No Time for Mr. Willie
By John Kenney
The sanctuary of Mt. Nabor Community Church was filling up quickly, and fellowship was in the air. Sunday was always a special day in the small community of Mt. Nabor. The members of this warm, welcoming church were excited to see each other and enjoy the before service conversations.
Pastor James Royce had been the leader of this congregation for almost fifteen years, and his congregation had always been very supportive of him. For him, it was a joy to serve in such a position; especially on a day like today. He had been informed that some new visitors would be in attendance today. According to the information he had received, the visitors were searching for a new church home. Pastor Jim was very anxious to make a good impression on the new folks. The couple was supposedly very influential in the community, since he was the new president of American Metals, a local factory employing over eight hundred workers.
As the pastor was preparing his materials, he noticed a small, thin man enter the doors at the rear of the church and take a seat on the last row. "Lord, have mercy. That's all we need today."
Making his way back to the seated man, the pastor was hesitant about speaking to the man who obviously hadn't cleaned himself in some time. "Sir, may I help you?"
Looking up, the little man answered timidly, "A man who stopped me on the street yesterday said I needed to come here and find what I was looking for."
Hurriedly, Pastor Jim said, "well, what are you looking for?"
Standing up, the man responded as the pastor backed away from the foul smelling man, "I don't really know what he meant, but I thought I would come and see what I would find."
Becoming more anxious about the soon-to-arrive visitors, the pastor said, "Sir, I think I know what you need. Please wait here."
Searching the crowded congregation, Pastor Jim spotted his son, Jeremy, and called to him. Jeremy responded and came to his father's side. "Jeremy, would you please take this man around the back way to the parsonage and get him some of the fried chicken your mother has prepared for dinner today? I think he could use a good meal. When he finishes, you can let him go on his way, and you can come back to the service. Just make sure he has it on the back porch and stay with him. Okay?"
"Oh, by the way, Sir I didn't get your name."
The man spoke quickly, "Folks call me Willie!"
"Well, Willie, Jeremy is going to take you to our home for some good fried chicken. That should set you up pretty good. You go along with him. Okay?"
Moving to the door, Jeremy and the small man went around the back of the church to the parsonage.
"What did you say your name was, Sir?" Jeremy made sure the man was seated on the back porch before he entered the kitchen to get the chicken.
"Folks call me Willie," responded the man.
"Well, Mr. Willie, you're gonna love my mom's chicken. She's a real good cook."
"I'm not really hungry, but I guess that's what the guy on the street thought I needed, so I'll eat it," said Willie.
Meanwhile, in the church, service had begun. The worship songs opening the service rang out with notes of faith, service and sacrifice as the congregation sang joyfully. Pastor Jim stood in front with a smile on his face as he gazed out on the faces of his flock. Within the first few rows he couldn't help but notice his prestigious guests had arrived in their finest wardrobe.
After finishing the fried chicken, Willie thanked Jeremy and said he had best leave. "I guess I got what I came for, but somehow I feel like I didn't."
"What do you mean, Mr. Willie?"
"Well, the fellow on the street said that I should meet this guy named Jesus, and I didn't see him yet. Was he in the church when I was over there?"
"Jesus is in our hearts, Mr. Willie," Jeremy replied.
"Well, how do I meet him?" questioned Willie.
"Maybe you'd better talk to my father about that, Mr. Willie."
"Okay, but he seemed pretty busy today, so I'd better talk to him some other time. I'd best be on my way," responded Willie.
After Willie's departure from the parsonage, Jeremy hurried back to the church where service was just letting out. Rushing up to his father who was shaking hands with the members, he informed Pastor Jim that Willie was gone.
"Thank God, I thought he would try to come back to the service. We didn't need that today of all days."
Going on with their day, Pastor Jim and his family had a wonderful fried chicken dinner, took a short nap, and in the afternoon the pastor prepared for the evening service. It had been a wonderful day with exciting future possibilities for the new teaching addition, what with the new guests who would surely become members. Pastor Jim was grateful to God for his blessings.
Monday morning, Pastor Jim arose and followed his routine of reading the morning edition of The Mt. Nabor Gazette. The headlines of the paper took his breath away. The headlines read, "LOCAL TRANSIENT FOUND DEAD IN ALLEYWAY." Reading further, he was shocked to read the following print; "The only belongings found on the man known only as Willie was a Christian witness tract with the heading 'Search for the Lord while He may be found.í"
Pastor Jim slowly dropped the paper and sobbed into his hands at the opportunity he had lost and at the loss of a soul for the Kingdom.
Would we be any different?
John Kenney is an avid writer who has published one poem in Cross and Quill magazine. He has been married for 26 years to his wife Toni, and they have five adopted children. They live in Greeneville, Tennessee. For more of Johnís work, please visit http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=9689 You may contact John through this Magazine.
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