Godís Magnificent Beanfield: A Unique Florida Farm Family Experiences a World-shaking Miracle and Carries Out God's Awesome Plan., by Bowlin, Don
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- ISBN: 9781449751913 | 1449751911
- Cover: Hardcover
- Copyright: 10/2/2012
CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT REVEREND BUTLER FELT a little strange riding with Sheriff Bernam in his dark blue unmarked Victoria Ford, but he was pleased the sheriff had suggested this arrangement. It was much more formal than his driving the three religious VIPs to Danaville and the farm in his smaller four-door Toyota by himself. "Reverend, I very seldom have anyone to ride in the front seat of this car, but to have an outstanding Danaville preacher as a passenger is a big privilege." Wade laughed. "Just wait until we pick up our guests today and tomorrow; then you'll really feel privileged." Bernam laughed in reply. The sheriff asked what the visiting clerics would do if something unusual was found during the exploration. The reverend said it was not a case of if but when and went on to explain what he meant. With Bernam asking questions as Butler talked, time went by quickly, and they soon were crossing the North Bay Bridge as they neared Panama City. When they parked at the airport, it was 10:05 a.m. They entered the main terminal and walked over to a bank of TV monitors that were located near Delta's ticketing counter. The reverend soon spotted that the arriving flight from Atlanta was on time. He and Bernam walked to the designated gate and waited, along with ten or twelve other people. A Delta 737 soon pulled up to their gate ramp. Wade was a little nervous. Meeting his close friend Billy Durdin, along with two other well-known, learned clerics, was a unique experience for him. This was the beginning of bringing five outstanding men of God to the farm to confirm the truth of what had happened at the farm and what was about to happen. He glanced at the sheriff and noticed that even he seemed edgy. The deplaning passengers began to emerge from the ramp into the gate reception area. Butler spotted Billy Durdin, who was the tallest among the men who were walking with him. Durdin saw Wade, and he smiled, waved, and turned his head to tell his two companions his minister friend was waiting. "Hello, Wade. It's really good to see you again." "Same here, Billy. The Kelly family and I have been eagerly looking forward to the arrival of all of you. As you know, two more are due tomorrow." Billy turned and put his hand gently on the arm of one of the gentlemen beside him. "Rev. Wade Butler, this is Rev. Chase Griffin, one of the associate ministers of the First United Methodist Church of Raleigh, North Carolina." Griffin was in his late fifties, of medium height, and had a shock of pure white hair. Durdin put his other hand on the arm of the second man and said, "This other friend of mine is Dr. Neil Claussen of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tennessee." Dr. Claussen was a little younger, somewhat short, and slightly over two hundred pounds, with receding dark hair. They all shook hands and warmly greeted each other. "Now, gentlemen, I want you to meet a very important man in our community—Sheriff Claude Bernam," Butler said. Claude was an imposing figure at well over six feet in his crisp tan uniform trimmed in royal blue. "He volunteered to drive us and be our official escort." The three visiting clerics shook Claude's hand and warmly exclaimed that they were happy to meet him, which made the sheriff feel good. On their way to the baggage claim area, a number of people in the terminal stared at the four men in suits and the big uniformed lawman who were walking along and talking together. Butler told the clerics that the sheriff had arranged for one of his deputies to meet them at baggage claim, and the officer would load their bags into his patrol car, ensuring there was enough space and comfort for everyone. Since they did not know how long they would be staying at the farm, each cleric had brought more than one bag. They were introduced to Deputy Charlie Williams, and they thanked him profusely for his assistance. The three visitors were truly impressed with the reception they received. The deputy followed the sheriff's car as they exited the airport and drove north to Danaville and the farm. During the drive, Billy asked Wade to give them an overview of how the preparations for the security and the exploration were proceeding. As Wade was finishing relating the details, the car entered the Danaville city limits. After observing Main Street and a dozen blocks or so of quaint homes and yards, they began to see pastures and fields. The conversation turned to questions about Danaville and Mason County. Reverend Griffin and Dr. Claussen wanted to know details about the entire community, but the sheriff had already slowed the car to make the turn into the farm. They would continue their conversation later. "I'm very impressed," Dr. Claussen said. "This is a beautiful farm!" Reverend Griffin added, "It's totally idyllic. I see what you meant, Wade, when you said the Kellys attribute their success to God's help. It's evident." The sheriff parked the car in front of the house, and all five men got out. Deputy Williams parked right behind the sheriff's car, got out, and stood by, ready to unload the luggage. "JIM, THIS IS Marvin. You, the sheriff, and I met a week ago in Varnum, and we agreed to stay in touch with each other as we gathered information about the Kelly farm." The editor collected his thoughts from Marvin Gardner's excited outburst on the phone. "Yes, we did say we'd keep our ears open to anything people might say about the storms and the family and pass it along to each other. What's up, Marvin?" "I was walking out of my store about ten minutes ago, and I saw Sheriff Bernam's personal Crown Victoria Ford headed north. He was driving, and the odd thing was, Reverend Butler was in the front seat and there were three other men in the back. I couldn't tell who it was in the back, but they had suits on. And," he stressed, "a deputy was following them in his patrol car." That would be the clerics, Jim thought. I can't tell Marvin anything; the time is too critical. He'd spread it all over town within several hours. He'll begin to learn things late tomorrow afternoon anyway when the national guard convoys out to the farm. "Well, Marvin, I have no idea what that was all about. It may be some out-of-town church officials here for a meeting with Butler, and the sheriff was providing transportation—perhaps for sightseeing or something like that." "Jim, I don't buy that. I think I'm getting the runaround, even from you. Claude was in my store just two days ago, and when he left, he said he'd get back to me if he stumbled onto something. I'm going to drive by the farm right now and see if that's where those two cars ended up." Summers mentally counted to ten and said, "Perhaps it would be better if you wait until you see the sheriff again and ask him about what you saw, or—" "No," Gardner interrupted. "I know there's something big going on at that farm, and since no one wants to tell me what it is, I'll find out myself." With that, he hung up.