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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Bold (emotionally) (08/30/07)

TITLE: Branded
By Ruth Neilson
~1st Place


He studied his reflection grimly. The newly branded symbol on his left biceps proclaimed to the world his beliefs. Simon knew that today was probably his last day of freedom—and because of that he knew what he had to do.

He opened his phone and began to prepare a text message. FYI, I’ve been marked for Christ. C-ya on the other side. A simple message, bold, but meaningful to his family. Simon selected the believers who would not only receive the message but would share it with the others. He had gone willingly to the branding, baring the mark of Christ on his body.

The Ruling Tribunal had banned proselytizing without registering with the Religious Freedom Council (RFC). Simon had boldly gone to the RFC and registered—hoping for freedom in what he could do, only to be shackled down with more rules and regulations.

As soon as he had finished the required paperwork, Simon had been held down forcibly as a fiery brand was pressed into his arm, scalding through fabric and flesh. That had happened several weeks ago. Now that the burn had healed, he could see what the brand was: a crude cross.

Originally, no one had suspected the RFC’s plans, until other believers had vanished. Rumors had begun to spread that they had been arrested, tried in a mock trial, and then killed.

Simon nodded once to himself and pulled on the white sleeveless shirt. His brand was now revealed to the world. It was time to step out and start witnessing. His devotions had confirmed it this morning. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. Psalms 138:3

Donning the white bandana over his bald scalp and adding the finishing touch, a leather bound medallion with the emblem of the church around his neck, Simon was ready.

For the first time since receiving the brand, he left the small house that he called home and began to walk the streets, praying and seeking God’s wisdom as to where and when to start preaching. He could feel people’s stares on him because of the brand, but he didn’t care.

A young girl caught his eye. She looked happy at least on the surface, but he could see the pain that seemed to be etched on her heart. She was sitting on the bench across the street from him. Boldly, he made his move and approached her.

“There is hope for you today.” Simon stated, sitting down next to her.
“Were you born yesterday, old man?” She asked, tossing her short brown hair over her shoulder. “There is no hope in this world, especially for people who fail in everything.”

He smiled gently, “I failed in everything, until I found Someone who took my failures and turned them into something good.”

That caught her attention. The girl turned and gazed at him for a long moment.

“Keep talking, old man.” She whispered, finally breaking eye contact, and began to watch the crowd. “Better make it quick too, ‘cause it looks like you got some people interested in you over there.” She pointed and Simon’s gaze shifted across the street.

He groaned and breathed a prayer.

It was time.

He stood and climbed onto the bench, using it as if it was a pulpit. The teeming mass of humanity seemed to pause to stare up at him.

“Friends and neighbors, I don’t have but a few brief moments in this world to make a difference in anyone’s life. But I can try.” He cried out. “In a matter of minutes I will be arrested, tried, and killed because I am compelled to say this simple statement to you.”

Simon paused once and grinned as his voice went up a notch. “Jesus loves you. He lived a perfect life and died willingly for your sins. I’m here to tell you that He is still alive and still wants everyone to know Him.”

Two plain clothes detectives were pushing through the crowd. Simon could feel someone else tackling him from behind. He grunted but continued to speak. “Our time is short, don’t ignore Him for another day!”

The tackler was now sitting on Simon’s back, pinning him down. Simon turned his head to face the girl and he grinned as she bowed her head and quietly began to move her lips.

It was worth it all. She was now branded in the eyes of God as His own.

Accept Jesus as Your Savior Right Now and be Certain of Eternal Life.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Allison Egley 09/06/07
Gripping and powerful! My heart was aching for Simon the whole time, but even more so for everyone else in his country. You did a great job "reversing" the common feelings I would have in this story by making me feel happy for Simon and sad for everyone else. I loved the ending, of the young girl being "branded" in God's eyes. May Simon's message live on!
Patty Wysong09/07/07
Great job! You communicated the truth so clearly and simply --in a compelling story. The ending is great and it ties the story up very neatly.
Sharlyn Guthrie09/09/07
Great job on this convicting story.
Lisa Holloway09/11/07
This was intense, excellently written, and an insightful vision of how things might be some day. You had my attention all the way through.
Betty Castleberry09/11/07
Scary. Your MC is indeed bold. This is well done.
Amy Michelle Wiley 09/11/07
Well done. I, too, imagine what it will be like someday. May we all have the boldness to spread the Word, no matter what.
Sherrie Jackson09/12/07
Now THIS is bold. Great attention to detail, and I found the girl to be quite haunting - and sad, speaking of a world with no hope at such a young age. Excellent job, and may the Lord grant us the courage when the time comes.
Dee Yoder 09/12/07
Wow, awesome story. I was drawn in to this one from the first sentence! This is wonderfully written and the MC is the epitome of bold!
Brenda Welc09/12/07
WOW! This was great and written with a boldness I haven't seen so much yet. Great writing, you really pulled me in and kept me glued to the screen! Good job.
Loren T. Lowery09/12/07
You captured the topic wonderflly. This is some great writing and gives the reader much to consider.
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/12/07
You captured "boldness" perfectly with your very well written story. This was an awesome look at what could be.
Joanne Sher 09/12/07
Wow - very strong message and excellent descriptions. Fine work!
Dianne Janak09/13/07
Congratulations on your win. I Loved this story. SO glad the judges did also. A strong message for us all, and perhaps not too far into the future...
Diane Bertrand09/13/07
Great story. Thanks for sharing.
Kristen Hester09/13/07
This is great. You deserve this win for your BOLD entry. Great job! Congratulations!!
Beth LaBuff 09/13/07
Congrats Ruth! Wonderful writing of a time when boldness seals your death warrant.
Leigh MacKelvey09/13/07
No wonder you won both first places! Really, reaaly good. Congrats to you and have a WONDERFUL day! Leigh
Sheri Gordon09/13/07
Congratulations on first place! This is very creative -- and gripping from beginning to end. Great job.
Catrina Bradley 09/13/07
Great job, Ruth - congrats!!
Mo 09/13/07
Wow, great ending. Congrats on your win!