Chapter 28 The Third Jubilee

Anne squeezed Harmony’s hand. Harmony squeezed back in an unspoken understanding that they were both anxious but excited. Adilah walked a few paces in front of them. The woodland path gradually opened out to reveal a spacious clearing.

“Here we are,” said Harmony, gently.

In the middle of the clearing was a fireplace. Three figures sat around it talking quietly. As the three women approached, one of the figures turned and stood up. Adilah hesitated.

“It’s a man,” said Adilah under her breath, but loud enough for the group to hear.

“Yes, it is,” said Anne. “This is our friend Simon.”

Simon waved with both hands. They were now close enough to see the broad smile on his face.

“Welcome,” he said as the women approached. “Come, would you like some soup?”

The other two figures now stood up, awkwardly.

“You must be Adilah?” said Simon. “Come and meet Tunde and Kanu.”

Adilah took a deep breath and held out her hand to Simon. Simon shook her hand very gently. “It’s so very good to meet you,” he said warmly.

They all greeted one another and sat down on the hay bales around the fire. After some initial pleasantries, they began to share their stories. Both Tunde and Kanu had been abducted into slavery, just like Adilah, and had been forced to work in diamond mines. They had experienced much hardship and also great cruelty at the hands of their captors. Both had been killed when a mine shaft collapsed. They had heard the voice of one of the militia men calling for help and had turned back to try to rescue him instead of fleeing. Ruach had seen this act of extraordinary agape love and Jesus had placed them both in similar communities to Adilah upon their resurrection.

As the women walked back through the woodland to their cabins after the meeting, Adilah shared her impressions. “I felt nervous but Simon’s warm welcome made me feel safe. And it was so good to meet Tunde and Kanu – men who could understand my journey so well. I knew in my head that not all men were like the militia, but now I know it in my heart.”


Harmony took a sip of water. “And that is how Adilah began to overcome her fear of men.”

A murmur of approval went around the table, each member of Thomas’ team talking quietly with those seated next to them. The third jubilee period had ended, and they were relishing every second of being together again. For this meeting, Jesus had taken them to one of his favourite restaurants in Zion.

“Tunde and Kanu are just two of the many men in Simon’s community. They had been denied any contact with women during their years of enslavement, but Simon had felt they were ready to take this new step,” said Jesus. “That meeting brought healing for everyone.”

“Yes, it took place about fifteen years into the jubilee,” said Anne. “After initial meetings in small groups like this one, the men and women from the two communities began to socialise and learn how to be around each other.”

“Do you think Adilah is ready to live in a mixed community in the next jubilee?” asked Jesus.

“The remaining years of this jubilee have been peaceful and she has continued to grow in confidence. I would say that she is ready,” replied Harmony. “She has also worked out that choosing forgiveness for her captors will be a path to further healing, but she is not truly at peace with this yet. Through her conversations with Tunde and Kanu, she has realised that this is a conscious choice she will have to continually make.”

“Forgiveness is an attitude that is at the heart of agape love,” agreed Jesus. “It is an ongoing attitude, which is maintained through understanding that love does not hold anything against anyone.”

Harmony furrowed her brow slightly. “Many in our community, like Adilah, are aware of this but are finding it difficult. They don’t know how to think about those who abused them and still hope that in some way they will face justice and suffer like they did.”

Agape love still pursues justice, and the justice of God includes correction,” Jesus replied. “For those who perpetrated evil and caused others to suffer, it is in facing up to their wrongdoing that is a suffering in its own right. Recognising what they have done becomes its own punishment, just as love is its own reward. This is the spiritual law of the heart. Their suffering is not inflicted by Papa God, but it is a necessary part of the process toward maturity in this age.”

“So their captors are in environments like Yuri,” observed Bull. “He inflicted horrific pain and suffering during the Previous Age, but during the past three jubilees he has experienced the futility of violence, power and abuse. It has been an assault on his ego and his pride.”

“Tell me more about his third jubilee,” asked Jesus.

“Well, Yuri adapted really well to being in a rural farming community,” Thomas began his report. “He was relieved to be in a completely new environment with new people and decided right from the start to have a different attitude, being quicker to smile and more open to making friends. But this change of heart didn’t last throughout the whole jubilee as he often became discouraged when friendships didn’t mean he always got his way. He tried meditating, but this often led to devastating flashbacks to his violent life in the Previous Age.”

“Yuri didn’t have any true friendships in the Previous Age,” added Bull. “Not since he was a child. But there came a time in this jubilee when he realised that he wanted a friend.”


It was a still day with no breeze, deep into the third jubilee. Yuri was walking Gulag in the woods when he came across two men.

“Timothy!” shouted Paul. “We have a guest… sorry… guests,” he added, seeing the large dog by Yuri’s side.

Timothy appeared from inside a large canvas tent. “Great! The mushroom soup is almost ready. I just need to add some more seasoning. Come and sit down. I’m sure we can find an extra bowl for your four-legged friend.”

Yuri, who had been standing at an awkward distance, came and sat down on the grass at the tent entrance with Gulag settling at his feet

“Let me ask you something,” said Paul. “Have you ever had strong flashbacks to your life in the Previous Age?”

Yuri inwardly flinched at such a direct question from a stranger.

“Have you?” Yuri retorted with sincere interest, though he sounded defensive.

“I had them after I was blinded in the Previous Age. They were extremely powerful, almost like reliving scenes from my own life again.”

“How did you become blind?” asked Yuri.

“I met Jesus and his presence was so bright. But you know, I needed to have my sight taken away so that I could focus on my inner life and experience those flashbacks.”

Yuri was intrigued.

“Mind you, you had been involved in some seriously destructive ways, hadn’t you?” Timothy pitched in, still stirring the soup.

“What did you do?” asked Yuri. He was now listening intently and had moved closer to Paul.

“I was extremely religious and wanted to be the most zealous and pious Jew who had ever lived. It disgusted me that some of our faith were claiming that the one true God, the God of Israel, had become a man – Jesus of Nazareth. It was an appalling idea to me and filled me with hatred. I took it upon myself to hunt down any of his followers. I thought of them as vermin, as blasphemers who deserved God’s punishment.”

“I understand,” said Yuri, nodding.

“If we found any followers of Jesus, we’d drag them out of their homes and throw them into prison. I’d stir up the crowds and even bribe people to act as false witnesses against them, so they didn’t stand a chance when they were tried by our Jewish leaders. Some were beaten but many were stoned to death, and all the while I stood there and gave it my stamp of approval.”

“I guess you had to do what you had to do,” said Yuri.

“The thing is, I didn’t have to do any of it,” said Paul, stony-faced. “Yes, I thought I was right, but it was my pride and my twisted sense of importance that meant I took pleasure in it all. One day it was the turn of a man called Stephen to be brought to trial. He stood in front of us with such dignity and spoke about his faith in God and Jesus. I can still remember the light that seemed to shine from his face. The mob was baying for blood and he was dragged out of the city and stoned…”

Paul stopped and hung his head and drew a quivering breath.

“He didn’t once try to fight back and as he died, battered and covered in blood, he prayed that God would forgive us. It wasn’t long afterwards that I met Jesus for myself, and my eyes stopped seeing. I had flashbacks and relived Stephen’s death and others like it, over and over, but from a new perspective. It was like being in my own personal hell. I cried out to Jesus to help me, and Ruach came to me in such power. Once I accepted that I had been wrong, so totally, totally lacking in love and that all my zeal had been based on a desire for spiritual superiority, my eyes began to work again and the flashbacks stopped.”

“So let me ask you again,” continued Paul. “Do you have flashbacks?”

Yuri didn’t want to answer, but Paul gently pressed him further.

“If you do, think about what triggers them.”

Timothy handed a bowl of soup to Yuri and placed another on the ground for Gulag.

Yuri looked at the soup and at his dog and remembered the time Jesus had slid him that shot of vodka. What was it about these people that bothered him so much?


“The flashbacks have been very disturbing for him,” said Bull. “He’s beginning to experience what he did in the Previous Age with understanding, and it’s causing him much distress. The memories come in waves and are sometimes so overwhelming he can cope with little but the basics of everyday life.”

“This is the process that leads to empathy and the desire to turn away from hurting others,” said Jesus. “The suffering that he is experiencing will ultimately lead him to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. Agape love is the reason for the process and lies at its heart. The distress and regret that Yuri is currently experiencing are like the outermost twigs of a tree, but they are still connected to its core. In the next jubilee period Yuri may continue to suffer, but he will also have the opportunity to make new friends.  Tell me, Sylvia, how are things now with Fran?”

“When Fran entered her third jubilee, like Yuri she decided early on to try and have a new attitude in her new environment. She felt that she had failed in her friendship with Chesa, so she decided to take on the role of organising rotas and schedules so that she could feel like she was being helpful.”

“But, as you can imagine, she soon alienated people in her new community because her actions stemmed from her own need to be in charge,” continued Carlos. “Other people in the community were also trying to find ways of being in control, so there were many arguments and upsets that caused resentment, grudges and suspicion. Fran’s biggest obstacle is her inability to humble herself and trust that she is likeable for who she is, and not because of what she owns or what she can do. It seems that she cannot understand agape love yet, because she still sees everything as a transaction.”

“All this stems from her low self-worth,” said Jesus sadly. “Fran and others in her community try to feel better about themselves by putting people down. But true self-esteem grows when people know they are loved and choose to become loving and kind. Fran will be placed in a smaller community for the next jubilee. It will be harder at first, because they will be more dependent on each other. But it creates the potential for individual contributions to be more highly valued, and that will help to boost each person’s self-esteem.”

“Johan also hasn’t made progress in this jubilee,” said Yvonne. “He didn’t know anyone in his new community, so he chose to withdraw into books rather than making new relationships.”

“It’s like he doesn’t know who to be outside of his experiences in the Previous Age,” Yan remarked. “He’s read history books for a long time, but when we tried to interest him in some lighter material, he rejected it all.”

“Johan did well at making friends when the stakes were high,” said Jesus. “But recently he has based his identity on his study. Books are helpful for understanding the Previous Age, but they can’t heal the heart.”

“Only discovering who we are according to agape love can do that,” agreed Yan. “For a long time I saw myself as a martyr first and a much-loved son of Papa God second. My identity was based on what I had done and what had happened to me, rather than in the present moment.”

“It’s something of an irony that it takes time to awaken to the present moment,” said Jesus with a little chuckle. “The past can be a useful guide for our current actions, but Johan needs to learn to enjoy life and show agape love in the ‘now’. Johan misses his former friends and family, and so he has shut down his emotions rather than exploring relationships with those around him. The next jubilee period will give him the opportunity to do that, so let’s hope he takes it.”

“Yes, many people are still overwhelmed by what is missing,” said Yan with a sigh. “I wish they would focus more on what is present.”

“As you know, Yan, it is only agape love that makes that possible, All of you here have come to see the people you are with in Zion and in your communities in the light of agape love, and therefore you are always more mindful of those you are with than those who are absent.”

Thomas’ team continued to talk with Jesus well into the evening until it was time for them to retire to their dwellings in Zion for more rest before the start of the next jubilee period.