Baby Preacher

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A boy whose religious parents think he is an evangelist, but who is really only a little boy and not a very pleasant one at that, who has an exaggerated idea of his own importance.

Submitted: September 24, 2011

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Submitted: September 24, 2011

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BABY PREACHER

 

When Gideon was born it was the culmination of his father’s dreams.

 

Abel’s first marriage had produced six daughters whom he saw as more of a punishment than a blessing. His wife who had passed from this mortal coil to be with the Lord in Glory was now at peace according to Abel, after having suffered from hysteria due to the lack of producing a male-child for her husband. The six girls didn’t have many problems with their father at the moment of deciding their futures. Abel had no interest in them because sooner or later they would get married and he would be left alone. Besides, with the death of his wife the hope of having a son had also gone. Feeling doubly punished, Abel lacked the energy and the will to confront the six, and they took advantage of their father’s attitude.

Home, and questions referring to the family, went from bad to worse. Abel arrived home and went to his room, meanwhile the older girls got dressed up and went out, the smaller ones stayed up watching the television.

 

One day in a moment of supreme boredom Abel went, to go to the prayer meeting at the church. He liked it so much that he decided to repeat the experience the following week. His daughters seeing that their father had something new of interest in his life felt happier, nevertheless continued going out and coming in and taking no notice of Abel’s guidance about leaving the tracts in sight. The girls good humouredly laughed at him saying that leaving religious tracts around the place was an old people’s thing.

Abel sat down in the third row. He already knew most of those present. The talk that night was about Christian parents who had children at difficult ages. The majority of those present knew this problem all too well, as they were actually living it. The speaker was a middle-aged man who had spent years helping dysfunctional families. To tell the truth, Abel was a bit bored and paid little attention till a young woman of about twenty-eight years old appeared. It was her turn to speak, and she started speaking about her own experiences having lived in third-world countries; the poverty, drugs, child prostitution, and so on. Abel agreed with what she was saying. It had been a long time since he had heard a woman talk intelligently.

When it was all over, he went up to her and introduced himself. Her name was Deborah White, and she had just returned from a girls’ school in Thailand.

“I was very interested in what you were saying about girls. I have six daughters at home, and to tell you the truth, I haven’t much idea of how to deal with them. They take advantage of me continuously.”

Deborah looked at Abel with interest. “It must be fun having so many daughters. Is the girls’ mother here?”

“I’m a widower, and as I don’t have a wife my daughters believe that they can do exactly what they want with or without my permission.”

“Are you asking for help?”

Abel thought for a moment, “I think so.”

Deborah smiled at him, “When can I meet them?”

“Tomorrow afternoon, if that’s all right with you.”

“Yes, very good. Now I must see some other people. Good night. See you tomorrow.”

If Abel thought he had found a solution to the problems with his daughters, Deborah also thought she had found the answer to solve the problem of what to do during her three-month furlough far from Thailand.

 

Of course Deborah never returned to Thailand, but instead accepted Abel’s offer of holy matrimony. For her the family was a challenge where she could carry out some of her own ideas regarding the behaviour of Abel’s daughters. The older ones rebelled but the younger ones didn’t have such luck and had to obey Deborah to the letter. Abel was deaf to the complaints of the six. Abel was the first man to know Deborah, and if she found him rather ardent she never said so. Deborah thought that it was the will of the Lord that she had met Abel, and that it was her job to save the girls from the world of vice and the father from unclean thoughts and pornographic literature. Deborah’s physical surrender to Abel came after a well-attended wedding ceremony, with the six daughters all with the same look of wonder on their faces. For Deborah, sex was rather like an act of martyrdom. There would be time enough in the future to tame Abel’s lustful tendencies, but for now she had to give in.

 

Gideon’s birth was observed by Abel with an abnormal interest. It was his seventh child, and just had to be a boy. Deborah had a bad time in the delivery, but with the same resignation as when she surrendered to Abel’s desires she allowed herself to be carried away on a wave of anaesthetic and a drip. On seeing the sex of his newborn son Abel said to the Lord with his eyes closed, “Thank you Lord for having blessed my patience. The child will be a good Christian.”

Deborah adored the baby and she pulled out all the stops for him.

The three eldest girls had left the paternal home early and each one went along her own road. The three youngest found that the smallest member of the family was not only idolized by his parents but was also a tyrant. The home was run around him. When he started nursery school it was the first time he had been separated from his family. Gideon knew nothing about the outside world. He was completely spoilt and nobody had ever said No! to him.

The nursery chosen by Abel and Deborah was near their house. The owner was not one of the pillars of the church, but Gideon’s parents got on well with her. There weren’t many children in each group and when Gideon entered the class he was number 15. Most of the day the smallest ones spent their time playing with water, sand, and wooden bricks, and with tricycles. They also sang, and every week they learnt new songs. Every day, before eating lunch grace was said to give thing thanks for the food. The teacher chose a different child every day to say the little prayer. Some children did it well but others didn’t want to have anything to do with it. Gideon loved blessing the food. When the teacher asked him how he knew how to do it so well, he said he did it at home and his parents called him ‘baby preacher’.

 

There were several children who always played together. In this group there was a girl called Angela with the face of an angel and very vain. Angela sang a lot at home and at school and was used to hearing the adults say how well she did it. Of course, Angela sang television advertisements and pop songs.

Gideon knew nothing about the frivolous world and after having heard her sing a few times he went home and told his mother. Deborah, with her missionary senses even more developed that when she was single, listened attentively to her son. Instead of saying to Gideon how nice it was that there was a little girl who loved singing, Deborah advised him to teach the children to sing to the glory of the Lord. After all, Angela’s voice was a present from the Lord. Gideon went to his room happily, thinking about the songs he was going to teach Angela.

Angela listened to Gideon’s proposal with the disdain of an extremely spoilt four-year-old girl with curly, blond hair. But Gideon, in spite of his tender age, was the true son of his parents. During his short life he had heard of the fight to gain souls for the Lord, and Angela’s attitude didn’t inhibit him at all, on the contrary it animated him even more. That day Gideon offered to sing in the last moments before they all went home. The teacher had begun a habit with the nursery children to let them sing or tell a story during the last part of the afternoon before they went home. The children loved it because it gave them the impression that what they were doing was important. Gideon got up and sang one of his favourite songs, ‘Looking for soldiers for Jesus.’ The other children looked at him in wonder. The teacher seeing how quiet the rest were asked Gideon if he could teach them the song. Happily the boy spent some minutes teaching them the words and music of the song. Angela sang it very well but she was a bit jealous due to having a competitor in class in what she had thought was exclusively hers. Angela spoke to the teacher saying that Gideon’s song was very serious, but the teacher didn’t agree and Angela had to resign herself.

 

The following day at the nursery, after a chat with his mother and following her advice, Gideon offered to teach the other children how to say grace. They stared at Gideon without thinking because they understood that it was easier to obey and the teacher on not finding any objections from the class gave him permission. The child stood up on his chair ‘so that everyone can see me’, he said to the teacher as a reply about the chair. Showing a seriousness and patience unusual in someone so small, Gideon closed his eyes, saying that the others should follow his example. There were sounds of protests that were quietened by the fierceness of their class mates. When the rehearsal was over the children asked Gideon who had done it best. The child said, “Me, of course, I’ve had more practice.”

The children didn’t say anything, each one knowing that with practice they would be as good as Gideon. A boy called Raymond asked Gideon, “Do you say grace at dinner, too?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Know what? Tonight I’m going to give my parents a surprise by saying grace at dinner,” screamed Raymond to the class. Straightaway all of them said they were going to do the same. Gideon felt satisfied, and Deborah even more so on receiving the news.

Later when Gideon was asleep, Deborah and Abel spoke about their son.

“He’s going to be a preacher with fire in his blood and a whiplash for a tongue,” commented Abel.

“It’s the Lord’s will. How lucky we are with this child! He really is the blessing of this home.” Deborah was happy with everything. Her life now with Abel was running smoothly, and Abel knew how to keep his lustful side under control, although from time to time he became the ardent lover as before.

Gideon was received in the nursery school with a mixture of happiness and respect by the other children, just like one of the wise old men from the past. One or other of the parents who was there looked on Gideon with humour thinking that at least he wasn’t dangerous. Raymond’s father said, “Was it you who taught my son to say grace?” Gideon didn’t hesitate in answering, “Yes, it was me.”

Raymond’s father gave his thanks to Gideon adding, “I wonder if you can teach him to be a better boy. What do you think?”

“All is possible with the help of the Lord.”

“You see, Raymond is awful and clever at the same time. I hope you’ll be friends. Bye, Gideon. See you, Raymond.” And laughing, Raymond’s father left, and the two boys stayed staring at each other. At that moment a bell rang and they all went inside.

 

From then on every day a different child said grace. In the afternoons they sang before leaving. One day the children were rather agitated and the teacher looked at Gideon as if she were pleading with him to find an answer. Gideon had spoken with his mother about several different ideas and decided to put one of them into action. He stood up on his chair. He was more serious this time. Not one child was seated on a chair, they were fighting and shouting. They didn’t want to sing, they were bored. Gideon raised a hand to get silence just like the Sunday school teacher did. The children nearest to him sat down and made the rest keep quiet and do the same. In one short moment they were all in their places. The teacher who was trying to put all the toys away breathed a sigh of relief, “Gideon, you really are a blessing.”

“We are going to pray before leaving so that nothing happens to us on our way home from school and to give thanks for the day.” Gideon put his little hands together and closed his eyes the others did the same as their master. When praying was over the bell rang and in a flash the classroom was empty. The teacher went from desk to desk looking for anything that had been left behind. They had left nothing.

Gideon now had the children more controlled and the teacher placed no obstacle against the wishes of the ‘baby preacher’ as she called him in private. The teacher had taught them how to write easy words like, mummy, daddy, house, cat, and their own names.

Deborah made Gideon read and write for Abel.

“When you know more we’ll give you some tracts for your friends,” Abel told him.

Gideon obediently answered him, “Yes, Daddy, whatever you say.”

“It isn’t what I say it’s what the Lord says. Everything comes from Him. Don’t you forget it.”

“I won’t forget, Daddy.”

 

One day, one of his faithful followers went up to him during playtime, “Gideon, my parents say I mustn’t say grace any more. They say that they are fed up with it.” The child who had just spoken looked at Gideon innocently, who wasn’t quite sure what to answer so remained silent and kept this piece of news for his parents.

Deborah’s reaction was, “Poor boy. What parents! Taking away from him the possibility of knowing the true way of the Lord. Gideon, we must pray for this child so that he can be saved from the spiritual inertia of his parents. They probably don’t know or understand that they are on the wrong road. The Lord has told us that we shall be guided by the hand of a child to know the truth. Well, Gideon, don’t worry, I’ll speak to your father later. Tomorrow we may give you some tracts for the children.”

Gideon felt better and went to bed convinced that everything would turn out well.

 

The tracts had a picture of Jesus with a child on the front, inside there was a short text with simple vocabulary for children who could hardly read. All the tracts were the same so as not to cause arguments, Abel had told him.

Gideon handed the tracts to the class. The children with no interest in the message of the tracts made paper aeroplanes with them and began throwing them around the classroom. The more faithful paid attention to the sweet child on the cover of the tract and saw themselves reflected there. Then they tried to read the text. The teacher read the text to the children saying that it was very appropriate and, indeed, was good. In the teacher’s eyes everything that Gideon did was good.

Gideon told his mother about the paper aeroplanes planes made with the tracts. Deborah told him that sooner or later they would tire of that activity and take it all more seriously. Abel, when told the story, said to Deborah, “If they had to pay for them they wouldn’t carry out such bad deeds. But, then what can you expect of children with parents who lived far from the Lord?” Gideon was having dinner but he had heard everything. “Daddy, will you give me more tracts?”

“Very well, Son, but can you try to give them only to the ones who are interested this time. It’s a waste to let them end up on the floor. The word of the Lord is to be read, not to be trodden or used to play with.”

“I understand, Daddy.”

Gideon took a pile of new tracts to the nursery. The cover was of the Good Shepherd with a group of children and lambs around Him, and a boy holding a lamb in his arms sitting on Jesus’ lap. It was all symbolic. The teacher said Oh! and Ah! on seeing them and kept one for herself. Gideon began to hand them out among the faithful. The plane makers approached him, asking for one each. Gideon informed them, “If you want one you have to pay. The word of the Lord isn’t a toy.”

The plane manufacturers got together and whispered among themselves. “Very well. How much?”

“Five pence each tract.”

Immediately the little hands entered their pockets and produced the coins. Gideon counted the money and gave them the tracts. What Gideon didn’t know was that they had agreed to buy the tracts in order to make the planes. The paper was perfect for this intention. Meanwhile, Gideon was staring at his first money. What could he do with it? Spend it? Save it?

If the teacher realized the business that was going on in the classroom or not she remained silent. For her, Gideon was a real blessing, the children didn’t make as much noise as in previous years and the other teachers were jealous of her for having such a disciplined group. She had chosen to take no notice.

 

It was parents’ day at the nursery. Just before the day, the little ones did drawings and works of art to decorate the classroom walls. Gideon’s class was no exception, and they had chosen Bible stories. Some of the children worked together to make a large painting with an abundance of shepherds, animals, and the countryside populated with people wearing a halo over their heads. When everything was ready for the parents, the teacher, delighted with their work, said to them, “Thank you children, this is a very beautiful picture. Your parents will feel very pleased.”

The parents saw their children’s work with mixed feelings. Some thought it was more like a Sunday School and one of the parents was daring enough to say to the teacher, “I thought all this was as old as the hills.” The teacher smiled but said nothing. At last Gideon’s parents arrived.

“The classroom’s very pretty, isn’t it Abel?”

“Very nice. We have to see Gideon’s work.”

“But first we must introduce ourselves to the teacher.”

The teacher was dying of curiosity to meet Gideon’s parents. “Good afternoon.”

“Good afternoon, we are Gideon’s parents. I see that the boy is showing the good way to his companions,” observed a proud Abel, seeing in the drawings the influence of the tracts.

“Your son has brought texts for the children.”

The father of a plane manufacturer went up to them, “May I have a word with you, please. You seem like good people, but what I don’t understand is why my son has to pay for the paper he makes planes with.”

Abel and Deborah looked at him without understanding a word of what he was saying. “Please, Sir, can you clarify this?” Deborah was puzzled.

“Look, madam, my son likes making paper planes and it turns out that the paper of the tracts is perfect. But as my son does nothing that Gideon tells him to, then he has to pay for them. Later your son spends it on ice creams and sweets when he leaves the nursery school.”

“I don’t believe it. He’s a good boy,” Abel was furious. What cheek! Saying such things about his precious child, his heir, the preacher. “As you are not a believer I don’t blame you. It is the Devil who’s talking through you.”

Satisfied with his words, Abel took Deborah’s arm to leave, but another father had appeared.

“Please tell this gentleman about the tract business.” The first father asked the second one.

The second father reiterated what the first one had said.

Abel and Deborah went up to the teacher, “Haven’t you got anything to say about these accusations?”

“I didn’t know. The children seemed to be so happy and good that I thought everything was fine.”

The first father intervened. “What the teacher is trying to tell us is that she paid no attention to the little ones, so long as they were quiet all was well, but we know that when a child is quiet it’s because it’s up to no good!”

Gideon’s parents said their goodnights and went home. Gideon was playing in the living-room when they got home, “Gideon is it true that you have charged the children for the tracts?”·

“Yes, Daddy. You said that if they had to pay they would have more respect for the tracts and not make planes.”

Deborah touched Abel’s arm, “It’s true, don’t you remember?”

“Yes, I remember. Go to bed Gideon. Tomorrow we’ll talk about many things. Good night.”

“Good night Mummy, Daddy.”

 

Gideon took out from under his bed an old sock full of coins, which he counted and put back into its hiding place. He got into bed and opened a drawer in his bedside table. Under his socks and hankies there was a bag full of sweets, and taking out quite a few he popped them in his mouth with a mischievous smile on his face. Gideon, with his mouth full of sweets and caries, finally fell asleep.

Downstairs Deborah and Abel were having a serious discussion about the preacher’s future and what had really happened.


© Copyright 2020 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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