Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Question (05/24/12)
TITLE: Crime and Innocence
By Sharon Laughter
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It’ll be great seeing ‘Miss So-Holy’ go down.” He shoved past her chuckling, and stomped out leaving the bedroom thick with the air of his confidence. Moments later his motorcycle roared to life and chugged.
Her husband’s words shot like bullets across Jenna’s mind. Swiping the hot tears she could no longer control, she imagined the sneer on Rutger’s face as he shoved on helmet and gloves. It was true. No one would ever believe that the charming pastor of the celebrated ministry was in fact a stone-cold criminal.
Craning her neck toward the ceiling, the young wife silently wailed and began to pace. <I>“Lord! “Why are you letting this happen?” </I> Where was the earnest sweet-natured man she had married? Had this always been just an elaborate con? Or had he succumbed to fame? And why would God let her be deceived? Rutger was the only family she had. She had sacrificed all she had for his call to ministry. What possible justification could he contrive for his rage and contempt? As if she had been the one unfaithful.
The motorcycle kickstand clanked outside and was followed by the rev of the engine and her husband roaring off. Jenna released the breath she had been holding, snatched her phone from its place on the nightstand and began punching in a familiar number.
When a man’s gentle voice answered, Jenna launched into her story through sobs. “You’re not going to believe this, but I don’t care. I have been faithful to my husband and my God. Now I want to know how God could let this happen!”
Pastor Rex listened quietly while the grief-stricken woman described her husband’s shocking admissions. He had known the couple from when they first arrived in town years earlier to plant a mission church. He had offered his own church’s facilities for their service and served as denominational sponsor and friend. Church on the Walk had quickly expanded to a standing room only congregation and now included a highly effective women’s shelter. But decades in ministry and hard-earned wisdom meant that as a Pastor, he was rarely shocked.
“Rutger said that he and Enid have been having an affair for months. Come-on! I am sorry, but you know we’re talking a prince with one of Cinderella’s stepsisters! The elders – they’re all in cahoots! They’ve been running a little drug and prostitution ring right under my nose and making money hand over fist! They knew I wouldn’t go for it so they’ve been spreading rumors that I’m going mental. Now no one will question him “firing” me and putting Enid in charge of the shelter I started! He’s laughing because I’m going to end up with no husband, no ministry and no home. And he’s the liar and cheat! They know I’ll be so humiliated I’ll have to leave town. How can God let them do this to me?” she shrieked.
Pastor Rex’s cleared his throat. “Jenna, I’m so sorry. Normally when a Pastor falls, he leaves the ministry as well. This is truly devilish. We’re going to have to investigate, and when we have solid evidence, of course we will be forced to sever all association with The Walk. Tragically, that still leaves you out in the cold. He’s got a title, so he can preach anywhere he finds an audience. If you were a man, you would have recourse. However, technically, he’s the pastor, and you’re ‘just the wife.’”
Jenna sat on her cot and darted her eyes around the room. She now had a new town and new church, but still a shattered life . Thankfully, a seminary colleague of Pastor Rex, Reverand Dwight, had provided a room for her in a back church building of his Church. It contained only her cot, suitcase and small microwave table, but its shelter was sweet.
She had married in good faith and had served God with a full heart. The crime was Rutger’s and his alone. God had never explained to her how or why but in particular despairing moments, the Holy Spirit brought comfort with the reminder of a young man named Joseph. Joseph had been forced to flee naked before evil as well and had been thrown into prison. It had turned out to be a kind of boot camp of sorts, because one day God released him and placed him in charge of an entire country.
<I>Inspired by a true story. Names have been changed to protect anonymity.</I>
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