Powerhouse flew above a housing project in Seattle. Below, a young black man shoved a gun at another near a run-down warehouse that had graffiti spray painted in layers. “You do it.”
A second youth slipped the gun inside his Mariners jacket. “Fine, foo’, I’m a real man. I ain’t afraid to waste no preacher.”
Powerhouse followed the kid in the Mariners jacket kid to a red brick building with a cross on the roof. The sign out front said, “Power Street Community Church.” He materialized a coat and a hood to disguise his costume then entered the church.
A man walked up to him and shook his hand. “Nice to have you, brother.”
Powerhouse nodded and moved into the sanctuary. He sat in the fifth row on an old wooden pew, right behind the young man in the Mariner’s jacket.
A middle-aged black man in a burgundy robe walked to the pulpit. “Glory! Let’s begin with a word of prayer.”
Everyone bowed their heads except for Powerhouse and the unmoving assassin.
Following the prayer, Powerhouse sat silent with his arms folded while most of the congregation sang at top volume, stomping and clapping. What was going on? These people were poor as dirt, what did they have to be so excited about? If he hadn’t been there on crime fighting duties, he would have snuck out.
The pastor said, “Now, if you’re a visitor, please fill out a card.”
Powerhouse began to fill out the card, but stopped. He stared down at his actual physical address.
A man approached carrying a large golden plate that had money in it instead of food. “Can I have your card?”
Powerhouse stared at the card. I wish I’d never filled that out. The card disintegrated. I didn’t know I could do that.
The man said, “Um, I guess not.”
After collecting the church member dues, the pastor began his sermon. “Some folks say they’ve been too bad to get saved. That’s a lie. There ain’t nobody who can’t be saved. Anyone can be forgiven and changed if they will turn to Christ. Anyone!”
Anyone? How strange. Minor stooges reformed all the time in the comic books, but he could hardly imagine the Joker, the Penguin, or Lex Luthor reforming, at least not for more than half an issue.
The preacher continued. “On the other hand, some people think they’ve got it all together and they don’t need God. But you can’t be good enough to make Heaven yo’ home. All men have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. We all need the Lord, because we can’t do it on our own. Amen?”
Folks all around Powerhouse shouted it back at the pastor.
Huh? This was even stranger. Folks sometimes handed him tracts, but since he’d acquired his superpowers, he’d paid them even less attention. Batman didn’t go to church; neither did Superman or Spider-man. Superheroes would get the best place in Heaven because they’d done so many good deeds.
The preacher pointed right at him. “I have news for you. All your righteousness doesn’t mean anything to God. It’s filthy rags to God. Your works can’t save you, only the blood of Jesus Christ.”
When was the last time this preacher stopped a drug dealer or broke up a car theft ring? That isn’t filthy rags, that’s really great!
At the end the pastor said, “If you’d like to find Jesus tonight, come on up to the front and we’ll pray with you.”
A dozen people went up. The assassin hesitated then rose from the pew, tip-toed down the aisle, and knelt at the altar. The pastor approached him.
Powerhouse tore his coat off and pounced on the assassin. The pastor stared at Powerhouse. “What are you doing, man?”
“Saving your life. I heard this guy say he was going to waste you.”
The preacher turned to the assassin in the mariner’s jacket. “Is that true?”
The assassin lowered his head. “Yes, preacher. I was planning on killing you and I do got a gun in my jacket.”
Powerhouse grabbed the gun and bent it into a u-shape. “Now you don’t! Gun control, Powerhouse style.”
The pastor glared at Powerhouse.
He gulped. “I think I’ll be quiet.”
The assassin said, “I changed my mind. I need Jesus.”
Powerhouse rolled his eyes. “Oh, yeah right! He’s just trying to get out of trouble.”
He began to tie the youth up.
The pastor shouted, “Cut it out!”
Powerhouse stopped. “Do you really think you’re that good a preacher?”
“Nope.” The pastor untied the boy. “No one comes, unless the Lord draws him.”
The strange pastor prayed with the boy then patted his shoulder. “Now, go wait in that back room. Somebody will be there to help you to take the next step.”
The boy nodded with tears in his eyes.
The pastor turned to Powerhouse. “Thank you for your efforts. Would you like prayer?”
“There’s refreshments in the fellowship hall. You’ll be more than welcome.” The pastor turned to the others at the altar.
Powerhouse began to walk away. A man in the aisle said to a Middle Eastern fellow, “You going bowling, tomorrow?”
“Nah, I’m gonna help the pastor build the youth center.”
“Why bother?” said the first man. “They’re just going to blow it up.”
“I’ve got to do it. It’s like Nehemiah.”
Powerhouse arched an eyebrow. He’d pay a visit to the construction site tomorrow.
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