Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Reading (01/25/07)
TITLE: From Out of the Dark Sea
By joe hodson
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It was pitch dark on the beach. Fear nearly beat a hole in my chest, drowning out the roar of the waves punching the shore. Sand filled my shoes as we ran making them like weights tied to my numb legs. The salt in the air tore at my lungs like a million microscopic lacerations. Any minute the police could arrive.
“Hurry,” Yingjie whispered. We were dressed in all dark, camouflaged by the blackness of the night. Each of us carried oversized pillow cases the women had made. Swiftly, silently we rushed to where the water meets the sand, our eyes scanning the open sea for the slightest flicker of a flashlight. There were forty of us in our church.
“Look!” said Tao, trying to hush his excitement, “A light! I see it!” It looked like just a dot, a twinkling star swimming in the black waters.
“Shh! Be quiet!” said Guang, our pastor. “Okay, everyone, get out into the water up to your waist. They should wash up very soon.” Our church had been praying for this very night for three years without ceasing.
The water was cold but my body could not tell. As the water pulled at my ankles and legs, my insides shouted prayers of thanksgiving to God. A wave knocked me down. Salt water rushed up my nose and filled my mouth. Something unseen cut me. I still held onto the pillow case. I drug myself back up, kept pushing toward the light shining from the distant row boat. The Holy Spirit rose up inside of me, singing hymns and giving praise to our Lord Jesus Christ.
“I found one!” whispered my friend Bo over the noise of the lapping water.
Something bumped my waist. A small, rectangular object was bobbing in front of me. My hands reached out, picked it up and felt its edges inside the water proof package.
It was a Bible.
More Bibles emerged from the dark. There were hundreds of them. With a burst of joy I swam out to meet an island of fifty or more. My arms scooped them up from the water and dropped them into the pillow case. Tears and saltwater blurred my vision as I hummed worship songs and praised Jesus for the glorious gift of His Word. I watched as the rest of the church did the same.
When there were no more Bibles left to be found, we let the waves carry us back to land. Once on the beach we threw the bags of Bibles into the bed of an old farm truck our pastor had waiting for us. A canvas tarp hid our “catch” from view as the truck pulled off with unlit headlights. No police were in sight.
“Praise our Christian brothers and sisters overseas,” I said to Bo. “Thank you, Lord. Praise your name! Now a thousand more of our brothers can read God’s Word!”
Flooded with a million feelings at once, I hugged Bo as hard as I could. Our bodies were unequipped to keep confined whatever emotions had taken hold of us, sending us to the ground. The moonlight revealed tears streaming down Bo’s face. His eyes looked heavenward. Then, with open arms, he began to pray silently but powerfully there in the sand. He prayed for all those who persecuted us and for our government that imprisoned and executed us – the underground Christian church and Bible smugglers.
In another hour the sun would come up and dissolve the night. The Lord had shined His blessing on our faithful obedience. Our church left for their homes, anxiously awaiting the next scheduled drop-off.
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