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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)

TITLE: Billy and the Black-eyed Preacher
By George Parler


Reverend Joshua Baines pulled into the driveway. Stopping the engine he sat there with his hands on the steering wheel. The hot Texas breeze blew through the open windows. Like every other Sunday afternoon he had brought Mother home and went on visitation, calling on the sick and those who missed church to make sure no one was ill or needed prayer.

Well this is a Sunday for this old man to remember, He exited the car slowly. Think I’ll just sit on the porch a spell. No sense scaring Mother any sooner than we have to.

“Merciful heavens! Papa, what happened? Who did this to you? Talk to me.”

So much for waiting to tell Mother. He put his hand up trying to get her to slow down so he could get a word in. “I’m fine Mother, I’m okay. I’m just a little banged up but I’ll mend just fine.” He eased into his rocking chair.

“Joshua Baines, you’re not fine! You’re bleeding, your eye is swollen shut, and heaven only knows what else.”

“Please just get me a glass of iced tea. I’ll explain everything to you when you get back.”

Quickly she returned with the tea, sitting in the chair beside him. “Now Papa, what happened?”

“Young Billy Horton has been coming to church almost every Sunday. And I admit he can be a handful.”

“Billy Horton? What on earth does he have to do with this?”

“Now Mother, do want to hear what I have to say or not?”

Her lips tightened and she remained silent.

“Billy’s parents never come to church. And I have been meaning to go visit the Hortons. A few of the elders told me to stay clear of John Horton cause he don’t take kindly to strange folk coming around, especially preachers. And if he gets to drinking he can really get nasty, which is quite often I understand. I must admit, after seeing that mountain of a man in town one day, I haven’t been real keen about calling on him, until today.”

“You went to John Horton’s? Papa, why on earth would you do such a thing?”

“Billy Horton.” A tear trickled down his cheek and fell onto the dust covered Bible he held to his chest. “I saw a deacon pull Billy out of the service this morning as we were taking up the offering. He’s usually a little restless but this time he was bothering many of the congregation. When the service was over I found Billy on the side of the church outside. I asked the deacon what had happened and he said that Billy was asking everyone for money.

“I wanted to know what little Billy wanted with the money and sat down with him. When I questioned him, he asked the strangest thing. ‘How much does faith cost?’

“When I asked him what he meant, he said, ‘I’ve been listening to you preach. You said that if we ask God something He would hear us and answer our prayer if we have faith. Well, I have been asking God for him to make my papa not be so mean to me and my momma; cause he hits my momma sometimes. But he’s still mean. I thought maybe God don’t hear kid’s prayers, only grown ups. Then I heard Sally Martin say that she prayed for her Grandpa to get better and he did. So I wondered what was different and I saw her and her Momma putting a lot of money in the offering. So I figured God wasn’t hearing me because I wasn’t buying enough faith. But I gave all the money I had.’

“So I went to visit John Horton. And like everyone said, he doesn’t like preachers at all. He told me to leave or else. Then I heard myself say, ‘I’m not leaving until you hear what I’ve come to say.’

“That’s when the or else started. Each time he knocked me down; I couldn’t believe that I stood back up and asked him if he was ready to listen yet. As luck would have it, he was pretty stubborn.”

“Papa, did he accept the Lord?”

“Not yet. But I am invited to their home next Sunday afternoon for dinner. It seems old John Horton was pretty impressed with how much whoopin’ an old hard headed preacher could take. Said I was different, and he wanted to hear more of what I had to say.”

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This article has been read 1048 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 08/30/07
Excellent dialog and characterization. This story kept me engaged from beginning to end.
Janice Cartwright08/31/07
This reminds me so very much of a friend of ours, a preacher, who used to go out on the shrimp-boats and witness, taking his life in his hands each time he went. He led quite a few of those hard-cases to Christ. I liked your story and because of our friend could easily indentify with it.
julie wood08/31/07
julie wood08/31/07
Terrific story--beautifully written dialogue. All the characters come alive, especially the preacher. I can just see and hear him, and also little Billy as he tells his story.

Wonderful message, too!

I was also drawn in by the title, which made me very curious about the characters.

Great job!
julie wood08/31/07
Terrific story--beautifully written dialogue. All the characters come alive, especially the preacher. I can just see and hear him, and also little Billy as he tells his story.

Wonderful message, too!

I was also drawn in by the title, which made me very curious about the characters.

Great job!
Jan Ackerson 08/31/07
Love it!
Peter Stone08/31/07
Great story, I really enjoyed it. Turning the other cheek really can display God's love to the unbeliever.
Debi Derrick09/01/07
Incredibly well done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/01/07
A wonderful story.
Sharlyn Guthrie09/02/07
Great story. "How much does faith cost?" My heart broke for Billy.
Dianne Janak09/02/07
I loved the title, the story, the characters, the ending! What's not to love!? Great writing.
Dee Yoder 09/03/07
What a neat character you created in this man! I like the story, and the characters, and the innocence of the poor child. I wouldn't mind reading a whole book about this creative preacher and his wife!
Marilyn Schnepp 09/03/07
NOW I understand the Title.. the black-eyed preacher. A great story and written very well. The TV Evangelist gets most of the "pats on the back and credit" - but it's the small town minister that visits the sick, the lame and the missing that's the backbone of God's message...and obviously it isn't always easy. Enjoyed the humor throughout. Good job!
dub W09/03/07
Great title. Great characters. Great dialogue - a really great job overall. Congrats. I liked this story very much. A puppy for sure.
Rhonda Clark09/03/07
I enjoyed this very much.

Very, very sweet and a fantastic job.
Deborah Engle 09/03/07
This was very easy to read, but it also made me sad for little Billy. I was glad that someone was willing to hear what he was saying.

Julie Ruspoli09/03/07
Such interesting characters. I really enjoyed reading this. Very well written. This is now one of my favorites.
Sherrie Jackson09/05/07
GREAT story! I wanted to cheer when the preacher said he just kept getting back up. I think I'll go read it again. :) Excellent job! Good luck!
Lynda Lee Schab 09/05/07
Oh, my. My heart went out to that poor boy! Thinking he had to buy more faith - bless his heart! Great characters - excellent storytelling. Well done.
LaNaye Perkins09/05/07
You captured my attention from the title to the last sentence. This was a great read!
Betty Castleberry09/05/07
I really LOVE the voice in this piece. I'm wondering if perhaps Mr Horton's change of heart was a bit too abrupt?
Regardless, this is very well done. Would be fun to see it expanded so we know what happens.
Patty Wysong09/05/07
This is wonderful. The characters and dialog are so real I could easily visualize it. Great job--and I really love the message here. :-)
Lynda Schultz 09/05/07
Poor Billy. Someone should carbon-copy this reverend — he is a true pastor. Great story.
Jacquelyn Horne09/06/07
Wonderful story here. Well written. Liked your MC.
Ed VanDeMark09/06/07
Excellent story. A bit confusing at the beginning but my confusion was resolved as I read on. Sounds like the makings of a novel or a movie script. Great visual images. Good luck.