


There was an interruption as a stewardess came in with coffee. Chloe accepted a cup and added sugar, but she was distracted mentally, trying to make sense of what had happened to her father. She could not get the picture out of her mind of Rayford standing on a street corner and shouting to the public. How could he seriously think that he should serve God in that way? Nobody listens to street preachers! If her dad really wanted to preach, he should do it through a church. He was too smart to be preaching on the streets. Had he snapped, under the pressure of the war?


Chloe was pulled out of her reverie when Rayford resumed talking.


"Honey, I'd give anything to get you to see what I've seen. But with or without your support, I really have to go through with what I believe God wants me to do." No response. So Rayford went on.


"We weren't put here to work for money. We were put here to work for God. When you accept that, it's easy to see how virtually all of the world's problems have come from greed. I've been living on almost nothing for the past two weeks, and I feel more alive than I ever have before."


"That's easy to say when Pan-Con pays your hotel bill," Chloe argued. "And who gets your paycheck? This Reinhard guy? Sounds like a scam to me."


"Reinhard holds the money, but he's not spending it selfishly. And I haven't been staying at the hotel in London. Pan-Con isn't even feeding me when I'm in England."


Rayford made several attempts to get Chloe to see the spiritual importance of what he had discovered, but she could not be pulled away from the material issues, and he didn't like being put on the defensive about his faith.


"We've got a room for you, Mom, and Raymie with a friend in Guildford," he said. "You'll have to share it with Raymie and Mom when they get there. It's almost impossible to get cheap accommodation with all the new arrivals."


"And where are you going to stay?" Chloe asked. Her attitude was changing from shock to anger, as the extent of her father's commitment dawned on her.


"I'll be staying in the van with the other guys," he said. "That's part of what I've been trying to tell you."


"What kind of a God is that?" Chloe half shouted. Her face was screwed up in anger. "He wouldn't tell you to leave your family... not now, when we need you so much." And tears began to form in her eyes.


Rayford's heart was breaking. He had always been close to Chloe, and he had hoped that she would be more understanding about something that meant so much to him. He decided to let her think things over, while he tended to official duties in the pilot's seat for an hour or so.


When he returned to the seat beside Chloe, she was much calmer. She had brushed away her tears.


"Okay," she began when he was seated. "Let's say that God really does want you to do this. What do you think he would want me and Mom and Raymie to do?"


That was the Chloe that Rayford had remembered. Her head was ruling her heart now. She must have seen where her negative reactions were leading and decided to take a more constructive approach. Chloe's respect and admiration for her father were helping her to treat his extreme lifestyle change as a genuine decision on his part, even if she could not agree with it herself.


"Honey, I'd love to think that God wants you to join me. But you really have to find that out for yourself."


Chloe worked her way slowly through a list of questions she had about how Rayford had reached his bizarre conclusions. But this time she tried to listen, and she tried to feel what her father was feeling. Everything was making more sense when she did it that way.


Rayford explained how the loss of so many lives (including many personal friends and relatives) in America, and the possibility that he could lose his wife and children as well, had made him seriously question all of his values.



"All the money in the world won't guarantee that I can hang onto you, Mom, and Raymie," he said. "And it would be even more useless when I stand before God. I know that what I'm doing sounds crazy to most people; but what's really crazy is ignoring eternal things, like most of us do most of the time.


"God doesn't need money," he continued. "He made the world without it, and he can keep things going without it too. See, Jesus talked of something called God's world, or God's kingdom, where people work for love instead of working for money. It's like a return to the Garden of Eden... God's original plan for the human race."


Rayford looked deep into his daughter's eyes. His heart was pounding in excitement. She was really listening!


"I know you can see at least some of what I'm saying," he said quietly and with deep feeling. "But if you actually started living it like I've been doing for the past couple of weeks, it would all make ten times more sense." Chloe was thinking ahead. "Well, suppose we were to come with you. Where would we stay? How much room is there in that van of yours?"


Rayford laughed as he answered the question, more from relief at hearing Chloe mention the possibility of coming with him, than at her question. He fought to keep his secret hopes from getting him ahead of her. "No way! We'd never fit in the van," he laughed. "It's pretty crowded as it is. But God'll make a way for us somewhere."


"I'm not saying that you've convinced me," Chloe cautioned. "But I don't want to lose you either." The truth was that she still thought he might have been sucked in by a cult; but she didn't want to go back to arguing. If she could check it out for herself, that would be better.


"For now you can move in with Neville and Mary in Guildford," Rayford said. "They're an elderly couple who have supported the team for a few years now. They have an extra bedroom that they let us use when we're in the area. We'll have plenty of opportunity to visit you and for you to visit with us."


When the plane landed in London, the guys met Rayford as usual. Fran grabbed Chloe's bag and they all stood around talking for some time while Reinhard left to get the van. "Parking is too expensive at the airport, but we know a place a few blocks away where we can park for free," Rayford explained. "Reinhard won't be long."


Chloe was surprised at her father's miserly approach to such a minor thing as an airport parking fee. But over the next few weeks she would see many more examples of how the men had learned to survive on almost no cash in a world where everyone else spent freely. They called it being "poor in spirit".


The van was smaller than she had expected, but the other members of her father's 'team' were nicer and more normal than she had expected. The room at Neville's and Mary's was adequate--especially when she compared it to her stay in the basement at Prospect Heights. Food was plentiful, as were fresh water and clean clothes. If nothing else, she had learned to appreciate little things more over the past three weeks.


During the next four days, before Rayford was to fly out once again, the Jesans made as much time available for Chloe as she wanted to take. She was impressed with their genuine concern for her welfare. She learned that Reinhard had been saving up Rayford's pay from Pan-Con, and he already had enough to rent a small apartment for the Straits after Irene and Raymie arrived. The men wanted to consult Chloe's mother and brother before making a decision on where the family was going to live.


It was three more weeks before mother and son were released from their holding camp. In that time, Chloe had become quite comfortable with her father's new companions.


"Funny, isn't it?" she said to Rayford one evening as she relaxed with him at the services near Guildford after he had completed his stint of distributing tracts for the day. "We live our whole life in fear of poverty; but poverty's not so bad at all, is it?"


"Not if you call this poverty," said her father from across the table. He grabbed another handful of peanuts from a bowl on the table. "All the money in the world doesn't do much more than feed, clothe and house us. And we have that already."
* * *


Irene and Raymie had been taken by bus to Toronto; but they missed Pan-Con's morning flight to London by one hour. So they were put on a British Airways flight later that night. When they arrived, early the following morning, the other men stayed out of sight, while Rayford and Chloe waited to meet Irene and Raymie. Mother and son had both lost weight, and their hair was just starting to grow back. Irene kept her head covered with a scarf, but Raymie seemed proud of his new skinhead look.


They were exhausted from the flight, so Rayford did not try to discuss his plans on the way to Neville's. Shortly after they arrived in Guildford, both Irene and Raymie fell asleep.


It was almost noon when Irene woke up and stumbled into Neville's big living room. Rayford, Chloe, Neville, Mary, and the other Jesans were all gathered there. Rayford introduced Irene, and she gave them some idea of what she and Raymie had been through since they left Prospect Heights.


Rayford had been planning to talk to Irene privately about his plans, but the subject came up in the course of introducing the other Jesans.


Rayford had Chloe's qualified endorsement, but he also had the advantage of Irene's prior commitment to Christian faith. More than anything, what helped him was Irene's dramatic change on the cloverleaf in North Dakota. It had broken the spell that Vernon Billings and traditional Christianity had over her. And now her husband was offering her a new purpose for living. More than that, he was offering her something that was truly Christian. She listened intently and tried not to panic at what Rayford was suggesting.


Over the next few weeks, Irene, Chloe, and Raymie progressed from being co-operative with Rayford, to deeply respecting him, to adopting his faith for their own. There was no single moment when it happened, but the more they studied, discussed, or even thought about the teachings of Jesus, the more their faith grew. They unanimously chose to join the Jesans.


A month after Irene returned, Rayford was released from his obligation to stay with Pan-Con. A group decision was made to use the money they had been saving for an apartment to buy another van for Chloe and Raymie instead. They would use it in their new job as Jesan tract distributors.


Neville and Mary had become quite fond of Rayford and Irene, and they insisted that the couple use the second bedroom at their apartment on a permanent basis.


From that point on, life for the Jesans took a dramatic turn.