a short story by Dr. Derek P. Blake.
A years months ago an independent church in London, England, that ran over a hundred fellowships across the south of England and another fifty world-wide, advertised for a Chief Executive and fundraiser to take their church into the next millennium. Out of some twenty-five applications, a short-list was drawn up for interview. Two of the applicants were good, but one, David Michaels, seemed outstanding. Apart from his obvious devotion to God, and his proven organisational abilities, David claimed to have huge contact list within the Christian church, world-wide. On the day following the interview the Reverend James Hardcastle telephoned David and offered him the job, which David accepted.
The following week David came to the London headquarters to spend the day there, meeting staff and getting a feel for the church. James Hardcastle met David for coffee in the office dining room, during the conversation David made, what seemed to be, an exaggerated statement, David told James, “To be honest, I know everyone who is anyone in the Christian community.”
“That's a very big statement to make,” commented James.
“Well it's true,” said David, “just test me.”
“Well OK, we are due to do the induction tour next week, we will see how many people you know then,” challenged James.
“That's fine by me,” said David.
The following Monday David arrived at the HQ to commence his induction, and the Reverend Hardcastle gave him the itinerary for the globe trotting week. On the Tuesday they were to fly out to Washington DC, then Wednesday it was on to South Africa, Thursday a visit to the church in Moscow, and finally on to Rome to meet with the new church that had been established there the previous year. However that Monday afternoon they attended the London Churches Together at Lambeth Palace. They arrived at just before two for the two-thirty start and availed themselves of the coffee provided. David and James stood in the crowded hall chatting, when a voice behind them bellowed, “David, I didn't know you were coming to this meeting, why didn't you tell me.”
Both David and James turned to see the figure of the Archbishop of Canterbury standing ready to give David a bear-hug. After the hug, the three chatted for some minutes before the archbishop was called away, “I have to say I am impressed,” said James, “to know the archbishop on a personal level, is, well, impressive.”
“Oh we've been friends for years, well before he got this job,” said David, “in fact it was me who suggested him to the Prime Minister.”
“You know the Prime Minister,” asked James, astonished.
“Well yes we went to the same school,” Dave answered.
Very early the following morning the two were in the departure lounge at Heath Roe airport, and some seven hours later were alighting from the aeroplane in Washing DC. “So said James in the taxi from the airport, “who do you know here?”
“Tell you what,” said David, you pick someone of note over here.”
James thought for a minute or so, trying to decide who would be the most unlikely person for this man to know. “How about the US President?”
“Howard, I taught him when I lectured at Harvard,” David leaned over to speak to the driver, “Can you take us to the White House, and wait for us to take us to the hotel later, please,” he said.
“Sure,” said the taxi driver, “but you know you can't just walk in there.”
The taxi, under instruction drove up to the east entrance, and the Marine on guard looked into the back of the car, on seeing Davis, he shot to attention and saluted, then waved them in. Again James was totally staggered, but said nothing. As they were getting out of the taxi, the President was leaving, and looked over, surprised at seeing a yellow cab there, David leaned out of the car and waved.
“Dave!,” said the president, why didn't you telephone ahead?”
“Well Howard, we were just passing by, so I thought I'd pop bye.”
“It's great to see you Dave, but I have to get to a meeting with my plastic surgeon,” said Howard, “can you come back later?”
“Sorry,” said David, “we're on a schedule, but nice to see you again, God bless,” said David.
“You just keep on amazing me David,” said the astonished Reverend, “but what was that about a plastic surgeon?”
“Oh, that, well elections are coming up and he's going for a sixth term in office,” said David.
The taxi took them to the hotel where they changed and freshened up, James telephoned the Washington church to arrange a car to take them across town. The local pastor, Tony, told him that there was a problem with a driver, but just as James was about to tell him that they would get a taxi, another voice came on the telephone.
“Hello, Reverend Hardcastle, this is Billy Graham here, I'm your guest speaker this afternoon, but tell me, is it right you have Dave Michaels with you?”
“Why, yes, don't tell me you know him,” answered James.
“Sure I do, look I'll come over and pick you up myself, then I cam catch with Dave,” the voice said and he hung up.
Sure enough forty-five minutes later Billy was waiting outside of the hotel and both Davis and James got into the back. “This is such a blessing, said Billy, it's been a while,” started Billy and the two spent the journey reminiscing about old times. At an intersection about half way across town a policeman on traffic control stopped the car to allow the traffic to flow from the other direction. The officer looked at the huge limousine to see who was inside, immediately he recognised David and stopped the traffic again to let him go. Then he recognised Billy Graham actually driving David and someone else in the back. As the car slowly passed him the officer caught sight of Michael's I.D. Badge and drew a quick breath. The police officer was quickly on his radio and put out a warning to other traffic officers to make way, because Billy Graham was acting as driver for Dave Michaels and God Himself, who were in the back.
Seven-fifty that night the two were taking off once more, on their way to South Africa. In the oldest, and largest, church of the organisation David was introduced to many of the church leaders, who, not expectantly, knew David. Again James was surprised when Nelson Mandela turned up and greeted David like a long lost brother. Then it was on to Russia, and again the Reverend James was astounded by the fact that both the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Vladimir M. Gundyaev and President Vladimir Putin, were both at Sheremetyevo Airport to greet the visitors. Later James confided in David that he had been so overwhelmed by the people he knew that it was giving him headaches and felt dizzy. So it was on to their last visit, and their aeroplane landed at Leonardo da Vinci International Airport ahead of schedule at nine in the morning. On the ride to their Rome church all was silent until James gave a little laugh and said, “David are you going to tell me now that you know the Pope?”
“As a matter of fact, yes I do, I was born in Poland, my parents were Polish,” he answered.
“I'm sorry but you will need to prove that, my friend,” Michael challenged David.
So, once again they diverted their ride toward Saint Peter's Square. The square was flooded with people and it was obvious to David there was little possibility of the Pope being able to see him amongst the thousands of people in the square. “This is hopeless,” David told Michael, “the Pope will never recognise me in this crowd.”
“Oh no, you don't get away with it that easily,” the Reverend said, just as the Pope appeared on the balcony.
“I tell you what, give me half an hour and I'll wave to you from that balcony, with the Pope,” David said as he made off toward the entrance.
David knew most of the Swiss Guard and he was allowed to pass, some twenty minutes later he was greeted by his old friend, who was now the Pope, they chatted for a few minutes in Polish and then they both walked out onto the balcony, where David waved to the Reverend Michael Hardcastle, down in the square.
David spent several minutes with the Pope, and then took his leave. He descended the staits to the ground floor and again entered the square once more. On his way back to where he had left his friend he wondered why it was called St. Peter's Square when it was circular, and the thought was still amusing him when he say James laying on the ground being attended by a paramedic. David rushed to James' side, “What happened,” he asked.
“I'm afraid I feinted David,” Michael explained.
“How come,” David asked.
“Well, you appeared on the balcony with the Pope, and then a man standing next to me asked me, 'Who is that man on the balcony, with Dave?”
The above is a fictitious story, none of the events mentioned, or those people whose names I have used, are involved in any way with this fiction, and their names have been used only to enhance the story.