"Faith" Chapter Three

by Mary Ellen Humphrey

Chapter 3
Beloved, believe not every spirit,
but try the spirits whether they are of God:
because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
I John 4:1

Rachel could hardly wait for the next Saturday service.
The idea of living on her own was not only exciting, but
a way to escape the nightmare that had been her life for as
long as she could remember. When she told her mother
what she was thinking, she expected another blow-up. To
her surprise, her mother had simply shrugged. “Fine,”
she’d said. “I really am anxious for you to go. There’s no
reason for you to stay with me now.”
Now, Rachel thought, now that she’d soon be
eighteen and the child support checks would stop. Now
that she’d taken her away from her father, kept her from
graduating from high school, taken everything away from
her. Now her mother was done with her.
Rachel felt tightness in her chest. Any words she
wanted to say were stuck deep inside. It had happened
before. Unable to speak. Dizzy. Faint. Rachel retreated
to her room and took her white Bible from the stand next
to her bed. She turned to her favorite verse and began to
read it. I John 4:7-8: Beloved, let us love one another, for love
is of God, and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth
God. He that loveth not knoweth no God, for God is love.
These words calmed her, soothed her and gave her
strength. She told herself, I’ll soon be born of God, and I’ll
soon know God’s love. She remembered her grandmother
who’d given it to her on her twelfth birthday. A large tear
fell down her cheek. “I miss you Gram,” she whispered,
holding the Bible close to her chest.
Rachel’s older brother left to return to her father that
Saturday morning before she and her mother and younger
brother headed to Manchester for church services. Rachel
cried during the trip as she sat in the back seat. She would
miss him. Part of her wanted to go back, too. But her
mother would never allow that. And now that she’d found
the True Church, she had to stay. God was calling her.
Her mother glared ahead. as she drove, her hands
tapping angrily on the steering wheel. She’d been in one of
her moods all day. Her younger brother sat in the front,
looking worried, his jaw clenched, his eyes bloodshot. It
was a long, silent trip. Just before they arrived, her
mother exploded, “I don’t understand you kids!” she
yelled. “I do all this for you. I bring you to God’s True
Church, and you don’t obey me. You don’t respect your
mother. I don’t understand you!”
Rachel recognized that crazed look. Despite the
many times her mother had done it, she still cringed in
fear. It was the power of her mothers’ animosity that
always shocked her. How could her own mother hate her
so? Rachel was convinced there must be something
terribly wrong with herself. It must be her fault—not her
mother’s. No one else’s mother treated them this way.
She’d never seen another mother like this and she’d
watched closely the mother-daughter interactions of
others trying to figure it out.
Her brother glanced her a hateful, why’d-you-upsether-
again look. Rachel looked down, hoping they would
soon arrive. She knew there was nothing she could say to
change her mother’s mood. She just hoped that she
wouldn’t sabotage her plan out of spite.
Rachel kept her hand on the door handle ready to
jump out. Her mother drove too fast, missed a stop sign,
nearly crashed into another car. Her brother clenched his
fists and his jaw. His whole body tightened like a giant
knot. Rachel thought he was surely suffering the most
harm from her mother, even though he was her favorite.
Look what she’s doing to him, Rachel thought sadly. He quit
school. He works at whatever she tells him to do during the
day. He resents me and our older brother. He hates our
father. He’s just plain messed up. She has messed him up so
As soon as the car stopped in the parking lot, Rachel
jumped out and ran into the building without a word. She
was eager to find her two new friends. They were waiting
for her, too.
“What took so long?” Faith asked.
“It’s been a tough ride,” Rachel answered.
“Well, come on. We’re supposed to counsel with the
minister today. What did your mother say?” Kathleen
“I can move out anytime,” Rachel said, not mentioning
that she had her suitcase and meager possessions in the
back of her mother’s station wagon. Whatever happened
today, her mother had made it very clear, and she wasn’t
taking her back home with her to Standish.
The three girls were excited. Jordan, the large official
greeter man joked with Faith and Kathleen. Rachel stood
off a little. But he reached for her and did his big
handshake deal again and pulled her close. He also hugged
both Faith and Kathleen. They didn’t seem to mind.
Rachel tried to smile.
The three girls were led into a small counseling room
off to the side of the main meeting hall. There were only a
few minutes before the service would start, so the
minister asked them to come back after the sermon.
All through the sermon Rachel was distracted. Even
though she’d often dreamed of running away now that she
was really going to be on her own she was frightened. She
looked around the room. These people will be my new
family, she thought. Anything will be better than what I have
The sermon this week was delivered by another man.
He didn’t have the charisma like Mr. Driscoll. Faith
explained to Rachel that Mr. Driscoll was the Pastor. He
oversaw several churches and only came to Manchester
occasionally. Today he was in Boston and their speaker
was Mr. Critchett, the Local Elder.
Mr. Critchett talked about Satan and the bad
influences of the world. “The World” was a different
concept to these folks. Rachel sensed something was bad
about the world.
“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born
of God,” Mr. Critchett quoted as everyone turned to the
book of I John. He continued, “By this we know that we
love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his
He admonished the audience, “Are you a Child of
God? Do you love God and keep his commandments?”
He quoted from I John 4, “believe not every spirit, but
try the spirits whether they are of God: because many
false prophets are gone out into the world.”
Critchett explained there could only be one True
Church. There are so many diverse denominations, he
said, that teach different things. They can’t all be right, he
explained. Only one can be right—only one can be the
True Church. How do you know which one? You must
try the spirits, he explained.
The truth was tested by the revelations of God’s
Apostle, Russell W. Sherburne. “You are privileged to be
chosen as a Child of God. What are you doing with that
privilege and that honor?” He was demanding, almost
accusing the audience.
Rachel felt uncomfortable. This was the man they
would be counseling with after the service. She noticed
that Faith and Kathleen didn’t seem fazed at all.
When the sermon ended and it was time for more
hymns Rachel whispered to Faith, “When do they take up
an offering?”
“Oh, we don’t do that,” Faith explained. “Members
tithe and give special offerings but not at regular services.”
The three girls hurried to be first in line for counseling
when the last prayer was given. Mrs. Andrews was ahead
of them in line. She gave the girls a disgusted look.
“What’s bugging her?” Kathleen asked.
“It’s Rachel’s skirt—see how short it is,” Faith pointed
Rachel suddenly felt embarrassed. She hadn’t noticed
the women and girls wore their dresses well below their
knees. She’d thought her skirt was modest. It came just
to her knees. It was in fact longer than the current fashion
because she’d already let the hem down as far as it would
go. “I didn’t know that,” Rachel said, tugging at her skirt
to get it as low as possible.
“Don’t worry,” Faith said. “It’s not a big deal.”
Mr. Critchett, the Local Elder, sat behind a table and
motioned for the three girls to sit in front. He studied
them for an awkward moment before speaking. When
Faith began to say something he held up his hand to
indicate not to talk. “I know why you’re here,” he said.
“Your father told me.”
Rachel glanced at Kathleen, who sat quietly. The two
other girls looked expectantly at the man, hopeful he
wouldn’t dash their plans. “You know that having your
own place means you will have to be responsible, as
Faith and Kathleen nodded. He looked at Rachel.
“And you,” he said, “you are new to The Church. Are you
going to bring your worldly ways to these two Christian
Rachel was insulted. “I study my Bible,” she said
humbly. “I plan to become a Child of God soon.”
He grinned. “That so.”
“Where do you plan to live?” he asked the girls.
The two started talking at the same time. “We have
pooled our money,” Faith said.
“My mother said I could use her car this week to find
an apartment,” Kathleen said.
“You have to find jobs,” he said.
“I have working papers,” Kathleen said.
“I graduated from high school last week,” Faith said.
“We should be able to find work without much trouble.”
He looked at Rachel. “I have always had a job,” she
said. “I’m sure I can find one here, too.”
“And what about men?” he demanded while, looking
at each girl intently. “Are you planning to entertain men in
your new apartment?”
“Of course not,” they said in unison.
“Humph!” His look said more than his words. “You
are not allowed to have any men in your apartment at any
time for any reason. Is that understood?”
They nodded.
“If it were up to me, I would never allow this,” he
said. “Mr. Driscoll has given his okay and I take my orders
from him. But I will be watching you. Women should be
under direct supervision. If you step out of line or give me
any reason, any reason at all, you will be sent right back
“We won’t,” Faith said.
“Since your parents have all said it was okay with
them as long as you continue to attend church functions,
and the Pastor has agreed, then you may find your own
place. You will be on probation. If there is any
problem,” he said, “ANY problem at all, you’ll have to go
back home.”
“I brought my stuff,” Rachel said.
“On the Sabbath?” the Elder stated. He shook his
head. “Work is not allowed on the Sabbath. You have a
lot to learn, young lady.”
Rachel blushed.
“I have arranged for Audrey Sinclair to help you. You
can stay with her while you find your own place. But
make sure you don’t impose on her. You must pay your
own way like adults, or it’s home you go. Got that?”
They all nodded.
“Who’s Audrey?” Rachel asked as they left the
counseling room.
“She’s a Deaconess. You’ll like her,” Kathleen said.
“Come on, I’ll introduce you.”
“I don’t think Mr. Critchett likes me.” Rachel said as
they gathered their stuff.
“He doesn’t like any women,” Faith said.
Kathleen nudged her arm. “That’s not true, Faith. He
loves his wife and daughter.”
“Yeah? Why does he always pick on women? How
many of the men has he publicly chastised? And how
come the young men can have their own apartments but
he puts us through the third-degree?”
“He’s chastised plenty of men,” Kathleen stated
doubtfully. “But if you talk like that, and someone hears
you, it will be the end of our plan. Cool it.”
“Okay,” Faith said. “I’m sorry. It’s just that I
overheard my parents talking about Mr. Critchett, and
they said he doesn’t like dealing with women.” She
Audrey was the woman who sat at the reception
table. She was friendly. Her dark eyes sparkled. Her hair
was pinned back in a tight bun disguising its actual nearwaist
length. She wore dark colors, a long dress and
The girls approached the table. She was expecting
them. “When can you come?” she asked with a southern
“I can come today,” Rachel said.
Audrey looked surprised. “Well, that’s fine. I haven’t
set up your bedroom yet, but if you don’t mind the couch,
you’re welcome. Wade has to bunk with his brother
while you’re at our apartment.”
Wade was the oldest of Audrey’s three sons. Faith
and Kathleen explained to Rachel that Audrey was a
Deaconess, which meant she was privileged to serve. She
had to leave her husband when she became a Child of
God. It was a divorce and remarriage thing. The Church
didn’t allow anyone more than one marriage, except in the
case of death.
Rachel immediately liked Audrey. She was friendly,
open, and honest. When Rachel fetched her suitcase
from her mother’s station wagon, Audrey asked where the
rest of her stuff was. “That’s it,” Rachel said.
“That’s all you have?” Audrey asked, eyeing the small,
gray, battered suitcase.
Rachel shrugged. “We moved so many times, I just
kept less and less. It’s everything I need.”
“Well, come on. Let’s get you settled.”
Kathleen said, “I’ll see you on Monday morning. We’ll
start looking for our apartment and jobs.”
Faith agreed. “I’m taking a bus down. My folks will
move my stuff once we find a place. This is so exciting,”
she said. The girls hugged good-bye.
Rachel watched as her mother and younger brother
drove off. Neither had said good-bye to her. She figured
her brother didn’t want to upset her mother and didn’t
hold it against him. She hoped he’d be all right. She got
into the back seat of Audrey’s station wagon next to her
youngest son, Randy. He was five. He gave her a big
smile. She smiled back.
Audrey had prepared a wonderful dinner that was
waiting for them when they arrived. She had invited some
of the widows from The Church, too, including Alice. By
the time everyone left and the dishes were cleaned up, the
three boys had gone to bed. As Audrey pulled out the
sofa-bed, she said, “This might not be too comfortable, but
we’ll move Wade out of his bedroom tomorrow and you
can have some privacy.”
“That’s okay,” Rachel said. “I hate to make him move
out of his room.” She had noticed that Wade was sullen
during the evening and seemed to be watching people,
especially her.
Wade was Audrey’s oldest son, nearly fifteen. But he
seemed much older. His voice was deep, well past “the
change.” And his demeanor was always quiet, thoughtful.
He seemed wise beyond his years. Perhaps he’d become
“the man of the house” and felt the burden of worrying
for his mother and two younger brothers. Perhaps he
missed his father who sounded like a very nice person.
Rachel suddenly missed her own father, wondering
what he was doing, was her brother okay, did they miss
her, too. She returned her thoughts to the present and
surmised Wade didn’t appreciate giving up his room to her
and her two friends, even though it would be for only a
short time, she hoped.
“He’s used to it,” Audrey said. “It’s part of the deal.”
“The deal?”
“He gets his own room when it’s not needed for
brethren. Otherwise he’d always share a bedroom with
his brothers. Part of my job is to provide a place for
brethren in need. The church pays the rent here. He
understands that.”
Rachel wondered if he understood. Or maybe he
tolerated it. Maybe he didn’t like it at all, and she wouldn’t
blame him. But that was none of her business.
After the bed was made up, Audrey sat down with a
glass of wine and the two chatted until quite late. Rachel
was curious about this outgoing woman. “How did you
get here in New Hampshire?” Rachel asked when Audrey
said she was from Louisiana.
Audrey explained that she had been married briefly
before meeting her husband, the father of her three sons.
Even though that first marriage had lasted only a few
months, it none-the-less counted, and she was living in sin
with her second husband. He didn’t understand any of
this, of course, not being a Child of God. He was
heartbroken when the church moved her and their three
sons from Louisiana to New Hampshire.
“It’s a test of my faith,” Audrey said. “I know that
God will someday get me and my husband back together.
My husband promised to wait for me no matter how long
it takes.”
Rachel admired Audrey’s strength and faith. She
wondered how she could have left a man she obviously
loved so much.
“I know he will wait,” Audrey said. “It’s only been
three years. When we are re-united, it will be better than
before. God will reward us. I’m hoping that my husband
will also be chosen as a Child of God. That’s my prayer,
every day, morning and night.”
Audrey took another sip of wine. Rachel noted that
she’d had several glasses over the evening and during
dinner. “We left three years ago, but God promises to
reward the faithful,” Audrey said. “I have to prove myself
as a faithful servant of God.”
“You’re a Deaconess?” Rachel asked. “What does
that mean?”
“It’s the highest honor for women in the church,”
Audrey explained. I was ordained a year after we arrived.
My responsibilities include helping with women’s needs in
the church, and providing hospitality for visiting brethren.
I do a lot of work with the elderly widows like Mrs.
Rachel frowned at the name. Audrey laughed. “Alice
is one of my more challenging charges.”
“Where are the families of the widows?” Rachel
“Most of them are alone or abandoned. Some of
them can’t understand why their mother would join this
church. If you ask me, it’s most often about the money.”
“The money?” Rachel asked.
“Yes. The widows have their wills changed to leave
everything to The Church. That’s part of the deal. They
get cared for in the church for the rest of their lives.
That’s why they are relocated here, so we can take care of
them. And keep their greedy relatives away from them,
“They leave all their money to The Church?”
“It’s God’s will to do The Work.”
Monday morning Kathleen arrived a little before nine.
The two girls giggled a lot. Audrey seemed pleased,
feeding them muffins and juice. Faith would arrive at the
bus station at eleven. Until then, Kathleen and Rachel
scoured the newspaper looking at apartment ads. Most
were too expensive. Between them they had about $75.
It would have to last until their first paycheck, whenever
that would be.
After exhausting the apartment ads, they surveyed the
help wanted ads. Kathleen circled a few.
“I brought my working papers,” Kathleen said. “What
about you? You need them if you don’t have a high school
diploma and you’re under eighteen.”
“I’ll be eighteen in July,” Rachel said. “We moved a
few weeks before graduation.”
“Write to the school. They’ll send you the working
papers,” Kathleen offered.
“Why did you move so near to graduation?” Audrey
Rachel shrugged. She didn’t want to talk about it.
Audrey glanced at Rachel. “There’s stationary in the
desk drawer,” Audrey said. “Go ahead and write to your
school. The sooner you get the papers, the better.”
Rachel drafted a note to her old school principle. She
asked for working papers and gave Audrey’s mailing
address. She took out some change to pay for the stamp
but Audrey protested. They mailed the letter on the way
to the bus station.
Faith had brought a suitcase which was stored in the
baggage compartment under the bus so they had to wait
until everyone had exited the bus to retrieve it. They
were anxious to start their search.
At the end of Monday, they returned to Audrey’s
place. None of the prospective apartments had panned
out. Landlords didn’t rent to single girls.
The job market hadn’t fared any better, but there
were still several contacts they hadn’t been able to reach
yet. Only a little discouraged, they told Audrey about
their day, helping set the table for dinner.
Audrey’s three boys didn’t say much when the girls
were around. The two older ones scowled and
complained constantly to their mother. They resented
having to give up their space during the visit. Randy, who
was barely five, seemed to take to the girls. He would
often crawl in between them while they talked. He
especially took a liking to Rachel. “You’re my girlfriend,”
he said.
Audrey laughed. “You’re too young for a girlfriend,”
she said.
“I want to marry Rachel,” he asserted.
Rachel was embarrassed.
Audrey laughed again. “You’re too young,” she
restated. “Why don’t you go play with your brothers and
leave the girls alone.”
Randy reluctantly left the room. “He tends to get
attached to people,” Audrey explained. “It’s innocent
enough. He just likes you.”
The next day’s search for work and an apartment
didn’t turn out any better and the girls were beginning to
worry. Would they find a place? Would they find jobs?
As instructed by Mr. Critchett, they were paying Audrey
ten dollars a week to help with the costs. She protested,
but reluctantly accepted the money. At the end of the
first week, they were left with $65. They were
determined not to give up.
Thursday night, just as dinner ended, there was a
knock at the door. It was Mr. Critchett. He looked at the
three girls and asked Audrey to leave so he could talk to
them. He didn’t look happy.
“Why are you still here?” he demanded.
“We are still looking for an apartment,” Faith
answered. “It’s more difficult than we anticipated.”
“But we have some leads,” Kathleen added. “It won’t
be much longer.”
The man turned to Rachel. His face was hard. His
eyes dark. “And you?”
Rachel felt her stomach tighten. “Uh, I’m trying, too,”
she stuttered.
“Your mother told me about you,” he said, accusation
in his tone. “She said you are very selfish. She said you
are lazy. She said you are trouble. She said you’d take
advantage of Mrs. Sinclair.”
“I, I, we paid Audrey,” Rachel said, surprised and hurt.
Her mother. She should have known she’d never be free
of her mother, even when she got her own place.
“You have one week,” he said, turning to the door.
“If you aren’t out of here in one week, you’re all going
He opened the door and looked back to the girls.
“Tell Audrey to send Wade out to the car. I need to talk
to him.” He slammed the door.
The girls looked at each other. Rachel bit her lip
holding back the tears. “Hey, don’t worry. We’ll find
something,” Faith said.
Kathleen sat next to Rachel. “We should pray about
it. That’s what we did wrong. We didn’t pray and ask
God to help up us find the right place and the right jobs.”
“I told you he doesn’t like women,” Faith whispered.
Kathleen glared at her friend.
“I’ll go tell Audrey to send Wade outside,” Faith said.
They heard Audrey call Wade from his bedroom. “I
don’t want to go talk to him!” Wade yelled. They heard
Audrey’s muffled voice. “Come on, Wade. Don’t act like
that. He just wants to talk to you. That’s an honor for
the minister of God to talk to you.”
Wade passed by the girls with a hard look on his face.
He glanced back at his mother. “You don’t have a clue, do
you Mother?” he said.
“Go!” Audrey said firmly, pointing outside.
The girls told Audrey what Mr. Critchett had said,
that they should be out by the end of the week. They
promised they would be.
“I enjoy having you,” Audrey said. “I don’t want you
to feel pressured to leave, but we must obey the
Neither girl mentioned Mr. Critchett’s comments to
Rachel about her mother. They seemed to understand.
Wade didn’t return for nearly two hours. Everyone
had gone to bed. Rachel heard him close the door and
walk to his room. She still didn’t fall asleep very quickly,
even in a safe place. Her mind was in turmoil over the
minister’s comments. Lazy. Selfish. Trouble. Was that
what her new friends were going to think of her? She
decided her only hope was if her mother tired of this
church as she had so many others and moved on.
Meanwhile, she would try to hang on. Knowing her
mother, it shouldn’t take too much longer.
Friday night, Rachel was impressed with the
preparations Audrey made for the Sabbath. All the food
was cooked in advance for both the dinner meal and
Saturdays. Clothes were laid out for services. The
television was off. Church literature was on the table to
be read by Audrey and her sons as they discussed God’s
laws. Even Faith and Kathleen seemed more religious.
Rachel was beginning to understand the ways of The
Church. You weren’t supposed to work on the Sabbath
which was Friday night at sunset until Saturday night at
sunset. You studied your Bible and that required, of
course, the guidance of the Church literature. You were
supposed to pray. No work was allowed so everything
was prepared in advance. It was a lot of effort for the
women. Even the table was set for tomorrow night’s meal
after the two services, morning and afternoon.
The three girls were excited, too, because Friday had
been more successful. Kathleen had found a promising ad
for a “Penthouse Apartment” that fit their budget and
when she called, the landlady was willing to rent to single
girls. And Faith had found a factory that hired her
instantly. She would start Monday morning.
The apartment was within walking distance from
where Faith worked. She said the personnel director told
her there were more openings and to send her two
friends right in. The pay was $1.35 per hour, and if all
three worked, they would have plenty of money. Things
were definitely looking better.
It was getting late, though, and they’d have only
enough time to see the apartment before the Sabbath
started at sundown. So they piled into Kathleen’s
mother’s station wagon and headed towards Penacook,
NH. Penthouse sounded so nice. The landlady was
standing in front of the old building when the girls arrived.
Kathleen introduced herself. The woman eyed the other
two girls, turned to the door and said, “This way.”
They went up two flights of stairs. The Penthouse
Apartment was actually a glorified attic. There were
slanted walls with two windows at each gable end. But it
had a bedroom, a living room, kitchen and bath. The girls
didn’t notice the windows were wide open and it was still
very warm. The price in the paper was $25. They could
afford that.
“We’ll take it,” the girls said after a brief survey.
“Great,” the woman replied. “I need a week’s rent in
advance, and you can move in as soon as you want. That
will be $35.00.”
“Thirty-five? The ad says twenty-five,” Kathleen said.
“That is the price for two people. There are three of
you. It costs more, you know, for utilities and stuff.”
Kathleen looked at Faith. They only had $65.00.
“You can pay me the deposit now,” the landlady said,
“and the first week’s rent when you move in.”
“Can we move in on Sunday?”
“Sure. Just bring the money. I’ll meet you here with
the key. Nine o’clock?”
“Great,” Kathleen said, handing the woman thirty-five
“Where are we going to get the extra five dollars?”
Rachel asked.
“Not to worry,” Faith said. “My folks will lend it to

"Faith" Chapter Two

by Mary Ellen Humphrey


Chapter 2
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in
me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his
neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Matthew 18:6

Manchester, New Hampshire that following
Rachel couldn’t believe it. She was here. She was
actually here attending the services of the church she’d
listened to so many times on the radio. These were God’s
people. This was God’s true church. She couldn’t believe
The Odd Fellows Hall was an old brick building on
Hanover Street in Manchester, New Hampshire. The
church met on the fourth floor in an old and
uncomfortably warm room. Services were not on Sunday,
but on Saturday, the true Sabbath according to scriptures,
as Rachel had learned in her Bible course.
As soon as they got to the top of the stairs, a large
man greeted them. He had a voice as big as his burly
body. “Welcome to the True Church of God!” he said,
grabbing their hands and shaking them vigorously. Her
mother had led the way and didn’t seem the slightest
taken back by this greeting but Rachel stood back a little.
She didn’t like physical contact, especially with strangers,
especially with strange large men.
Rachel noticed a table with a woman sitting behind it.
Her dark hair was pulled back into a tight bun and she had
a typewriter in front of her and was busy filling out some
forms. There were framed color photos and posters on
the table, and church literature, some of which she
recognized. In the photos was an elderly man posing with
dignified looking individuals. Rachel glanced at them and
realized that it was the man she’d heard on the radio.
These were photos of him preaching the good news to
world leaders, just as he’d claimed.
“My name is Jordan,” the greeter said. “How did you
find us?”
Her mother answered, “Mr. Critchett invited us.”
This satisfied Jordan who then asked, “And how did you
come to The Truth?”
Rachel wondered for only a moment who was this Mr.
Critchett since she had never heard of him. Then she
slipped quietly past as her mother chatted with this man.
She looked around the meeting room. The windows
were large and low to the floor. Someone had opened
one near the doorway and Rachel worried instantly that a
child might fall out. She looked around. No one was
paying any attention to the window and the small children
were close to their mothers.
Here she was in a place she’d only dreamed about
with people who shared her dream, people who cared
about the problems in the world and were actually doing
something about it to make a difference. She surveyed the
room of people, the men and boys were all dressed in
suits and the women dressed in their best clothes. Even
the little children were dressed up. Most were quiet and
hanging near their parents. The men had brief cases. The
women carried a Bible along with their handbags. Women
greeted one another with hugs and chatted in hushed
Two youngsters ran by her, pushing and hollering.
They were about six or seven, Rachel thought. Not so
well behaved as the other children, yet no one paid any
attention to them.
“Hello,” a feminine voice said from behind. “You’re
new here, aren’t you? My name is Faith.”
Rachel turned to the young woman, noting how pretty
she was, with her blonde hair neatly tied back with a black
velvet bow and her lovely shirtwaist flower-print dress.
“Hi, I’m Rachel. This is my first time here.”
“When did the minister invite you?” the girl inquired.
Rachel looked confused. “Invite me?”
“Well, you can’t attend services unless you’re invited.”
“Uh, my mother said we were invited by Mr.
Critchett. I don’t know when,” Rachel explained, feeling a
wave of unease.
Faith’s eyes sparkled as she looked over the
newcomer. Rachel wondered what she was thinking.
“Here, let me show you around,” Faith offered. “Come
Faith took Rachel over to her mother. “Mom, this is
Rachel. She’s new.”
Faith’s mother turned to Rachel and asked, “Where
are you from?”
“Standish, Maine,” Rachel said, smiling. Faith’s
mother was about the same age as her own mother; she
guessed and wondered what kind of relationship the two
had. She thought how lucky Faith was to have a mother
obviously devoted to the church, a Christian woman who
wouldn’t do things to hurt her own family.
The older woman smiled back. “Well, welcome, dear.
I’m sure my daughter will take good care of you.”
Faith shrugged at Rachel as her mother immediately
turned back to her own discussion with another member.
“Oh, there’s Kathleen. Come on. I’ll introduce her.
You’ll like each other.”
They headed across the room. Rachel felt like the
people were watching her. Actually most of them were.
It wasn’t every week that a new member came. “Hey,
Kathleen, I want you to meet Rachel.”
Kathleen was standing next to her mother and turned
to greet her friend, Faith. She eyed Rachel and smiled.
“Well, another convert,” she said. “How did you come to
know The Truth?”
Rachel wasn’t sure what to answer. “I listen to the
radio program.”
Kathleen nodded, glancing at Faith. “So, you’re really
new, huh?”
“This is my first time here,” Rachel said. “But I’ve
been reading a lot of the church literature. And I have my
own Bible.” She held up her white zippered Bible to show
them. They both nodded.
“Can you show me the ladies room?” Rachel asked.
“It was a long ride from Maine, and my Mom got lost
trying to find this place.”
“Sure, this way,” Kathleen said.
There was an elderly woman in the rest room
combing her hair. When Rachel stood close to the mirror
to put on some lipstick, the woman snapped at her. “We
don’t allow harlots in our church!”
“What?” Rachel said, startled.
“Meet Alice,” Faith said.
“That’s Mrs. Andrews to you, young lady,” the woman
“Mrs. Andrews,” Faith repeated. “Rachel is new. She
doesn’t know about our rules yet. Don’t you think it
might be better to let the ministers tell her?” Faith knew
she was being a little disrespectful, but she was also right
and Alice knew she wasn’t supposed to offend one of the
new recruits.
“Humph!” Alice said, picking up her bag and Bible and
leaving the restroom. Both Kathleen and Faith burst out
“What’s so funny?” Rachel asked.
“Did you see her face? I can’t believe you said that to
her. Don’t you know she’s our elder?” Kathleen said to
“So what? She was wrong and she knew it. What’s
she going to do? Tell people what she said to Rachel?”
“You’re braver than I am,” Kathleen said.
“I don’t understand,” Rachel said. “Did I do
something wrong?”
“It’s the lipstick,” Faith said. “Look around. Did you
see any make-up on any of the ladies out there?”
“Well, I didn’t notice. Everyone looks dressed up for
“Women aren’t allowed to wear make-up,” Kathleen
“But we’re not supposed to tell you that,” Faith
injected. “Only the ministers can tell new people the
“Yeah, so they don’t get scared away,” Kathleen
“I don’t understand,” Rachel said. “Why can’t women
wear make-up?”
“It’s in the Bible. Only harlots wear make-up. Don’t
worry, you’ll hear all about it soon enough. Just wipe off
the lipstick so no one else says anything.”
Rachel wiped it off. Faith stepped closer when
Kathleen was in the stall and whispered. “Don’t sweat it.
I wear lipstick when I’m not here, but no one knows. It’s
no big deal. Just a bunch of rules for church.” She nodded
at Rachel.
In came the young girl who’d run by Rachel earlier.
“Hey, slow down,” Faith said, grabbing the girl’s arm.
“Where’s your mother?”
“Let go!” the girl said, pulling away. “I don’t have to
listen to you.” The girl ran out of the restroom.
“Little brat,” Faith said. Kathleen was washing her
hands. “Come on, Faith,” she said.
Faith looked at Rachel. “Justina—the ministers little
girl. She gets away with murder.”
Rachel nodded and said, “Oh.”
“It’s time for services to start. Come on. You can sit
with us.”
As the girls reached their seats near the back of the
room, a man stood at the podium and asked everyone to
stand. People pulled out hymnals and several songs were
sung. Rachel didn’t recognize any of them and they were
difficult melodies to follow. The words sounded like
psalms from the Bible but she wasn’t sure. Everyone sang
boisterously. It was a happy sound, especially to Rachel.
She glanced at her two new friends feeling a warm glow
inside. Maybe, now, she was finally home.
As they sang hymns, Rachel noticed her mother and
two brothers on the other side of the room. She got a
knot in her stomach and looked back at the hymnal. How
long would this last, she wondered. How long before her
mother got bored and moved on to some new church?
At the end of the songs a man gave a long prayer
asking the Lord to open the minds of those present, to
pour out his Holy Spirit on God’s Children, and to correct
any deviation in any member’s attitude. “Amen” everyone
said and sat down.
First there was a sermonette. Apparently it was given
by a minister in training, a young man who looked little
older than Rachel. His presentation lasted about fifteen
minutes and he sat down. She wasn’t sure what his
message was, but he quoted from numerous scriptures.
People turned to them in their Bibles and followed along.
When he finished, more songs were sung and then an
older man stepped to the podium. “That’s the pastor,”
Faith whispered. “Mr. Driscoll.”
The man had a thick English accent. “He’s from
Australia,” Kathleen whispered.”
His sermon lasted three hours. It was nearly five
o’clock when he finally wrapped up. Theme: Lean not to
thine own understanding. He referred often to scriptures
and the whole room took their Bibles and turned to the
scriptures to follow along as he read the passages.
Sometimes pages shuffled after he began reading as some
younger person had difficulty locating the scripture.
Rachel turned to the passages, too, in her white
zippered Bible. If she couldn’t locate it quickly enough,
she pretended she’d found it and read along, making a
mental note to memorize the order of the books of the
Bible before the next meeting.
The message was clear: you can’t understand the
truth on your own. You need the Holy Spirit. He
admonished the congregation not to offend any of these
little ones. Rachel figured he was referring to herself and
her family, as new members. Faith nodded to Kathleen as
if to say, “See, I was right to tell Alice off.” Kathleen
Mr. Driscoll explained God’s Plan to the audience. “It
is only through God’s Apostle, Russell W. Sherburne, that
we can know The Truth,” he said. He went in to a lengthy
story about Russell’s conversion and how he grew the
flock of God’s Children and began doing The Work—
God’s Work.
Russell was the man on the radio. Rachel had never
thought about him, personally. Now she was learning
what a wonderful man he really was—and that he was
special, too. He was God’s Apostle. That explained why
his words and his voice were so soothing to her on those
many lonely nights in the car. God was speaking to her
through Russell W. Sherburne. She began to realize how
blessed she was. Something special was happening to her.
She was one of the chosen few.
Well, these were her thoughts during the sermon.
Afterward, Faith and Kathleen explained to her that only
converted people actually were chosen. “What do you
mean?” Rachel asked.
“Well, you have to be born again. Don’t worry.
You’ll learn all about it,” Faith said. “Besides, we’re not
old enough yet. You have to be an adult to be a Child of
God. We can only profess to be a Child of God until
Rachel was confused, but confident it would all make
sense eventually. She hadn’t read about this in any of the
literature she’d received from the church. They sang
several more hymns and prayers at the end of the sermon.
The pastor closed with an admonition to pray for Mrs.
Dugan who was sick.
Kathleen and Faith chatted for a while and Rachel
stood up. She noticed another young woman a few seats
up. Kathleen said, “That’s Wilma.”
“What’s wrong with her?” Rachel asked.
Faith and Kathleen looked at each other with concern.
“We’ll introduce you,” Faith suggested. “I always try to
talk to her.”
They made their way to Wilma, who was sitting
listlessly in a wheelchair. Despite her aged and tired
appearance, Rachel thought the woman must not be too
much older than she, perhaps twenty or so.
“Hi, Wilma. We have a new friend—Rachel. She’s
from Maine.”
“How do you do?” Wilma said, holding out her hand
to shake Rachel’s.
“I’m fine,” Rachel said. “It’s nice to meet you.” Rachel
noticed that Wilma’s hand was limp and reminded her of a
dog’s paw, extended waiting for you to do all the work of
shaking it.
Wilma nodded and looked down. “We’ll see you
next week,” Faith said, pulling Rachel away. “We don’t
like to tire her out,” Faith whispered.
“What’s wrong with her?” Rachel asked again.
Kathleen answered, “Don’t know. She has some
medical problems.”
Faith and Kathleen seemed to have stuff to talk about,
so Rachel moved among the friendly group by herself. The
young girl who’d run by earlier stood by a woman in the
front. Rachel surmised it was the child’s mother and the
wife of the Pastor who’d given the sermon. She decided
to introduce herself.
“Hi, my name is Rachel,” she said. “This is my first
time here.”
The woman smiled at Rachel. “Welcome, dear.
Where are you from?”
“Standish, Maine. I’ve been listening to the radio
program for years and read most of the literature. I even
completed the Bible course.”
The woman looked at her with surprise, and perhaps
disbelief. This was a young girl, and the course was over
50 chapters. “Well, that’s very interesting. I suspect there
are some things you have yet to learn.”
“I am anxious to learn,” Rachel said. “Especially about
becoming a Child of God. How do I do that?”
“You can’t decide that, dear. Only God decides who
is called and chosen.”
Rachel felt a twinge of rejection. The woman sensed
it and quickly added, “You need to counsel with a minister.
It takes time. Be patient.” She reached over to pat
Rachel’s hand reassuringly. “We can’t comprehend The
Truth all at once. Soon you will understand that. God will
reveal The Truth to you as you are able to take it.”
Rachel nodded. Her joy at finding God’s true church
seemed to fade a little. There was a small voice inside that
doubted. Soon she’d learn to recognize that doubting
demon and purge it from her mind, but for now, she was
still a babe. She knew she had much to learn. She was
eager to do so. “I intend to be a Child of God,” Rachel
said firmly to the minister’s wife.
“Good for you,” the woman said, then turned to her
daughter who was pulling on her sleeve for attention.
Rachel made her way back to Kathleen and Faith.
“We have to go now,” she said. “I hope to be back next
“Great,” both girls said. “Faith was just telling me she
wants to get her own place after graduation,” Kathleen
stated. “What are you doing?”
Rachel hadn’t thought much about school. It was her
dream to go to college but now that her mother had
moved just a few weeks prior to graduation, she doubted
she’d even get her high school diploma, but she didn’t
want to tell her new friends about all that. “I need to find
a place to live, too,” Rachel said, surprising herself. She’d
often thought about living on her own but never openly
verbalized it.
“Well, I want out, too,” Kathleen said. “I can’t stand
living at home another day. Maybe we could pool our
resources and find a place together. With the three of us,
we could probably afford an apartment. Are you
Faith looked at Rachel expectantly. Rachel smiled.
“You bet.”
“Then all we need is permission,” Faith said.
“From our parents?” Rachel asked.
Kathleen laughed. “That’s the easy part. No, from
the ministers.”

"Faith" (Updated July 27th below in red fonts.)

by Mary Ellen Humphrey

The Painful Truth will post on this blog, excerpts of this book for your review. The complete book will follow shortly. This novel is based on her WCG experiences.  There is a little ‘generic’ flavoring to it to include other similar groups. Reading this really strikes at the heart, to understand what it was like as a kid growing up in a cult!

Feel free to comment. The author, Mary Ellen Humphrey is more than willing to respond to your questions or comments.

Time heals all things. So they say. Unfortunately
exploitation in the name of God occurs more often than
most realize. Don’t be so sure only the frail and weak fall
victim although that would certainly be bad enough. This
kind of scam can and does happen to all ages and to all
levels of education. It knows no limits and has no
Such experiences cut your soul like broken glass.
And the sad result—the most devastating loss is not
one’s possessions, not one’s dignity. All those may be
It’s the loss of one’s faith.

Chapter 1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1
What is faith? Where does it come from? How do
you find it? How do you know if you truly have it?
Faith, Kathleen and Rachel were young, hopeful, and
filled with anticipation. Their whole lives lay ahead, full of
promise. They were three different young women drawn
together by each one’s individual desire to find a perfect
future. They were certain that their lives were going to be
better than their own family experiences. They believed
it with all their heart. They had faith.
It all began in the spring of 1970…..in Montpelier,
Faith rounded the corner from her home heading
towards the high school from which she would soon
graduate. She stopped at the enclosed bus stop and put
her book bag down on the bench. She glanced around
nervously, and then rolled her skirt waistband up, bringing
her skirt length from below her knees to a length a few
inches above them. The girls at school were wearing
miniskirts and hot pants, pushing the limits of the school
dress code and testing the administration. Yesterday, her
friend Alice was sent home to change after careful
examination and measurements by the principal’s
secretary. Alice wore her notoriety like a badge of honor,
but Faith knew better. If she were ever sent home for
improper dress, it would just kill her parents.

When I’m on my own I am going to buy myself nice storemade
clothes and stop looking like a freak, Faith promised
From her school bag she pulled out a small travel
case. Inside she kept her makeup. Her mother had
almost found it last week when she started rummaging in
the bag looking for Faith’s lunch container. Faith knew her
mother would have punished her severely if she found the
makeup. It was forbidden for women to wear any makeup
in God’s True Church. The worst punishment would be
her parent’s disappointment, and that was Faith’s greatest
fear. She didn’t want to let them down. But they didn’t have to go
to school, and if they did, she knew they’d understand why she broke
the rules just a little.
She applied some pink lipstick, blue eye shadow and
mascara. She untied the tidy black velvet bow holding her
hair in a ponytail and let her straight strawberry blond hair
flow along her shoulders.
I’m not as strong as the other church girls are, Faith
thought. They think I’m strong. They assume I am because
Mom and Dad are so deeply converted. But I’m not.
“Hey, beautiful!”
“Billy! I didn’t see you. How long have you been
watching me?”
The young man smiled. “I just got here. You don’t
need that stuff. You are gorgeous just as you are!” He
stepped closer and closed his arms firmly around her. She
closed her eyes and smiled. He kissed her affectionately
on her cheek.
Faith blushed and stood back, but he held her hands.
“You are beautiful,” he said. “Look at your skin. It’s
flawless. And you have the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen.”
He stroked her long blond hair. “I love you, Faith.”
“Billy, stop. You know we shouldn’t…” Faith pulled
away reluctantly.

“Come on,” Billy said. “We’re going to be late for
Alice nudged Faith who was reaching into her locker.
“Hey girl. I saw you walk in with Billy. You two going
“No. Nothing like that,” Faith said. “We’re just
“Well, I think it’s cute. You make the perfect couple.”
Alice scrutinized Faith’s outfit with a curved eyebrow, but
she didn’t make any comments. “Some of us are going to
sneak into the theater Saturday night to see that new
movie, Mash. You want to come?”
“Um, I can’t.”
“Oh, you’re such a square, Faith. I thought the
preacher’s daughter was the one who always got into the
most trouble. Don’t you ever have any fun?”
“My Dad isn’t a preacher…” Faith started to explain.
“Hey, I ‘m just razzing you. Don’t sweat it.”
Faith tried to explain. “We’re going to New
Hampshire this weekend. I won’t be around.”
“That’s cool. What’s going on in New Hampshire?”
Faith regretted mentioning it. She didn’t want to tell
her friend she went to New Hampshire every weekend for
church services. “We’re visiting family,” she said.
“Groovy. Hey, I’ll see you at lunch. Some of us are
eating out on the track field. It’s so nice, you know spring
fever—see you there.” Alice hurried down the hall.
“Groovy,” Faith said to herself. She smiled as she
remembered Billy. “Yeah, I am feeling kinda groovy.” She
headed towards her class.
Graduation was only a few weeks away. Classes were
mostly a formality for the seniors. Faith’s mind wandered
as she sat through English, and math, and study hall. She
hurried when the lunch bell rang and met up with her

friends at the track field. Alice was smiling and talking with
several other girls who moved over on the bench to make
room for Faith. One of them turned on a small transistor
radio and tuned in to a music station.
“Alice says you and Billy are going together,” one of
the girls said.
Faith glanced at Alice who had a mischievous look in
her eye. Faith smiled. “Well, not exactly going together.”
“What then?”
“We’re friends.”
“Oh, we believe that. I saw how he looked at you.
He’s whipped,” Alice said.
Faith smiled. “Oh, can you turn up the radio. I love
that song.”
The radio belted out a new release from the Poppy
Family. Faith had heard the song a few times when she
played her radio in her room at night while she studied.
Susan Jack’s angelic voice sang out, “which way you going,
Billy. Can I go too?” There wasn’t much to the song,
mostly a repeat of the chorus, but it touched Faith.
“Look, she’s moonstruck!” one of the girls said. They
all giggled. Faith giggled too, but deep down the song’s
words meant something she knew her friends could never
Time dragged that afternoon as Faith sat through two
more classes—history and sociology. All the real work
was done, but the teachers tried to keep the students
interested. Faith listened as her teacher talked about
current affairs. President Nixon had reinstated the draft.
Faith worried about Billy. Would he have to go to
Vietnam? Would any of their fellow students end up
there? The school had a memorial wall in the entrance
way with the names of former students who’d gone to
Vietnam, those who served, those who’d been injured, and
those who never returned. She recognized some of the
names, but she hadn’t known any of them personally.

Faith passed it every day without much thought, but
now, she worried. Her younger brother was only 16, but
what if the war continued for several more years. He
would have to be a conscientious objector. It was
required by God’s True Church. But Billy didn’t belong to
the church. He’d have to go. She listened intently as the
teacher explained how the draft lottery worked, how each
male had to register for the draft when he turned 18, and
how his birth date would determine his standing regarding
the draft.
Faith’s family didn’t watch television. They didn’t even
own a set. But she could listen to the news on her radio,
and she could read the newspapers. She had to know
Billy’s fate, even if they weren’t destined to be together.
Faith glanced up at the clock in the classroom. School
would be out in a few moments. It would soon be time to
return to her proper self. She thought it odd how she was
two different people, and how she could almost forget her
religious obligations when she was at school. But now she
must transition back to the true Faith, the girl she was
supposed to be.
She said good-bye to her friends and headed down the
street towards
her home. I wonder if I really fool any of them, she
thought as she walked along. Maybe they are just being
polite. Suddenly, Faith felt a pang of anger. What if they feel
sorry for me, she thought. Her face flushed with
humiliation. Why can’t I just be a normal kid?
Billy ran up behind her. “Faith, wait up,” he called.
She stopped and turned around. She smiled. “Can I walk
you home?” he asked.
She paused and his expression turned to concern.
She could see his insecurity about their friendship. She
knew she shouldn’t lead him on. There was no future in

their relationship. But still she reached towards him and
took his hand. He smiled.
“Sure. Just to the corner, okay? My folks wouldn’t,
uh, well, just to the corner, okay?” Her face was hot and
she knew her pale white skin was now red with
embarrassment. How could she explain this to Billy or any
of her friends at school? They would never understand.
“It’s okay, Faith,” Billy said, squeezing her hand
reassuringly. “My folks are old-fashioned, too.”
“Really?” she said, relieved.
“I know what it’s like,” he said.
“I doubt that,” Faith answered, “but I’d love for you to
walk with me.”
They walked while holding hands. Faith loved this
new feeling—this friendship feeling was like none she’d
ever experienced. Often she would date older men in the
church, but none of them ever made her feel this way or
this happy. “Do you know what you are doing after
graduation?” Billy asked.
“I’m not sure,” Faith answered carefully. “College
probably. My parents want me to go to the school they
both attended in California.” She didn’t tell Billy that it
was a religious college run by God’s True Church,
designed to prepare young people for roles in the ministry.
Males were to become ministers. Females were to
become help-mates and proper minister’s wives.
“Why so far away?” he asked somberly.
“Well, I’m not sure yet that I’m going,” Faith
answered. “It’s a pretty choosy college. Not everyone
gets in, and they don’t decide until July.”
“Do you want to go there?”
“It’s an honor if I’m chosen. And my folks will be very
pleased.” Faith answered.
“You didn’t answer my question. Do YOU want to

Faith walked silently. She hadn’t allowed herself to
consider this question. She should want to go. Everyone
in the church wanted to be chosen to go. But it felt like
an extension of the stifling conditions she’d grown up in—
no freedom, no opportunity to truly be herself.
Billy stopped and turned towards her, looking intently
into her eyes. “I wish you wouldn’t go so far away,” he
said. “Tell me you are looking at closer schools so I can
have some hope.”
Faith sighed. Other schools were out of the question.
Her only other option was marriage to a church member,
a marriage chosen by the ministry. They arrived at the bus
stop and stepped inside.
Billy leaned in and whispered, “You know I’m crazy
about you.”
She leaned in closer. “I like you, too. But we can’t
get involved. I told you already—that isn’t possible.” She
bit her quivering lip.
“I guess I just don’t believe that,” he said. “And I
don’t give up that easy.” He kissed her. She didn’t stop
him. There was some privacy within the bus stop
enclosure. She closed her eyes. Her heart raced. She felt
a rush of emotions she’d never felt before. This is wrong!
Her inner voice warned. A good Christian girl doesn’t do this!
“Stop,” she whispered. He kissed her again, his lips
hot with passion pressing on to her lips, and she held him
tightly. This is supposed to be saved for my future husband.
Disloyalty! Wickedness! Her mind scolded her. A virtuous
woman wouldn’t do this! She didn’t want to hear it. All the
endless sermons and warnings couldn’t stop the passion of
the moment. She didn’t allow herself to think, only to feel,
and it felt wonderful.
When Billy groaned and kissed her harder, she pushed
his hands away from her body. “No, I can’t. I have to go
home now.”
Billy stood up. “Are you sure?”

She nodded weakly. “Please, just go, Billy. I can’t do
“It’s okay, Faith. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“You’re not angry?”
“I’d never be angry with you.” He bent over and lifted
her face to look directly into her eyes. “I love you Faith,
and I’ll wait for you as long as it takes.” He lovingly tapped
the tip of her nose and smiled. Then he stood up and
walked away.
Faith watched him walk away. A tear rolled down her
cheek. Then she unrolled her skirt and wiped off her
makeup with a moist towelette. She combed her hair back
into a discreet bow with the black velvet ribbon, and
headed home. As she rounded the corner to her house,
she returned to the proper religious girl she was supposed
to be.

In Dover, New Hampshire…
Kathleen’s grandmother, Paddy, came into the living
room and turned on the television real loud. The old lady
was hard of hearing especially when her ears were numb
from alcohol. Paddy was a mean drunk. Not a sweet old
lady, not a happy drunk, just plain mean. She would
especially pick on Kathleen. “Why aren’t you in school
where you ought to be?” Paddy demanded. “Why are you
dressed like a tramp? Don’t you know that girls who
dress like that are asking for it?” Kathleen couldn’t stand
it. She took her book and moved into the kitchen.
Never did Paddy offer a kind word and Kathleen knew
it was best to avoid her when she was in one of her
moods. Besides, her book was getting to the good part.
So she headed for the kitchen where her mother was
preparing dinner.

“Paddy is really nasty, Mom,” Kathleen said as she
slumped down into a chair.
“Stay away from her,” her mother said.
“It’s not my fault she’s drunk, Mom. Geez, can’t you
do something.”
“Watch your tone, young lady. And we don’t cuss in
this house.”
“Geez isn’t cussing, Mom.”
“It’s a substitute for Jesus, which is just as bad. Don’t
you kid yourself.”
“Why are you mad at me? I didn’t do anything.”
“Kathleen, you just sit around all day and complain.
You should go back to school and get your diploma.”
“That’s not fair. You’re turning this around to make
me the bad guy. Paddy is the drunk and you don’t do
anything. You never do anything. Dad gets drunk and you
tell us all to stay out of his way. Geez, Mom, this is my
home, too!”
Her mother sighed. “Kathleen, you know perfectly
well, that as a Christian woman, I cannot disrespect my
husband even though he’s not converted. And unlike you, I
obey God’s commandments and respect my elders,
including your father and your grandmother.”
“Mom, come on. Dad’s a drunk. He’s a bum. They’re
both drunks and all you do is defend them.”
“I think you should pray about this,” her mother
suggested with a frown.
“They’re alcoholics, Mom. Are you blind?”
“That’s not a very nice thing to say, Kathleen.” Her
mother turned back around to the counter and stirred the
pot vigorously. “I don’t want to hear any more talk like
that. You’re supposed to respect your parents.”
“Me? Why is it my fault, Mom? I don’t drink
myself into oblivion. I don’t get nasty and snarl at people.
Why do you put this on me?”

“Kathleen, you need to get on your knees and ask
God to forgive your bad attitude!”
Kathleen bristled. “I’m going to read in my room
where I can find some peace and quiet,” she said.
Kathleen wondered what had gone wrong with her
plans. When she dropped out of school, she envisioned
her days filled with reading and painting. Home was not
the escape she’d anticipated. Paddy was retired and when
her social security check arrived, she’d stock up on vodka
and whiskey.
Before Kathleen quit school, she’d seen Paddy late in
the day when she was beyond the mean stage, usually
sleeping on the couch with the television blaring. Now
since Kathleen was the handiest person to pick on, she
received the brunt of her meanness.
Kathleen hadn’t counted on that. She dreamed of
becoming a famous artist and showing her work in New
York and Boston art galleries. Her work would be
renowned and valuable. Then she’d be valuable.
A few hours later, Linda came to Kathleen’s door.
“You all right?”
“Just fine,” Kathleen answered.
“Mom said I should check on you. Dinner’s almost
“I’m not hungry,” Kathleen said as she turned the page
of the novel she was reading.
“Fine.” Linda said and left.
“Fine,” Kathleen parroted. “That’s just fine.”
Kathleen put her book down. It wasn’t nearly as
interesting as she’d tried to believe. In fact, she hardly
remembered the plot anymore. Linda was the smart one.
She was the one everyone liked and praised. Paddy never
said a bad word about Linda. Look at her, she’s just so
together. She gets all A’s at school. She is the field hockey
captain. She’s the most popular girl in school. She does
everything perfectly and when she graduated valedictorian last

year, it was a super big deal, Kathleen thought. The
program from the ceremony was still pinned to the
refrigerator. Now Linda was stellar in a local college.
Kathleen looked at herself in the mirror. She was tall
and thin, but plain. Linda was so pretty. Kathleen wore
tattered jeans and t-shirts. Linda wore miniskirts and
stylish bell bottoms. Kathleen was a klutz and couldn’t
sing a tune and had no rhythm. Linda played the piano and
danced expertly—she’d been the hit in the drama club and
won a state prize for her acting role.
Kathleen didn’t like being the center of attention. She
preferred solitude, reading a book, or painting to hanging
out with dopey friends who constantly put her down or
compared her to Linda. They are all right, Kathleen
thought. Linda is smart and pretty and wonderful. I admire
her too, but I can never be like her.
Kathleen went over to her easel and looked at the
picture she’d been painting earlier. She took it down and
tossed it in the corner with several other half-finished
canvasses. I can’t live like this, she thought. I’m going
nowhere. My life is going nowhere. I have to get out of here!
In Standish, Maine…
Rachel adjusted the volume on the car radio. She
shivered and wiped the water from her face on her sleeve,
but her sleeve was so wet it only smudged the water
around. Outside the dark and heavy rain pounded against
the car roof. She was drenched from her run through the
rain to escape the hell inside her house.
Why did she come back? Why couldn’t she leave us
alone? We were fine. We were happy. Why did she have to
come back!
Rachel pulled out a tissue from her pocket and wiped
her nose. The voice on the radio boomed through the

darkness offering answers. She loved to listen to this
program—”The Wonderful World That’s Coming Soon”.
Even the title offered hope. Russell W. Sherburne offered
the answers to life’s difficult questions. He promised a
future filled with peace and happiness. Tonight he talked
about a cyclone tidal wave in Somalia that killed over
20,000 people. It was the fulfillment of end-time
prophecies where the world would be filled with wars and
rumors of wars, with pestilence and disease, and natural
catastrophes like earthquakes and tidal waves. For those
who were paying attention, all the clues are there—we are
nearing the end times. But Russell offered hope—because
all this was leading to the wonderful world tomorrow
when the Messiah would return to rule for a thousand
years of peace. He quoted Biblical passages and offered a
free Bible correspondence course. He spoke with
confidence and authority. She always felt better after
listening to the program. Rachel switched on the interior
light and scribbled down the information so she could send
away for this course.
Two hours later, when Rachel went back inside, it was
quiet. The arguing had stopped. Everyone had gone to
bed. No one missed her. Her two brothers were hiding
in their rooms, just as they always did when the fighting
Why couldn’t she be that smart she wondered?
Instead, she always seemed to be caught in the middle of
it. Tonight her father cried when her mother pointed to
Rachel and screamed, “You molested her! I have proof!”
Rachel was horrified to see her mother was holding
her diary. For as long as she could remember her diary
was her companion and confidant. She expressed her
most private thoughts and fears where no one could judge,
criticize or question.
Now her mother had stolen it, violating her, and was
using it to falsely accuse her father of something terrible.

Yes, he had hugged her very tightly. She’d written that in
her diary. It was after one of those ugly arguments and
she knew that he couldn’t express his feelings in words.
He was trying to tell her that he loved her despite the evil
accusations of her mother to the contrary. Rachel knew
that he never hurt her. That he was sorry for her
suffering, that maybe he felt responsible for her pain and
wished he could make it all better. She knew her Dad
regretted marrying this woman, but he didn’t know how
to fix it now that there were three children.
Her mother was perverting this into some nasty,
mean, vindictive thing. Rachel knew her mother would
carry out her threat.
“He molested you!” her mother accused.
“That’s not true,” Rachel choked out, grabbing for her
diary. “That’s not what I wrote at all!” Rachel hated her
Her mother smirked, holding the diary away from
Rachel. “You can say anything you want, but when a judge
reads this, he’ll send your father to jail! I’ll see to it.”
The drawn look on her father’s face was too much for
Rachel. She grabbed the car keys next to the door and
ran out of the house through the heavy rain to the car.
Once again, she escaped into the promising world of this
radio program—The Wonderful World That’s Coming
Now the kitchen was silent. Her diary sat on the
kitchen table. She picked it up feeling like a wounded
animal and crept quietly to her bedroom. She began to
read from a passage she’d written a year ago in 1969. “I
don’t see what the big deal is all about. So I turned 16
today. There’s nothing sweet about it. My life is still just
as miserable as it was yesterday. No one even noticed it
was my birthday. I’m glad. It would just be another
reason for Mom and Dad to fight. I can’t stand it anymore.
Why did she have to come back? It was so peaceful with

just Dad and my brother and me. The kids at school say
awful things about her, but I don’t listen. I don’t care what
they say. She’s my mother. No matter what she does, I
still love her. I can’t do anything else. I can’t hate her.
She’s my mother. But I want to hate her. I hate what she
does. She hurts so many people. I never want to be like
her. She constantly lies. I never want to be like her. If I
thought I was like her, I’d kill myself so I wouldn’t hurt the
people I love. I couldn’t live with myself if I hurt people
like she does. God, I pray I don’t turn out like her.”
Rachel sighed as she read her past words. She
wondered if her mother had read this section. She
doubted it would even faze her mother in the least if she
did read it.
Now, two months later, her mother had returned
again. She was even more vindictive this time. Rachel
knew what she wanted. She knew her mother was
determined to ruin everything. Her mother wouldn’t be
satisfied until Rachel left her Dad and went to live with
her. Why? Rachel could only guess at her mother’s
The next morning Rachel woke with the sun. Despite
her recurrent insomnia, Rachel always got up early. It
would be years before she understood the extent of the
trauma she and her brothers were experiencing. In many
ways, insomnia was her friend. It kept her from those
terrible nightmares.
She’d placed the diary on her bureau next to the
white zippered Bible her grandmother had given her for
her twelfth birthday. She cherished the Bible as much as
her diary. Her grandmother emphasized how special this
Bible was, and had it inscribed to Rachel. That’s why
Rachel felt so badly when she discovered it was missing.
“Where’s your white Bible?” her grandmother had
asked when visiting.

“There’s a little girl next door who took it,” Rachel
“How do you know she took your Bible?”
“Because she invited me to her room to show it to
me. I don’t understand, Gram. She tore out the inscribed
pages. But how could she think I wouldn’t recognize it?”
“What did you say to her?”
“I didn’t know what to say. Her bedroom is in the
attic. You can see daylight through beams in the walls. I
know they are poor. All that she has is a light bulb hanging
down on a wire in the center of her ceiling. We had to
climb an old ladder just to get to her room.”
Her grandmother put her arms around Rachel.
“Don’t say anything to that little girl. Let her keep the
Bible. I’ll get you another one.”
“But it won’t be the same,” Rachel protested.
“It’s not the White Bible that matters. It’s the love
inside the book. That’s what you need to remember. No
matter what happens, God loves you. He loves everyone,
even that little girl who took your Bible.”
Sure enough, the next time her grandmother visited,
she had an identical white zippered Bible. Rachel
treasured it. Her grandmother had told her no matter
what happened, God loved her. She could have faith in
the words in that Bible. She believed her grandmother.
She wasn’t a liar like her mother.
Rachel unzipped her white Bible and turned to I John
4, verse 8. “God is Love.” It was one of her favorite
passages. She knew God loved her. There was hope, just
like the man on the radio promised. All she had to do was
Rachel made scrambled eggs for breakfast for her two
brothers and herself. Her father left for work at six,
before anyone else was up. She woke her brothers and
set the table. Her younger brother had left the last time
to live with their mother. Her older brother and she had

stayed behind to live with their father. Even though he
was only fifteen, her younger brother had quit school. He
spent his days waiting on his mother and working around
the house. He had an emotional chip on his shoulder and
blamed everyone else for his mother’s unhappiness.
Rachel didn’t blame him for his misguided anger. She felt
sorry for him.
When Rachel went to her room to dress for school,
her mother came in, eying Rachel nervously. Her mother
picked up the diary. “You’re coming with me,” she said.
“No. I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying here with
Dad.” Rachel stood rigidly next to the bureau as if it
would give her some added strength. “I can make my own
decision about where to live. That’s what the judge said
when you got your divorce.”
“Not when he reads this,” her mother snarled. She
opened to a page and read, “Dad hugged me so tight it
frightened me.”
“It doesn’t say what you imply,” Rachel said shaking.
“Doesn’t matter. All I have to do is create a doubt.”
Her mother smirked triumphantly.
“But you know it isn’t true. How could you do that?”
Rachel’s mother gave her that familiar you-reallythink-
I-care look. It was the look she always had when she
was about to explode. “I am your mother! You have to
do what I tell you!”
“I’m not going with you,” Rachel whispered, cowering.
“Then I’m not going. I’ll stay right here. It’s only a
matter of time before your father goes back to the
hospital—maybe this time he won’t come home, especially
after he faces a charge of molestation in court.”
“You drove him to a nervous breakdown,” Rachel
said, her voice cracking. “You pushed him down the
stairs—I saw you do it!” Rachel started crying. She hated
that. She hated that her mother was winning. She hated
being so weak.

“So what?”
Rachel knew her mother’s threats were real. She
would make her father’s life hell. She’d literally drive him
crazy, until he cracked. She might even try to kill him like
she did before.
“When are you leaving?” Rachel asked in defeat.
“We’re leaving today. Pack your stuff. And your
brother’s too.”
“You mean I can’t even say good-bye to Dad?”
“Why would you want to do that?” Her mother
curled up her lips hatefully and Rachel knew it was over.
“Where are we going?”
“You’ll like it. We’re going to that church you’re
always listening to on the radio. They meet in Manchester,
New Hampshire on Saturdays. It’ll be good for you.”
Rachel looked at her mother in disbelief. “Why
would you take us to that church? You don’t even believe
in it?”
Her mother smiled. “That’s how I can control you
Before they left Rachel took her diary down to the
basement furnace. She opened the door and threw it
inside and watched as the flames consumed her old friend
and confidant. Her mother had taken yet another thing
away from her.
Now a year later, when Rachel came home from
school her heart sank. Her mother was moving yet again.
They had already moved five times. She barely knew the
kids at school and graduation was only a few weeks away.
Boxes were half-filled and littered the apartment. This
time, she had no intention of bringing Rachel along. “I
can’t wait until June to be rid of you!” Her mother spit the
hateful words at her when Rachel entered the living room.

End Chapter one. More Sunday.