Sherif Adams was considered a messiah by many in the Middle Kingdom and had managed to accomplish quite a following in his unusual ministry.
Sherif Tian-yi Adams was the only child of Muhammad Serif Adams and Vanessa Tian-yi, an Arab and a Scotswoman. The Adams’ lives were defined by hours in the field. Their hands had no fingernails, they were worn away in the dirt planting rice. Their feet were shoeless. But, they had hope.
They managed to put him through secondary school. In the morning, Sherif would work the fields, and at eight, he would walk to school. When he came home, he would study. His classmates mocked him for his stink, for not being pure Asian, and for not being able to participate in sports after school.
Sherif suffered from epileptic fits. Many of the farmer’s children did. It was said that there was something in the chemical fertilizer. The local officials assured the farmers that there was not. But children continued to grow cancers and die.
A local official let him attend provincial university for three years, in exchange for a sizable bribe from his parents. Strange instances of magic sometimes happened around him, but two mages who were brought in both declared that he was not magical and they looked for other sources of the disturbances. Sherif was known to walk the campus at night, speaking to himself in tongues. After two years at school, he was given a report of being medically unfit and expelled.
While Sherif was gone, his parents had aged dramatically. He returned home, and worked the farm for three months. He put everything back into order. He repaired the rice field dikes, and put a coat of paint on the house. He helped with the harvest, and then again with the planting. Sherif had taken some agricultural courses at the provincial university, and the fields blossomed.
After the farm was restored, young Sherif applied for a job in the local prefecture. He was accepted ahead of many less qualified but more Han applicants. He was given the robes of a junior official. The Adams had more to eat, more clothes to wear, and better furniture than they had ever had before. They even bought a small tractor, which Sherif arranged to rent out. Sherif put a poorer neighbor to work in his fields, so that he had more time for his job in town.
However, such things were not to last. Jealous Han neighbors, angry at the family's success, came in the night. They felt humiliated and sought revenge. While Sherif was working late, neighbors came, broke the dikes, and burnt down the family house. When Muhammad and Vanessa came running out of the house, they were beaten to death and then strung up in a tree by the mob.
When Serif came home, the mob of angry Han were still there. They beat him, tied him to the back of a truck, dragged him to the edge of town, and left him there for dead.
The next morning, Sherif was found. His smashed face was not immediately recognized, but his robes were. He was a popular official in town, where prejudices were overlooked because he was not corrupt and he was efficient. He was taken to the local hospital. He recovered quickly. A shattered rib had to be removed, and his foot had been broken, but both wounds healed quickly.
But while he was convalescing, the senior town official came to speak to Sherif. He explained that while he had no problem with the young man, many in the community were angry with him. The senior official spoke of opportunities abroad, and explained that matters were much better in the city. He gave Sherif fifteen thousand credits and told him that he must leave.