Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: At the Pulpit (11/15/07)
TITLE: Pastor Tim Topples the Tea
By Sheri Gordon
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<i> Lord, You know I don’t like doing this. Public speaking is not my thing, but for some reason You have put me here. Thank You for giving me the words to speak. Help me not to get dry mouth or trip over my tongue. And help me represent the center as You would want it represented. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.</i>
As director of the Pregnancy Counseling Center, each year I visited the churches which financially support our ministry. Relying on the Holy Spirit to provide me with the actual words, I approached each visit with my three-minute TEA:
<b>T</b>hank them for their support.
<b>E</b>xplain the mission of the ministry.
<b>A</b>sk for donations.
Although God had been using me as His speaking instrument for the center for quite some time, this particular Sunday He surprised even me.
“I’d like to welcome the director of the Pregnancy Counseling Center …”
I began my ascension up the carpeted stairs to join Pastor Tim on stage. Having been a previous victim of the untimely shoe-sticks-to-the-rug-then-flings-you-forward debacle, each step was taken with great precision.
<i>How fitting. We’re standing by the altar, and I feel like a sacrificial lamb, or goat, every time I do this. God, couldn’t you call someone else to speak for You? You know You’re taking years off my life with all this stress, don’t You?”</i>
With trembling hands, I accepted the microphone being offered by Pastor Tim. My usual order of business was to quickly assess the crowd -- primarily to determine the age range. I learned early on that it is essential to choose one’s words carefully when speaking about a sensitive subject like unplanned pregnancies. A misplaced word could easily offend the elderly, or elicit “difficult” questions for the parents of younger children.
As I turned to face the congregation, I became distracted by a rather large monitor on the floor in front of me. Instead of sizing up the crowd, I began reading the monitor, and discovered a number of questions. Questions for me. Questions I was unprepared to answer.
<i> God, this is not what I’m used to. This is not my cup of TEA. But You are in control, so help me to go with the flow.</i>
My desperate plea was interrupted by Pastor Tim’s voice.
“I think most of us are aware that the center helps women who are in a crisis pregnancy. But you were telling me about some of the young people you meet with who aren’t in that situation. Could you tell us a little about that?”
Although caught off guard, I was glad to have the opportunity to talk about some of the “other” services offered by our center, particularly since the same people heard basically the same talk from me each year. I knew whatever I said was going to come from God, because this wasn’t part of any three-minute church presentation I’d done before.
“Thank you Pastor Tim. The center initially started as a ministry to counsel young women facing an unplanned pregnancy. But it didn’t take us long to realize that we really need to reach the women, or girls, before they become pregnant. Our ultimate goal is to talk to teenagers, girls and guys, before they make the decision to have s..”
As I was about to say the “s” word, I spotted two girls who looked to be about ten years old. They were sitting on the front pew, in their frilly church dresses, wearing big red bows in their hair. How could I finish the “s” word with their innocent souls drinking in every word I said?
I slowly lowered my mic, turned to Pastor Tim, and asked, “Can I say ‘sex’ at this church?”
Pastor Tim, not lowering his mic, confidently stated, “Oh yes, we approve of sex at this church. In fact, we rather like it.”
I have no idea what I said for the remainder of my time. (After waiting patiently for the hysterical laughter to stop.) But Pastor Tim and First Community continue to be one of the ministry’s strongest supporters.
<i>Author’s note: This is based on an actual incident. The names have been changed to protect the innocent and not so innocent.</i>
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