My grandfather, Malachai, was a part-time preacher. As a middle-aged man he would play his pearl-inlaid accordion on the street corners of his little town and beg people to accept Jesus as their savior. He would talk to us kids about our relationship with God.

Mally attended a cinder block church in the orange groves of central Florida. His minister attended to the needs of multiple churches.

When we visited, it struck us that the minister's wife dressed in a fur coat way-too-hot for the barely air-conditioned church. The minister himself wore a nicely-made suit better than any I ever saw on our trips to Florida. It was hard, too, not to notice the pair driving away in their new Cadillac along a street lined with second-hand cars.

One night in high school, my Dad announced that Mally was on his death bed. Ten days later, he was gone.

While my parents spoke to relatives about the plans for the funeral, there was a topic that surprised me more than any other. Multiple relatives explained that on his death bed, Malachai's minister had repeatedly visited. That seemed a kind thing to me.

Each time he came, he explained to Mally that he was not long for this earth and that he needed to make his final tithe of 10% of his possessions. It was then that I came to understand that many Churches (and Jewish Synagogues) ask their members to donate 10% of their earnings to their Church each year.

To his family's surprise, despite multiple requests, Malachai refused to make his final tithe before he passed away.

Three days later we were sitting in the mourner's pew in Mally's church. We were hidden from the site of all but the minister, and the family was anxious about what would be said about Mally:

"Will he have been accepted into heaven?"

The service was filled with music, singing, and the accordion, just as Malachai would have wanted. As the minister began to declare the word of God, a relative stood up from her seat and began frantically speaking a sort of language that none of us could understand.

When she finally collapsed back into the pew, the church sat silent. My young sister and brother were wide-eyed.

The minister finally raised his head and spoke, "We have heard the word of God, and I have been given the power to interpret it. Malachai is now seated on the right hand side of Jesus, his savior. He asks everyone here to accept Jesus so that you can join him in Heaven."

My relatives exhaled a great sigh of relief.

I have always wondered what was going on in the mind and heart of that preacher. To me, his thoughts seemed as great a mystery as any.

Be well

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People working with people. Sure, it’s business but it’s also personal. About you and me. Book: American Butterfly on Amazon.

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