Faith wiped the emerging flow of tears from her cheeks, but couldn’t prevent her chest from heaving.
“I’m sorry, honey.” Sister Clara wrapped her arms around Faith and squeezed her so tight that more tears fell from Faith’s eyes. “But you know the best part about our lowest points in life? We give God that much more space to take us higher. Is Brian here with you today?”
Faith wiped her eyes and runny nose. She had to take a second so she could speak a complete sentence without sniffling. “I never saw him again after that night. I counted every second of that fifteen minutes, and when his time was up, I ran over to that bench. I looked and called around the whole school. I couldn’t find him anywhere. There was a janitor working late that let me use the bathroom to clean myself up. But the group home wouldn’t let me back in because of excessive violations, and I just ran when they said the social worker was coming to pick me up. I stopped by our high school, the mall, I even went to 18th Street to look for the house he mentioned. The only one people knew about was a crack house.”
“So where have you been staying at? Please don’t tell me you’re sleeping in a dope house, sweetie? You can’t be more than nineteen, twenty!”
Faith looked down at the small cracks in the concrete. She wished one would open up wide enough for her to fall in.
“Oh, there you are, Faith,” Pastor Thompson stepped outside of the church along with most of the laughing and chatting congregation. He immediately directed his attention to her, and the chagrin on the faces of many of the saints was instantly evident. “I see you met Sister C. I was praying to the Lord you two would get a chance to spe− everything okay?”
“Now you know better than to ask a question like that at church, old man,” Clara put her hands on her hips. “It’s never gonna be okay as long as we’re involved, but thank God for his grace.”
“Remind me again, is it Sister C, or Pastor C?” Pastor Thompson cracked back. “And either way, service has been done for more than ten minutes now.” Pastor Thompson checked the digital watch on his wrist. “Make that eleven minutes, still too soon for another sermon.”
“Well, service may be over, but the work ain’t. Young Sister Faith could use some family right about−”
“No, no,” Faith quickly jumped in. “I just need a ride back to my place now that church is over. You promised.” Faith looked directly at Pastor Thompson.
“And just where is he taking you?” Clara asked like a concerned guardian.
The question caught Faith off guard and she hesitated with a response. She saw Clara give the pastor a suggestive look.
“Well, we did say we were going to eat after church.” Pastor Thompson reminded Faith. “And as quick as you ran out of service, I imagine that alone helped you work up an appetite.”
Faith tried to stop from smiling, but it still resulted in a giveaway smirk.
“Uh huh, no one can resist the taste of good ol’ fashioned soul food Sunday potluck! And I’ll let you in on a lil’ secret,” He leaned in between Clara and Faith, “it taste even better at church, because when you ask Him to bless the food in his house, He opens up Heaven’s kitchen cabinets and sprinkles some spiritual spice on it!”
“Don’t listen to him, Faith,” Clara said laughing. “Pastor, it’s not the Ritz, but I still have the old garage in the back that James converted to a make shift spare room. It’s not much, but there’s a toilet, sink, twin bed and dresser. I think if someone needed a place to stay, that would be a good start.
And it’s disconnected from the rest of the house, so if she wanted to leave, she’d be more than welcome. What do you think?”
“Well, that sounds like a mighty fine offer to me. What do you think, Faith?”
“No, I couldn’t. I don’t deserve−
“I gotta stop you right there.” Sister Clara interrupted. “None of us deserves anything. Everything in life is a gift from a loving and forgiving God.”
“Sister C, you see the child already walked out of my sermon. Why you think she wants to hear your preaching!” Pastor Thompson put his arm around Faith’s shoulders.
“You old coot! Maybe if you knew what you were talking about, we wouldn’t have been out here having our own church service.”
Faith couldn’t prevent the smile this time.
“Come on, Faith. Let’s take Sister C to grab a bite before those hunger pangs and nicotine make her lose her mind completely.” Pastor Thompson held out his arms to escort the women to the church kitchen.
“But Pastor, I’m just sayin’, you have to be careful of your image. You know how people like to talk.”
“Sister Carmela is right, Pastor. God has been good. We’ve been adding one to two new members every other week. If we start catering to people like her, they may think we’re some kind of home to heathens.”
Pastor Thompson smiled. “Sister Carmela, Sister Linda, I appreciate your concerns, but last I checked, the church is a home for heathens. Christ himself said, it is not those that are well that need a hospital, but those that are sick.”
Sister Linda was a tall and thin older lady with a few small patches of psoriases near her hairline. Sister Carmela was slightly shorter, but just as thin, and her skin tone happened to be the caramel complexion her name implied. Every morning they had bible study amongst themselves and then walked two miles. They were in charge of the Special Events and the Women of God auxiliaries, and for now they were in charge of suds as they washed the left over dishes from the potluck. Pastor Thompson sat at the nearby table signing his monthly personal letter to all members.
“No, no, I didn’t mean it like that, Pastor.” Sister Linda quickly retracted. “I know there are a lot of people who need Christ, I’m just saying, have a process in our church, so we don’t give off the wrong perception to visitors or new members.”
Sister Carmela quickly cosigned her best friend’s opinion. “Yes, why don’t we order some lap skirts for women that have attire shorter than their knees. I also saw some really nice, knit shawls in case any woman has too much showing up top.”
“And what about if a man comes in wearing some of them spandex biker shorts? Do we give him a lap skirt too?” Pastor Thompson raised an eyebrow.
The women were silent for a second, and even looked at each other with an eye of confusion, before the elder, Sister Carmela took the lead. “Pastor, all we’re saying, is we have to be
careful not to taint the image of the church. There are some people that the devil has tagged to bring us down.”
“That’s true, pastor. I caught a glimpse of what that young girl was wearing after she gave you your jacket back, just before she got in Sister Clara’s car, uh-uh, that was just evil. I could just see the demons laughing and dancing around her. You know how you can just see bad written on some people? Well that girl has it all over her. We need to be careful if she comes back.”
“Who y’all talking about? Miss Thing wearing Pastor’s coat? Oooh, Lord!” Misty didn’t waste any time jumping right into the conversation after stepping foot in the kitchen. She was in her late twenties, but was an old soul since she frequently hung around Linda and Carmela. “I had to run outside and check that we were still a church. I thought we might have been bought out by a club or something! And did y’all see how people were looking at her? They looked scared. I know I don’t want my daughter being around any woman dressed like that. It says everything about a person’s character.”
“But she told me that was her Easter best?” Pastor Thompson had to fight to hold back the laugh.
Sister Carmela dried that last plate and then turned to face the pastor. “We have a responsibility to the Lord, Pastor. That’s nothing to joke about. If we’re not careful, we could jeopardize all the blessings God wants to pour out on our church. What will other churches say when they find out we recruit members from the holding cell?”
Pastor Thompson stood up with a handful of envelopes. “I hope they would say, great idea.”
Chapter 1 Link | http://ow.ly/RMTfnChapters 2-3 Link | http://ow.ly/SkmebChapters 4 Link | http://ow.ly/ST5QPChapters 5 Link | http://ow.ly/Tau6PChapters 6 Link | http://ow.ly/TqOU4
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.'