The churchyard was dark and quiet except for the chirping of crickets as Abigail walked up the steps and opened the church door. She shouldn’t be here; a girl of fourteen should be home asleep at this hour. But this was the only place she could think of where she could truly be alone with her thoughts and God. She had much to sort out.
She opened the door a crack, then a little wider. As she stepped inside, she paused. The church should be empty at this hour. Why then was there the flicker of candlelight coming from the room in the back? She walked closer until she could see inside the tiny room. A man at a desk raised his head.
“Pastor! I’m sorry to disturb you. What are you doing here at this hour?”
Pastor Eliot smiled. “I should ask you the same thing.”
The pastor’s eyes returned to his desk. “The Algonquin I have been preaching to have no Scripture in a language they can understand. I am hoping that the Lord will use me to change that by translating His Word into Algonquian.”
“You’re translating the Scriptures by yourself, with no one to help you?”
“I’m the one God has given this burden to. If another comes along to join me in the task, then I will be grateful. If not, then His grace will enable me to complete it. We know it is His will that His kingdom expand and that every person on earth hear His words and learn of His salvation.”
“But it is such a big task!”
The pastor laughed. “I believe the Lord knew that when He gave it to me! Thankfully, He did not give it to me all at once. When I left England, I had it on my heart to preach. After preaching here in Roxbury for a few years, God laid on my heart a desire to understand the language and culture of the Algonquin people. A year passed as I learned the language, and God expanded my desire to understand them into a love for them. Then I undertook to write a summary of the lessons from Scripture I had taught them. Now God has moved my heart to translate all of His Word so that they may study and learn for themselves. It has been like opening a door, first a crack, then a little farther, until the door is wide open.”
Abigail dropped her eyes to the floor and studied the hem of her skirt as it rested on the floor.
“Is there something you wanted to talk about?” the pastor asked.
She shook her head, turned, and hurried back outside. Once out of sight of the church, she slowed her steps and tried to pray.
She had come to the church with a question—how could she ever face Constance again? Constance had been beyond cruel; her actions toward Abigail were nothing short of wicked. Yet tomorrow, Abigail knew she must return to school and face her once again. The thought had tied her heart in knots all evening. She had gone to the church to try to think of a way out, a way to undo the hurt Constance had caused.
But she could not. Nothing would erase the past few days, and nothing could change tomorrow.
She reached home once more and breathed a quiet sigh of relief. All was still; her journey had gone unnoticed.
She opened the door, just a crack, then a little more, and slipped inside. Silently, she lit a candle and prepared for bed. Her mind returned to what the pastor had said. The Algonquins needed to know of God’s love, and God had called the pastor, one step at a time, to share it. The pastor was doing the task God had assigned him in the expanding of His kingdom.
What of her and Constance tomorrow? Could God be calling her to do the same thing? But she felt no love for Constance, no desire to help her. Perhaps that is where her prayer should begin, by willingly opening the door of her heart a crack and asking God to fill it with His love for Constance. Perhaps the first step to expanding His kingdom on earth was first expanding the hearts of His servants.
“God,” she prayed. “Expand my heart. Give me your love for Constance.”
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