Fear and faith cannot coexist. Fear traps us; forcing us to cling to the familiar, while the world unapologetically moves on. Faith, however, takes us on the most unexpected and beautiful journeys, discovering new levels of purpose and blessings. But what happens when you muster the courage to break the shackles of fright and reach for help, and those most capable of lending a hand are the first to slap yours away? What happens when the past refuses to concede to the present, and guilt casts a menacing shadow over your future? What happens when everyone you have ever loved has left you, and those that claim to love you have only dragged you down into the darkest of holes? Would your soul succumb to the pressures of prostitution, prison, and pessimists, or would you hear that faint voice calling you to search deep down and find: Unshakeable Faith. This short story shows how long a little faith can go!
“Alright ladies, today is your lucky day. Apparently God hasn’t completely forgotten about you!” Officer Craig made his way to the holding cell and gazed at the hodgepodge of women behind the bars, before turning his attention to the man who had followed him down the hall. “This here is Pastor Moses Thompson, and he has a little offer to discuss.”
Only a handful of the women actually directed their attention to the husky police officer. A couple of Hispanic girlfriends in full club attire that had been charged with public intoxication; a young Caucasian woman in tattered clothing who looked higher than a NASA exploration; and an African-American woman dressed in some short shorts and a tank top with no bra. The other women continued chatting amongst themselves and sleeping on the benches. One woman argued on the pay phone with her mother about bail money.
He was a tall and older man. The shoulder pads in his suit coat made the jacket look completely oversized for his slim body. He had a small afro and a kind face. The type of welcoming eyes every man of the pulpit should have. “Ladies, if any of you have had the unfortunate pleasure of staying with us before, then you may know that I’m Pastor Moses Thompson, the chaplain here at Kings County Sheriff’s Station. Some of you may not believe in God, but I can tell you He woke me up during these wee morning hours and told me that one of his children was in need.” His voice was worn and raspy, like cigarettes had waged a victorious war on his vocal chords.
The Black woman and the two Latina women all looked away at the mention of God. The white lady stood up from the bench and walked closer to the bars. Her face and neck had scabs and scratch marks, her hair was stringy and thin, and the white tint in her eyes was now a discolored light yellow.
“I’ve come to extend a little holy hospitality to you all. I’ve worked out a little something with the judge. You can either spend your Sunday in here trying to detox and deal with the judge tomorrow morning, or you can attend my service? Anybody want a little more God and a little less cage?”
“I want to be with God,” the middle-aged white woman proclaimed.
“Oh, well hallelujah,”
Pastor Thompson didn’t get to finish his statement. “You got something to get me as high as the heavens? Come on, pastor. God knows I need my medicine. He told you to give it to me!” She stuck her arm through the bars and grabbed a lapel of his jacket.
Officer Craig quickly knocked her hand away. “Back up.”
“Any of you? Will any of you come? I have a van outside that is ready to take anybody willing to go.” The pastor was practically pleading with the group.
“Ah, you tried pastor,” the officer patted him on the shoulder and looked at a clipboard. “Most of these women will be back on the street later this afternoon or tomorrow anyway. They don’t care.”
“Any of you?” The pastor asked once more while backing up toward the clerical area. “All it takes is faith.”
An African-American woman in her early twenties lifted her head from her lap and looked at the pastor.
“Yes, you dear. Will you come? Don’t be scared. Think faith.”
She stood up from the stiff bench and walked towards the bars. Her make-up was smeared and the left side of her mouth was slightly swollen. Standard issue office staples were holding her shirt together and it didn’t look like a fashion statement. Her hair was disheveled and her face looked weathered beyond the years her ID indicated. She pulled her skirt down and it still barely reached her mid thigh.
Pastor Thompson looked into her eyes. “Faith is the first step.” He turned and shouted, “Officer Craig! I have one that is going to go.”
Officer Craig walked back and used the microphone on his radio to have the cell gate opened. “C’mon you.” He held it open just enough for the young woman to walk through. He slammed the gate shut once she was completely out. “You just posted bail.”
“How come she gets bail?”
The inquiries and comments were more numerous than the women. Many of them ran to grab hold of the bars and beg face-to-face.
Pastor Thompson shook his head. “I wasn’t referring to the jail church, but my real church. We have a great choir, a friendly congregation, and I hear the pastor isn’t so shabby. And today we’re having a special potluck to celebrate our fifteen year anniversary!”
“You guys tricked us,” many of the women continued to yell. “You didn’t tell us all that.”
“How else did you guys think he was going to take you to church?” Officer Craig frowned. “What? God isn’t so bad now?”
“I love the Lord,” one lady yelled, trying to shake the steel bars. “Hallelujah Jesus almighty!”
Pastor Thompson smiled but began to walk away. “Come on, my dear.” He directed the one woman who had genuinely taken him up on his offer, as Officer Craig followed behind them. “I know I’m glad, I’m sure the Lord’s glad, and I can only hope you’re glad that you decided to attend. What’s your name by the way?”
She looked down at her unmanicured toe nails sticking out from her open toe heels, then up to Pastor Thompson. Her normal response to the men that asked her that question was always, Ebony. She had to maintain a concealed identity, but more importantly, she had to distance her real self from who she needed to be to survive. But this time felt different. “My name is, Faith.”
Rickey Teems II is an acclaimed author, but that probably wasn’t too difficult to figure out since this is, well, a publishing website for books. What you may not have known is that his creativity spans all age groups and he has won awards and received recognition for both his children’s books and fiction novels. Teems obtained both his Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy with honors, and actively works with adolescents in mentoring and counseling programs in South Central Los Angeles. Teems is an Air Force veteran, active church member, and father to two beautiful daughters.
His award winning and faith filled works for adults include: Regression, The Healing of Love and Laughter, Fighting for Glory, Unshakeable Faith and Can I be Frank. His young adult and children’s books are: Keep it 100: Real Talk on being a Real Man, You Can’t Eat Toes for Breakfast and Why Can’t We See God (book 1 in the Harry and Sherry Discovery Series). To contact Rickey, be sure to visit: www.noguilebooks.com or find him on FaceBook and Twitter and say 'what's up.'