Mustapha was an orphan lad who lived in a village at the edge of the hills. He was lonely, for his father and other relatives had been killed in a blood feud with a neighbouring tribe. He knew that when he was old enough to grow a beard, those who killed his family would seek his life too. Mustapha’s life was in danger. But he was not afraid. He said to himself: “I will keep my eyes open and not be harmed.”
Mustapha grew to be a man. El-Hanouchi, a well-dressed elderly stranger, met Mustapha one day as he was coming from his work in the fields. The stranger asked about his well being and spoke kindly to him. Mustapha was pleased at this new friendship, for very few strangers ever came to his village.
A few days later, the same stranger met him outside the village and exchanged friendly greetings with him. Then the stranger said: “I live far from here; I knew your father’s family and helped them in many ways. Now I see that you are a grown man, handsome and intelligent. I have come to see if I can be of service to you as I was to your father. Surely you are wasting your years in this village where there is nothing to be seen but fields, and nothing to gain but figs and olives.”
Mustapha felt flattered by the stranger’s words. When the stranger invited him to a small cafe for a meal, Mustapha gladly accepted. Seated in the corner of the cafe, an old man of the village watched with concern as the stranger and Mustapha entered into conversation. After the meal the stranger paid the bill. Mustapha thanked him and the man went on his way. Mustapha stood in the doorway thinking he was fortunate to have such a generous friend who might be able to deliver him from the tiring work in the fields. Exciting times were coming!
After the stranger had gone, the village elder, Si Bualarn, approached Mustapha and said: “Come with me, my son, I have something to tell you.” Looking for any excuse to be free from work, Mustapha agreed. In an olive grove at the edge of the village they found at pleasant place to sit together.
Si Bualam, speaking very seriously, warned the young man. “My son, beware of the stranger who is seeking to be your friend. He belongs to the tribe of El-Hanouchi and has come with evil plans. Do not be deceived by his show of friendship. Now that he has identified you, he will not rest until he has killed you. He does not have the courage to attack you in public, so he will seek to trick you to go with him. Then in some out of the way place he will kill you in secret.”
Mustapha was greatly troubled by the old man’s words. In truth, he was still under the spell of the stranger’s flattery. He felt powerless to resist the words of the smooth-talking stranger. Mustapha could only think of the new adventures. Si Bualam talked long and earnestly until Mustapha’s dreams of pleasures and gain began to fade and he realized that he truly was in danger. At last, he said: “Thank you, Si Bualam, for warning me. I will be very careful if he comes again.”
Si Bualam continued on very earnestly: “O my son, by your own strength and wisdom you will not be able to save yourself. El-Hanouchi is powerful and charming. He will trick you until you follow him like a sheep to the slaughter. There is a sure place of safety and I will tell you about it. See those mountains far off in the east? In those mountains you will discover the beautiful city of El Melja. The Prince of El-Melja was a friend of your father all his life. In fact, he stepped in for your father in the feud and by so doing drew on himself the anger of the El-Hanouchi tribe. They tried to kill the Prince. As a result the El-Hanouchis are banished from the city of El-Melja. If they enter it, they will be killed. If you can escape to that place of refuge, the enemy cannot touch a hair of your head. Take my advice and flee before your mortal enemy returns. Now go in peace!”
In the following days Mustapha was deeply disturbed. Villagers reported that they had seen El-Hanouchi in the area. But Mustapha loved his village and did not want to leave. He delayed fleeing to this unknown place of refuge.
Many days and weeks passed. Then one day, as he approached the village cafe, El-Hanouchi was seated near the entrance. He greeted Mustapha warmly and asked to speak to him privately. Mustapha wavered, being torn between the stranger’s charming manner and the firm advice of old Si Bualam. In the end Mustapha’s curiosity got the best of him. He walked up the road with El-Hanouchi.
“I know that many fools in your village have warned you against me,” El-Hanouchi said, “but I will prove once for all that my purposes are good. You are a strong young man and you can help me. I will make it worth your while. At the edge of the forest I have discovered a robber’s hiding place from the olden days and much treasure is buried there. If you help me finish digging it out, half of it will be yours.” The bait was too much for young Mustapha. He was tempted by both the adventure and the hope of becoming rich. They agreed to make their way to the forest’s edge as soon as the moon was risen, which would be about two o’clock in the morning. Mustapha slept at the public bath so that he could leave the village without anyone seeing him.
The two men met at the edge of the forest and by the light of the moon they found the entrance to the old robber’s hiding place. Mustapha entered the thicket first with El-Hanouchi close behind. The lad began to feel uneasy as there was no sign of any previous digging – no tools, no fresh dirt. Suddenly, it dawned on him how easy it would be for El Hanouchi to kill him. No one was around and all the village was asleep. Looking up with concern, be thought be saw evil in the eyes of El-Hanouchi, and his heart began beating wildly in terror.
Just then, from far down the road, came the familiar voice of old Si Bualam singing. Before El-Hanouchi could stop him, Mustapha ran out of the thicket and raced toward his old friend. “Praise be to God!” said Si Bualam. “Now come away with me quickly!”
After catching his breath, Mustapha asked Si Bualam: “My friend, how is it that you followed me tonight!”‘ Si Bualam answered: “I, too, slept in the bath house. I knew that El-Hanouchi had visited you yesterday, and I was watching to see what would happen. When you got up and left the bath house, I followed. And now, my son, believe my words. Evil is planned for you. El-Hanouchi’s thirst for your blood will not be satisfied until he has killed you. Flee to El-Melja, my son! Don’t waste time even in saying farewell to your house.” The warning of Si Bualam was so urgent and Mustapha was so afraid that he left at once for El-Melja.
On the afternoon of the second day he saw in the distance the walls of the city of El-Melja gleaming in the bright sunlight. His mind filled with doubts. Would the Prince of El-Melja truly welcome him to the city? And what about El-Hanouchi? Had he really planned to kill Mustapha? If so, he might be hiding outside the gates of El-Melja to attack him!
When dawn broke, Mustapha was nearing the gates of El-Melja. The gates would open at sunrise. Just as the sun rose in glory, he could see in the distance that the gates were flung wide in glorious welcome. At that very moment, as he was leaving the brush, he saw the form of his enemy on the hillside. Mustapha ran as fast as he could with El-Hanouchi closing in on him. The elders, with the Prince in their midst, had gathered round the gates to welcome the orphan lad.
Only a few meters separated Mustapha from his dreaded enemy as he neared the gates. El-Hanouchi hurled his heavy knife barely missing the boy’s head. At that moment, completely exhausted, Mustapha threw himself across the entrance into the city. He was safe! The good Prince stooped to lift him up and drew him into the safety of his city. El-Hanouchi, lacking his victim, was filled with great hatred as he made haste to depart.
The Prince addressed the elders: “I know this young man. He is the son of my friend who was killed by the El-Hanouchi tribe. Rejoice with me that he is safe in our keep.” Mustapha experienced great joy and peace, safe from the evil stranger who had failed to trick him to his death. He could dwell in peace, in that place where the enemy could never dare face the Prince who ruled.
Learning From the Story
Dear reader, there has been a blood feud between the human race and sin from the days of our father Adam until now.
There is only one place you can go for refuge from sin — only one place appointed by God. That is to the Messiah, the prince of life. He proved by His life and His resurrection from the dead that He has the divine power of victory over sin. As the Holy Injil says: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through the Messiah Jesus our Lord.”1 He alone could say: “I am the way and the truth and the life.”2 Therefore, “To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”3
The Messiah holds open for us the door to the place of refuge. He said: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”4 Jesus has also said to all who come to Him: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand.”5
You can come into a new life right now through Jesus the Messiah. He stands at the gate to the “City of Life” ready to welcome and shelter you from the power of sin and Satan. Open your heart to Jesus the Messiah and listen to His gentle invitation:
“Come unto Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”6
Dear friend, you can find out for yourself why the Messiah is the only one who can forgive your sins. Learn why He is the only safe refuge in this life and from judgment to come. We are offering, free of charge, an important and interesting Bible Correspondence Course.