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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)

TITLE: Tele(sym)pathy...a call away
By joy clarkson


Rrrrrrring……Rrrrrrring…….Susan waited for the ringing to stop. She was thoroughly fed-up with the anonymous calls. The bell rang insistently. She picked up the receiver and waited to hear the mocking and taunting remarks.
Susan had retired from her teaching job and settled in this little hill-town, where she intended to start a Bible-School Holiday Resort, for school children. A place where they could come during their summer vacation, for a two-week program.
The concept was to approach the teaching of Christian values and principles with less legalism and preachy methods. She wanted Christian children to learn the practical way of applying God’s word to their lives so that they could enjoy being Christians while they continued to be in right-standing with God. Her friends had volunteered to contribute their cultural, artistic and musical expertise to enhance the program.
However she wasn’t granted permission to open the resort as the locals opposed the proposition. They thought the resort was a cover to brainwash young minds. Susan was disappointed. Then the anonymous calls began. Most of them filled with taunts, jibes and resentment.
Susan was at the end of her tether. She had to do something about this. “ Use their instrument but ‘ to provoke unto love and to good works’ ,” whispered her inner voice.
Susan couldn’t understand how God wanted her to use the telephone. She decided to shift her mind away from this unpleasant situation. She called up a friend. No luck…just the answering machine. She tried another and then another. Three answering machines later, she decided to go for a walk. “ Oh God ! Help me,” she thought, and added as an afterthought, “ at least YOU don’t put me on an answering machine !” and she laughed. Then abruptly she stopped laughing, “ the answering machine, the answering machine !” she whispered.
Without wasting a minute more, she hurried back to the town. A few enquiries, a few calls and Susan returned home bursting with hope and great expectations.
Finally the answer to her prayers arrived securely packed in a cardboard box. With the help of a linesman working with the Telephone Department, the answering machine was connected and Susan waited.
All the calls were now greeted with a cheery message that said, “ Hi, I’m praying for you. If you have any problems, let me know, I’ll pray for that too. Thanks for calling.” After a few days, the calls stopped. Was it the calm before the storm or the ‘peace that passeth all understanding ’ Susan wondered.
And then it came – a prayer request, made in a breathless, hushed voice. Others followed.
Susan could recognize the voices of her five persistent callers, and she believed they were between twelve and seventeen years old. She had even given them names. Now she learned that Saucy Sue was exasperated with her parents constant quarrelling, Giggly Gertrude wanted to run away from the orphanage because they sent the kids to work as domestic help. Stuttering Stewart didn’t like being teased, Arrogant Aaron didn’t believe God existed, Martyr Marty was always the victim.
Long conversations with each one led to a special bond of trust and faith between the two sides. This continued for some years. Susan never tried to find out their true identities.
That was fifteen years ago. And now Susan would meet them for the first time. Their visit coincided with the ‘ welcome reception ’ Susan’s church had organized for the new pastor. Two happy events.
Susan found Reverend Sushil Caleb, younger than she had expected. She delivered her welcome speech and as she returned to her seat, a familiar voice said, “ Thank you Susan, for such a warm welcome. It’s nice to come home again.” Susan almost fainted… Arrogant Aaron !
Susan listened to the voice that had argued incessantly with her about a non-existent God, almost to the point of making her give up.
“ Susan, “ said the voice, “ I’d like you to meet…….” She was introduced to the others. All had done well for themselves. Susan looked at Arrogant Aaron ( she still couldn’t call him anything else ) a question in her eyes… which he answered softly, “ 1 John 4: 12, I finally understood it. Thank you.”
Susan couldn’t speak, but her tears spoke volumes, as she led her friends home. There was so much to say, so much to hear….

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sara Harricharan 07/24/08
Love the wordplay in your title! How creative! I was really rooting for the MC and that she'd be able to do something to help someone. This is very unique, I liked the way she got the answering machine and had a recording that encouraged those tormenting her to turn them into friendships. Lovely twist! ^_^
Helen Dowd07/31/08
This is excellent! What a great idea Susan had...My only critique would be, put spaces between paragraphs. It makes for easier reading...You have done great, winning second place...Keep writing. This was an enjoyable read...Helen
Marsha Landers07/31/08
I so enjoyed your story. Tears were forming when she realized Arrogant Aaron was a believer! How awesome to deliver the lost sheep back to the shepherd. Thanks for reminding us that God has a better answer for all our problems. Good job!
Debra Martinez07/31/08
It is always a revelation to us when bad things turn to good through "letting go and letting God." This was a super illustration of that point, and a reminder that we affect our young people more than we know by the way we live our faith. Thanks, and congratulations!