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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Current Affairs (06/07/12)

TITLE: Pastoral Domestic Storm
By Sandra Renee Hicks


Carolyn reels from the force of the slap across her already bruised face. There’s no time to recover before the hand whips again and lands on her right cheek. Quickly, she scrambles and knocks over the chair as she gets up to run from the beady-eyed crazed attacker.

He stomps after her.

Petrified, Carolyn recoils and shields her battered face.

He slams her against the wall and relentlessly pummels her.

“Please stop, please,” she wails in anguish.

“Shut up,” he yells.

He grits his teeth and snarls, “You’re worthless.”

Carolyn cowers and trembles in terror.

He walks away muttering and cursing.

Carolyn slides down the wall and crumples in despair.


Rewind -

Carolyn met Arch at a Christian convention.

He charmed and mesmerized her…

A whirlwind romance followed…


Arch goes with Carolyn to meet her father, Ernest.

In less than an hour of visiting, Arch’s cover is blown with Carolyn’s father.

Ernest, a friend of God, isn’t feeling brother man. He thinks, “His eyes are furtive; his conversation has no depth. My sense is that Arch is beyond shady.”

The Lord speaks, “Son, he’s masquerading as an angel of light.”

Alarmed, Ernest asks Arch to go to the store to get some snacks.

Relieved to have his daughter alone, Ernest warns, “Carolyn, something is off with that man.”

She smiles. “Dad, you’re just being overly protective.”

Ernest shakes his head.

“I’m telling you, Carolyn, that man has a dangerous dark side.”

Playfully, she rolls her eyes. “Daddy, all Christian men aren’t going to be as fervent about God as you are.”

Tenderly, Ernest cups his daughter’s face.

Firmly, he declares, “God is my best friend, Carolyn, and He told me to warn you. That man is sinister.”

Gently, she steps away. “Oh Daddy, please.”

Ernest vehemently urges Carolyn to heed his warnings.

She won’t budge.

When Arch returns, Ernest tells him, “You’re not legit and I don’t want you with my daughter.”

Arch looks stunned that Ernest is on to him. He observes, though, that Carolyn isn’t any the wiser.

He meets eyes with Ernest. “Sir, I want only the best for Carolyn.”

“That’s not what the Lord told me. And God doesn’t lie.”

Arch turns to Carolyn.

Angered by her father’s outburst, Carolyn snaps, “You really need to get a grip, Dad.”

“No, you need to lose your grip on this relationship.”

Carolyn hastily grabs her belongings and follows Arch out the door.

Unbeknownst to Carolyn, Arch smugly looks back at Ernest.

Ernest points up and folds his hands in prayer posture.


Six months after they met at the Christian convention Carolyn and Arch got married.

Pastor Arch Raynes is her husband, the man who brutally beat her for the first time two weeks after their honeymoon. Regularly, he’s been doing it ever since.

This latest episode of brutality is IT for Carolyn.

Arch leaves for church.

Carolyn calls her father.

“Dad, I’m done with Arch. Please come get me and take me to the hospital.”


“Yes, Arch beat me and has been beating me for almost the entire three months of our marriage.”

“What! Help us, Jesus. I’m on my way, precious.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

When Ernest arrives, Carolyn collapses in his arms.

He cradles her as she heaves with sobs.

In route to the hospital, Carolyn turns to her father. “I need to make a stop before we go to the hospital.”

Ernest frowns quizzically. “Where, Carolyn?”

“At the police precinct to file a report against Arch.”

“Right,” declares Ernest.

Carolyn’s bruised and swollen face tells the desk officer why she may be there.

“Hi, I’d like to file a report against my husband, Pastor Arch Raynes, for domestic violence.”

The officer stares in shock when Carolyn utters “Pastor” associated with domestic violence. He interviews her and finds her believable. Her face is certain evidence. He photographs Carolyn and processes the paperwork.

The officer tells her, “I admire that you came here to report your husband. That’s a hard thing to do. Currently, domestic violence is on the increase; it’s of major help when victims report their abusers.”

Carolyn nods appreciatively.


A patrol car arrives at the church. The officers enter while Arch is in the midst of his sermon. What’s the topic of his sermon? It’s titled, “Husbands, love your wives.”

As Arch is led out of the church in handcuffs, one of the officers sarcastically says, “You ought to practice what you preach, Rev.”

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This article has been read 348 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Genia Gilbert06/09/12
Wow! You attacked a difficult subject, but a very needed one. I have a daughter who was fooled so badly by one who, although not a pastor, claimed to be a devoted Christian man. She met him at church. It's almost unbelievable how different people can be from what they project. Good job on this.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/10/12
This is a great but so sad story. It's amazing how evil can hide in plain sight. You had many great messages in this piece and I think depending on where readers are in their lives they will cling to different messages.

One of the things you want to be careful with is POV shifts. The reader should only be able to see what the MC sees and thinks. So if you're describing Carolyn's thoughts, you can describe that she sees her father is nervous by his actions but she (therefore the reader) can't see his thoughts. This is something I've just discovered as I thought if a story was told in third person you could see everyone's thoughts.

You did a fantastic job of covering the topic in a fresh way while still telling an important message. I wish this could be required reading before marriage. I really enjoyed this and think you covered a tough subject in a caring way.
Nancy Bucca06/10/12
I fear this sort of thing happens more often than people want to admit. It brings up (to me) the need for better marriage counseling within our churches. Not that counseling itself is a sure-fire preventative for abuse, but it can't hurt.

It's important to listen to one's parents in matters like this, especially parents who are believers and spiritually in tune. I'm so glad Carolyn came around in the end. How many women suffer for years without telling anyone?
Leola Ogle 06/11/12
I am so happy that Carolyn got out of the abusive marriage and thank God for spiritual, praying parents, in this case, Carolyn's father, Ernest. You covered an often ignored topic. God bless!