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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Lock (03/06/06)

TITLE: Eviction of the People in the Rusted Van
By Stevie McHugh


“They’re nothing more than a bunch of modern day gypsies. It’s obvious they live in that rusted van. They probably travel from town to town, begging for handouts,” said Elaine Walters, wife of the head deacon of the Heights Community Church.

“Our parking lot is not a campsite for travelers,” added her husband, Richard Walters, with a tone of finality.

All of the deacons were there except Jim Stephens, who everyone knew would have held a dissenting opinion. As it was, though, the vote was unanimous. The trespassers who had sought permission to stay for a few days on the church grounds would be told to vacate the premises immediately.

Bob Morris, the pastor, was disappointed in the response of the deacon body. What could he do, though? The board had more authority than he did, including the authority to throw him out as their pastor. His hands were tied.

As soon as the meeting was over, Pastor Morris walked toward the van. The sliding door was open. It was pleasant outside, cool and breezy. The sky was blue and cloudless.

‘At least it’s a nice day for traveling,’ thought the pastor, groping to put a positive spin on his joyless task. Then he noticed how vacant the van appeared.

“Hello? Anybody there?” he called out.

A rustling was heard and a teenage girl, with a finger over her lips, climbed carefully out of the van. “My baby sister is asleep,” she said in a whisper.

Lowering his voice, the pastor said, “Oh, sorry. I’m Pastor Morris. And you are?”

“Felicia,” she said, smiling, her hands on her hips.

“Where’s the rest of the family, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“My grandfather is in the van napping, too. My parents have gone with Mr. Jim to the hospital. My little brother has asthma, and it’s been awful lately. I hope they can help him. The poor kid can hardly take a breath. I’ve never seen it so bad.”

His mission of expulsion temporarily forgotten, the pastor called Jim from his cell phone and then drove to the hospital.


Before Wednesday night service began, the deacon body had met again - - both Jim Morris and the pastor were absent this time - - and they decided on a course of action. Just before the opening worship songs were sung, Richard Walters stood at the pulpit and made his announcement, his voice shaking with rage. “I’m going to get right to the point. The deacon body, minus Jim Stephens, has agreed that Pastor Bob Morris has chosen a course that is not in the best interest of our congregation. We recommend his immediate dismissal.”

Mouths flew open throughout the congregation. In spite of the shock of it, 80-year-old Grandmother Lewis stood without hesitation and said, “What course of action is that, Ricky?”

Frowning at the lack of respect the church member had shown him in calling him by his childhood handle, Richard shot back, “He defied the wishes of the board, which had instructed him to evict a homeless family from the parking lot. Instead, he opened the doors to them, as though the church were some kind of a hotel for deadbeats. He made the showers available to them, as well as the guest cots and the kitchen!”

She had been slowly walking from the back of the room, where her family sat, around to the front. Then Felicia stepped boldly up to the pulpit beside the head deacon and addressed the congregation. “My brother is a lot better now. His asthma had us scared out of our wits. The kindness that has been shown to us has been something different, very wonderful. We don’t want Pastor Morris to get in any trouble because of us. We’ll leave right this minute.” She ran down the steps, but the pastor stepped in her way and grasped both of her arms gently.

“Please sit down, Felicia,” he said softly. Then he lifted his voice, “No need for a vote. If Felicia and her family leaves right now, I’m right behind them.”

Jim Stephens and practically everyone in the congregation -- many of whom had helped pay the family’s doctor bills -- stood up and said, “Us, too.”

Grandma Lewis lifted her voice joyfully and said, “Ricky, some of you are forgetting. We’re supposed to bring people into God’s family, not lock them out. Now, what do you folks say we worship the Lord now!”

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This article has been read 872 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 03/15/06
You could have left that last line out or put it earlier. Grandma Lewis' remark about inviting people in and not locking them out was the clincher. Good lesson well presented.
Marilyn Schnepp 03/16/06
Nicely written and a Great Read with a very good lesson for us all! Loved the story from beginning to end...and kept my interest. Nice job!
Virginia Gorg03/16/06
I almost expected Richard to say "we vote him a raise because he acted as Christ would." Nicely done!
Jessica Schmit03/16/06
This story reminded me of "In His Steps." This was a great story. But I would've removed the line, "He made the showers available to them, as well as the guest cots and the kitchen!” I think that he would've avoided saying that becuase he would then appear heartless and he was probably careful to protect his image. You have a great writing talent! A fabulous story!
Helen Paynter03/17/06
Important message, which you conveyed effectively, but I'm afraid I found the story a bit unbelievable. Do churches really dismiss their pastors on such grounds? I couldn't belong to one that would.
Debora Dyess03/17/06
Good message, as stated before, and overall, good write. I think a teenaged girl (at least my two) would die before walking to the front of the church to confront not only an unfriendly windbag like Richard, but the whole congregation. I think it would have been more believable to have her stand and either raise her voice to be heard or talk in a shaky stage whisper. Also, opening the whole church to a family implies the kitchen, cots, bathrooms, etc. (Does your church have showers? Too cool!)
And, yes, Helen (comment above), sadly there are churches who would dismiss a pastor for folloowing Gods instructions and ignoring that of the board. I don't belong to one of them either!
Mary Alice Bowles03/19/06
I liked your story just exactly the way it was written and I would not change anything. Wonderful story.
May God Keep Blessing You!