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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Foreign Language (12/09/10)

TITLE: Backsliders and Rattlesnakes
By Mona Purvis


Most in our congregation call him Pastor, to some he's just John. But, to me he's PK . I smile when I think of that fateful day our paths crossed so long ago.

“Lou Ann, I'd stay away from that one, if'n I was you. He's a bad'un. PK. Get you in trouble, he will. No fear of the Lord in 'em.” Ronnie Goins warned me about him.

I'd always looked up to Ronnie him being my school bus driver and all. Even at sixteen he was a man. But, at twelve I was immediately drawn to the boy who Ronnie called fearless.

Now, forty years later, Rev. John Collins stood tall behind the pulpit preaching about agape love. He speaks of being in the Word and having Jesus in your heart . I love my pastor husband; I really do. But, I'm watching the young girl sitting on the pew beside me. I know that blank stare; she doesn't have a clue what he's talking about. I made a mental note to invite her to my Sunday School class and get to know her better. My mind drifted back to the time when I felt the same way, confused by church jargon.

I grew up in the Ozarks where food was grown, fished or shot, clothes were hand-made, heat was a log on the fire, light came from a lantern and the root-cellar kept the milk cool.

When I was twelve, a mission church opened up about a mile down the mountain. I talked my ma into letting me go.

I'll never forget I wore a blue dress with yellow flowers on it; I went barefoot. It was a warm summer day and we saw no need to wear shoes in the summer up on the mountain. I could hear the music playing long before I arrived at the tent meeting. Music was often heard ringing through our hills and valleys. My pa played the fiddle on the porch almost every night.

That day the preacher-man talked about a backslider . I just knew at any moment he was going to release a snake. Snakes were my greatest fear and though I'd never heard of a blackslider , I didn't want to meet up with one. It sounded worse than a mountain rattler.

Toward the end of the preaching he said to come down front if we wanted to receive Christ . I went down there thinking if Christ was on my mountain visiting, Ma would surely like a visit. Some lady whose green hat made her head look too big for her small shoulders asked me if I would accept Jesus . I told her my family never turned away anyone. We were known all over the mountain for accepting those in need; that's the way it was those days in the Ozarks.

I could tell the lady needed more from me. She asked me if I had made a decision. I tried my best to answer her questions. What decisions she was referring to left me puzzled and I looked up at the preacher who was kneeling near me. I'll never forget what he asked me.

“Child, are you under conviction?”

“No, sir. I ain't never been in trouble with the law. My ma would tan my hide within an inch of my life! You must be thinkin' about my Uncle Joe. Got in trouble runnin' moonshine. But that's been a long time back. He's gone to his grave a few years ago.”

The boy Ronnie called PK laughed out loud.

I tore out of that tent and left them pondering my response. I never would have gone back if it hadn't been for PK. He ran after me and when he caught up with me he was laughing so hard I hit him.

“What you laughin' at?”

“You telling my pa about your moonshiner Uncle Joe. I've never seen Mrs. Taylor struck dumb before.”

PK laughed so hard at me he started hiccupping so I started laughing at him. That was the start of our friendship. The romance came some years later as we grew into young adults. Somewhere along the way we started speaking the same language.

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This article has been read 644 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/18/10
This is a delightful story--Gospel message, history, romance, humor--it's all here, and I loved it.
Henry Clemmons12/18/10
This is a gemstone, Mona. I loved the anointed feel of God's presence it gave me. A very honest MC in the story I believe you didn't have to travel far to find. Thank God He understands us and allows us the ability to understand Him. Enjoyed this greatly.
Virgil Youngblood 12/18/10
A fun read with a good message about "church language." The ending was pleasing.
Sarah Elisabeth 12/18/10
Awww, what a sweet story! Loved the setting
Noel Mitaxa 12/18/10
Loved that positive ending of a story that was so well sketched as you set it out.
Cheryl Harrison12/21/10
Perfect! I loved the flavor of this. Made me laugh a few times. Good job.
Catrina Bradley 12/21/10
Seems to me that this child had the answers Jesus was looking for, even tho she shocked the church lady. My only "red ink" is that is seems too short - I'd like to hear more of this story!