“I’m telling you, Pastor, I could feel the Spirit just saturating the room. I felt like I was getting ready to start floating!” Clara walked the tall pastor through her living room and kitchen and out the back door.
Like most of the houses in the neighborhood, she had a small backyard that was half grass and half concrete, including the driveway that led to the converted garage. There was also a small garden toward the rear. ”We said a simple prayer where she asked the Lord to forgive her sins and be her savior, and she said she felt like chains had been removed from her wrists and ankles.” Clara knocked on the door to the back room, and Faith answered wearing the same baggy sweats she had been given to sleep in.
“Hey Faith!” Pastor Thompson immediately greeted her. “I came over as soon as I could break free from the auxiliary board meeting. How exciting, huh? Tell me, how do you feel?”
Faith wrapped her arms around Pastor Thompson and squeezed with all her might. He looked over at Clara and laughed before hugging her back.
“Thank you, Pastor Thompson.” Faith mumbled with her face pressed into him.
“Whoa, now. Don’t bring an old man like me into this,” Pastor Thompson patted Faith on the back. “That is between you and God.”
“I’m gonna go whip up some juice and let you guys talk a spell. I’ll be inside if you need me.” Clara couldn’t contain the smile as she rubbed Faith on the back just above Pastor Thompson’s arms.
“So, tell me how you feel,” Pastor Thompson grabbed an old, wooden fold out chair from a stack of them next to the door and took a seat. Then he got up and grabbed another one for Faith to sit in.
“Like someone has been holding my head underwater and I’ve been struggling for air for the last seventeen years! But today, I finally came up to inhale and no matter what anybody says or does, no one will ever be able to steal my breath again.” Faith’s confidence was undeniable, as were the tears and smiles of her new found joy.
“Well, I’m truly happy, Faith.” Pastor Thompson looked up to afternoon sun in the cloud free sky. “Thank you, Jesus.”
Faith looked up to see what the pastor was grinning at, but she was sure it wasn’t the planes. “So what happens now?”
“Well, now the real work begins. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re gonna go out, do a little shopping, and give you some clothing options!”
“Oh, I don’t have any money right now, Pastor. Plus, I’ll probably have to go back to another group home until I turn eighteen next month, and stuff always comes up mysteriously missing in those places.”
“Well, lucky for you Pastor Thompson has a nice monthly retirement and disability check from good ol’ Uncle Sam that likes to hit the stores every now and then, instead of a boring savings account. I can’t promise you Thompson’s May or Broadway, but we’ll put a little somthin’ somthin’ together.” Faith had already stood and wrapped her arms around Pastor Thompson’s shoulders and was shaking from crying.
“It’s okay, sweetie. As far as the group home−”
“You’re gonna stay with me, Faith.” Clara had three glasses of orange juice filled with ice cubes. “At least for the next few weeks. If you want to move out when you turn eighteen, well, that’s on you. But, as long as you mind and respect the house rules and commit to bettering yourself in Christ and education, you always have an open door.”
Faith let go of Pastor Thompson and fell to her knees with streams of tears falling onto the concrete of the driveway. “Why? Why are you guys being so nice? You don’t know me. I could be a killer a thief, a crack head.” “Or you could be a really sweet girl that’s just trying to overcome being dealt a bad hand,” Pastor Thompson squatted down next to her. “And no matter what you were, today you became our sister in the Lord.”
“And family has an obligation to one another.” Clara handed each of them their glass of juice.
“But, I don’t want to get you guys into any trouble for not taking me back to the Child Services office?”
“Well,” Pastor Thompson patted Faith’s shoulder. “I guess what they don’t know for the next couple weeks won’t hurt. I’ll ask God to charge it to my head and not my heart,” Pastor Thompson laughed as he sat back in the chair. “Won’t be the worst thing I’ve ever gotten forgiveness for.”
“So have you been preaching your whole life, Pastor Thompson?” Faith finally stood from her knees and drank from the cold orange juice Sister C had brought out.
Pastor Thompson almost spit his juice out. “Ohhhh no. Some people tease that Jesus could have come down from the cross a lot sooner if it weren’t for the sins of ol’ Pastor Moses
Thompson. Sister C, would you mind seeing if you have some slippers or sneakers that can fit Faith? We’re going to see if we can fill a few of those dresser drawers.”
“No problem, Pastor,” Sister Clara had left the back door open, so she was gone from the backyard in a matter of seconds.
“No, Faith, I haven’t always been preaching. Haven’t always been saved for that matter. In fact, I used to be so deep in the street my knees would get stuck. See, back in those days, I used to be a lowlife, no good, wanna-be.”
“No way?!” Faith blurted out.
“What? You don’t think Pastor T used to do his thing?” Pastor Thompson mockingly blew on his finger nails then rubbed them across his chest. “I used to get down for the crown, now, young buck.”
Faith started laughing. “No, it’s just, you’re so nice. The nicest people on the street are the ones that only steal a little bit.”
“Well, that’s the power of Christ working in my life, and he’ll be doing the same for you starting today!” Pastor Thompson looked to the other side of the yard and seemed to drift off. “Remember, things were a lot different back when I was your age. The whole country was focused on the war.”
“The Civil War?” Faith asked innocently.
“Clearly a comedian is not in your calling. Forgive her, Lord, for she know not what she do.” Pastor Thompson teased. “No sweet heart, I only look that old. This was World War II. And while many brothers were rushing and fighting for a chance to defend this country, I was rushing to all the left behind women and fighting to get a buck out of ‘em!”
“Pastor T, let me find out you was a playa playa!”
“No, not just a playa, I was a stone cold pimp.”
Faith had to beat on her chest as a swallow of orange juice went down the wrong pipe. “Sorry. Sorry. I just, thought you said pimp.”
“Yeah, it chokes me up thinking about it too. I used to−” Pastor Thompson paused to look up at the sun and curled his lips in. “Thank you, Lord. I’ll save you the gory autobiography, but let’s just say I did a lot of things I’m no longer proud of. I, uh, well, one morning I beat this girl that came up short so bad, they had to take her to the hospital.” He held up balled fists so Faith could see his worn and gray knuckles. “I went to the hospital later that day to check on her, and I’m surprised to see a few of my older cousins who I hadn’t seen since I was much younger. It turns out,” Pastor Thompson had to catch his breath as if the incident just happened. “It turns out this girl had lied to me about her background. Not only was she only sixteen, she was the daughter of my older cousin, Thelma. She had runaway and,” he paused and exhaled, “I could have killed my own flesh and blood and not even realized it. And the worse part about it, all that grief I caused my own family, all that suffering my own little cousin had to endure, all the backlash and wrath I had to deal with, it was all over ten dollars. I almost killed one of God’s beautiful creations for ten measly dollars. But hey, that’s why they called me, Money Moses.”
Faith sat quietly as Pastor Thompson went silent and buried his face in his hands. She wasn’t sure if she should say something consoling, rub his back, be offended, call Sister Clara for more orange juice or just sit there, so she just sat there.
“I was only eighteen myself,” Pastor Thompson finally continued, wiping his eyes. “That’s no excuse, just that I didn’t know anything but rage and hatred. I joined the military the next day. Something told me that the streets were just killing me slowly, and after that incident, some of my family wanted to speed up the process. So I never spoke to them again and I didn’t look back; spent twenty –three years in the Army. Got to fight as much as I wanted, until God finally showed me that I could fight my whole life, but what exactly was I fighting for? Long story longer, one of the sergeants
ended up taking a liking to me, and despite my rep as a hothead, he patiently talked about God to me day after day, week after week.”
“So,” Faith was hesitant to speak, but curiosity got the best of her. “After he told you all about God you realized you needed to change?”
Pastor Thompson started laughing. “Not exactly sweetheart. He invited me over for dinner and I saw how fine his wife was and how she threw down in that kitchen! Then I found out her parents were loaded. Remember this was in the forties, black folks didn’t have anywhere near the same freedoms they have now, and they had two cars! They had a big house out in the country with fancy furniture and a yard so huge, they probably needed those two cars just to make it out to the street! You didn’t have to tell ol’ Money Moses twice! I said, if this cat has it this good, I need to give this God dude a try!”
Faith started laughing.
“And the rest is history.” Pastor Thompson looked at Faith and smiled. “I’ve never, uh, well, I tell everybody about my testimony as a former pimp. I’m sure I’ve lost potential church members because of it, and that’s fine. I can’t change the past but better believe that God can change me. I’ve never told anybody that story about my little cousin, so I don’t know why I’m sharing it with you now, except that, maybe I see the potential in you that I never saw in her or myself. You have the potential to reach unimaginable levels, Faith. You may be the Faith we need to take our church to new levels. I see it in you and Sister Clara sees it in you. And if you can’t see it in yourself, then see it in the power God can give those who believe. Once you start realizing that truth, and the enemy attacks to try and discourage and make you doubt—and he will attack—remember, you are Faith! The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. The gateway to bringing God’s works into our lives. So be confident. Be uncompromising. Be unshakeable!”
To read previous Chapters click on the links below:
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.'