“Charm is deceptive and beauty fades: but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 30:31, was Pastor Adam’s most favorite verse. He preached about it on many Sundays in church.

Adam was unmarried, handsome, fearful of the Lord and a social butterfly. Most ladies at the church were attracted to him; they went all out to win his heart by making sure that they put their makeup on and always turned up in their best outfits. Not for even a single day did they miss church; they would rather cancel their other appointments or commitments with friends and families just to see Pastor Adam. From the first to the last session of the church service, they sang their lungs out and danced their hooves off to gain his attention. However, Pastor Adam’s heart remained as hard as a rock, as his interest lay with the woman in the book of Proverbs.

As lust never lasts, the women became tired and gave up trying, thinking that their Pastor was either gay or an amateur at love. Some women even stopped going to church, while others continued to go in order to witness their anticipation. Nevertheless, despite a decrease in the number of attractive women at church and the rumors that were spread, Pastor Adam remained the strongest.

Each and every day, the seats at church became emptier; even those who persisted in going could not fill half the space of the big hall that suddenly sounded hollow, and their voices made echoes as they sang. Although that was the case, there was one lady who never missed church. She was always praying to find love, since there was no man who had ever proposed to her in all of her twenty-seven years. Men hated her because of her appearance; to them a glance at her felt like a stare.

At church, she always sat at the back and she had a distorted view of life. Her disadvantaged home background and her name, Dolores, which meant sorrow, was like a deliberate curse from birth. She was said to be ‘behind the times’ as she wore long skirts, old fashioned shoes, not to mention her scraggly hair, rearrangement of teeth, big nose and down-turned deep hooded brown eyes. She was tall, dark in complexion and very thin. Despite all that, she had a very good heart and was always down to earth.

Pastor Adam always had a soft spot for people like Dolores. He believed that they were God-sent and would always dwell in the house of the Lord. One Sunday morning he asked her to lead the song at church and she was very shy and felt intimidated. As she sang, her voice was so beautiful, powerful and clear. Corresponding to the melody of the instruments, her voice was pleasant to listen to. For the first time in her life, people turned to look at her with amazement. She cried as she first tasted recognition in a good way.

Days, months and years passed by and she continued to sing at church. Since the city never slumbered, the whole community knew that she could really sing. Those who left church a long time ago and those who had never attended it before, came to witness that. Surprisingly that Sunday to which they all came en masse became the turning point of Dolores’s life. That Sunday, Pastor Adam didn’t preach about the woman in the book of Proverbs. Instead, immediately after church, he went straight to Dolores in the crowd and before the congregation, he went down on his knee. People were very surprised; others were shaking their heads with disbelief. Some just froze with their mouths wide open.

To Dolores he said: “For the years that I have been preaching in this church, you sat there at the back, quiet and so humble, while other women made their mark for recognition. I waited for the day that God would grant me a woman like the one in the book of Proverbs. I wish I knew earlier that it was you…” he paused and took a ring from his pocket, “…but how could I have known if I didn’t understand what the phrase ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ really means? They might be saying a lot of things about your looks, but ever since I have known you, you have a pretty mind, a kind heart and a beautiful soul.

“I couldn’t seem to be so fond of you, but from the day you started to sing, you shook the manhood out of me and stole my heart away. That’s why it has been necessary for me today to ask you to marry me so that we could see the seventh Heaven together.” She was overcome with tears, fear and happiness and after she said yes, people were stunned and realized that you should indeed never judge a book by its cover.