Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Revival

            A hundred people clapped and swayed as they sang Catch on Fire, their voices shouting the words “burning with the Holy Ghost.” Pastor Jacob’s message of salvation mesmerized young and old women, men, and children, and they all asked for forgiveness through song. With a final “Hallelujah” they filed from the tent, their holy pastor hugging each mother and placing his hands on the children’s heads. Adah stood outside the door holding a bucket. As the worshipers left, they dropped dollars, fives, twenties, and hundreds in the silver container, grateful for their soul cleansing.

            Pastor Jacob’s towering frame commanded the countrymen’s attention, yet his relaxed demeanor and handsome features softened the hearts of his female followers. He knew about the magic this combination created and used it to his advantage. Jacob’s traveling revival reaped thousands of dollars from sinners who willingly gave their hard-earned money as guaranteed passage to heaven.

            Jacob Bain had been saving souls for half of his 40 years. His sermons resonated with power, just like his father’s, a well-loved preacher in East Texas. Jacob’s father and mother lived meager lives and were happy without a lot of money or fame. Instead, they found their wealth from the many souls they touched with their ministry. Jacob yearned for more out of life than living in a two-bedroom manse beside a modest church, but preaching the gospel was all he knew. When a traveling revival came to his town the day after he turned 25, he listened as the elderly, the youngsters, and everyone in between chanted Ye Must Be Born Again. He knew his destiny was to save souls as a revival preacher.

            Adah Dubois, blonde, petite, and well dressed, handled all the revival’s finances for Jacob. The dumb blonde demeanor she portrayed was just a scam. She was a savvy bookkeeper who creatively cooked the books to hide the majority of their income. Adah was 30 when she met Jacob at one of his first revivals in a small Louisiana town. The tent pulsated with worshipers singing Praise Him! Praise Him! Indeed, she was more than willing to praise him, Jacob, the deliverer. Impressed by Jacob’s charisma and zeal, she hung around as the last lady lingered by the door, fanning herself from the humid heat and gospel swaying. The final song of the night was I Surrender All, one that Jacob knew would touch the women’s hearts, and the men’s wallets. Adah’s eyes were focused on the silver bucket that sat on a chair beside Jacob. Jacob hugged, the ladies swooned, and the men filled the bucket. Adah wanted to be part of Jacob’s life.

            “Your sermon stirs my soul, Pastor Jacob. Would you mind if I accompany you to your next revival? I believe I have something to offer you that will enhance your ministry.”

            “I appreciate all God’s beautiful creatures, Adah. I would be delighted to have you join me on the rest of my tour through Louisiana.”

            Adah displayed many talents that inspired Jacob, but her most endearing gift in what would become a valuable partnership was her ability to keep track of and invest money. Unsure of Adah’s upbringing, Jacob valued her handling of wealth. He had come a long way from his parents’ one-room church. Even though his two hundred-man tent was modest, Jacob had a sophisticated sound system and a formidable organ. He and Adah slept in the finest motels in the small towns that welcomed his entourage of mercy.

            The tent revival traveled from Louisiana to Mississippi spreading the gospel and saving souls. Certain parishioners were convinced that their cancers had been cured just by the touch of Pastor Jacob’s strong hands.

            After a passionate sermon and rousing hymns in northern Mississippi, a young woman with long brown hair approached Jacob and rubbed her hands down his sleeve. “I adored your sermon tonight, Pastor Jacob. I felt the holy spirit throughout my entire body.” She blinked her long eyelashes and leaned in closer to him. “My name is Rebecca.”

            “So nice to meet you, Rebecca. I’m glad you were moved by the Lord’s love.”

            “Believe me, Pastor Jacob, I was.” Rebecca stood on her toes and kissed Jacob on the cheek. “See you next week.”

            As Rebecca swung her hips away from Jacob, he turned to Adah, “Let’s make sure she has a front row seat next week.”

            “Ever the flirt, huh, Jacob. We need to move on. We’ve been in Mississippi for over three months.” Adah stuffed the money into the bank bag. “Let’s pack up and drive to Arkansas.” In order for Adah’s creative financing to work, she knew they couldn’t stay in one state for very long. The more the tent revival moved from one small town to another, the more money their silver bucket accumulated.

            Evenings in Arkansas brought humidity, heat, and bugs, but that didn’t stop the Holy Spirit from raging through the worshipers’ bones under the revival tent. They sang the chorus to Livin’ He Loved Me over and over so they knew in their hearts that they were all saved. Pastor Jacob stood in the front and raised his arms with a final benediction, “Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Amen!”

            As Pastor Jacob said his blessings and goodbyes to all the saved souls, Rebecca hurried out and surprised him with a full body hug and slow, sensual kiss on his neck. Jacob was surprised, but didn’t pull away. “Rebecca, what are you doing in Arkansas?”

            “I love your sermons so much, Jacob, that I have decided to follow you wherever you go. In fact, I believe I have something you can’t live without.”

            Jacob nodded, hugging Rebecca a little closer.

            “You see, as a teenager, I took voice lessons and have been singing praises to our Lord as a soloist in my church. I want more than anything to lead your congregation to the Almighty Spirit in song. Let me audition for you, Pastor Jacob, with a private performance.”

            Jacob agreed, so they set a time for later in the evening. He could hardly wait to savor the young lady’s sincere praises in song.

            Jacob wasn’t disappointed. Moved by Rebecca’s bountiful voice, he knew she would be able to penetrate the very souls of his followers.

            Rebecca Murphy was only 23, but she was a fireball of energy that emerged with her powerful voice. Her red hair would have been half way down her back if the natural curls had been tamed and straightened. But she allowed the curls to frame her face with fiery ringlets, much like the sizzling sound of her voice.

            Pastor Jacob, Adah, and Rebecca took their revival through all the little towns in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. Jacob’s mighty sermons stirred the spirits of his followers, Adah’s silver bucket overflowed with heartfelt donations, and Rebecca’s powerful hymns brought more and more worshipers to the revivals. The three of them shared their fortune, their beds, and their secrets.

            Towering on the stage with his impressive demeanor, Pastor Jacob had Rebecca lead the congregation in Amazing Grace, a favorite with the females in the congregation. It wasn’t unusual for several women to linger around Jacob long after the revival had ended. Jacob thoroughly enjoyed the attention from the southern belles who worshiped his every word. He had even hired a few more women to take care of the many details that a popular traveling tent revival demanded.

            Adah and Rebecca realized the revival’s payroll was getting too large, especially with all the young women who wanted to help Pastor Jacob spread the gospel. Maybe it was jealousy, possibly fear of competition, and no doubt greed, but the blonde and redhead grew tired of sharing the wealth and attention of Pastor Jacob Bain, the man who attracted beautiful ladies like children flocking to follow Jesus. In fact, many of Jacob’s admirers were children, pre-teens and teenagers, who needed not only a father figure in their lives but also the kind attention Jacob bestowed. Jacob welcomed all who wanted to help his ministry, especially the young women with special talents.

            The chilly autumn evenings in Tennessee can bite to the bone, even when singing praises and clapping to I Know Not What the Future Hath. On these cold nights, Jacob would often invite his helpers to a local restaurant in town for dinner, and then afterward to his motel suite where they would look up Bible verses for the next service. Adah decided to share her suspicions with Rebecca.

            “I’m not comfortable with the generosity Jacob shows his lady helpers at night. Do you get the feeling that he’s doing more than preparing for the next service? I remember when we first started following his revival, he gave us his undivided attention. Now he barely talks to us while you sing to attract the people from town, and I shelter the coffers from the government. In addition, he’s lavishly spending the profits on meals and God only know what else.”

            Rebecca agreed, “We’ve been cast aside like a broken piece of bread. I say we watch him more carefully to see just what is really going on between him and his sweet young followers in his motel room.”

            Following a rousing and sweaty evening in the tent of soul saving and miracles, the congregation completed their chorus of All Things Bright and Beautiful and paraded out the tent door. Rebecca hurried out with the bountiful silver bucket, while Adah ran back to the motel to wait and watch for Jacob. What she witnessed that evening made her shiver as if the devil had stolen her soul. Jacob had invited several of his teenage helpers, many of whom were under 18 years old, to his room, and they were all sitting on his bed while Jacob stroked and petted each little girl. Adah burst into the room, video camera in hand, and confronted him.

            “What the hell do you think you are doing?”

            Jacob wasn’t surprised. “I’m comforting these little lost lambs. I am doing nothing other than warming their souls with my touch. How dare you accuse me of anything more? You and Rebecca are my soul mates; my fortress.”

            The local police arrested Jacob for child molestation. He insisted that he was leading these poor sweet orphans to Jesus and through his power of healing and their souls would be saved. The jury didn’t buy his story, so the courts convicted him to five years in prison.

            Devastated but not defeated, Jacob resigned himself to continue his ministry in prison to bring the word of the Lord to the murderers and rapists who surrounded him. He even convinced the prison guards to broadcast Sunday church services on the prison television sets for the inmates to watch. Three years into his sentence, he heard a familiar sweet voice singing the hymn Deep in the Shadows of the Past. Hundreds of voices joined the soloist and the rousing emotion of song stirred his soul to find the TV that was broadcasting the Sunday service. Glowing from the wide screen was an image he remembered fondly of the curly-haired beauty whose powerful voice once drew thousands of worshipers to his tent revival. Rebecca was swaying to the melody, her arms outstretched, welcoming all to join her song. When the hymn ended, the camera spanned the immense church, zooming in on the petite features of a blonde beauty he had longed for. Adah also outstretched her arms, high above her head, “Praise be to God Almighty. Ask Jesus into your heart and live for eternity.”

            “Thank you, thank you, for joining us during this Sunday’s worship service at the ‘Silver Chalice Unity Church.’ Our services are broadcast all over the United States so the Word of God can spread to all of His people. Remember, you can mail your tithes to Pastor Adah Dubois at the ‘Silver Chalice Unity Church’, Jackson, Mississippi. Let’s finish our worship by singing Revive Us Again.” The congregation stood and clapped their hands as Rebecca’s powerful voice resounded down the prison halls.

1 comment:

  1. Nice ending--love the revenge by Sarah and Rachel, but I would have named them Ruth and Delilah.