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Josh Matthews, returning wounded from Vietnam and deserted by his high school sweetheart, finds renewed hope through Becky Oâ€™Donnell, a girl who has matured from an adolescent "pestâ€ into a beautiful young woman. Becky shares her Christian faith and helps Josh rise above his depression to become a respected pastor.
Complications arise when his high school flame reappears to win him back, and a cult leader, who calls himself "The Prophetâ€ devises a plan to send his followers to their deaths. Josh must lay aside his clerical robes and resort to using all his Marine training in order to save them.
With trembling hand, he signed his name, Joshua Matthews, then slid his hand over to fill in the date, August 27, 1975. Thankfully this was the final application form to sign in order to become a freshman at Weston University, located in Weston, Oklahoma, a small town nestled in the rolling hills southwest of Oklahoma City. He shifted his cane back to his right hand and slowly made his way to a chair against the far wall, thinking to himself, Iâ€™m only twenty-two years old, and I walk like an old man.
As he sat waiting to be assigned to an academic counselor, he leaned his head back against the wall to rest. His thoughts--as they did daily--returned to that fateful day in Vietnam when his Marine patrol walked into an ambush set up by the Viet Cong.
The long months of recovery in the military hospital left him weak, but gave him a great deal of time to reflect. Sometimes he found himself wondering why his life had been spared when all his buddies had died. He hadnâ€™t grown up as a religious person, but he began to wonder if his life had been spared for some special purpose. But for what purpose, he wondered?
His mind drifted back to his senior year at Weston High, working part time at the grocery store, and spending warm summer evenings shooting hoops in his driveway with his younger sister, Mary, and her best friend, Becky Oâ€™Donnell.
In spite of his constant sadness as he faced a long recovery with an unknown outcome, he couldnâ€™t help but laugh when he thought of Becky Oâ€™Donnell. Becky was three years younger and in the ninth grade when he was a senior. In spite of a generous sprinkling of freckles, and braces on her teeth, Josh thought Becky was a cute kid. And she was a live wire all right, challenging him at the basketball goal, turning cartwheels, or standing on her head with her long, red hair sweeping the ground. But mostly he remembered her as a pest when his childhood sweetheart, Linda Bradley, was around. Becky loved to sit beside them on the porch swing, intruding on the privacy they preferred--once even squeezing in between them!
"Josh, donâ€™t you see the way she looks at you?â€ Linda complained.
Josh hadnâ€™t noticed before, but he did see a kind of adoring look in Beckyâ€™s eyes when she looked at him. "Sheâ€™s just a kid with a childhood crush,â€ Josh would say.
When Beckyâ€™s father moved the family to live on her grandparentsâ€™ ranch west of Ponca City after her grandfatherâ€™s death, Linda was relieved, although Josh missed her impish shenanigans.
But his thoughts always lingered on Linda, the only girl he had ever loved, or felt he ever could love. Linda was strikingly beautiful, with blue eyes and creamy complexion framed by golden hair that cascaded to the middle of her back. Homecoming queen, planning to be a model--Linda was to be his bride. Her perfect figure turned heads everywhere she went, and stirred much envy in Joshâ€™s buddies. She had inherited her tall, perfect figure from her mother, who had been a model after serving in the Women Airforce Service Pilots--WASP--organization during World War II. When he looked into her eyes, he could sense a depth of intelligence also. Indeed, she was one of the two valedictorians in the high school graduating class. Through hard work, Lindaâ€™s parents had risen from near poverty to become quite wealthy, and they lavished their wealth on their only child by buying her anything her heart desired.
~ * ~
There was an air of aloofness about Linda that seemed to attract people, but at the same time pushed them away if they came too close. Josh thought he could sense in Linda a deep distrust of men, and he wondered whether she might have had a bad experience that surfaced whenever a man started getting too close. He had discussed this with her, but she couldnâ€™t seem to recall anything that would cause that reaction, although she confided that occasionally she had awakened terrified from a recurring bad dream. However, she was never able to recall the detail
The author, grandson of a Methodist minister, was born into a very poor home in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. He left for college with only a ten-dollar bill in his pocket and a determination to find a job and earn a degree. He graduated 4 years later with a degree in theology, planning to be a minister. But after pastoring a church for a time, he decided that he had missed his calling and returned to college to earn a Bachelor of Science degree, and eventually a Master of Arts degree. He has been active in church work since the age of 15, and is retired from Tinker Air Force Base, where he worked as a systems analyst.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 234
Paper Weight (lb): 10.0
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