June 14, 2023
Sharing another story from the second audiobook in the “Tales of the Kingdom” series: “Tales of the Resistance,” David and Karen Mains discuss the bottom-line message of the Lord Jesus Christ: His Kingdom. Understand that the Kingdom of God is wherever the reign of God’s Son is recognized and honored.
David: You have already hinted at this. We’ve decided just to take a different pace of life and slow down a bit, not offer another challenge, but just go into storytelling. And we have picked stories from the Tales of the Resistance, which is the second of the Three Kingdom Tale books.
David: Looking back on my life, I’ve been trying to figure out how old I was when I first began to be aware that the world didn’t treat everyone the same. Certain individuals or groups had it much better off than others.
Karen: And so how old do you think you were when that reality started to seep in?
David: I believe I mentally understood this was true around junior high age, that’s grades eight and nine. Before then the kids at Madison Gray School, which I had attended, were all pretty much from the same kind of neighborhood. But in junior high the students came from a number of different places in town. Even so that awareness really didn’t grab me in the gut at all.
Karen: It’s an interesting conversation. When did this awareness begin for any of us? Let’s talk about that more today, okay?
Intro: Welcome to the Before We Go Podcast featuring Dr. David Mains and his wife noted author Karen Mains. Here’s David and Karen Mains.
David: What about you Karen? What brought you to the realization that people have different starting places in life? Some are highly advantaged, but a lot of kids begin with significant disadvantages.
Karen: Well, I was raised in Wheaton, Illinois for the most part. And so that was a culture that was very positive. But it was when we moved into the inner city of Chicago, you could not avoid it when you lived in the inner city. In fact, I’ve often said everyone needs to have at least five or six or seven years when they live in a big city.
David: And then from the big city there came opportunities to travel in terms of the world. And when you get to other parts of the world, you realize rather quickly, unless you’re on a tourist trip, I guess, that this world is not equal in terms of the beginnings people have. When you see young children, the age of your children, and they’re begging on the streets. And the clothes they’re wearing, everything.
Karen: And open sores on their mouths and little faces.
David: You did go into impoverished areas where there’s just one water spigot in the whole area.
Karen: Lines of people with their tin cans or little buckets trying to get enough water. I mean, how do you wash your children? How do you wash yourself? Your clothes in that kind of environment. It was just an extraordinary pledge.
David: So most people don’t have these opportunities. And it is opportunity because it changes your whole life. I mean, when you talk about poverty, it’s a whole different world when you’ve been to the slums outside of Nairobi, say, in Kenya, in the Kibira slum where you’re walking. It seems like endless, endless miles. You just don’t come to the end of the poverty.
Karen: And so then as a writer, that comes out in your writing. And so, I think you have asked me, where did I get the feeling for or the background for a story like Sewer Rat and Boiler Brat? What came out of seeing that? When I think of Jesus’ words, let the little children come unto me, it takes a very different perspective when you have seen children who are in these camps or in these poverty situations.
David: You have already hinted at this. We’ve decided just to take a different pace of life and slow down a bit, not offer another challenge, but just go into storytelling. And we have picked stories from the Tales of the Resistance, which is the second of the Three Kingdom Tale books. And just to give you a little bit of a brief description of the story, be able to listen to them and hear them as stories but also let those stories kind of capture our lives and I’m listening as I read the Boiler Brat, the Sewer Rat, I listen and I say where in the world did Karen ever put that together? I don’t know how she did that.
Karen: Blame it on the Holy Spirit. I don’t know how these things happen. There certainly was an exposure and a heart cry for these children and so it comes out in the story like this.
David: The stories I read them and then I say they’re not the kind of things that you say I can respond immediately. You just have to kind of let them wrap themselves around your heart. Does that seem fair?
Karen: Yeah, no that’s fair.
David: So this is our agenda for today. It’s the second of four the next two times we visit we’ll read two more stories they’re all from that second book the tales of the resistance and you’re not a crusader, you’re just somebody who’s trying to say, “Let’s get exposure to what is happening in the world and it’s the bottom line fall in love with a king again.” This king who is a beautiful man and who has come to affect all areas of life in terms of the world and almost when you come to the end of the story like this you say “I just want to bow my knee and say I love you Jesus.”
Karen: Yeah. Right.
David: Deep beneath enchanted city great sewers rushed wastewater to treatment centers where sludge and gases were separated and then piped to the enormous boiler room for burning. Here huge vats of boiling water spewed steam through underwater tubes creating man-made power. Sewer Rats and Boiler Brats, the orphans who manned this underworld dreaded power outs more than cold, more than hunger because then the merciless rage of the enchanters men fell on them. The filthy drainage rust through the great sewers. Sewer Rat number one sniffed the air. He had lived in this dirty underworld for so long he could smell a backed-up drain a mile away. In the dark he inched along the narrow walkway above the reeking wastewater heading for drain 75 s. “Achew” he sneezed. He had been a sewer rat ever since he could remember, and he always had a cold.
Boiler brat number one his best and only friend talked of up there. Up there were city lights and warm fires and mothers and fathers. Sewer rat number one had no memory of up there. His forever memory was of the dark and the damp. He thought he had never really been warm. “Achew.” As far as he knew his mother was the rank sewer and his father was the sound of rushing wastewater. Slush. Shoo. The only memory that was not down here was the sound of a lone clear note and it was haunting to sewer rat number one. He couldn’t remember the rest of the tune, and he didn’t know where it came from.
Just one note sounding from far, far away. “‘This here’s the drain”, he shouted into the cavern of the huge sewer pipe. “‘Ayo, sewer rats, this here’s the drain, seventy-five south. Ayo, sewer rats, drain seventy-five south”! Other boys and girls crept through the darkness. All miserable sewer rats like himself, orphans taken into the enchanter’s custody at their parents’ deaths, with no one to love them, no one to protect them, no one to make them wash. They were dirty-faced, ragged, ill-mannered, and snotty-nosed. Some rats inched cautiously along the walkways, newcomers who remembered up there. Others ran in confident abandon, their bare feet and hands acting like suction against the dank, gripping sewer walls, or on the network of treatment pipes that crisscross the stinging hollow of the underworld cavern. Sewer rat number one shouted orders. “‘Lore them down there now! Don’t swallow nothing! Hurry them up, you rats!’ Three boys and two girls holding grappling hooks were lowered by others into the wretched waters. Sewer rat number one scrambled to turn the huge valve that shut the drain.
No use losing good workers in the suck-up, the powerful rush of waters that occurred once the drain was unclogged. After a few moments the five broke the surface, gasping for breath. Instantly five others dived in. “‘Hey you, hey you”! cried sewer rat number one. “‘That blast is sirens gonna go! Then we got the breakers on our backs”! Suddenly an awful wailing shriek began. The sound of it bombarded the sewer caverns violently sloshing the wastewater.
A bubble trap, a giant air pocket, informed during the hasty opening and closing of the main valve. Now the steam in the boiler room would shut down and all Enchanted City would plunge into darkness. A little girl beside sewer rat number one screamed, “‘Power out, power out! Oh, oh, oh, they’ll get us now, now we’ll get it”! Sewer rat number one hushed her. Rat number seventy-two. Too small to be down here.
She hadn’t even undergone branding. But little rats could climb into minor clogged pipes and drains. He took her hand as she cried and roughly swung her up to his shoulder. “‘Well rats, grin forth! All’s you follow me”! His voice could hardly be heard above the siren wail. With heavy hearts sewer rats dropped from the pipes to which they had climbed, their bare feet patting against the wet walkways. “‘Oh, oh, oh”! the little girl moaned, clutching sewer rat number one’s head. “‘Shut up your mouth”! he whispered roughly. He knew her crying would incite the breakers.
The children gathered in the boiler room. The angry mobs of the furnace doors were open, waiting for more fuel. But the great grim boilers were beginning to sputter and spout, shutting down because of the bubble trap. Boiler brats were throwing down their sludge shovels and taking off their hard hats. With dread they watched breakers already slipping around the iron cauldrons in the maze of blast pipes. These grim shadows crept silently into the darkening power station. The children all knew. There was no one who could keep them safe.
Sewer number one sniffed death. These were the no-people who had given themselves to the Enchanter and now they had no minds but to do the work of the evil ruler. In the dim light their chalky white faces set off piercing black eyes full of malice, all held cudgels, brutal clubs with ugly knobs in their folded arms. A huge boiler gurgled and bubbled hopelessly as one by one they shut down. “Mama, mama”, wept a little child very quietly. “Full-scale power off flumba”, said a boy wearing a suit of heats ease, a flimsy metal-like material that sometimes shielded brats from fire and steam. “Oh flumba, someone’s gonna get it.” It was Boiler Brat number one, Sewer rat’s friend. And these two felt responsible for all the other children. “Are you or someone’s gonna get broke if someone don’t do something fast? You gonna pop the bubble”, boiler brat challenged?
Popping the bubble meant diving down to the drain with a valve open, finding the air pocket, piercing it, and hanging on for dear life as a swooshing wastewater exploded through the open drain. Swimming back was sure doom. A popper could only hope to catch the neck downpipe drain by gnaw or by claw. One rat had survived popping, but he was pretty blasted, and he swallowed so much filthy water that he later died of sewer poisoning.
Suddenly the boiler room was filled with a fiery light. The enchanter himself had emerged from an opening as a Herald’s voice proclaimed, “The Fire Wizard, Lord of the Death-Drums, God of the Fire-Priest, Commander of Burners and Breakers, and Naysayers.” The children, sewer rats and boiler brats, edged toward the walls and tried to sneak behind pipes, only to be pushed back by the breakers, brutal clubs. In a rage the enchanter was hot to the touch. Those who came too close could be scorched. Clearly infuriated, the man who loved fire lifted his red head and screamed, one heart-stopping shriek that pierced to the very soul of all the children. “Ay, yay, yay, yay, yay, yay, powerouts, powerouts. How many times do I have to tell you powerouts are forbidden in my kingdom? Someone’s going to pay for this, somebody’s going to pay plenty.”
Opening his hands, his fingers shot flames. The rats and the brats cringed. By now the enchanter was surrounded by his personal bodyguard. The burners, their pokers flashing in the half-dark. “Oooooooooooooooooooo”! Well, the little voice, number 72, was overcome with terror. “Oooooooooooooooooooo”! Her voice cried, getting louder and louder. “Silence”! Shouted the enchanter. His voice boomeranged in the blast room.
His flashing eyes were malignant. “Who dares to interrupt me”? Sewer rat number one knew it was useless to explain that the noise was just one frightened little girl. Who in all Enchanted City cared about the trauma of an orphan child. “Bring the offender here”! commanded the enchanter. Instantly burners moved toward the whale. A breaker raised a cudgel and jammed it against 72. She screamed in pain and fell in a clump. Roughly burners dragged her limp body to the enchanter. “Somebody’s gotta do something”! whispered boy, boiler rat number one. “Silence”! Shouted the enchanter again. And all obeyed. Even number 72 was silent. She had fainted in fear. The tall fire wizard’s voice grew sinister. “Ah ha! I think I have a solution. Firing. Firing for five. Who will walk through the flames? Any volunteers? Here’s the first.” He pointed to the child at his feet and laughed. “Wah! Ha ha! Ho! Ha ha”! Suddenly, sewer rat number one, sneezed, “Ahchoo”!
The enchanter looked at him through narrowed eyelids. “Ah! Sewer rat number one, are you volunteer too”? Sewer rat number one swallowed hard. He took one step forward. “Actually, Sire, how’s about poppin”? A yellow light shone in the wizard’s eyes and the pokers in the hands of the burners flared brighter.” Ah yes, poppin! Any suggestion? Who’s the lucky popper”? Sewer rat number one, sneezed again and pointed to himself. “Ah, Sire, here’s the man for the job. No need for a fire in the right, Sire.” The enchanter raised his head and laughed. He laughed and laughed like a hyena howling over its prey. “Wah! Ha ha! Ah! Wah! Ha ha”! He stopped. “Oh, heroics, I love heroics. Why, of course, Sue, rat number one, be hero of the day. Just get that bubble-trap out of the drain. I don’t care if number one or number one-oh-one dies doing it.”
With that a signal was given. The burners surrounded the enchanter and exited the room, taking the fiery light with them. The breakers kept guard, holding the sewer rats and the boiler-rats hostage to number one’s intent. The children huddled in a relieved panic in the dim shadows of the boiler room. “Sew”, boiler rat whispered, “How you going to come out in one piece”? Sweat ran down his forehead. “Don’t know”, said number one, “but the bubbles gotta pop.” Sewer rat number one opened the valve above drain 75S. This the last, the last dive, the last moments. And he shuddered as he thought of popping. He shuddered again as he thought about firing, about hostages forced to walk through the flames. And he was glad that number 72 would be safe for a little while. But he would never see up there. “What is up there”, he wondered. “This underworld is bad, dark and cold. Is up there good, bright and warm”? Fear made number one shiver all over. He snipped the air. Almost near. He was glad the other rats were held hostage and that no one could see him shaking. “Boiler was good. My friend, boiler brat.” Sewer rat number one, took a deep breath, lowered his head, prepared to plunge. And then he sensed something. He looked up. A soft glow filled the end of the tunnel beyond drain 75S. “Burners? No.” No. But a man, a stranger, stood in the warm light. Number one thought he heard a note sounding from far away, clear, strong and haunting. “What are you doing, number one? The stranger called, standing on the walkway on the other side of the sewer tunnel. “Poppin”? ”Mmm, risky business.” “Powered out. Wizards fired up. Know what that means”? “Firing”? “Ah, yo.”
And sewer rat number one sneezed. “Achewie.” “In the kingdom of light it’s always right”, said the man, and the one note sounded louder. “A kingdom”? Asked number one. His heart was beating rapidly. “Yes, a kingdom where the king is good, and all the people live up there and where every orphan belongs to somebody.” “Don’t believe it.” The stranger started to hum the same one note. Then he stopped.
“Don’t pop.” “The firing”, sewer rat protested. “Close the drain valve. Stack rocks from the sewer siding in the water. the drain shoot. Open the drain. The suck-up will force the rocks through the bubble-trap. The enchanter himself knows how poppin’ can be done without risk to life.”
Sewer rat number one looked at the stranger in amazement. “Could this be true”? He struggled to shut the valve. He grunted and pulled, and he heaved rocks from the siding across the work-platform above drain 75S. They tumbled on the shoot and smashed against the closed system. He rushed to the valve and strained to open it. A splash, a tumbling moan in the pipes, then a bursting pop! Followed by a whooshing turbulence, whooshing of wastewater. It worked. Number 1 scrambled across the network of tubes to the other side. He wanted to see this strange drop close. He wanted to be near his light. He wanted to be warm. “How you know about this”?
The stranger smiled. “I know much more. I care who dies, or who is afraid, or who is weeping, or who is without love.” The radius from the stranger enfolded Sewer rat number 1 and warmed. “You know this note”? “I know the whole song. Come follow me up there, and I will teach you the rest of the tune.” Number one hung his head. There was nothing in the world he wanted more than to leave this terrible underworld to walk in the warmth of the light from this strange and wonderful stranger, to learn the rest of the notes of the one note that haunted his memory. But Sewer rat looked up into the eyes of the man. “But Boyly, my friend, No. 72 and all the other rats and brats.” “Come with me”, said the stranger, and the rat did. Together they climbed through the Sewer world over causeways and walkways and crisscross networks of pipes. The whole way the one note sounded above their heads, calling, calling. They came to the boiler room. The great vats had begun to heat, churning and bubbling and steaming. The breakers had all gone, and the boiler rats were shoveling sludge again. The Sewer rats in a sad circle, their heads hanging. None could bear to discover what had happened to No. 1.
“Sui”, called Boiler Brat No. 1 when he saw his friend. “You popped.” All the other children cheered and clapped. No. 72 ran to his side and embarrassed him with her hug. “No, no, not me.” He stuttered and pointed to the stranger. “Him. He.” It was then that the children really saw the stranger, and the one sound note entered into the heart of every orphan child no matter how dirty or ugly. He is like my father, each thought, or my favorite older brother, or my best friend. And none knew this was the thought of all the others. “I have heard that song, but what is the rest of the tune”, they wondered.
The boiler room, filled with ash piles and grime and mounds of furnace clinkers, was flooded with a stranger’s soft light. For the first time the sewer rats in the boiler-brats saw how dirty they were, how ragged and how forlorn they wanted to be clean and sleep in warm places and have someone fuss over them and bring them good food. “Come, follow me, the stranger called. Hum the one note you know and I’ll teach you the rest of the music.” And the children hummed. The big tough boys and the rough girls and the tiny ones too young for branding. “Hmmmmmmmm.”
“What about the breakers”? boiler brat number one asked. But the stranger only smiled and hummed the note louder and somehow they knew they would be safe with him. Sewer rat number one put his arm around his friend boiler brat and they all, every last one, followed the stranger out of the dark underworld. And they marched after the man who reminded them all of their fathers. And they hummed the call of the one-tone tune out of the fetid underworld in the dangerous blast room through the city where all the people stared, past the ashes of burning place over the garbage heap to a strange old gate into a park where trees grew. And no one stopped them because the stranger led them. They would have followed farther, farther in order to be close to the only one who cared about tired, lost, cold, hungry, and unhappy orphans.
Outgo: The fastest way to get information on where to buy the Tales of the Kingdom Trilogy 30th anniversary edition is to go to this website www.KingdomTales.com. You’ve been listening to the Before We Go podcast. And if you would like to write to us, please send us an email at the following address, firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please remember to rate, review, and share on whatever platform you listen. This podcast is copyright 2023 by Mainstay Ministries, Post Office Box 30, Wheaton, Illinois 60187.
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