Allan looked around the shabby living room. Wes had once had such grand plans. He was going to build a mega-church, a church that would rival the biggest in the nation. But here he was, pastoring a little aging congregation on the south side of Atlanta. By his earlier standards, you could say he was going nowhere, but it looked like he had arrived.
“How’s your church?” It was a question all ministers asked each other. Often, they answered with lies about attendance, radical programs, huge staffs and mega-budgets. But the good ones took a more humble approach. “We’ve got some good people,” Wes said, and Allan sensed real honesty in his answer.
“I went through a divorce last year,” Wes confessed. “Becky got the kids and most of the savings. I didn’t have anything.”
“God, that’s tough.” Allan studied his friend’s face and was reminded of how many times he had been told that he looked like Wes. That was before the scrapes and bruises he’d received tonight.
“Hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.” He looked up. “You know, ministers aren’t supposed to get divorced.” He looked back down to the aging carpet. “But sometimes it happens.”
Allan didn’t know what to say. “You’re only human, Wes.”
“Not to some . . .” Wes said, as if wanting to defend himself. His voice trailed off mid-sentence. “The church I was in didn’t take it very well. Becky had some close friends there. Others were hung up on the whole divorce thing. In June, I moved here.”
Allan knew that some sins that were forgivable for church members were unforgivable for pastors.
“Asbury welcomed me, took me in and nursed me back to health,” he continued. “I know they’ve ministered more to me than I to them, at least so far.”
“That’s great,” Allan said, but his words sounded hollow. He wished he could say something more reassuring. He wanted to somehow support Wes, but had nothing to offer.
“It’s just a small congregation, mixed races, blue collar workers. I’ve performed more funerals this year than baptisms. But they’ve been very good to me.” His blue eyes sparkled with a faint smile.
They reveled in the late night candor, and it reminded Allan of times long ago, sharing beliefs, philosophies and even bullshit in dorm rooms and one-room apartments during seminary. It made him miss those times.
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