With blood squirting everywhere, a 16 year old boy bent down and looked into Joe's eyes. "You'll be O.K., man. Don't worry, we'll get you to a hospital," said the boy who had hit the top of his shoulder with a bullet in a panicky voice. "It wasn't supposed to happen like this."
As he was being rolled into the emergency room at the hospital, Joe could understand a bit of what the doctors were saying, but he knew he was slowly drifting off. There wasn't much time.
"Don't worry, son. We will have you fixed up, don't worry," and that is all he could hear the doctor say as he drifted off.
Joe opened his eyes. Bright light is the first thing he saw. Then he heard a voice, evil and demonic cry out, "You stupid fool. Don't you realize that you jumped into that bullet? Why did you do it, WHY! You will die soon and you will be mine."
Joe stood up. He looked more closely at what was around him. Not white light, more like fiery light coming from all around him. He said in faith, "If the Bible, God's Word, serves me right, I'm in the pit of Hell. Whoever is speaking to me must be the devil, Satan. Well, wicked one, I jumped in front of that bullet because both of them weren't saved. God didn't want that boy to die. He knows what is good."
"You are mine."
Then a voice from above was heard. The Devil shrieked back in horror at the voice. It was God. "Step aside, Satan, for you are evil and Joe Hartos is good. You know as well as I, he has traded his sins for a crown. Well done Joseph, my good and faithful servant. Now, it is not your time quite yet, but I will give you a glimpse of what is to come." Joe was suddenly in heaven.
"This will all be yours some day. You will have many riches because I will pour out my wrath on all those who are unrighteous. But you, you are righteous. You fight through the turmoil the Evil one has created. Come, Joseph, sit with the Righteous Ones for a while because soon they will tell their stories to you."
Joe sat at a golden table. One of the Righteous Ones came to him. It seemed to be Job. "Welcome in the Lord's mane to this place! You have passed the test. You did as I had done when I was on the earth."
"I do not understand," Joe said as he listened to one of Job's stories, one he had read about in Sunday School.
"I will tell you that the devil tried so hard to kill me, plaguing me with every kind of sickness but I still would not bow to him. Because of my faith, I was both made well and when I died I awoke in this place."
"Job, my brother, you see, you did not bow to the Evil one because of faith and because of the fact that I wrote to the Romans in my letter on earth: 'If God is for us, Who can be against us? The answer, my friend Joseph is not one because God is Almighty!" Paul spoke to both faithful Job and Joe.
"You are Paul, aren't you?" Joe was awe struck when he realized this passage of Scripture from Romans.
"Yes, my friend, I am the Apostle Paul."
"You must go now," a voice, the very same one that brought him to this place, said to him. As Joe was ready to ask to stay longer, the Voice said to him, "I have brought you here for encouragement. You, when you took the bullet of another man's sin have done as I have asked and are well loved for following the example of Jesus, my Son."
Joe awoke to a recovery room. His mother and father were standing over him, "How do you feel, son?" his mother asked in a voice that only mothers can use.
"I feel fine Mother, but I had a dream, a wonderful dream. It was ..... "
"Don't worry son, just get some rest. Someone wants to see you."
"Hey, man," the guy that would be dead right now if it weren't for him said in a whisper. "How you doing?"
"I'm still here, aren't I?" His parents left the room.
"Why did you save my life? What importance do I have that you would take a bullet for me?" The boy sat down.
Joe sat up from the bed and told him, "There's a very good explanation for this. Do you know who Jesus is?"
"Naw man, I've never even heard of him before," the boy said.
"That is why I'm still here. You see, this man that I'm talking about, he is everyone's friend. He's my friend. He's why I'm still breathing. He saved my life. He was beaten for me. He was nailed to a cross for me. He was crucified for me."
"The thing is that this man named Jesus loves you more than anything else. He died for you, too," Joe said to him.
"Wow, man, I didn't know that anyone ever cared for me that much. You said He died for me?" the boy was getting so interested that Joe thought he would have to tell him the whole Bible, but he had a better idea.
Joe pulled a Bible off the hospital table beside him. He opened it to Romans chapter three and verse twenty-three. He gave the Bible to the boy. "Read that part right after the twenty-three."
The boy began reading, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Joe told him to turn a few pages till he came to chapter six. Then he told him to read the twenty-third verse.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
"What is your name?" Joe was curious.
"Fred Stalts," the boy answered, "but you can just call me Freddy."
Joe felt well enough to get up so he walked over to Freddy. "Freddy, the things that you just read, they are why you are still alive and why I took a bullet for you."
"I don't understand," Freddy was confused.
"You see, God wants you to be his child. The Bible says that all have sinned. But if we don't ask Jesus into our hearts, we will die because the wages of sin is death. redddy do you want to personally know the man that not only created you but saved you from eternal death?"
"Yeah. I think I do."
"0K, Freddy, close your eyes and repeat after me this prayer to accept Jesus into your heart and to live there. I want you to realy mean it from the bottom of your heart." Freddy and Joe prayed and right there Freddy met Jesus and he was saved.
"C' will mon, guys, I quit this gang because you guys don't understand what I've found and it's real easy. Let me show you," Freddy was standing in a back alley with some of his old buddies he had hung out with just two days before he had become saved.
"You ain't no Christian, are ya?" the leader of the pack asked him.
"Yeah, what's wrong with that?" Freddy asked.
"If you're a Christian, old friend or not, you're going to get it." The leader was getting angry as he pulled out his knife.
Just then, Joe came around the corner and said, "Hey, man, it's time to go to church." When Joe saw the gang, he ran to Freddy and told the guys to leave him alone.
"Why, you're a Christian, too, ain't ya?"
"Yes, I believe that Jesus rose on the third day and gives salvation to those who are sinners," Joe admitted proudly.
"Then you'll both die!" The Leader walked toward them and they were siezed by the members of the gang. The leader punched them out so close to death they were lucky to still be breathing.
"Joe!" Freddy called out.
"Yeah, Freddy." Joe answered weakly.
"Why are my old friends beating us up? We meant them no harm."
"They can't stand the fact that you are now a part of God's kingdom and that you have accepted God's holiness. They can't stand holiness. No one has the answer to your question."
"Well, finish the job," they heard the leader say to the gang members, as they saw two big guys coming at them with big knives.
"I hope you see the light before this happens to you, Pip." Freddy yelled as the knives pierced their bodies. They barely heard police rushing down the alley. Then, their bodies were lifeless.
"Let's get out of here," yelled Pip, the leader of the pack.
"Too late ' sonny." Pip turned and faced a huge policeman. "You're not going anywhere now," he said as he cuffed Pip and the gang. Then he read them their rights.
It was cold in the cell where Pip sat alone. He realized now that there was nobody around. He was scared. He wanted to be with someone. Where were his buddies? Where was everyone? Then he heard this: "This is what Hell is like. Make no mistake you are headed there. You have killed the righteous. Murdered the clean. Sinned against He who has made you. Now, unless you sin no longer, you will be judged, says the LORD!"
"NO!" Pip cried. "I will never serve you. You never did anything for me, why should I worship you?"
"Then you stand as a wicked one. You are truly evil. Not like my dear son Paul and many others who had found the error of their ways. All who oppose the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY will perish. May you cry out in pain for eternity. You have missed your call and will be in eternal torment. The LORD has spoken!"
"Who cares?" Pip said coldly.
A police officer entered the cell with two other men. "It is final. You, Pip Maskett, are sentenced to death by poison. You are to go immediately."
"But I didn't kill them!" Pip was trying to stop them from dragging him to the poison room.
The guard spoke with the answer while picking him up off the floor and literally holding him to keep him from violent actions. "Your so called friends told us everything. You gave the order. Their lives were in your hands and you killed them by the command to finish them."
"Drink this." the Labratory department head told him. Handing him a grayish substance, "It will be a slow death like the one the two victims had to endure."
Pip drank. After twenty minutes of pure suffering, he died. He opened his eyes. Fire was all around him. He was in a pit. "Another fool," he heard the devil scream as he began to let falling into nothingness.
"NOOOO," he cried as he was suffering and on fire. Soon, there was no sound coming from the pit he had fallen into, but he was still screaming, "God help me!" But no one came. Turmoil and grief surrounded him.
Wow. "This is beautiful." With Joe by his side, Freddy walked through the pearly gates of Heaven. "Man, it was worth it to accept the LORD! I love you, Jesus!" As he spoke the words, they were suddenly before the Throne of God. They fell to their faces as they felt the power of the Living God.
"Both of you have been found spotless in My sight. The saints rejoice at this! Well done, my good and faithful servants! I am proud to call you my sons."
"Join us as we rejoice in the LORD," one of the elders said to them.
"Yes, He is God Almighty!" they cried as God's anointing and power came upon them.
After a while of praising and worshiping the LORD, Joe and Freddy were told to come to the Throne of God. As God spoke, they trembled because of His power, "Come, my sons, receive the Crown of Life that is yours because of the faith you have shown before Me."
"Thank you, precious LORD!," they cried out and began to praise him.
"Welcome, Mom and Dad," Joe welcomed his parents to God's house, "Thank you, Dear LORD for doing so much for me and keeping my parents from harm. Jesus is LORD."