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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: Hanging Over A Ship’s Rail Can’t Last Forever
By Shayne Catoe


In the midst of The Great Sea, four mighty men of valor prepared for ministry below deck.

After the mission in Jerusalem had ended, they'd headed north on a vessel going through a tumult of storms. Every day the ship staggered further off course.

The eldest man, Paul, spent much of the voyage in prayer and supplication, dreaming with Christ on how lovely the feet of those who bring good news are. Barnabas studied the few letters Paul had written to the believers back at Jerusalem, and Silas slept contently. Mark on the other hand kept running topside to hang over the rail, giving the sea back the fish from his latest meal.

“Won’t that kid ever get his sea legs Brother Barnabas?” Scoffed Paul.

“Don’t be so hard on him. So he’s got a weak stomach. There’s no sin in that.” Barnabas countered.

“He’s got to toughen up, or he’ll drag the mission down.” Paul insisted.

“I remember your blistered feet keeping us from a whole day’s journey to Antioch, Brother Paul.” Barnabas said smiling.

“Those were new sandals Brother, and the leather was hard.” Paul smirked.

“Look, all I’m saying is, we give him a little rope…”

“So he can hang himself? Not a chance Brother Barnabas”


“It is very wet out there Brothers.” John Mark wheezed, shaking out his curly black hair.

“You’re soaked, and now I’m wet to,” Silas growled, starting from a dead sleep.

“At least I went on deck to get sick, so all you have to worry about is a bit of salt water. I feel like my insides are on the outside.” Mark groaned as he turned green and ran for the ladder again.”

“How’s the kid ever going to travel with us if he can’t handle the sea?” Paul wondered.


Mark spent most of his time on deck under an old sail to be near the rail. He was sick from the weather too by the time they made shore. When Mark was below deck all he did was complain.

“I hate water crossings. I feel half dead Brother Paul. When will my stomach ever stop swimming? And my head, it’s killing me! I’ve never suffered so much, I don’t know how much more of this I can stand!


“Gather your things Brothers, it looks as if we’re making dock in a few hours. Not you John Mark. You’re staying on board.” Paul stated blankly.

“Staying on board? Why?”

“You’re not fit for missionary service boy. I’ve never seen anyone go against hardship and fail so miserably. You’re not coming, so don’t even try to change my mind.”

"But Brother Paul, I’ve been waiting my whole walk for this, please…”

“I’m done talking. Prepare to go through another voyage. Maybe this time you’ll remember Jesus suffered as a lamb silent, not with the voice of a dying mule.”

Tears of rage rolled down Marks face as he ran to find Barnabas. Soon words of fury volleyed between Paul and Barnabas in disagreement over John Marks destiny.

“There’s no changing my mind Barnabas, the boys a bad fig. Until he learns to suffer in silence and stand in deliverance, he will not minister with me!”

“Then neither will I Paul. I will minister with John Mark until he has come of spiritual age, as you seem to think it. Until then, go off with Barnabas, and I’ll see what our Lord Jesus sees in Brother John Mark that you do not.”

“So be it!” Yelled Paul as he and Silas gathered their things and headed for shore.


It wouldn’t be long before Paul heard about Barnabas and John Marks journeys. When word first reached him that other brothers had already made the way straight before his coming Paul graciously thanked the Lord for His provision. It was this way in many ports and towns. Sometimes they were readily thrown out as their other Brothers had been, but most often they found a few who had heard the Word first from a powerful two named Barnabas and Mark.


Years later a young preacher ran to an older one kneeling under a tree in prayer.

“Mark, I have a letter here, it’s from Paul. He’s asking for you. Can you come, you’ve been so useful to him he says.”

“Yes young Timothy, I’ll go to my Brother,” and Mark rose to prepare for his journey.

*Acts 12:25
*Acts 15:37-40a
*II Timothy 4:11

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This article has been read 543 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Pam Carlson-Hetland02/08/08
The title drew me in. I loved how you fleshed out familiar characters from the Bible. Just one minor writing technicality, please pay attention to the use of an apostrophe when showing the possessive case. For example, Mark's not Marks. You have a wonderful flare for telling a story. Good job! Would love to read more of your writing.
Laury Hubrich 02/09/08
Very good story! Excellent. I would work on your dialogue tags. They were a bit distracting. I think you confused Barnabas and Silas once in this paragraph: "Then neither will I Paul. I will minister with John Mark until he has come of spiritual age, as you seem to think it. Until then, go off with Barnabas, and I’ll see what our Lord Jesus sees in Brother John Mark that you do not.”

Great job! Keep on writing!
Julie Arduini02/11/08
Your title is creative, and your story gave a fresh look at a known piece of Biblical history. Very well done, don't stop writing!
Karen Wilber02/12/08
Great title. Nicely paced story. I can sympathize with John Mark (perhaps why I clicked on this title). Please keep writing.
Marlene Austin02/13/08
Interesting take for this topic. Nice job. :)