Darlene's story: Don't hang up! Your call is important
By Darlene Warren

BIG SANDY, Texas--You may have heard that back in the '60s all Radio Church of God attendees were fixated on determining where the "place of safety" was located.

Well, that wasn't the case at all. From my very first contact with the Church of God, the primary question wasn't "Where is the place of safety?" We already knew that. The church leadership at that time had pretty well pointed its divine finger toward the Middle East as our shelter from the soon-coming Great Tribulation.

Petra was most likely the location where all faithful, believing church members would wait out the last 31ž2 years before Christ's return to this earth.

Our main concern was "How will I be contacted? What if I'm not home? Will someone care enough to look for me, or just leave without me?"

As far as I know, no one ever put pen to paper and designed any type of emergency call system or escape route. If anyone did, he didn't tell me.

That still hurts my feelings. It was sort of an unspoken belief that if you were qualified to leave God would make sure you got the call. I guess that's the part that scared me the most.

Where are we headed?

With the great falling away of the Worldwide Church of God in the last few years, our doctrines and traditions have all come under scrutiny. Somewhere along the way we lost our assurance that a tourist trap in Jordan would afford us protection from the Great Tribulation to come.

The location of the place of safety has now replaced "How do I get on the call list?" as the No. 1 mystery of the ages. What does it matter that you've been notified if you don't know where to go? How do you prepare? What should you pack? Will there be Internet access?

Of course, we have grappled with many other questions over the years. How do you gather all the brethren together in such a monumental undertaking? It wouldn't be like loading a bus for a school field trip. Surely transporting 144,000 people would take a considerable amount of time.

Could it be that there was a conspiracy to never actually notify all of us?

In the great computer tithe files in Pasadena, were some names surreptitiously marked "NNN": need not notify? (It is interesting to note here that the letter N does not exist in the Arabic alphabet, which is currently used in the greater Petra area.)

If in fact there was a peculiar, set-apart people that was not to be informed of the great flight, that would certainly simplify the logistics of moving a mass of people from point A to point B. But, even with the culling of the unfaithful tithe payers, that still wouldn't open up enough first-class seats for all of those who may not have been accustomed to traveling in any other manner.

Everything is relative

In addition to how we would all arrive in Jordan in the midst of a terrible war, through the years many of us have even begun to wonder how or why God would choose to place us in such a desolate location (the tourists will be gone by then) to endure deprivation so extreme that in all likelihood we might even lose some weight.

I for one admit to feeling some hesitancy about the prospect of putting my mind and body through hardship.

On the other hand, what are the options? When the time comes, when we're all on Standard Armageddon Time, which ones of us will choose the Tribulation over the inconvenience of sleeping on the ground? Everything is relative.

Remember the children of Israel when they fled Egypt? God was taking them to a place of safety. The only problem is that God never allowed them to get there.

Nevertheless, God took care of them in every respect. Sure, they suffered hardship. They walked through the desert for 40 years.

Can you imagine that? If He follows the same strategy again, the mall-walkers among us will definitely have the advantage.

Through the years my feelings concerning a definite, central place of safety for all the faithful tithe payers have flip-flopped from one extreme to the other and all variations in between.

No matter what happens, it would behoove all of us to have a plan or plans for whatever finally comes down the pike.

Surely this will be the mother of all Y2Ks. If you planned for a total collapse of the economy and complete anarchy to occur Jan. 1, 2000, then you may have an advantage over the scoffers among us. Consider that a dress rehearsal.

Won't you be my buddy?

The most critical piece of advice I can give you is this: To be on the safe side, find a buddy (preferably one who believes in tithing) and make sure you're on the top of his speed dial. When he gets his call, he'll relay the travel itinerary to you.

If by some remote chance you are called first, you pass the information along.

Never, ever, ever leave home without your buddy. It's a win-win situation.

Now that you have all the kinks worked out in the notification process, and you have someone you can trust to look out for you, there's more time to concentrate on the other important issues at hand, like what if you don't have call waiting.

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