Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ENVY (jealousy of another’s advantage) (02/12/15)
TITLE: The Last Vine-Worker
By David Butler
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He drew out the letter from his pocket again to make sure he wasn’t just dreaming. Sure enough, his dazed eyes found the fatal line:
“…we regret to inform you that you were unsuccessful…”
He crumpled it and shoved it back into his pocket.
Cecelia glanced anxiously at him.
‘Let’s get coffee, Hon. We got ten minutes.’
They joined the queue where he recognized some of his chief supporters – his “Amen Corner” as he called them. They never failed to show up whenever he was preaching, always occupying the front pews. He began to feel better.
Brother Marshall stepped up. He was an influential businessman.
‘Brother Jack! I heard the news from Marion at reception. I just can’t believe you missed out on that eldership position. We were all expecting you to be first choice by far. After all the work you’ve done. You built up the church admin structure from nothing. You organized the finances. You made this church into the big success it is today. No wonder you were made head deacon.”
‘Amen!’ corroborated Brother “Hill-Billy”, an old southerner. ‘And the way you’m ministerin’ the Word is just outa this world. I never heerd no one preach with such good Barble-sturdyin’ and so clear.”
“Doc” James nearby was scratching his balding head in puzzlement. ‘What on earth was Pastor thinking of, passing on you like that? You’ve been studying hard for your Masters in Ministry on top of all the other work you do here… and a full time job. You deserve recognition. It’s not the way I'd run a church.’
‘Yup!’ agreed Brother Bill heatedly. ‘And instyead, he harrs this furreign black….’
He stopped and blushed.
Brother Marshall stepped into the awkward breach, gesturing emphatically with his spectacles.
‘Listen Jack! My company can do with a man like you. If Pastor doesn’t recognize a brilliant leader when he sees one, I do! We need more godly folks with your talent in the market-place. You can start with full executive’s wages. What d’you say?’
Jack smiled, but raised his hand deprecatingly.
‘Thanks Brother, but my dream has always been to serve in full-time ministry. Gentlemen, we can’t criticize Pastor behind his back. I’m sure he has his reasons. He’s a wise and godly man, and I support his decisions, even when…..’ He paused.
‘….you don’t agree with them.’ finished the doctor grimly. ‘Even though you're the man for the job. Well, I admire your humility, Brother, but maybe you should try a church where your zeal and talents will be appreciated. Tell me if you do, and I’m with you.’
He stalked off, nearly colliding with a young Afro-American couple, just arriving.
These had obviously come from “the other side of the track.” They were covered with tattoos, but their faces shone with the glory of God, bubbling with excitement.
They grabbed coffee, remembered their manners, apologized loudly and joined the queue. Brother Bill eyed them askance.
‘I thought this was a leaders’ meeting.’ Marshall muttered.
This didn’t seem to bother the new couple.
‘Aint this like sooooo cool?’ the girl declared to the assembly. ‘We found Jesus a-coz of Bro ‘Wundu. Mah Maw and Paw got saved…’
‘…and da whooooole neighbor-herd too.’ added the boy, jiving for joy. ‘We got revival in da streets, man! Bro ‘Wundu’s gonna be pro-mOdead, so we come to celly-brate fo’ him.’
‘So that's what’s been happening at the other service.’ Cecelia whispered excitedly.
‘How’d you hear about this promotion?’ asked Jack loudly, unimpressed.
The couple immediately plunged into a talented rendition of “I Heard it on the Grapevine” with full choreography. Half the assembly cheered and clapped.
Jack finally exploded.
‘This is all crazy! I got as many saved as he did! I worked harder than he did. I've been around far longer than him. But do I get any “celly-bration” for it? Nooo!’
A deathly silence followed. Every eye in the room was upon him, including Pastor Dan’s.
Jack sat down red-faced, his head in his hands.
Pastor Dan sat down with him.
‘Jack, listen. We all know the wonderful work you’ve done. Didn’t you read my explanation in that letter? Brother Uwundu has pastored many churches in his own land, even under constant persecution. He barely escaped with his life. He felt called to continue his work in our unreached community. Now that the church is growing, we need his pastoring style in our leadership team. Your time will come.’
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