General Fiction posted April 17, 2024 Chapters:  ...11 12 -13- 14... 

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Ben Paul Persons, a man with a different calling

A chapter in the book Right in the Eye

Right in the Eye, ch 13

by Wayne Fowler

In the last part Slim and Mary met Livvy’s granddaughter. They also traveled to the Halleck law office in San Francisco, learning a great deal of Ben Persons, and that Ben had a son living in Santa Rosa, California. Warning – much preaching in this chapter.


“Rev. Ben Persons. The phone book doesn’t give an address,” Mary said sitting at the desk of our hotel room. It was an older hotel fairly near the train station. And yes, it made me see Mary as LouAnne. I didn’t say anything about it, though.

“Here, he’s the pastor of the King Jesus Church. Right here on Santa Rosa Avenue. We passed it coming in. Luther Burbank’s home and garden is here. I’ve always admired him. Let’s go there tomorrow, and Ben’s church on Sunday."
Whatever Mary wanted, suited me just fine. We were just minutes away from Ben’s son, his namesake. I’ve waited 80 years. I could wait.


We were a bit early, but not early enough. Most of the pews were occupied. There were a lot of young people there – people in their teens or early twenties. Wanting to see and hear good, we asked the kids in the second row from the front if they would scoot over a bit. They were happy to, all giggles and smiles.

It was a bit odd. In the television news, what little I saw, the youngsters were protestin’ a war, marchin’, carryin’ signs, even gettin’ into fusses with police. These ones were right pleasant.

There was a lotta singin’ first. Everybody stood up, so we did too. ‘Course I didn’t know none a’ their tunes, but they were lively. Kids were into ‘em. So was Mary… swayin’ an’ such. Finally, an old codger took the podium. He coulda been Ben’s kid. I could maybe feel it a little.

Once he got through thankin’ ever’body for bein’ there, acknowledging certain ones, he announced that this was his last sermon, at least as pastor. He added the last like they hadn’t seen the end of him yet. Mary and I snapped our eyes together: her two to my one. Later she said as how it had ta be God workin’ the timing.

“Folks, I’ve prayed long and hard about what I should preach today. The worst thing I could do is speak from my head, or even my mind on this, my last sermon. What you need to hear, is what God wants you to hear, whether it’s a fitting last sermon, or my first."

There was some clapping, but the kids around us were quiet, like they were sad it was Ben’s last sermon.

“Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that he gave his life for you. God loves you so much, and he wants you so much that he made a way for you to escape Satan’s clutches. He purified you with Jesus Christ’s pure blood, paying the price for your redemption, paying the price to redeem you from the guilt of your sins. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done … from disobeying your parents, to murder, stabbing someone in the back with a butcher knife.”

That’s when Mary lost it. I woulda, too. She kept it mostly to herself, though, lettin’ Ben keep on preachin’.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re in a miry pit you can’t climb, or dying on a mountaintop with buzzards about to eat your eyes. God has made a way. Jesus said, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’"
The preacher cleared his throat and kept on a'goin'.

“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’

“Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’

“Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?' Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

“'If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, 'But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’

“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.'

“'All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’”

He preached some more after that. I couldn’t catch none of it; my heart was too full of what I’d already heard.

What I did hear was him sayin’ that it didn’t matter if you were twenty, or a hundred and twenty, if God was speaking to us, we should come forward. Mary and I were there, surrounded by people, but all by ourselves before God Almighty. Once again I heard Ben Persons praying for me, his hand on my head praying in the name of Jesus.

After a while I sensed Mary getting up from her knees. I don’t know how we got there. Most everybody was gone. The preacher, Ben Persons' son, stood when we did. He was with us.

“Would you come to my house for dinner? I don’t have much, but I’ll share. I need to hear your stories.”

We agreed and followed him out. A young man in a suit locked the church doors behind us. The new pastor, more’n likely. He smiled with questioning eyes. He’d have to hear it from Ben, not from us.

Ben P. Persons: 81-year-old son of Ben Persons
Slim Goldman (Herschell Diddleknopper): miner who Ben (senior) rescued in 1886
Mary Diddleknopper: Slim's wife, great-granddaughter of LouAnne (Slim's girlfriend from the1870s)

John 14:1-25 (Ben Paul's sermon) (Jesus revolution movie)
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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