Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What's That Noise?!?

Working at a church office during such tough, economic times can be a challenge some days.  In the many years I've worked in the office, we've always had the random person come in off the street looking for a handout, but in the last year the number of people looking for help has increased significantly.

I have always kept the front door locked when I'm at the office alone, but now we have begun to keep the door locked even when there are several of us here.  I have always had to use my judgment as to whether I would open the door to someone who came to the church unannounced.  At this point, though, I have pretty much made it my personal policy not to grant anyone entrance to the building if I don't know them.

A couple months ago I had a frightening incident while I was working alone.  Some friends had planned to pick me up after work to take me to lunch and make a hospital visit.  It was nearing that time, and I decided to take my things out to my car and then wait in the building for my friends to arrive.

As I walked back to the front door I heard someone yelling from across the way.  A man on a bike was yelling, "Pastor!  Pastor!"  I recognized him as someone who had been here a few times before, asking for food and money.  I don't know why he was yelling to me.  I don't look like the pastor.  {Well, I do because he's my dad, but I'm a girl. You know what I mean.}

I went into the church, locked the door, then hunkered down in Dad's office so as not to be seen.  Just then my friend called and said they were running late, and it would be another 15-20 minutes before they arrived.  At that moment, I heard banging at the front door.  I'm not talking about loud knocking.  I mean it was a full-out *BANG* *BANG* *BANG* with a fist.  I started freaking out.

When I told my friend what was happening, he said they would get to the church as quickly as they could.  The man at the door continued to bang.  And I waited.  Then it got quiet. I started imagining all sorts of scenarios.  I thought I heard movement outside the office door, and my heart beat fast. 

Finally, through the window, I saw him ride his bike away.  Still, I didn't want to leave the office and waited until I saw my friends' car pull up out front before I came out of my hiding place.  Relief finally settled in.

For weeks after that, I would freeze at every sound I heard at the front doors.  The sound of a fist banging on the door would sound in my head, and I remembered the fear.  I kept my window blinds closed, so I could not be seen from the parking lot.  Even when people were here, I still felt unsettled.  As time passed, though, the waryness started to fade, and I relaxed once again.

Yesterday another stranger showed up while I was alone.  The blinds are closed again.  I jump at every noise. 

Ugh!  Here we go again...

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  1. Michael GraybillMay 20, 2009 9:45 AM

    I will try to be more faithful to pray for you concerning times you are alone at the church. People just coming up to the door is not an issue we always think about people having to deal with at the church. I know people can take advantage of the generosity of the church, but the instance with the man pounding on the door would concern me also. I did not have to deal much with that when I was a youth pastor because of the location of my office. I will pray and trust that God will continue to protect you and bless you for your ministry.

  2. Wow, I can imagine why that would be a common place for people to go to seek help, but it certainly doesn't seem wise for you to let in strangers when you are alone. I'm glad you went with your guts and hid!

  3. I had a similar situation at our old apartment when my husband worked nights. It was horrible to jump at every little noise!

    Know I am praying for your protection and for peace on your behalf.


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