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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Bold (emotionally) (08/30/07)

TITLE: Deciding who should live
By Douglas Sowers


The young man vainly readjusted his shabby belt as though looking for another hole, but the too big pants still looked in danger of slipping off his waist. Then with a cautious look around, he headed off to class.

As he rounded the building, he saw Al, a muscular but dapper football player, chatting with four friends. The young man started, then turned away. Al looked up and said’ “Hey guys, let’s welcome Bill to class today.” Bill squared his shoulders and quickened his pace as he headed through the door and down the hall. As Al and his four friends surrounded Bill, a shudder passed through his slight frame. Al poked a finger through a hole in Bill’s shirt exclaiming, “Bill, you must take me shopping. I just don’t have your good taste in clothes.” The friends laughed and pushed Bill around. Sweat was beading Bill’s forehead by the time he entered the classroom, but he resolutely headed to the first row.

Professor McCall, seeing this, began riffling through a stack of graded papers as she crinkled her face thoughtfully. “Class,” she called out, “Many of your response papers doubted that people could be locked by fear. Several,” she said as she looked at Al, “could even miss football season due to failing grades. One paper, however, expressed the idea clearly. Bill, would you come up and share your paper?”

Bill’s shoulders jerked and then he looked worried. He glanced over at Al, rubbed his chin, and said, “If it can help.”

Bill picked up his paper and began to read. “Three years ago, when the Congo was undergoing a revolution, my parents, siblings and I were there as missionaries. Four families lived on the compound and the men took turns during the night to watch for rebels. Everyone else slept ready to hide in the attics. The sound of gunfire at the Wibberly’s house immediately followed Mr. Wibberly’s alarm. Dad looked out and cried softly, ‘I’ll delay them at the door while you go to the attic.’

Mom said, ‘I can’t leave you!’ and froze.

Being the oldest of six kids, I grabbed mom’s hand and said, ‘We need you, please help us.’ As we left, I saw dad’s thankful nod. While we hid, someone pounded the door. Thirty seconds later would have been too late. We heard Dad offering them food and medical help, but then we heard the shots. My mom crumpled and cried. I had to calm my siblings to keep them quiet. We listened to the rebels ransack the houses for 20 hours. While waiting, I whittled some spy holes in the roof. It wasn’t until 10 the next night that I saw them leave. ‘Mom,’ I whispered, ‘I am going to see if the Shufeldts or the Florios survived.’ Mom just grabbed on to my arm. I finally slipped out around midnight, by focusing her attention the other kids.

It took me 5 minutes to get past Dad’s body. Fortunately, all five Shufeldts were fine in their Attic and had some supplies. I found Mr Florio downstairs in his house and told him, ‘Dad has been killed, but the rest of us are fine. The Shufeldts are OK too. How are you?’

He responded, ‘All four of us are fine, too. Additionally, my shortwave survived, and I contacted MAF. They will fly over to see when it is safe to land, but they can only carry six each time.’

All five adults spent the night discussing who should go first. After two decision less nights, Mr. Florio said, ‘MAF just said they studied the rebel movement and can land tonight at 12:30 but must take off before 1:00 am. We really must decide who will go.’ I volunteered to greet the plane and left them debating. At 12:30, I welcomed the plane. At 1 am, the pilot said, ‘I must leave. Come aboard, son.’ With tears in my eyes, I climbed aboard. That was the last time I saw them. MAF tried twice more, but on the third night, all they saw were burning houses.’

Bill shuddered then continued, ‘My dad died so I could live. Though I still shake in loud groups, I am studying to go back to the Congo as a missionary to finish Dad’s work. I learned from him to trust God, take action, and love those who hate. Suddenly, he straightened with a smile, and said, ‘Al, let’s get a burger and study the next assignment together.’”

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This article has been read 554 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Donna Powers 09/07/07
Bill's composition was a compelling story on its own. WEll done!@
Anothervoice Sunstar09/08/07
Sobering topic. Well written. More description of "Bill" would help the reader better empathize with the character.
Jan Ackerson 09/11/07

Did you have any more words? I'd have loved a statement about Al's reaction to the story, and a bit more character development.

Consider a paragraph break right before "Suddenly, he straightened with a smile..." That'll give the sudden change in mood the oomph it deserves.

Brenda Welc09/11/07
Very deep in your intent to get your point across. Good writing!
Dee Yoder 09/12/07
I'd hate to be in a situation like this one. Your story really has an impact. It's so easy for us to forget that some places in the world are dangerous to people trying to share the Good News, but they go anyway. Thanks for bringing this topic to my attention!
Laury Hubrich 09/12/07
Great piece! It was very exciting. I like missionary stories. Helps us remember to pray for them everyday.
Jenny Fitch09/12/07
Wow! This is a very bold story.

Shorter sentences might be helpful to increase emotional intensity.

Great story - keep writing!
Betty Castleberry09/12/07
I love the resolution at the end of this. Very nicely done.
Beth LaBuff 09/12/07
Good story. It's sad that this does happen (both events) in schools and on mission fields. You've done a good job of telling your story.