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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)

TITLE: The No Show
By Steve Bato


“Randy, are you coming to church with me tonight or not? It’s time to go!” Allen’s booming voice echoed hollowly throughout the spacious apartment the brothers shared.

“Nah. Go on, bro. I have other plans.” Randy almost never joined his brother for the weekly Bible study. Allen no longer apologized for his brother’s frequent absences from Wednesday evening and Sunday morning services. He also no longer expected him to go with him to the Tuesday evening prayer service or the Saturday afternoon Scripture memorization sessions.

Allen punctuated his drive through the sparsely traveled side streets with a prayer for his brother.

“Dear Lord, thank you for providing all these wonderful growth opportunities, and please forgive him for continually ignoring you. I pray he will renew his commitment to you, and find his way back to your presence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

He prayed this so often, the words now came out in one, long, nearly unbroken, stream of words tumbling one upon another.

The church fellowship hall was filled with the Wednesday night regulars—a much smaller group than Sunday mornings. The pastor’s message about “serving the least of these” was truly inspiring—Allen took his customary three full pages of notes and underlined in his Bible the key texts.

As he parked the car in front of their apartment, he noted two things: the absence of lights in the apartment, and a person waiting at their door.

His cautious approach revealed a frail old woman as their visitor. A threadbare shawl clung tightly to her spare frame. Her pockmarked face sank from apparent grief, but her bright green eyes held a spark of hope.

“Good evening, ma’am.” Allen stood a safe distance away. “Can I help you with something?”

“Yes, sir, please. Does Randy live here? I need to see him desperately!”

“Well, yes, this is his home. He is my brother. However, I’m not sure where he is at the moment. May I ask what it is that you need from him?” Allen could not fathom how someone like this would even know his brother, let alone desperately need him.

“Yes, sir, please. You see, Randy has been coming to my neighbor hood nearly every evening and weekend for the last few months. He’s helped everyone with anything they needed. Most of us are elderly and have barely enough money to live on. He’s fixed porches, changed light bulbs, delivered groceries and helped in so many ways. He’s even helped us start a small Bible study, and taught us how to pray not only for our own needs but to show us how to be a blessing to those all around us. I had hoped he would be by earlier today, because my only toilet is backed up. I can go to the neighbor’s during the day, but that is just not a good option for the night. I thought I would come and see if he would mind fixing it for me.”

Allen’s tongue found no words at its command for a handful of moments. Now he knew why his brother had not been going with him! It all made sense now!

“Ma’am, I do not know where he is or when he will return. He may be in your neighborhood right now, for all I know. I bet if you go back, you’ll find him. But, just in case, when he does get home I’ll mention you stopped by. Good night!” He pushed past her, threw the door open, stomped inside, and slammed the door behind him.

Right. I’ll tell him! If he thinks he can get out of church that easy . . .!

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This article has been read 409 times
Member Comments
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Laury Hubrich 02/09/08
Wow - I didn't see that coming! Very creative. I like the character, Randy, that you created and definitely did NOT like the brother -- very good writing!
Lyn Churchyard02/09/08
Oooh you took me in completely! For all Allen's attending church and Bible study five times a week, he still hadn't learnt about love. Randy has been spending more time with the Lord than his brother and doesn't it show!
Great story!
william price02/11/08
Some very good writing here. I loved the lines describing the older woman. Some red ink: First the story was good and showed some masterful writing at times, but the opening was a little weak. You have to try, not always, but especially when you are trying to get noticed, grab the reader straight away. I think you still had some words to play with so you might have been able to create a lil more suspense as to what the non-church going "bro" was up to; had him hiding something that might have caused suspecion on the church going bros part. And then finding the tools or whatever at the end.
But, those are just suggestions. You write very well and I really enjoyed the comentary of the last line. Keep up the good work. God bless.
Marlene Austin02/11/08
Nice writing. You build your MC well. :)
Beth LaBuff 02/11/08
Interesting story...I definitely didn't anticipate your ending. As far as the topic you have two brothers in two different "companies". I'm really wondering what kind of church Allen went to. This is very creative and gave me a lot to consider. Nice work.
Shelley Ledfors 02/12/08
A very creative story. Gives a lot of food for thought.
Loren T. Lowery02/12/08
Great descriptive writing with a knack for story telling thrown in for good measure. You took the reader on quite a turn with your ending, giving us much to think about. I now wish Allen could have a change of heart and see just how real the call is on his brother's life.
jodie banner02/12/08
Great twist at the end! I loved the story. My only fault would be that it is an anti-topic story.
Maxx .02/13/08
I like the word choices throughout the piece. Very good job! Keep at it!