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THE SURROGATE’S SONS

CATACLYSMIC CHOICES



A-Z Redemption, Volume 4


W. A. VEGA


Global Publishing Group LLC


Copyright © 2017 by W.A.Vega


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Disclaimer

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the authors’ imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S.Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher is unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained.

Printed in the United States of America






Enter by the narrow gate;

for wide is the gate and broad is the way

that leads to destruction, and there are many

who go in by it.

Because narrow is the gate

and difficult is the way, which leads to life,

and there are few who find it.”


Matt 7:13-14 NKJV


DEDICATION AND GRATITUDE


I am encouraged that God named His chosen people, Israel, after an imperfect man with a dislocated hip. Thankfully, there’s hope for you and me. I, therefore, dedicate this book to God’s chosen ones; the weak, the bullied, the rejected, the persecuted, the intimidated, the fearful, the outcast, the abused, the lonely, the shunned, the misfits and the misunderstood in our society. The imperfect few who courageously choose the narrow way. The Aziza-Zoe’s, (Precious Life) whom God created.

I also dedicate this fictional work to my first church family and friends who continuously encourage me to pursue my dreams, especially my long-time friends, L. Lane and R. Smith. It was God’s providence that brought us together on our college campus many years ago.

Most importantly, I thank my Lord, my God, who gave the mandate to:


Write the vision

And make it plain on tablets,

That he may run who reads it.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time;

But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.

Though it tarries, wait for it;

Because it will surely come,

It will not tarry.

Behold the proud,

His soul is not upright in him;

But the just shall live by his faith.”


Habakkuk 2: 2 – 4 NKJV




INTRODUCTION


THE GREAT OXYMORON



It was a One World-One Gender age where freedom of choice was everyone’s inalienable right. It was each person’s prerogative to define life, gender, marriage, morality, sexuality, religion, evil and good. Yet, if that choice contradicted culture’s prevailing definition of what was acceptable, it was not tolerated and viciously assaulted. Choice became a ubiquitous idol, worshipped, protected and vehemently defended. Freedom of choice, paradoxically became a universal oxymoron.

In a culture that offered a myriad of options, the surrogate’s sons and their circle of friends found themselves immersed in unprecedented choice infested waters. In actuality, there were only two options with eternal consequences: the narrow way of following God or the broad way of following the current tide of morality and self-expression. The narrow way led to life and threatened the conventional path that promulgated freedom of choice congruent with current culture. There was no middle ground.

Now eighteen and sixteen, the surrogate’s sons, along with two distinctly different groups, faced life-impacting decisions ~ decisions with cataclysmic consequences. And it all began with a surrogate, who was willing to be the instrument God used to birth new life conceived before time began.

How this impressionable group of teenagers navigated the consequences stemming from their choice was the true test. Through betrayal, pain, persecution, disappointment, loss, rejection, weakness, faith, love, grace, mercy and conviction, they discovered the priceless gift and eternal weight of choice, and the unmerited, redemptive justice and mercy of a loving God.



PART ONE



A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”


Prov. 27:7 NKJV



CHAPTER 1


CONSCIOUS UNCONSCIOUSNESS


Less than one month into the new school year, and a High School senior ran in the darkest night of her young life. At a time when most seniors were ignited with hope and expectancy, she was trapped in a circuitous nightmare, fighting for every breath.

Yearning for light to change direction, gravity pulled her downward accelerating speed as she descended. Her heart skipped a few beats in terror. With constricted breath she eked out a cry in desperation, “God help me. Forgive me, forgive me. I’m sorry. Help me, help me, please, help me.”

Within minutes, a light invaded her darkness. Finding renewed strength to change direction, she began running upward with the wind at her back pushing her forward. Her shoes and purse were conspicuously missing. There was nothing left, she was alone, ashamed, afraid and without identity.

There was only one priority ~ keep moving forward. She dared not look behind and robotically put one foot in front of the other while gazing upward.

Time paused in the vacuous space as she trudged along for what seemed an eternity. Finally, she saw a small structure in the distance that glistened in blinding radiance. She ran towards the light, her heart throbbing with hope. The closer she got to it, the clearer her vision became.

An open door mysteriously appeared and she instinctively ran into it. When she did, the door automatically shut and began lifting, higher and higher and higher.

Feeling momentarily safe in the enclosed structure, she finally looked up and was aghast to see through a glass ceiling the clouds parting as the structure ascended. It continued breaking through the clouds into the brilliance of the deep blue sky.

Consumed with fear, her heart raced again. She shut her eyes hoping that she would awaken from this nightmare and whispered, “Is this real or is this a dream?”




CHAPTER 2


MISSING PERSON


One week prior to the High School senior’s surreal experience, a High School freshman was reported missing. It was Sunday evening and the missing teenager’s mother paced the floor getting angrier with each step. Her fifteen year old daughter had not come home the previous night and didn’t call or text.

Since this was not the first time her daughter had not come home, Ivie was not concerned. She was furious. Her daughter, Asha, had a habit of disappearing whenever she was angry or wanted to be alone; a disturbing behavior that started when she was in Junior High.

According to her son Dyane, Asha asked him for a ride to the library the previous day and made a comment about meeting friends. He found this suspicious as his sister was a loner and had no friends. He recalled asking, “What friends? What are their names? I might know them.”

His sister had given him her typical answer, “None of your business,” and then went on to say, “Won’t you be surprised who I’m friends with. As a matter of fact, everyone will be surprised when they see us together.”

Dyane recalled his surprise and asked, “So, what time do you want me to pick you up?”

Asha had replied, “Don’t worry, my new friends have a car and they will bring me home.”

Dyane was shocked to learn that his sister, who was a computer geek and recluse, actually had friends. Furthermore, these friends could drive. He also shared that he contemplated spying to see who they were, but didn’t wait around as he was already late for a date. That was the last time he saw her.

His mother asked in an angry, accusatory tone, “Why didn’t you share this with me earlier?”

Dyane answered, “I didn’t know she wasn’t home until you mentioned it. You know Asha stays in her room all day. I hate to say it, but I didn’t miss her. When did you realize that she wasn’t home?”

His mother responded, “I usually check on her when I get home from work. My shift ended at 4:00am. I noticed she wasn’t in bed and assumed that she was somewhere else in the house because her computer and camera were in its usual place, so I went to bed. I called her cell phone several times when I awoke and there was no answer. She might be at my brother’s house and giving me the silent treatment. She’s good at that. I’ll call to check and when she comes home, I’ll smash her computer and phone to dust. That will teach her a lesson.”

Within minutes, Ivie reached her brother who lived less than five miles from their house. Unfortunately, he had not seen or heard from Asha and didn’t know where she was. Ivie’s anger changed momentarily to panic. Her daughter was missing and she had no clue where she was.

Dyane calmly reminded her again, “Mom, you know Asha. She’ll turn up when she’s ready. Who knows, she may have decided to spend the night with her new friends. Don’t worry, you know she’s done this before.”

Still seething with anger, Ivie stated, “You’re right. She will eventually show up but I’m going to call the police and report her missing. I’m tired of her antics. Getting the police involved should teach her a lesson. When she shows up, she’ll not only have to answer to me but to the police. Hopefully this will be the last time she leaves without letting someone know where she’s going. I can’t deal with this anymore.”

Ivie dialed 911. Within minutes a squad car arrived and a missing person’s report was filed.

With all pertinent information shared, investigating officer Royce and officer Kinsey took several photos of Asha. They then asked for her computer and camera speculating that they might provide clues about her whereabouts.

Her mother eagerly responded, “Sure, take it. I want to know what she does on her computer 24/7 anyway, and coming to think of it, I’ve never seen one of her videos since I bought the camera. What else do you want?”

Officer Kinsey said, “With her computer, camera and cell phone number, we have a good start. Given what you shared about her personality and the fact that she’s done this in the past, she’ll probably show up when she’s ready. Just in case, we’ll begin scrutinizing her computer and track her phone to find where she might be. Please call us when she turns up.

Her mother said, “Thanks. I’m relieved just knowing that you’re searching for her.”

The officers left the house and immediately took her computer to the technology lab. Twenty-four hours later, they received a massive printout of everything on her hard drive. The content shocked and alarmed the detectives. They were now investigating more than a missing teenager.




CHAPTER 3


THE F4


During the first week of the new school year, three popular High School seniors huddled together contemplating their legacy. As customary in prior years, they commandeered a bathroom by placing a ‘Closed for Cleaning’ sign in front to ensure they were not disturbed. Other students and faculty understood the sign and respected their space. After all, they were the undisputed Fierce – Force – Friends - Forever.

The “F4” as they called themselves, were envied and feared by most students and faculty. They were the benchmark for current morality and socially acceptable behavior. Most students either wanted to become an F4 or be a friend of an F4 ~ all but a small group of students who refused to be bullied, pressured or influenced by current cultural norms.

As the F4 huddled in the bathroom, a new student unknowingly missed the “Closed for Cleaning” sign and walked in. Kalyss, an F4, told the student with brazen hostility, “Can’t you read. This bathroom is closed for cleaning. Go somewhere else.” The student lowered her head and timidly backed out. The coast was clear. The word was out. The F4 had commandeered the 2nd floor, east wing bathroom. No one dared go in.

Raleigh, the second F4 member, remarked, “I can’t wait to make this last year our most memorable and I know just how to do it. All I can think of is silencing that holier-than-thou self-righteous group that looks down their religious noses at us. They don’t deserve to live with their archaic beliefs and smug confidence. The more I see them, the more I despise them. They need to be taught a lesson and I have an idea what will bring them down to earth.”

Seething with bitterness, Kalyss commented, “Whatever it is, you know I’m in. Let’s not go after the group though, there’s one in particular who needs to be taught a lesson.”

Brendyn, the third F4 member added, “I can’t wait to hear what it is, whatever it is, I’m in.”

Raleigh retorted mockingly, “You know how they walk around as if they’re better than us with their religious noses in the air. I want to wipe that grin off their faces and then let’s see how self-righteous they are.”

Hissing with devilish delight, Kalyss rubbed her hands together and said, “Ooh…I like where you’re going with this. Let’s give her a life changing experience, So, what do you have in mind?”

Raleigh said, “Umm, I think I know who you’re referring to. Let’s make her feel our power and wipe that pure, smug look from her face. That will send a message to the group that we’re in control. Let’s invite her to our private spot for some fun. And we need to do it sooner than later so that we can really enjoy the rest of our last year.”

Kalyss and Brendyn both knew exactly what that meant and seemed surprised. Brendyn said doubtfully, “What, that’s pretty drastic. What kind of lesson do you have in mind to teach her?”

Raleigh responded, “Don’t you see, if we get one of them on our turf, we can do whatever we want and have some fun too. Are you all in?”

Kalyss chimed in instantly, “I’m already there. When, where and how?”

Reluctantly, Brendyn added, “Okay, I’m in. But I don’t think she would accept our invitation. That group doesn’t want anything to do with us, remember? We need a better plan than that.”

Raleigh agreed and exclaimed, “Good point, we’ll have to get her attention somehow. We have to get them to trust us and then we’ll strike. That’s even better. I can just see them now.”

Affirming her comment, Kalyss replied, “I see what you mean. Brendyn, you’re so sweet and friendly, it’s your job to join their religious group, get her to trust you and bring her to our spot.”

Brendyn stated, “I can do that without a problem. I know most of them from church anyway. I’ll have them eating out of my hands in days. Watch, I know just the story to concoct that will get those do gooders sympathy.”

They laughed in the same hideous, sinister tone, then went into the larger disabled stall for a quick physical encounter. When they were done, they strutted out into the hallway. Their legacy already in motion. A legacy no one expected; a legacy that changed the course of their lives, the lives of other students, their community, and High School forever.



CHAPTER 4


THE COMEDIAN


It was the weekend before the start of the new school year, and the line wrapped around the auditorium. People of all ages, races, religions, gender and physical abilities were eager to attend this event. Especially noticeable were teenagers standing or sitting, excitedly waiting in anticipation. Also evident were people in wheelchairs, on crutches, those with missing limbs and others who were undoubtedly there with emotional pain hidden from the naked eye, one in particular, Chris Cone Jr.

Two hours before the event and the line continued growing. Buses with different state licenses canvassed the parking lots. This was one opportunity people from miles away, even across state lines, did not want to miss. The Josiah Brown event was planned to kick off the new school year. Their unlikely hometown hero was hosting an event and the city buzzed with pride.

Finally, the eager attendees moved forward as the auditorium filled to capacity. The contemporary Christian song, “Thy Will Be Done,” instrumental piped through the speakers as guests settled into their seats. The atmosphere, thick with anticipation, had a surreal yet peaceful and welcoming sensation.

Behind the stage, in a small, private space, the sixteen-year-old speaker and his parents held hands in prayer. They lingered as they huddled. When they were done praying, his dad said, “We’ll be in the usual place. God is with you. Do what He tells you. We’ll be here when it’s over but signal if you need us.”

Josiah relished those familiar words that gave him courage to step out of the shadows and onto the public stage; simple yet comforting words that gave him confidence knowing that he was doing what he was born to do.

This event felt different. It was the first time he was speaking publically in his hometown and he was more nervous than usual. He winced from chronic pain, adjusted his colorful bowtie against his “Jesus Freak” tee shirt and mustered the strength to walk across the stage. He was uniquely himself.

The music reached a crescendo and abruptly stopped to alert the audience that the speaker was about to make his entrance. All eyes were glued to the stage as silence permeated the auditorium. There was no introduction. He preferred to introduce himself.

The silence broke with the rhythmic, repetitive sounds of iron hitting wood before a small figure appeared. He was hunched over as he leaned heavily on his arm braces that pulled each leg. He wore a steel brace from his ankle to his knees and another from his knees to his thighs. Hidden under his tee shirt was a back brace that provided the additional support needed.

He walked as fast as he could, slowly and deliberately. The audience saw each step as an accomplishment and waited in respectful admiration. Anticipation built as he moved closer to the podium. Without saying a word, this young man won the heart of every attendee. He finally reached the podium, took a deep breath, and said in a somewhat high pitched, stammering, light hearted, friendly, jovial tone, “Did…didn’t think…think… I would make the trip to the….the po…podium did you? Come on, ad…ad…admit it, it won’t hurt my feelings. Tru…truth be known, I didn’t know if I would make it.”

The audience was immediately at ease as they relaxed and joined him in laughter. They were excited and eager to hear more.

He continued speaking slowly and in the same breathless, stammering, jovial tone, interspersed with laughter. “Now,” he said. “Now that I’m here, I’m sure many of you are…are won…wondering why you’re here? What could this scrawny…scrawny teen…teenage, cripple, nerdy, looking guy in a bow…bowtie possibly have to off….to offer me? Among other things, now you know I’m…I’m a mind reader. And be…before you try to make a ru…run for it, the doors are sh…shut and there’s a no return policy, so just stay pu….put.”

By now the audience roared with delight and felt an immediate connection with this young man. No one wanted to move. They couldn’t wait to hear what else he had to say.

The speaker continued in the same joyful tone, “I know, I know, some of you may th….think that I’m wear…wearing a tin wood…woodman’s cos…costume. I hate to dis…disa…disappoint you, but this is mine….all…all mine.” He lifted his left arm brace that was attached at the elbow and waved it in front of him and quickly put it back to steady himself, laughing the entire time. He then continued, “Don’t…don’t be je…jealous. I…I…wouldn’t ex…exchange this for the…the world.

Ca…can you imagine what it’s like to get through the air…airport in this outfit? I’m pro…proud to say that I’ve bro…broken a few metal detectors. The…the bells and whis… whistles just won’t stop, and I usually whis…whistle or hit my brace to a tune. By the time they…they finally stop the sen…sensors, the entire airport police force are sur… sur… surrounding me. I couldn’t asked for a better audience and…and I take full ad…advantage of their undivided attention. Okay…slight ex…exaggeration.”

The audience again roared with laughter. As they did, the young man thought, “Now Holy Spirit, what do you want me to do next?” He paused to allow the laugher to die down and continued, “Hi, my…my name is Josiah Brown the sec…second. I…I am the adopted son of Daniel and Kar…Kareyn Brown. By now the sm…smart ones are ask..ing yourself, umm…. Josiah Brown II, adop…adopted son of Daniel Brown. How did he be…become a second? Who…who was Josiah Brown the…the first? Glad…glad you asked…Ah ha, I see the rest of you just got it.

Before I an…answer this im..impor- important question, how many of you read…read my book, “Laug…laughter in Im...imper….imperfections – I…I wrote it but can’t, can’t say the word?”

Laugher continued as several in the audience shouted in response and lifted their hands. He looked around the large crowd and said, “Okay, so..so I see a few hands lifted. Whew, what…what a re..relief. I would…would hate to dis…disappoint anyone. What you read…read in the book and what you see be…before you are pro…probably con…contra…contradict…..ions – I…I…hate long words.”

Laughter broke out again, when it died down, he said. “Those who read… the book ex…expected to see a Clark Gable look-alike. Instead, I’m, I’m more of a Barnie Fife. Have…have no fear though, I’ve al…already put in my re…request in heaven and if you meet me there, just look for the guy with the mus…muscular guns and a bowtie. Yeah, yeah….that would be me.”

The audience burst out in laughter again and again. Many laughed until they cried. His laughter was infectious; he was magnetic. Josiah Brown II captivated everyone’s heart. However, what they didn’t see in the moment were the tears that rolled down his cheek from the sheer pain of standing. He was determined to fulfill his promise to the Lord; that as long as he had breath, he would glorify him and count it all joy regardless the cost. He was ready to expose his heart.

While the audience laughed along with him, he inconspicuously signaled his parents. Within minutes, a man crossed the stage carrying a tall steel stool. He placed it in front of the podium, then carefully and gently lifted Josiah into the seat and adjusted his arm and leg braces. When he was done, Josiah gave him a big hug and kiss.

Josiah added, grinning from ear to ear, “Yes, I kis…kissed him and I love to hug and kiss this man. He’s my father, Daniel Brown. Every…everyone, say hello to my dad.” The audience responded in unison, and said “Hi Josiah’s dad.”

Daniel continued to stand by his son’s side, beaming with pride as he always did during this portion of the event. Josiah began again, this time in a solemn tone of voice, “I owe….I owe this man and his son, Josiah Brown the first, my, my life. God…God works in mys…myste…mysterious ways. Why He would…would want to keep a cripple like me is beyond me, but…but….but….I’m glad He did. You wouldn’t want…want to miss out on all this…would…would…you?” He gave that contagious laugh and the audience laughed with him.

He continued in a light hearted tone, “What…what you see on the outside, is just a…a….camo…camouflage. I’m actually the incred…incredible hulk underneath this steel.”

Laughter broke out again as he lifted his small arm to flex his muscles. “Hey, don’t, don’t laugh, these are as…as hard as a rock. Try walk…walking with a brace and drag…dragging these legs all day. Your arm muscles would…would be as hard as mine.” The audience continued laughing.

Okay…Okay…let’s get ser…serious. I’ll try but I think God made…made….me to laugh and to help others to lau…laugh. My first real…real mem…memory is of me laughing. I was about five years old and was in the hos…hospital again (you should…should hear my dad tell the story) and I guess a nurse was mass-massaging my back and legs. Well, she…she…touched a spot in the mid…middle of my back, and I began to laugh, loudly. Every time she would touch…touch that spot, I would bur…burst out laugh..laughing. I laughed so hard, other pe…people came into my room wond…wonder….wondering what was so fun…funny. I just kept laughing.

I learned as I got old..older, that the doc…doctor had told my par…parents that day, that I may not last thro…through the week. Well, here I am and I’m still laug…laughing and want oth…others to feel the same joy I have. I like mak…making people laugh.

I re…remem…remembered when I start…started school. I was skinny and wore braces on my legs and back. Com…coming to think of it, I prob…probably looked like a robot. One kid came up to me and asked… why I wore that shiny stuff? I…I…told him that it was my mag…magical armor. He asked me..me…if he could get one too.” He paused until the laughter subsided.

He continued, “Junior High was a diff-different story. Ta…TaKeva John…Johnson…I call her Keva and she call…calls me….no…nope, I can’t sh…share, it’s our lit…little se…secret. (There was more spontaneous laughter.) Yep…Keva had a…a crush on me. No kid…kidding….she could see my bulg…bulging muscles and just could…couldn’t re…resist.”

He paused to laugh along with the audience… “No kid…kidding….an…any… anyway, she liked me, and I liked her back…whew, is it get…getting hot in here?” He said with laughter. “But there was a pro…problem, a big, big pro…problem. His name was Bruno…okay, it was Bran…Brandon.” Laughter broke out again, “He liked Keva and that was a pro…problem.”

Taking a deep breath, he continued in a jovial tone, “That was a big…big…problem for Bran..Brandon. One day, he kick…kicked my hand brace from under me. He for..forgot that I had two. After I steadied my…myself….I have gre…great bal…ance with these weapons, I…I mean braces. I swung my left hand and knoc…knocked one of his legs out from un…under him. He…he…nev…never messed with me ag…again.”

The audience spontaneously and loudly applauded. After the laughter and applause ended, he said, “So…who is Josiah Bro…Brown the first? He was born about two days before me. We…we were in the same hos…hospit…hospital. He was my dad’s son. You see, I am alive to..today be…because of him.”

A hush came over the audience as he stood up again, leaning more heavily on his braces. His father stood closer and put his arms around him. He continued, “Yep, in fac…fact, you can say that Josiah the first is in me. You see I was born as a con…con…conjoined twin. When they sep…separ…separated us, my twin died and I need..ed help to live. And I still need help.

The doc…doctors used Josiah’s body to help me live. You can say that I was made in the im…image of God and Josiah Bro…Brown the first. I’m that spe..special. The wo…woman who bore me was a surro…gate. She died giving birth to us. I guess my bio…biolog…biological fath… father didn’t want me be…because I was a fre…freak. I would be scared too, imagine see… seeing one body with two heads He laughed and the audience laughed with him. “So I was an or…orphan for al…almost two years. They called me Olive…Oliver Twist. No kid…kidding. I saw it on my bir…birth cer..tif..certificate.” He laughed as he made the statement and the audience again laughed with him. He paused for a moment and then continued, “I read that story, and they were right. Because I am just as spe…special as he was. Then my beau…beautiful mother adopted me. Ple…please say hello to my amaz…amazing mom.”

He pointed in her direction and she stood up to thunderous applause. “God has such a sen..sense of hum…or. After my mom adopt…adopted me, she and my dad, who was Josiah Brown the first, dad, fell in love and got married.” The audience let out an ‘ooooh’ sound of shock. “This is all true, then they nam… named me after the first Josiah be… because I re…remind…reminded every… everyone of him. What an amaz…amazing story. Isn’t God amaz…amazing?” The audience stood to their feet and continued applauding for some time.

Josiah laughed and said when the applause died down, “I know I’m spec…special be…because God has allow…allowed me to be here to…today to tell this un…. unbelieve…. unbelievable story. Josiah Brown the first is en…enjoying the beauty of heaven. Sometimes I get jea…jealous. A…accord…according to my dad, I al…almost died sev…seven times but I’m still here. God made…made me spe…special. I know it. And so are you. Turn to some…someone and tell them, I am made in the im..image of God and I am spec…special.” He smiled. “You don’t…don’t have to stamm…stammer if you don’t want to.”

Applause and laughter broke out as everyone stood to their feet and began telling each other that they were special and made in the image of God. As the audience talked to each other, Josiah, with his father’s help, walked off the stage. His older sister, Melissa, stepped onto the stage with her guitar and began singing one of Josiah’s favorite songs entitled, “He Knows My Name.” She sang:


I have a Maker

He formed my heart

Before even time began

My life was in His hands


He knows my name

He knows my every thought

He sees each tear that falls

And hears me when I call


I have a Father

He calls me His own

He’ll never leave me

No matter where I go”


Thomas Lee Walker


There was not a dry eye in the auditorium, including the eighteen year old young man, Chris Cone Jr.





CHAPTER 5


IDENTITY CRISIS


One of thousands attending the Josiah Brown event, Chris Cone, Jr. sat with skeptical anticipation. A desperate High School senior, he was paralyzed about his gender identity, sexual preferences and other choices he felt compelled to make.

He was distraught and seriously contemplated the futility of life. Tormented with confusion, shame, fear, rejection and hopelessness, he was ready to end it all. He had more questions than answers. His conscience signaled one truth, but his culture and father’s voice, demanded another.

The last thing he needed was to attend an event hosted by a crippled teenager on a Saturday afternoon before the new school year. Nevertheless, he stood in line for over two hours with a friend, hoping against hope that this event would give him the motivation, clarity and courage he needed to make life altering choices.

Although Chris was suspicious about the speaker, he could not deny that he was captivating. He recalled watching Josiah’s viral YouTube video that made him an overnight sensation.

The video featured a skinny crippled teenager who made people laugh with his inspirational messages. He was nerdy looking, with arm and leg braces and a mouse like appearance. He had an infectious, contagious laugh and charismatic smile that attracted people to him, especially other teenagers and those with disabilities. In spite of his physical limitations, he seemed clear about his identity and life. Something Chris yearned for, but which seemed more elusive the older he became.

In contrast to Josiah Brown, Chris Cone Jr. was the definition of handsome. His rugged good looks, vivid blue eyes, and charismatic personality were irresistible. He was the son of same sex parents and the product of a surrogate birth. His biological father, Chris Cone, Sr., was a successful businessman and Chris Jr. adored him. His father was his world, a world he now seriously questioned.

Unfortunately, his father didn’t have much success with his partners and had four failed same-sex partnerships. Chris Jr. recalled living through each one and watching his father grow more despondent as relationship after relationship failed. Chris Jr. knew he was the only stability in his father’s life and resisted making choices that might disappoint him.

In his young mind, he felt responsible for his father’s happiness. His dad’s world was a gender-neutral environment in which he was taught that there were no differences between the sexes. Their same-sex community and lifestyle were all he knew until he turned nine when he found himself attracted to a girl.

Chris recalled naively sharing his attraction with his father who chastised him and pushed him into relationships with boys. His heart however, yearned for relationships with girls. To please his father, he explored male relationships but was attracted to the opposite sex. He managed to cleverly disguise his preference from his father, living in both worlds and happy in neither. He was therefore in constant turmoil, existing in the façade he created and on several occasions, he entertained suicide.

However, his obsession with playing tennis and his best friend, gave him a desire to live. Among his many accomplishments, Chris was the state tennis champion. He qualified for the US Tennis Open Junior Championship in his early teens and all eyes were on him to be the next great American Men’s tennis champion. Tennis became his world and only comfort zone.

Away from the tennis courts, he was in turmoil; searching for identity, ashamed of his façade and cleverly guarded secrets. He was especially concerned that if his best friend really knew him, she would no longer want to be his friend. Conversely, if his father knew his preference, he might disown him.

Chris stirred himself back to reality. He laughed and cried through the event, thankful that he came. As Josiah was escorted off the stage, Chris Cone Jr. had an epiphany. He was born male and made in the image of God. His identity was not in his father, his lifestyle, his beliefs, current cultural norms or his upbringing. It was in God alone and he wanted to know more.

During intermission, Chris turned to his friend and shared his newfound revelation, “Josiah Brown is not confused about his identity and if anyone should be, it’s him. Can you believe that story? I was birth by a surrogate as well. I at least have that in common with him and want to know more about his God.”

His friend responded, “My family and I have been praying for you and your dad since we met. Are you serious about wanting to know God? You’re not just saying that because you’re moved by Josiah Brown’s story are you?”

Chris responded, “For the first time in at least ten years, I don’t feel confused, guilty or ashamed. I know who God created me to be.”

His friend asked, “Ashamed and confused about what? I know you but I evidently don’t have a clue what this is all about.”

Chris confessed, “I’m coming clean. You’re my best friend and I’ve been hiding secrets from you and my Dad. I just want to be me and for the first time, I’m not confused about who that is.”

His friend asked, “Umm what secrets have you been hiding? I’ve known you for a while.”

Chris responded, “Yea, I know. And your friendship means more to me than anything, including tennis, if you can believe that. There’s something I need to tell you, but not now. I need to talk to my Dad first. Don’t be surprised if I show up at your church tomorrow. You’ve been inviting me all these years, and for the first time, I want to come. Is that okay?”

His friend answered, “You’re welcomed anytime, we’ve been praying for you.”

They enjoyed a hotdog and returned to the auditorium anticipating the conclusion of the event; an event that ignited change in more ways than one.



CHAPTER 6


THE SURROGATE


Vowing never to do this again, she squirmed on the narrow hospital bed. The pain was excruciating. It was emotionally and physically draining. Her entire body throbbed in agony and her heart ached with loneliness after the birth process. Her head accepted the fact that she would never see the baby. Her heart however, cried in agony that she would not hold the child she carried for nine months.

Two years later, she was contacted by the surrogate agency asking if she was available to do it again. The same couple wanted to add to their family and requested her specifically. She recoiled at the thought. Could she do this again? What about her resolution? She needed time to think, she needed time to pray. She thought, Oh God, I know life is the ultimate and most precious gift anyone can receive. Surely, you’re not asking me to do this again?

A week later, she contacted the surrogate agency and informed them of her decision. With the contract signed, and the in vitro implant scheduled, in the first try, she was pregnant ~ again.

The second pregnancy was easier than the first, at least in the beginning. It was another boy. As she did with her first surrogate assignment, she prayed constantly for the baby growing in her womb and dedicated him to God. Even though she didn’t know the identity of the parents, she passionately prayed for them as well. She knew that she was once again on assignment and the future of the child in her womb was at stake.

Three weeks from her due date, Eva Marie Johnson reflected on her life. A life she could not have predicted, but knew God designed. The seventh of eight siblings, she vowed at an early age never to have children.

Eva entered the world six weeks premature and was born with a cleft palate. She was beautiful and above average in intelligence. As a child she had several surgeries that scarred the right side of her face, particularly her jawline, mouth and nose. Her mouth barely closed, as her upper lip was arched upward with what looked like a thick seam that pulled her upper lip to the middle of her nose. If that were not enough, she had a wide gap between her two front teeth.

She recalled the unbearable pain when at ten, the dentist extracted both front teeth and replaced them with partial dentures. This impacted her speech, which was slightly slurred. She also uncontrollably emitted more than the usual amount of saliva when she spoke. Given her facial imperfections, and speech impediment, she was bullied in school and teased at home. As a result, she gravitated to the shadows.

Not wanting to draw attention to herself, Eva suppressed her intelligence. Due to her poor self-image, shyness and fear of the public, she became a recluse during her teenage years. Not surprisingly, she chose a line of work that kept her hidden behind a computer, and was content to work, go to church, and live with her two cats: Romeo and Juliet, and a dog, named Shadow.

Eva battled against rejection and wounds from her past and dared not entertain the idea that she would ever find love. She, therefore, became resigned to a mundane and predictable life.

At thirty-two, she was unmarried, unemployed and bankrupt. She was laid off from her job of ten years as a computer analyst from a company that decided to outsource their computer operations overseas.

Since her layoff, she struggled to find employment. It was during this time that an acquaintance suggested surrogacy. Eva vehemently dismissed the thought and laughed at the idea. Two months later, with rejection after rejection from employers following face-to-face interviews, she was still unemployed; and there were no prospects on the horizon.

With her finances dwindling and hope waning, she seriously contemplated surrogacy. After all, she thought, it pays well, I get benefits and I’m giving a family the most precious gift they could receive, and it’s not as if I will ever have a child of my own.

The thought resonated in her soul. The following week she called her friend to learn more. Within the next three months, she was certified and registered with a local surrogacy agency. In less than ninety days, she was selected and had a successful in vitro implant. Eva was pregnant.

For Eva, having a baby within her womb was the most exhilarating, miraculous, and amazing experience she ever had. For the first time in her life, she never felt alone. The baby growing in her womb was her constant friend and companion. She was delighted that she made the decision and fervently prayed for the child. She had no regrets ~ until the labor pains began. It was then she made the resolve to never bear a child again, as a surrogate or otherwise.

Her first labor pain with the second child brought her back to reality. There was something different about this pain. It was sharper and more intense than she recalled. She looked down, saw large drops of blood, called the doctor, then dialed 911. She then contacted the surrogacy agency and her oldest brother, to let them know that she was in labor and an ambulance was on its way.

When she arrived at the Emergency Room (ER), she was rushed into labor and delivery. “As she began pushing, her blood pressure began elevating and the baby’s blood pressure began dropping. Something was wrong. She and the baby were declining quickly. Every minute could be the difference between life and death. An emergency C-section was the only alternative.” (Vega, W. A. Extraordinary Gifts, A-Z Redemption, 2016, Global Publishing Group).

The last words Eva heard before slipping into unconsciousness, were from a doctor barking orders to the anesthesiologist to sedate her as soon as possible. Several minutes later, conjoined twin boys were extracted from her womb.

In the meantime, her oldest brother who was like a father to her, paced in the family area, waiting for news about his sister’s welfare. After three hours of waiting, no news came. Many family members came and went, including a same sex couple that nervously paced in the waiting area. Her brother continued to wait and pray. Finally, a doctor came in and went straight to the same sex couple, whispered something to them and they hurriedly walked out together.

Two hours later and there was still no update. As he did for the last three hours of waiting, he went again to the nurses’ station and inquired about his sister’s status. There was still no news. In frustration, he elevated his concerns to the head nurse and asked for information from anyone in a hospital uniform that walked by.

Finally, an older woman wearing a large volunteer button walked into the waiting area. He flagged her down and begged her to find someone who could give him an update of his sister’s condition. She smiled at him compassionately, assured him that she would find someone and report back as soon as possible.

Within an hour, a nurse stepped into the lobby, pulled him aside, and in her most businesslike, efficient tone of voice asked, “What is your name and your relationship to the patient?”

Eva’s brother responded as the nurse checked her records to confirm that he was listed as an emergency contact.

The nurse replied nonchalantly, “Unfortunately, I have to inform you that your sister died during the birth process. You can pick up her personal belongings and contact the morgue to make arrangements.”

Her brother was stunned. In a trembling, tearful tone, he mumbled, “What…what happened? Why did she die? When did my sister die?”

For the first time, the nurse looked at him and for a brief moment it registered that the patient, Eva Marie Johnson, was more than the dead body of a paid surrogate. She was someone’s beloved sister.

The nurse responded in a more caring tone, “She died about six hours ago. I’m sorry no one informed you. With a surrogacy, we immediately inform the agency. We were not aware that she had family here. As to what happened, you can read it in the death certificate. Unfortunately, I cannot share details about her death or the birth because she was a surrogate. Do you have further questions?”

Before he could respond, the nurse walked briskly out of the waiting room. He fell to his knees in anguish as the reality of his sister’s death ravaged his soul. He called his wife and shared the news. Within minutes, other siblings and friends called to express their condolences.

As the reality of his sister’s death finally sank in, he recalled a conversation with her less than three months earlier, where they laughed together as he was surprised that she had not listed Romeo, Juliet and Shadow as her beneficiaries. She also made him promise that no matter what, that he would always pray for the babies she gave birth to. He had casually waved his hands and said, “Of course, but we know everything will be just fine.”

A few days later, he received her death certificate that stated the cause of death as “childbirth related complications.” There was no mention of the baby. He contacted the agency for more information but was informed that they could not divulge details. However, they shared that as her beneficiary, he would receive her compensation and death benefits.

Her brother decided to use the life insurance and other compensation to honor his sister in death greater than any honor she received in life. The entire Johnson family attended her funeral, over one hundred family members, in addition to members from their church. In total there were over three hundred people who attended her lavish memorial.

Many came forward and shared stories of her quiet, gentle and kind nature. They spoke of her love for God and her passion for God’s creatures. Romeo, Juliet and Shadow, now adopted by her brother, attended the services and laid quietly in the first row. Even they sensed the gravity of the moment.

Her exquisitely crafted casket had her name engraved in gold. She was dressed in a bridal-like white chiffon gown and looked angelic against the rich, black velvet interior lining. She looked stunning and regal. The casket was lifted by her brothers, placed in the hearse and driven to the burial site.

Motorcycle police escorted a stream of vehicles. Traffic was held up for miles as cars pulled over to the side of the street out of respect for the dead. The gravesite ceremony was ostentatiously adorned with lavish floral arrangements and her marker was elegantly inscribed with the following:


For He has regarded the lowly state of His child, Eva Marie Johnson.

He who is mighty has done great things for me.”

Luke 1:48 – 49 NKJV


She was the unknown body that nurtured three male babies in her womb over sixteen years ago. Her story was written in the book of life where heaven recorded every prayer and staged the answers for an appointed time.





CHAPTER 7


THE PROMISE


Sixteen years since his beloved sister, Eva’s death, James Johnson focused on his Saturday afternoon ritual. He paced back and forth in front of his mantle rehearsing his sermon for the following day. His rehearsal audience was his sister whose picture stood front and center on the mantle. The picture was taken a year before her unexpected death.

As he paced back and forth rehearsing his sermon, he stopped, as he usually did, gazed at her picture and prayed for her birth children. Just as he was winding up his prayer, his middle daughter came bouncing through the front door.

Hey Dad” she said breathlessly, “Hope I’m not interrupting. I forgot something. I’ll only be a second. Mom and YoLynda are waiting in the car.”

Her father replied, “Make it quick baby girl, I’m on a roll.” She ran to her room and ran back out.

Before leaving she asked, “Hey, Josh is having an event today and I’m going over to his house later. Hope that’s okay?”

Her dad added, “Tell him ‘hello’ and have fun. You know your curfew.”

As she ran out the door she mumbled, “I know dad, you don’t have to remind me every time I leave the house, love you.”

James watched as she walked out the door, then looked out the window and waved at his wife and two of his daughters as they drove off. He smiled with contentment and allowed his thoughts to drift on his life.

He was the oldest boy of eight siblings. His parents, the late Rev. Johnson and his mother, the First Lady, Jean Johnson, were pastors of the Greater Light Community Church (commonly referred to as the GLCC by members). He recalled the good times of his childhood growing up in the church.

As the pastor’s oldest son, everyone expected him to follow in his father’s footsteps. He, however, had other plans and hoped to sow a few wild oats before settling down. When he was eighteen, he joined the Marines to ‘find himself’ and declared his independence from the church and his parents. It was when he returned home after his first tour of duty, that he met his future wife, Isabelle.

He and Isabelle had grown up together and attended his father’s church, but he never noticed her. She was a tall, lanky, quiet, nondescript girl who kept to herself and didn’t belong to any of the church’s cliques. Now in her mid-twenties, she had blossomed into an extremely attractive woman. When he saw her at church during one of his leaves, he fell in love. Even more amazing was that she reciprocated. In fact, she confessed later that she had a crush on him but was too shy to let it show.

They had a whirlwind romance before he returned to complete his second tour of duty. During that time, they exchanged letters, skyped and had multiple phone conversations. Within a year, he asked her to marry him.

Eighteen months later while on another leave, they got married. Their first daughter was born almost nine months after their marriage, two years later they had another daughter. And in eighteen months, another daughter was born.

They had one miscarriage following their third daughter’s birth, as he and Isabelle hoped to add a son to their family. After the birth of their second daughter, he lost both parents in a tragic car crash. They died instantly. In addition to his sister’s untimely death, that was the most challenging season of his life, yet the most enlightening.

As the eldest son, he was appointed as the pastor of the GLCC after his parents’ death. However, being a minister was just another job. He had studied under his father’s tutelage and heard enough sermons to get by. What he did not expect, was for his heart to be gripped by the reality of Jesus Christ.

He was about a year into his role as pastor when he had a dream. In that dream, he was preaching to his congregation out of Isaiah, 6:1 and read the passage,


In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.” (NKJV)



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