Waving goodbye to Mom, Wrigley hopped into the Brown’s car. Mr. Brown smiled. “I’m glad you could join us at our church Wrigley. We’ve been trying to get more kids from Jess’ new school to come each week.”
Jess nodded. “I think we have twenty kids from school coming to youth group now.”
“Wow! That’s a lot.”
Mr. Brown pulled into the parking lot. Wrigley waved to a few kids that she knew. The church looked bigger than the little country church she was used to. Suddenly Wrigley felt little butterflies in her stomach. But Jess smiled and grabbed her hand and they went into the church together.
They sang songs and played games. During snack time, a boy sat down next to Wrigley. “Hi, I’m Jeff. I think we go to the same school.” Wrigley smiled and nodded. “I’m glad Jess invited you to come to our church and learn about Jesus.”
“Oh, I already know Jesus. I go to the Methodist Church. I’ve been a Christian since I was five.”
Jeff stood up and backed away. “The Methodists aren’t Christians; they don’t believe the same way we do. Unless you go to our church, you’re going to Hell.”
Jeff walked over to a group of kids. Soon Wrigley noticed everyone was pointing at her and whispering. She kept sniffing back tears. She relaxed her shoulders when Jess came over. Wrigley smiled at her but Jess just grunted. ”Dad’s here. Let’s go.”
Wrigley followed Jess. Her mouth dropped open when Jess sat in the front seat. After a few minutes of awkward silence, Mr. Brown looked in the mirror, “So Wrigley, are you going to come to youth group again?”
Rudely, Jess answered before Wrigley had a chance. “No, Wrigley doesn’t like our church. She told Jeff that her church was the best and ours is stupid.”
“I never said that! “
Jess turned around in her seat. “That’s not what Sally said. She heard Jeff telling his friends that you called us a bunch of freaks.”
“No, I didn’t, honest. Jeff told me I’d go to Hell if I didn’t go to your church.”
Mr. Brown interrupted, “Now girls, there’s no sense arguing. Maybe if you come again next week Wrigley you’ll understand more about how our church works. Jess is upset because she likes you and wants you to believe in Jesus.”
Smiling, Jess turned and looked at Wrigley again. ”Yeah, I’m sorry; you probably said that stuff because you’re scared.”
Just then Mr. Brown pulled into Wrigley’s driveway. “Well, think about it Wrigley. Jess will call you later.”
Wrigley got out of the car, “Thank you for the ride.” Mr. Brown nodded and Wrigley shut the door. As soon as the car pulled out of sight Wrigley stepped up to the porch and collapsed in tears. The snot was dripping out of her nose. Splat! It hit the steps. Sniffling, Wrigley tried to wipe the tears from her face. She took a big gulp and started choking.
Mom came outside when she heard Wrigley crying. “Honey, what’s wrong? Did you and Jess get in a fight?” Mom scooped Wrigley into her arms. Shaking her head, she flung her arms around Mom’s neck.
Rubbing her back, Mom rocked Wrigley. Soon Wrigley managed to tell Mom the whole story. “It was horrible; everyone was whispering and pointing at me. I know that Jesus died for my sins because He loves me. I will get to Heaven even though I’m Methodist, right Mom?”
Mom took a piece of chalk and drew a map on the sidewalk. She handed Wrigley the chalk, “Show me all the ways to get from school to our house.” Wrigley traced four different routes. Mom smiled, “Good job, we could go down Elm Street or Main but as long as we end up on Stone Road we’ll get to our house.”
Wrigley wiped the last bit of snot from her face. “I get it. There are lots of Christian Churches, just like there are lots of streets; as long as we follow Jesus, or Stone Road, we’ll get home.”
Smiling, Mom pulled Wrigley to her feet. “The hard part is to forgive the kids that spread rumors about you.”
Together they walked into the house, “No, Mom, that’s easy, if Jesus can forgive my sins; I can forgive them. I’ll wait a day or two and then tell Jess about your map. Thanks Mom, I love you.”
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