Copyright 2006 Terry F. Phillips Sr.
All rights reserved
Months went by and the board began hearing complaints Kelly wasn’t connecting with the church’s young people.
They didn’t want to fire him, but they wanted the church to run as smoothly and to grow.
The board decided the solution was to hire a youth minister. The board of elders and deacons asked him to check around.
Kelly had an idea of the kind of youth minister he wanted – and the kind of youth minister the church needed. It was difficult, but he decided to find the type of person who would be good for the church.
He pictured an athletic, well-built, tall charismatic guy who would charm the teenage girls into attending church and bringing their boyfriends with them.
“That would be healthy for the church,” he thought.
But, quickly enough, he realized money would be an issue. While Kelly had not asked the church for anything – not even to ask how much the job paid when he became the minister – he quickly realized the type of youth ministers he knew the church needed would be out of the church’s price range.
The youth minister search became a private matter of prayer for Kelly and the church board members. He said nothing from the pulpit about the idea; but always kept his eyes open.
One day his prayers appeared to be answered from a strange source.
Kelly’s friends told him about a youth minister who had resigned the church he served.
A visit over coffee and Kelly learned Greg was willing to accept the calling for the amount offered by the church.
Greg’s first Sunday at Victory gave Kelly reason to be concerned.
When he introduced Greg to the young people, he saw the reaction he expected. The girls fluttered and the guys admired him as someone who could teach them about sports and – obviously – about women.
But it was Grace’s reaction that bothered Kelly.
She took one look at him, her eyes lit up and she smiled in a way she had never smiled at Kelly.
Despite his reluctance to ask her out, Kelly and Grace had become friends. They enjoyed spending time together. In fact, she was the first girl he had ever known who didn’t lose her appeal shortly after their first date.
Her parents had allowed him to take her to the movies when a Billy Graham film was shown at the Crawfordsville theater. It had been sponsored by the local ministerial association, so Kelly thought taking Grace was a ministerial thing to do, not really a date. And, he couldn’t help it if he just forgot to promote the film at church, so the two of them were the only ones who knew about it, could he?
It seemed plausible – to Kelly. Grace’s parents liked Kelly and just smiled through it all.
There was a problem: Grace didn’t believe in God. That was another reason Kelly decided it wouldn’t be wise for them to get too involved too quickly.
Once, when Betty was out of town, Kelly was invited to spend the night in the Rogers home. Kent and Lucy Rogers had gone to a square dance and Kelly and Grace enjoyed the house by themselves.
Grace played some of her favorite records for him.
“This is ‘Pinball Wizard’ by The Who,” she said. “It’s about a blind and deaf boy who can’t do much, but he likes playing pinball and becomes very good at it.”
As the evening wore on, Kelly brought up the delicate subject of Grace’s faith.
“Oh, I believe in a higher power,” she said. “I’m just not sure if it’s the God of the Bible or not.”
Kelly had not heard of the Alcoholics Anonymous pledge to a higher power and he was confused.
“It’s like this,” Grace continued. “How do we know the Bible is right? I mean there are so many religions in the world. Which one of them is right?”
“Well,” Kelly moved cautiously. “There are a lot of religions in the world. But I understand many of them share common concepts.”
She appeared to be interested, so he continued.
“I mean, a friend of mine goes to a Christian College. He says that ancient history of the land between Egypt and the Holy Land indicates a people called the Habiru traveled as nomads about the Same time the Bible says Moses was leading the Hebrews to the Promised Land.
“Then, there are common themes of sin and redemption by blood and sacrifice that are repeated in many religions.”
They sat quietly; Kelly hoped it would all sink in and Grace would respond. Instead, she offered him a glass of lemonade.