Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Vote/Voted off the Island (05/29/14)
TITLE: The Cost of Affluence
By Jenny Fulton
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She looked over at her husband who was carefully shaving. Had it really been twenty years since they had started their church? They had been so young then – two newly-weds, fresh out of seminary with dreams of doing great things for the Lord. They had started their church in an upscale neighborhood with a mere dozen families, and over the years, the Lord had indeed greatly blessed them. Now one of the largest and most esteemed churches in the city, who could contest that the Lord’s favor was upon them.
Her husband looked over and caught her watching him. “You look perfect as always, Pastor Cynthia,” he said with an approving nod.
“Well you don’t,” she pertly responded. “Not yet. Now hurry up and get ready, Pastor Ron. We have to look perfect together.”
“Do you have your speech all prepared? We need that new addition to the foyer. It will make us the premier church for conferences and you know how much money that will bring in.”
“Of course it is prepared. You’ve heard me practicing. Now don’t worry. God knows how hard we’ve been working and He’ll bless us as He always has. Nothing can stand in our way.”
Ron nodded and proceeded to finish getting ready, rehearsing his own sermon as he did so.
Later, as the two walked out the door of their large three story house, Cynthia looked back to admire its beauty. They got into their Mercedes-Benz and headed to church. No one could deny they were living the blessed life.
They arrived at the church early as usual to go through lighting and sound check. This new sound guy seemed to be doing fine, so long as he didn’t allow a microphone glitch like the last guy had. The sound had been working fine that day up until the moment when Cynthia had stood up to speak about the need for funding for their orphanage in Romania. Suddenly, her microphone had stopped working. Clearly the sound guy had something against her and they couldn’t allow someone to work for them who didn’t support their leadership. The sound had returned soon after, but they had quietly asked him to leave immediately following the service.
Today, however, everything was checking out fine. The lighting was right on cue and the sound guy was managing things just right. Cynthia thought she detected a glint of fear when she spoke to the workers, but brushed it aside.
The first service went smoothly. As the choir’s emotional song drew to a close, the lights began to dim. A single spotlight then shone on Cynthia as she delivered her impassioned speech on the need for people to trust God with their finances and give to the pressing needs of the church.
Everything had gone perfectly and Cynthia could scarcely contain her excitement as she waited for that same moment during the second service. The choir’s song drew to a close. She took a deep breath and walked confidently onto the stage. The lights began to dim, then, they blacked out. Cynthia stood waiting at the pulpit, uncertain, her confidence wavering. What was going on? This wasn’t supposed to happen! Indignation quickly filled her. It was the light guy’s fault. He didn’t like her. He was trying to sabotage her influence!
A moment later, the lights came back on and Cynthia presented her speech. Her main source of comfort for the rest of service was that justice would be served. That lights guy would be dismissed.
Curtis Sullivan walked slowly away from the church for the last time. He still didn’t know what had caused the blackout during service. After years of attending and serving at the church, he had been dismissed, just like that, one among a string of others who had gone before. His thoughts turned with sadness to the pastors of the church – to Pastor Ron and his wife, Pastor Cynthia. The two of them were winning the game of affluence, but what were they losing?
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