Busta’s Person of the Week: A front row to heartbreak and pain

November 01
03:00 2018

By Busta Brown

“I decided to leave two weeks after I found out he wasn’t paying our rent and we were facing eviction. And then two weeks after my decision to leave him, which he had no idea I was leaving, he set the house on fire with me, my son and two of his sons inside,” Mary Carlton said with tears in her eyes.

Carlton continues, “He also spray-painted racial slurs on the outside to make it look like it was racial, as well as setting one of his cars on fire.”

According to The Richmond Times-Dispatch, a newspaper in Richmond, Virginia, Carlton’s ex-husband set his Chesterfield, Virginia, house on fire due to financial reasons. Mary M. Carlton said she was led by God to tell her story in “Front Pew Abuse,” a book based on her marriage to a former minister of music and Christian comedian.  “He’s now incarcerated because he set the house on fire,” shared Mary.

The first-time author said she didn’t see any signs of her ex-husband’s dark side. “He was just that good, everything was smooth. I had no idea for two weeks that he set the house on fire, until the FBI got involved because of the racial slurs on the house.”

According to Carlton, the first two years were perfect. “He treated me really good. I felt like I was the Queen of France. He held my hand, he always showed public affection, told me I was beautiful every day. He would call me to say you don’t have to cook today, what do you want me to bring you to eat, and he would cook for me as well.”

She lit up the room with a big, bright smile. “We found something to laugh about every day to help forget about how bad our day was. He treated me good.”

Two and a half years later, the love story took a turn for the worse. Carlton said she was blindsided and heartbroken. “I learned that he was still seeing a lady that he was involved with before me, and that was very hurtful. There were no signs at all.”

I asked if she was blinded by love and chose to ignore the signs. “Not at all, he was always with me. If he had to do a comedy show or preach and I couldn’t go with him, he always called me to let me know where he was, and when I called him he’d pick up the phone. If he didn’t pick up right away, he would call right back, so there were no signs.”

Mary M. Carlton’s faith in God has brought her a long way. She not only wrote her first book, but is now a playwright as well. You can see “Front Pew Abuse,” the stage play, next Saturday, Nov.10, at 7 p.m. at KR Williams Auditorium on the campus of Winston-Salem State University. For more information and tickets call (336) 462-8203. You can purchase her book online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Walmart. 

The story is clear and pain is in her book “Front Pew Abuse.” I asked Mary why she wrote the book. “I wanted to be one of the faces and voices of women that have gone through the same at this time; to let them know that even though the storm comes, don’t let it knock you down because you’re not alone. God is a provider and a healer.”

She shares a testimony about hiding her pain while sitting in the front pew in church in her book.

“Knowing that you’re being mistreated, feeling all that turmoil on the inside. That’s not happiness. You’re fooling the people in the church, but there are people in the church that know, but don’t say anything.”

She said God first healed her heart and then her finances. “Some women stay in bad marriages for fear of being alone and finances. God said he would never leave us or forsake and will provide what we needed.” Carlton was hit with some very difficult times and her faith was all that she had left. “I had to file bankruptcy; I had to go to food banks to make sure me and my son ate; I had to get assistance to pay my power bill. God said he would provide and at that point, that was God’s provision for me.”

Mary Carlton goes into more detail about her struggles and how writing the book saved her. Check it out on The Chronicle’s channel at Winstonsalem Chronicle.

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