When Lisal and Alissa arrived at the Bible study, only a couple of people showed up. The meeting was short, and Lisal drove Alissa home. She went back to the church to write up the bulletin for Sunday’s service. She couldn’t help but feel a little guilty because it seemed like she rushed the Bible study in order to get back to investigate Deacon Boomhower. However, no one seemed to notice and, in fact, it seemed they didn’t mind ending it early. When Lisal arrived back at the church, she found the door unlocked. I could have sworn I locked the door, she muttered to herself. Passing it off as a simple mistake, she headed to the front of the church.
She could hear the wind howling outside giving an eerie feeling to the building. The thumping of a board near the roof caused her to jump and pick up her pace. She just wanted to leave, but her determination pressed her on.
As she made her way, she felt a cold touch on her elbow, which startled her enough to turn around. No one was there, but for some reason, she felt slightly comforted. She thought of her husband at home, and suddenly, was really looking forward to seeing him later on if he was up. She smiled to herself, as she continued on.
It was a large Assembly of God church; easily the biggest church in town with no less than five hundred people attending service every Sunday morning. The altar was enormous, which allowed the nine instrumentalists and twenty-six choir members to fit comfortably. Lisal often thought the minister of music should get a cut of money, but she was unpaid. The pastor had said that he used the crimson colored carpet to remind the congregation of the blood Christ had shed for the remission of sins. The white walls represented the purity a person has after being washed by the blood. In all honesty, Lisal thought it was kind of cheesy, but she knew his intentions were good.
On the right side of the altar, she went through the door that led to the church office. The office was well kept with most of the papers neatly organized into filing cabinets. The smell of the freshly new gray carpet permeated the room. Lisal wondered what the gray color was supposed to represent, the tomb of Christ perhaps. She chuckled slightly to herself at her joke. Unlike the sanctuary, there were no florescent lights here, which made it easier for Lisal to focus while writing up the bulletin. A copying machine, a fax machine, a computer, and other office equipment were neatly placed around the room.
Before she got started on the bulletin, she wanted to look at a file. Deacon Boomhower had been acting a little suspicious, and she wanted to check out his background. It seemed like he was trying to hide something. She remembered a few weeks ago when he dropped a pin out of his pocket. It landed by her foot, and as she went to pick it up, he quickly reached down, pushed her hand out of the way and grabbed the pin. Then he quickly hid it from her view. It seemed like there was something he didn’t want her to see. There were a few other incidences in which he seemed suspicious, but this was the one that stuck out.
As she went over to the filing cabinet, she found it locked. Frustrated, she sat down at the cherry wood desk with gold trim where the pastor often did his studies. Man, Lisal thought to herself, this guy has tons of money and still asks everyone in the church to give 10% of their income, including those who aren’t so well off. It was referred to as a “tithe.” Then he expected people to give an offering on top of that. Lisal had sat through many sermons and listened to Pastor James tell the congregation that they were cursed if they didn’t tithe while quoting Malachi 3:8-11.
Lisal decided to do an extensive Bible study on tithing, and found it to be a type of tax system to pay the Levitical priests back in the Old Testament. The Levitical priests were basically the government at the time, and their source of income was through the tithing system. Tithing was in the form of animals and plants; never money. The modern day tithing system began in the sixth century and was advocated by the Council of Tours in 567 and the Second Council of Macon in 585. Since then, many church leaders have taught tithing; some with good intentions and some to manipulate people into giving money. Lisal wished the U.S. Government would only ask for 10% of people’s income for taxes. When Lisal found out the truth about tithing, Deacon Boomhower had approached her, and told her to keep her mouth shut. Lisal tried to show him the Scriptural passages that backed up her point of view, but the Deacon didn’t want to hear any of it.
Lisal popped out of her trance when she saw a manila folder in a separator labeled “Deacon Jack Boomhower.” Excited, she pulled out the folder and looked inside. At the same time, she felt a tinge of guilt for snooping around. She hesitated for a minute and drew in a deep breath. It seemed as if she could sense that she was going to find something troubling. She started to put it back, but as she did, her curiosity overwhelmed her, and she only ended up setting down the folder in front of her. The tug of war in her mind lasted a few minutes. Suddenly she heard a thump in the other room. She set the folder down to investigate. As she went out into the sanctuary, it seemed that nothing was out of place. Something still was bothering her; it was almost as if she could feel someone watching her. Could it be her imagination, or was she really sensing that someone was in the same room as her? “Hello” she lightly called out, but no answer. Perhaps the wind knocked something against the church from the outside.
Finally, she decided that it was nothing to worry about and headed back into the office. She pulled out the folder and her anxiety overcame her causing her to quickly open it. She hoped to be out of the church as soon as possible. The first few pages were just basic information about the Deacon which included copies of his minister’s license and certificates.
As she flipped through the pages, a symbol caught her attention. There was a picture of a little table at the bottom of the symbol with a feather on it. Above the table, half a sun could be seen rising in the background.
Lisal immediately recognized it as the symbol for the Enlightened Dawn. Deacon Boomhower is involved with the Enlightened Dawn? She thought to herself. Lisal remembered hearing other churches in the area warning people about the Enlightened Dawn, claiming that they worshiped Lucifer. She didn’t know how true the claim was, and as she was searching them out, she came across a lot of conflicting information. Since they were a local organization, it was difficult to get much information on the Web.
She looked through a few more papers, and another one caught her attention. This one was worse than the first. It was a newspaper article titled “Man arrested for 2nd degree rape.” As she read the article, it claimed that nine years ago, Jack Boomhower had been arrested for sexual misconduct with an eight-year-old girl. Lisal almost vomited at the thought. She had an eight-year-old, daughter and cringed at the thought that she had been bringing her to church where a man had been arrested for such a thing. Why had no one told me? She said to herself, feeling her rage building. She took a few deep breaths to get a hold of herself. I have done so much for this church, and they can’t be honest with me. I’m resigning my membership as soon as I can.
She was perturbed that Pastor James would allow a man such as this to be a deacon. As one who looked up to the man, she felt this was a blow, and felt a tinge of disrespect for him.
Lisal felt sudden chills running through her, and again, thought she felt a presence in the church with her. She hadn’t heard anything, but it felt as if eyes were piercing through her. The wind howled stronger outside, and she could feel herself tremble. Where was this feeling coming from? She could not recall a time when she felt this frightened; yet it seemed unreasonable. When Lisal looked up at a mirror in front of the desk, she almost jumped out of her skin. The mirror reflected a man standing at the doorway…Deacon Boomhower.