Hello, Reading Friends. Our hearts grieve for the victims and families in Louisiana and in France. Pray for them, for the safety of Christians in Turkey, and for Christians in Russia, who can no longer legally speak of Jesus in their own homes.
Enjoy “Never Giving Up,” this week’s new Christian short story by D.I. Telbat.
Never Giving Up
by D.I. Telbat
Glenn Adkins stood in the night rain outside his mother’s home in New Jersey. He’d been gone for four years, which included three times spent in jail, and he wasn’t even twenty years old yet. The last time he’d seen his mother, he’d slapped and cursed at her. He shuddered—and it wasn’t just from the chill of the rain. What kind of animal hits his own mother?
He thought about just walking away and not ringing the doorbell. The things he’d said and done were too shameful, too embarrassing, to face her. But no, he had to do this. His old way of thinking wasn’t his new way of thinking. He was a new man now.
Acting with more courage than he actually felt, he pressed the doorbell, then backed into the rain again. A shadow passed in front of the window. This was his last opportunity to bolt, to leave without having to face her, to run away again.
She stood inside the screen door, studying him, a short woman now in her mid-forties, but looking twenty years older. Life had been hard on her, her health taking a toll from cancer treatments when she was younger.
A few seconds passed before she opened the door. She was dressed in sweats, probably ready for bed. Glenn didn’t approach any closer.
“Hi, Mom.” He thrust his hands into his pockets as the rain poured down on him.
“Hi, Glenn. It’s good to see you.” She smiled so sadly, Glenn thought he might burst into tears. “You’re soaked. Come in out of the rain.”
“No, I’d just drip on everything.” He glanced down the street. “I see the Parkers finally fixed their roof. The plastic’s gone.”
“Oh. Yeah. They’re getting ready to sell. Why don’t you come in?”
“I didn’t come to stay.” He wiped at the rain on his brow. “I thought about writing a few times.”
“That would’ve been nice.”
“But I really wanted to talk to you in person.” He looked down at his wet shoes, then reminded himself what he was there for. Eye contact was necessary to do this right. “I was a bad kid. Angry. I was wrong for treating you like that. All you did was try your best with me.”
“Please, let me finish. The last four years have been hell for me, on my own, without you. Well, the first three years, anyway. This past year, it looks like your prayers finally got through.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was in jail about fourteen months ago for— Well, it doesn’t matter now. God broke me down, Mom. When I got out, I lived in a shelter and started going to church.”
“But I’m all messed up. I mean, my past—it’s a wreck. My criminal record is full of car thefts, assaults, and stealing. I’m not exactly a choice employee for anyone to hire now. I earned some money mowing lawns over the summer, just to get a bus ticket out here and a plane ticket out of Newark.”
“A plane ticket?”
“The ministry that put me up taught me a lot about what’s going on in the world. They said Christians are needed in Laos, people who aren’t afraid to live with outcasts and danger. I’ve been in some dangerous places, so I figured I might as well go help people who could use an outcast like me. My experiences were bad, but God can use me for something good since I can’t get a future rolling here.”
“Laos? What will you do there?”
“The Hmong people need help building, farming, stuff like that. Some of them are Christians, but they’ve never read a Bible.” He shrugged. “They’re treated pretty badly by other tribes, but I can live with them and care for them. Like Jesus would. Like you did . . . for me, all those years I was a jerk after Dad died.”
“You’re going to serve God in Laos?”
“At first, I’ll live in a safe house in Vientiane. That’s the capital city. Then I’ll gear up and move into the bush to live in a village. I might just move around from place to place. I don’t know yet. But I’ll become a contact for Christian Americans to send in Bibles that I can distribute. I’m pretty excited to trust God in this. I thought you should know.”
“This is . . .” She covered her mouth for a moment with her trembling hand. “A mother doesn’t need to hear anything more than what you’ve said to me tonight. You’re in God’s hands. You always have been.”
“Well, I’m sorry for being such a rotten kid to you, and for hitting you. I was a little creep.”
“You were never a creep to me, Glenn. Love erases the wrongs, which I guess you’re learning by trusting God.” Through the rain, Glenn could see her tears. “Won’t you come in? I need to get to know my new son.”
“It’s pretty late. I should get back to my hotel. Can you come to the airport tomorrow morning, to see me off? Do you still have Tuesdays off at the dry cleaners?”
“Yes. Yes, I do. You remembered.”
“I’d like to catch up with you tomorrow, then, if that’s okay—to tell you what God’s been doing.”
“Yes! Oh, Glenn!” She practically leaped from the doorway into his arms. Before she could get too wet, Glenn pulled her back under the awning.
As she wept against him, he cried with her, holding his mother tightly, saying over and over, “Thank you, Mom. Thank you for never giving up on me!”
*Select D.I. Telbat novels are available for 25% off now through July 31 through the Smashwords Summer Book Sale! Click the link to get your coupon codes.
COMING UP: Join us next time for David’s book review on No One to Trust, a Christian fiction novel. And in the following post, we’ll have another new D.I. Telbat short story for you, “A Family’s Whole Heart.”