For the past three months Ephraim worked assiduously setting in place the cupboard and shelves in the benevolence room, while Jala put her finishing touch on the space to make it warmer and more welcoming. Looking around the large room she could see her goal of serving the poor with honor becoming a reality. When she remembered what the benevolence ministry once looked like and what it is now, she felt a sense of accomplishment. Her goal now is to get people serving in the ministry who share her heart for the poor.
It was easy for her to work with Ephraim after getting over the night of the explosion and the gossip that followed. He understood what she wanted to accomplish in preserving people’s dignity while lending a helping hand. He installed cupboards to store barrels of food in the most discreet ways, while creating partitions in the room. Jala’s friend, Abe, shouldered up the responsibility of helping the men who came for benevolence, find jobs, by liaising with companies in the area. Jala had a way of prompting people to use their passion toward their purpose. Abe had a serious problem giving to men who did not work or try to find a job. He had his scripture verses to back it and would faithfully quote 2 Thes 3:10 If a man will not work, he shall not eat!
It was Friday evening and all the friends had gathered in the benevolence room chatting away. Chari made her usual larger than life entrance with finger foods and drinks.
“Welcome, welcome Chari, the bearer of good food!” chimed Abe.
“What exactly are we celebrating,” asked Jala, confused.
“We are celebrating, silly, the completion and opening of the new benevolence room!”
“You’re right Chari. We should celebrate!”
Abe wasted no time cranking up the music.
“Oh, by the way, Pastor Pruitt said to tell you that he will be dedicating it during second service on Sunday. So, you know that all of us will have to be there. He will be calling on us.”
“All of us?” queried Jala. “Ephraim that’s your church time.”
Jala had mixed feeling about his attending even though the four of them had bonded together so much as they worked on the ministry. She was afraid of another round of gossip.
After being called to the front of the church and applauded for their work in benevolence, everyone came to greet them after church.
Mrs. Lueth, who had been like a mentor to Jala and a safe place for many young adults at the church, asked “Is this the Ephraim I have been hearing about?”
“I’m not sure Miss, but it’s a pleasure to meet you.” He reached out his hand with a grin and shook hers.
“Ephraim? No. He just did carpentry work for us in benevolence. That’s all!”
Jala quickly looked at Ephraim, whose expression was immediately one of displeasure.
Many crowded around the benevolence area to see the changes, while Chari tried her best to recruit persons for the ministry. Abe entered their information into his laptop as Chari brought them in. Soon, Jala noticed Ephraim heading through the door.
“Ephraim! You’re leaving?”
“Yes, I guess my job is done here.”
Both Chari and Abe joined them.
“Fraim, we’re meeting up over Jala’s house after this. You’re coming, right?
“Aaaah, I’m not sure.”
Abe realized that something was wrong and pulled Ephraim aside to talk to him.
Jala knew she had finally offended Ephraim enough to get a reaction out of him.
As soon as Ephraim entered Jala’s apartment, he was like a pipe turn on.
“Listen, I don’t know how you all do Christianity, but it could be because I’m the youngest Christian among us. I kinda thought others mattered and that everyone was someone. I’ve chucked a lot of things up to growing in GOD but I’m frankly tired. It took everything for me to come here.”
“Wait, wait, wait man. What happen? I knew something went wrong at church but what happened?”
“I don’t know where to start. I guess there are many strikes against me and this friendship. I’m trying to figure it out! I’m a new Christian. I’m from another Church. I’m the handyman! All these factors put together make me “just the guy who worked in benevolence!” Should I be ashamed to be a carpenter or am I just out of your league?
“Wow! Oh my goodness! Ephraim we are all friends! None of those things matter,” said Chari. She looked at her dear friend Jala and saw guilt all over her face.
Ephraim continued, “No, I was so excited to see people my age living their Christianity and selflessly pouring into the lives of the poor, so I thought I had found my place. Somehow, I keep feeling like I’m an embarrassment just for existing. First, I tried to help Jala come out of the dark building when she hurt her ankle and she was ashamed that I did so. Confusing! After that I was treated weird, and at a distance for some time, and just when I feel like I’m making friends, this morning she introduced me to her mentor as an insignificant handy boy. No, you didn’t call me that…but that’s what it felt like. I’m sorry! I can’t do this!
Ephraim headed to the door. Abe ran in front of him blocking the door with his 6 ft 4 frame.
“Fraim, give us a chance to talk this out. We heard you and we understand where you’re coming from.
Finally, feeling forced to speak and yet afraid Jala spoke up.
“I’m sorry Ephraim.” She could hardly look him in the face. “It’s not your fault and the truth is that you don’t deserve any of this. I just have some issue to deal with and ever since you came around, they’ve been surfacing one after the other.”
“So, what is it, Jala?”
I can’t say right now, but it has absolutely nothing to do with you. Please forgive me.”
“Let’s eat guys,” said Chari, breathing a sigh of relief and quickly setting everything at the table to make everyone comfortable.
She walked into the kitchen and motioned for Jala to join her. As soon as she was close enough, she whispered, “I told you you’ve got to get some counselling!”
Wouldn’t you agree that Jala has some deep seated issues to confront? Stick with us for all the upcoming confrontations.
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