Preacher restlessly rolled over on the cot. He was tired but more than that he was worried about the small church he had left behind in Toney. Such a young band of believers, but they were strong in their faith. He knew he shouldn’t worry about them, even if their building had been destroyed. After all, the church wasn’t made of four walls and a roof—it was made of a group of believers.
He shifted again, this time grunting and feigning sleep, as the heavy metal outside door creaked open and then slammed shut. The guard’s heavy footsteps echoed down the hallway, but no one moved. They knew better to move. It would make the life of the unfortunate roommate and new family member of Cellblock C miserable.
The entire cellblock seemed to hold their collective breaths as an iron door swung open and a young man was thrown into it.
“You’ll get yer blankets in the morning, sleep well, Fanatic,” the guard jested as he slammed the door shut. The block stilled as the sentry stomped out and slammed the outside door shut once again.
Two heartbeats passed before Preacher threw the thin blanket off and leapt to his feet. A new member always meant two things: news from the outside world, and news from the church. In the dim light, he peered across the block to the new cellmate’s chamber. Preacher could barely make out the other man’s figure. The newcomer was tall and lean, but had a good bit of muscle also on him.
Singer, who lived next to the newcomer, snaked his arm out between the bars. His hand grasped a fragile piece of cloth. “Here, take my blanket; we’re used to the chill.”
The stranger sputtered once before accepting the blanket. “Where are we?” he croaked.
Preacher smiled and answered, “Welcome to our small church.” He shook his head once, “It’s not much, but it’s all we got.”
The sound of water being poured filled the air as Encourager gave the last of her water to the stranger. Preacher could see Encourager’s white teeth against the darkness as she smiled. “Here, drink.” she wheezed.
The newcomer hesitated, and Encourager sloshed the mug towards him. He finally accepted it and Preacher continued. “What is your name? What news do you have from the outside world and of the church?”
Silence filled the air. Finally, the young man spoke, his voice slightly stronger. “I’m called Gab by those in the church, only because I have been given the gift of gab. I was arrested for gabbing about God to a young lady on the street.” He paused and took another drink of water.
“The church is continuing to spread through out Toney. I’m a direct result of what they are doing.” He paused and tilted his head to the side. “Are you the man they call, ‘Preacher’?”
Preacher nodded once, despite the darkness. “I am. Why?”
“The church in Toney sends their greetings to you, brother, and wants you to know that they are praying for you.” Gab stated and Preacher felt a flush of warmth spread through his body. Gab continued, and Preacher could see a flash of white teeth again. “They told me that you were a good man, that you would continue to serve the church even in the prison cells. And I can see God’s fingerprints all over you and this small ministry here.”
Preacher frowned as he looped his arms through the bars. “I don’t understand, we’re just trying to make life easier for everyone.”
Gab smiled. The darkness seemed to retreat, and for the first time in months, Preacher could see clearly in the dark room. “Because you and your flock offer all that you have to a stranger.”
'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Matthew 25:35-36 (NIV)
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