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She was just fifteen. Tears filled her eyes and quivers moved her lips. Quickly she placed her hands over her ears. The shouting from her mother exploded her emotions and her restraint. And, suddenly, she screamed, “SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP!”


Conflict.


From all accounts, he stood above the rest. His preaching touched hearts and informed minds. His church suffered growth pains. People came from all around to be a part of the ministry growing under his leadership. Quietly, however, on one otherwise forgettable morning his wife walked out. She did not come back. He resigned. They divorced. Their children cringed. The church almost fell apart. The community laughed.


Conflict.


Across the table he stared into the other man’s eyes. Slowly he stood. Pointing his finger in his new adversary’s direction, he said, “Never, never have we done it like that before.” It was classic. The obstruction grew from long years of control and power. How dare anyone else presume to offer guidance for his small organization?


Conflict.


The meeting was informal. Few were invited. She figured the privacy of her own home served to strengthen her cause. Slowly she began. “I’ve been studying my Bible at great length lately. I’ve discovered something our church has never taught before. Now I’m wondering if our Pastor is really the man to lead us.”


Conflict.


8:30pm. Once again, he failed to come home on time. Even the children wondered why Daddy seemed to be away so much. There were those strange phone calls. The phone would ring. The Mrs. would answer, “Hello.” Click. Nothing. The caller hung up. And what about those new clothes he seemed to be buying so quickly over the past few weeks. Why the change in style? And what of his quiet, pensive demeanor of late? Did she detect a note of guilt sketched in his eyes? Finally, the day came. He said, “We need to talk...”


Conflict.


Ring. Ring. “ABC Products. This is Sam Johnson. How can I help you?”


“Mr. Johnson, my name is Jane Smith. I work in accounts receivable for XYZ Industries. I’m calling to find out when we can expect payment on your overdue account. I see that ABC Products has been issued two past-due notices.”

Silence.


“Mr. Johnson? Mr. Johnson are you still there?”


“Ah, yes, sorry. You seem to have caught me off guard. I was under the impression that bill had been paid. Let me check with my partner and I’ll call you back.”


“Well, okay, Mr Johnson. What time will you be calling?”


“Ah, well, I’m not really sure. I’ll call you soon. Goodbye.” Click. Sam’s mind began to race, “Not another one. What is George doing? He knows the books are his responsibility. I know there has been plenty of income to cover our expenses. Why are these bills not being paid?”


Conflict.


Not one of the above scenarios is false. Unfortunately, they are also not unusual. They could be the stories of people you know — right there in your family, your community, your church, your business.


Ricki Lee Brooks

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