May 10, 2023
Sharing part of the second story from the first audiobook in the “Tales of the Kingdom” series, David and Karen Mains discuss the bottom-line message of the Lord Jesus Christ: His Kingdom.
We are spending our time together this month looking at Christ’s message about his kingdom and how David and I attempted to capture for children that great message.
David: Karen, fill in the blank. Two words are missing. Unless you become like a blank, blank, you will not see the kingdom of heaven.
Karen: I think it’s “except you become like a little child.” Little child, right?
David: You got it.
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.
Karen: We are spending our time together this month looking at Christ’s message about his kingdom and how David and I attempted to capture for children that great message.
David: Sometimes Jesus called that message to the kingdom of God. Other times, at the kingdom of heaven, he used those terms interchangeably.
Karen: And our job was to capture the essence of what our Lord was talking about in a series of children’s stories we eventually titled, “The Kingdom Tales.”
David: And we targeted what age, Karen?
Karen: Oh, children of all ages.
David: How successful do you think we were?
Karen: Pretty successful, I think.
David: Kind of way beyond our expectations.
Karen: Way beyond our expectations. So, we have a readership of younger children whose parents or adults read to them. And then grade schoolers sort of get into the stories and then older ones begin to suspect there are deep meanings beneath the stories. And then we have wonderful letters from adults who’ve read the tales and were moved deeply and sometimes to tears.
David: That first book came out about 40 years ago and then books two and three. They’re now moving to the place where there is an animated series being talked about and we’re working through things legally. A movie, school plays, being written, all of that. Lots of things that are happening.
Karen: David, I just had an email. I don’t know if I’ve had time to tell you, from a couple who wondered if they could translate the tales into the Russian language.
David: That was exciting.
Karen: I haven’t even had a chance to get back to them. But so, I would say that the books have a life of their own. There’s a life way apart from anything we ever dreamed or could even orchestrate.
David: Well, these things were going on. I had an idea. I thought, you know what?
Karen: Bright idea.
David: I enjoy reading those tales to grandchildren. I would like to be able to go to a studio and just record all of them. There are 36 stories in all. So, I checked out what it would cost me to do that, and I quickly dropped the idea because it is really expensive. And then I thought, “You know what I ought to do. I just thought I’d buy some simple equipment and we should go somewhere to this person’s house.” He lives further outside of the city area. So, it’s more quiet. And so, we set everything up and I started to record, and we were just getting into it. And my friend said, “Whoops, there goes a plane over.”
Karen: You found yourself in an air traffic pattern.
David: Planes kept coming over from the west coast to Chicago. And so, we would stop out of the how many times and wait till the plane went over. Or the school bus unloaded just a little bit beyond his door. But I got them all recorded. I’m not kind of pleased. I am kind of a Rube Goldberg type of man’s reading his own stories. But they’ve been received well and so we’re playing some as to how they sound.
Karen: So, this is sort of a grandfatherly reading, right?
David: That’s right.
Karen: Okay. I think you’ve captured it beautifully in what I’ve heard.
David: The last podcast we did picked up the story number one which laid out Enchanted City, which is like the kingdom of darkness.
David: It’s a very bad place. And how two orphan boys want to get away from there. And they’re fleeing to what their mom has told them about Great Park. And Great Park is the presentation of the beauty of the kingdom.
Karen: It’s a place where the trees grow, where they’re living things. A different world from Enchanted City.
David: So, as we try to say, how do we present these great truths of scripture in a way that children would understand them, children of all ages. We started with the dark picture of what the enemy kingdom is like. And now we’re moving into what the kingdom of light is like. And the Orphan Keeper’s Assistant is going after those two orphan boys.
Karen: They’re from the Enchanted City. She’s been sent out by the Orphan Keeper because they put the orphans to work in the power station below the city.
David: So, now we’re getting that contrast and then the third story introduces for the first time the king. So, we’re just kind of laying it out as we put the pieces together. Let’s pick up the story. However, the Orphan Keeper’s Assistant is trying to find where these two orphans have gone.
“I am the Orphan Keeper’s Assistant.” She announced loudly, hoping everyone in the room would be impressed. She hooked a thumb under her official button and pushed it out from her blouse. Opening her basket, she produced a signed document. “I have a warrant for errands here, signed by Orphan Keeper herself. Two runaways last seen at Stonegate Inference, one called Scarboy.”
Her eyes were beginning to adjust to the dim light inside the cottage and what she saw astounded her. Two girls cleared dishes from the extended table, feeling the surface with their hands, counting with their fingers. They were blind. Skinny sticks of children ran in and out. “Who would want such skeletons?” Orphan Keeper’s Assistant thought. Three children were playing a game on the floor, one with crutches, one not moving. What kind of hole is this? Who wants orphans?
Then she spotted two boys who stood in a corner. They moved away from her gaze. The older one hid his cheek behind his hand and held the young one tightly by his other hand. There they are.
The young ranger made a motion. “Excuse me, Mercy, but I must keep watch. Will you need anything?” he asked, glancing at the woman. But the Caretaker’s wife shook her head. With a sweep of his cloak, he was out and gone. “Fool”, thought the Orphan Keeper’s Assistant. “Do you think this old bitty is a match for me?”
She was sorry to see him go. She needed a little romance in her life. An assistant got sick and tired of orphan role calls, orphan headcounts, orphan work shifts, orphan manuals. Who needed another orphan hunt? The enchanter’s, the guru, is hardly the place for such a sentimental creature as she. She often dreamed of a nice young man saying, “Orphan Keeper’s Assistant, you are my heart’s desire.”
The older boy in the corner glared at her. She glared back then said, “Oh, it’s hot, hot,” I’ll say. She took off her sweater, plopped in a chair and rolled down her heavy stockings. She wiped her face with a large bandana she had taken from her basket. She lifted her hat; a rotten tomato fell to the floor, and someone giggled. “You’ll get yours; you’ll get yours”, thought Orphan Keeper’s Assistant. But out loud she said, “Whose children are these? They can’t all belong to you.” Mercy smiled again, the wrinkles creasing upward. “They are mine”, she said, looking at the young woman straight in the eye. They’re all mine. We have no orphans in Great Park. Everyone here belongs to someone else.”
“Everyone here belongs to someone else?” The Orphan Keeper’s Assistant had never heard such a silly claim. If she could not prove the two children were orphans, she would have to snatch their own ways and escape quickly. When Mercy seated herself at one end of the long table in the room, the Orphan Keeper’s Assistant made her move. She ran to the boys, cringing in the corner. She scooped Little Child under one arm and grabbed Scarboy’s hand with the other and dashed for the door. But try as she might, Orphan Keeper’s Assistant could not drag Scarboy out the door of caretaker’s cottage. She tugged and pooled, she huffed and puffed, smacked, and smudged. Finally, if she gave up and looked quizzically at Mercy.
“We have no orphans in Great Park”, Mercy repeated. “These children belong here. You cannot take them unless they leave willingly.” “Willingly, huh?” A gleam appeared in the eyes of Orphan Keeper’s Assistant. “You’re old, old,” she said to Mercy, “You’re too old to stop me.”
It was a challenge. The two boys moved quickly back into the far corner. Orphan Keeper’s Assistant settled herself at the opposite end of the table from Mercy. She placed her elbows on the tabletop with her chin and her hands. Mercy took the same pose. The two women’s eyes locked. Everyone in the cottage became still. “What was happening? Who would win? Why, oh, why, had the strong ranger gone away”?
In the corner, Scarboy and Little Child held each other tightly. The Orphan Keeper’s Assistant spoke first. “By the Orphan Keeper, by Scars and Mars, by Pain and Sadness, Ilds and Madness, by Orphan Keeper, Orphan Keeper, you do not belong to Mercy or anyone else.”
Now, pains long forgotten by the children in the room were remembered. The boy in the wheelchair hunched and whimpered. The blind sisters bumped into each other. One dropped a dish. One snarled. Another child scratched. The lame child turned his back on his partners. Mercy looked the Orphan Keeper’s Assistant straight in the eye. She answered her spell. “Caretaker, caretaker, caretaker’s wife, who’s are these? They are mine. They are mine. Caretaker, caretaker, caretaker’s wife.”
Mercy lifted her face from her hands, never taking her eyes from the opponent’s face. She threw her arms wide as though she would encircle the whole room. “Things are not what they seem,” she cried. “Things are not what they seem. In Great Park we know this to be true.”
The boy in the wheelchair straightened his back. The pain was gone once more. He held his head high. The blind girls helped each other sweep up the broken dish. One whistled a little song. The child with crutches scooted over to his friend. Someone laughed. Two of the skinny children ran out to play.
Orphan Keeper’s Assistant was sweating profusely now. Droplets of water ran down her face. Blats, smats! She’d be fired, for sure. Burned by burners. “Where did Mercy’s strength come from?” The Orphan Keeper’s Assistant made fists of her hands and jammed them down hard on the tabletop. “Ordinary orphan hunt! Ha! This is not ordinary at all. Lousy Orphan Keeper should’ve come herself.” She pinned her mind to the boy standing in the corner. “Scarboy, Scarboy, come, come. She thought by the death drums, the fire-priest, by the fire-robe. I’ll make you come willingly.” Over and over, she concentrated on Scarboy’s name. But the work was hard.
Then she noticed the boy take a step out of the corner. She saw him let go of his brother. “Scarboy. Scarboy, come, come.” It would only be minutes before the boy was at her side. Suddenly the orphan stiffened. “My name is Hero”, he asserted. “Hero? Hero who?” Orphan Keeper’s Assistant responded to the boy’s defiance. “That’s not your name. Never, whoever heard of an orphan named Hero.”
Quickly the young woman increased her concentration. She felt the room tilt toward the door. She called in her mind, “Scarboy, come, come.” Slowly the boy took another step. “Now, now was the time. Call out the names.”
The woman rose to her feet, still gripping the edge of the table. Her back bent, her eyes pinned to mercies. Her voice was shrill. “I am the Orphan Keeper’s Assistant. In the name of the Orphan Keeper, in the name of fire-priest and burners and breakers and naysayers, in the name of the enchanter, I command all who belong to that burning one to come to me.”
The children whimpered. Scarboy began to walk toward the Orphan Keeper’s Assistant. His eyes dazed. His steps wouldn’t. He dropped his hand. The raw and ugly scar showed on his face. Beads of sweat stood out on Mercy’s wrinkled forehead. The white hair beneath her snout was damp, but she smiled. She gripped her end of the table. She kept her eyes locked with those of the young woman. She rose from her seat. She commanded, “I am Mercy, wife to caretaker of Great Park. In the name of Ranger Commander, protector and keeper of the watch, in the power of the sacred flames, by the name of the king, son of the emperor of all who bring the kingdom, I forbid, I adjure, I prevent.”
The house tilted back again. The boy stepped back toward the corner. Mercy lifted her hands above her head. She clasped them together. “To the king!” she shouted. “To the kingdom. To the restoration.”
The Orphan Keeper’s spell was broken. The children sighed. Mercy slumped. Protection closed over them again. The assistant dropped her eyes. A small wail came from her mouth. “Oh, me, oh, my! Find Mercy”, said the Orphan Keeper. “I found Mercy, but Mercy hasn’t done me. I’ll get fired. I’ll get fired.”
The Orphan Keeper’s Assistant put her face in her hands and wept. She wailed, something pitiful. She blubbers and hollered. She pulled a handkerchief from her basket to wipe her face. Gently. A tiny hand patted her arm. Touched her shoulder. Wiped tears away from her cheeks, then her eyes. It was one of the blind girls. The child, smelling of lavender and soap, pressed her cheek against the cheek of the Orphan Keeper’s Assistant.
Opening her eyes, the young woman discovered that she was surrounded by the children. The boy in the wheelchair offered a cool cloth, damp and fragrant, to press against her hot forehead. The child on crutches had poured a drink and held it out to her. One of them said, “Don’t cry, Orphan Keeper’s Assistant. Don’t cry.” But she cried all the more. Who had ever spoken kindly to her? Her father had died in the bellows works beneath the city, and her mother had been an outcast.
Then the two boys standing near the corner came forward. The older spoke to Mercy. “I will go back with her. Little child can stay with you. Firing is terrible. No one should be fired because of me.”
Orphan Keeper’s Assistant wailed. She remembered branding. Her hand felt sore at the memory. She was Orphan Keeper’s Assistant only because she served Orphan Keeper in the enchanter without question, not because they cared for her. She had no friends. But Mercy had said everyone here belongs to someone else. The children patted her hand. Mercy cleared her throat. “I think I have a happy ending. Why doesn’t the Orphan Keeper’s Assistant stay? That way, Hero won’t have to go back, and she won’t have to be fired.” The children danced and jumped. “Yes, stay! Stay, Orphan Keeper’s Assistant. Stay with us. Please, please, we want you to stay.”
The Orphan Keeper’s Assistant blew her nose. She sniffled and snuffled. She looked at Mercy. The young woman’s eyes were full of wonder. “You want me?” She asked, amazed. “I have a confession to make”, said Mercy. “It was I who called you from the Orphan Keeper. I willed you across the garbage dump to Stonegate Inference. I wanted you here. I think you’ll be very good with the children.” “Stay”, said the blind girl, pleading. “We don’t want you to be fired. Live with us. You’ll love the king. You can live with us.” “Hurrah!” cried the lame child. He waved his crutch in the air, tottering off balance, and almost fell, but the Orphan Keeper’s Assistant reached out and caught him. “But why?” stammered the young woman. “Why?”
Mercy picked up the spoon to stir the pot on the fire. “One more person to love, I guess. Just one more person to love.” Orphan Keeper’s Assistant blew her nose. She wiped her face with the damp cloth. “Old woman”, she said. “You’re no old woman, and that’s the truth.” Mercy laughed. She walked over to the chair where the young woman sat. She put her arms around her and said, “I told you that things are not what they seem.”
And so, the hunter stayed. Because she found the orphan she had been seeking – herself. She discovered that the kingdom was for outcasts. And one must become an outcast in order to follow the king.
What is your response as you listen, Karen? I’m kind of very self-conscious because I remember recording.
Karen: And I feel very objective, I think I’ve said this before, as far as the writing. It was 40 years ago, and I don’t revisit the things I’ve written very much unless I’ve been asked to speak on a topic. So, I did reread them. I think I’ve said this before in podcast. But I was amazed by the storytelling aspect of it. I mean, it was sort of say, “How did I write this? I’m not this good of a writer.” You do feel like you have been empowered to enter into an imaginative world and to create a livability that the reader can identify with.
David: I listened to them and I’m glad I took on the project. It’s obvious that this is not a professional reader, but I feel keenly as I read these stories because I remember them forming and saying, are we getting across what we want to get across. I think that there is something very beautiful about them.
Karen: So now we have some audio books of all of your recordings that you did.
David: I did all 36 stories and actually I’ve only heard the first 12, but those have been put onto CDs, are there four CDs? You know, if people would like those, they can just request them. I would say if you want to send a gift of any size, that’s more than. Some people can’t at all and I’d say fine, we’ll send them to you and somebody else will make it up. That’s why it’s been all through our ministry.
Karen: That’s right.
David: So, as people get a chance to listen to them, what is our desire in all of this? Basically, what?
Karen: To fall in love with the King again, in a new and fresh way that you, maybe you had a love for Christ. This is a Christ figure early on in your spiritual journey and would be thrilled if this reading would renew that. So, you have a deeper, more lively feeling at this time in your life about your love for him.
David: And that would be something that was not in our minds. Long ago, we’re just trying to get a job done, trying to be obedient. But in the process of all of that, the Lord has said, “Thank you for your work, David and Karen, and now let me show you what I can do.” And so, we’re just kind of sitting back and saying, “Wow, this is really something. That’s interesting.” I have to get those next 12 and then the last 12 all sit so that if people would like those, we have them ready. We haven’t said how you get them.
So, Dean, I’m going to ask you just to give the address again and then get ready to write it down. OK, friend. Dean, you take it. Please tell our listeners how to get in contact with us.
Outgo: 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: email@example.com. That’s all-lower-case letters. 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.
To get a copy of Tales of the Kingdom Trilogy, go to this website https://kingdomtales.com/
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