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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)

TITLE: Aprils Damascus
By Aylin Smith


Aprils Damascus

“I can do this Lord.” Seventeen year old April Jackson said aloud, as she waited anxiously behind the curtain backstage of the large convention center in Gatlinburg Tennessee as the Twelfth Annual Youth for Christ Rally went underway.

Taking a deep breath, April heard her name called and slipped from the side onto the makeshift stage, staring out into a crowd of over five thousand youth of the same age, or older.

“Good morning. I hope everyone has had an amazing weekend here worshipping and praising God. I know that I have.” April said to them with a tremulous smile upon her lips. “I bet your all wondering what on earth am I doing up here. Well I wanted to share a story with you, my story. “She began then paused for a moment before continuing.

“It all started at the age of thirteen when I went to my first “teen “party. Everyone in the world you knew was going, so of course, I meant that April was going to be there, despite the assertive “NO” that my parents replied when I had asked them a few days earlier about going. “Looking at some of the reactions upon the faces out in the crowd she smiled.

“I can tell by the look on your faces, some of you have been exactly where I was, and determined to do what you wanted to do, to be heard, headstrong or rather hardheaded.. To make a long story short, my parents found out where I was and you guessed it, came and got me.”

“Mortified and angry at them for making me look bad in front of my friends, I came up with this plan to get revenge. I started staying out all night, drinking, and yes even tried a few pills. “April said then held up a hand.

“Before you say to yourself, I have heard all this over and over from other teens, there is more. Yes, I was lost in sin, I had those pretty rose colored glasses on that made it look harmless and fun at the time. “

It was so quiet in the room, you could hear a pen drop, or in this case, the rapidly beating of her heart as she prepared to share the rest of her story.

“Two days before I turned fifteen, the idea of stealing a car formed in my mind, so another friend of mine at the time helped me plot the big heist. “ Shaking her head slowly she began to walk across the stage, making eye contact with as many as possible.

“The big night arrived, we had everything needed to get into the car and of course, I learned how to hotwire cars so it seemed a go. WRONG!”

Laughter rang out from the crowd at the ending statement.

“Yeah no sooner had we got the doors open, the police show up and my partner in crime high tales it down the alley, leaving me to face the jail cell by myself. “

“I was sentenced to one year probation and community service. As part of serving my time, I had to help out at the Recreation Center down the street.

The first week there, they were having a women’s bible study and guys there is where I went from the likeness of Saul, who was consumed by sin and hate towards Christians and Jesus, to Paul, a faithful and loving servant of Jesus. “April said, as tears streamed down her cheeks.

“Those women shared God’s amazing love and what He did for me! The girl, who defied what was right, rebelled against my family and broke their hearts. I asked Jesus into my heart then and there. “

Pausing for a minute or two, she could see tears streaming down on a few people and smiled.

“Here today, you have a choice, to continue being who I was before, lost in sin, hurting those I loved, or make this your road to Damascus, where Jesus has called your name from the cross, accept Him as your Lord and Savior. Become who God created you to be, a child of His. “

Soft music played in the background as Bro Mike Jones; the speaker for the week came out to issue the invitation and prayer time. God moved in many lives that weekend, choices to leave who they once were behind and embrace who they had become, once they accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

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Sara Harricharan 05/21/09
A few grammmatical errors here and there, but overall a good story. I liked the character of April a lot and would have liked to know what happened after this retreat/rally. Good stuff.
Maria Kana Santos05/22/09
I praise GOD that Has chosen to be merciful to us and has caused Him the HIGH COST of the gift of salvation for all. It has caused Him separation from His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ: who by His patient pursuit, obeyed His Father unto death so that we might be saved.

May the high cost of this precious gift of mercy and pardon draw us to Jesus Christ as we follow and abide in Him in full surrender unto eternity with our Heavenly Father.

1 Pet.2:24

Thank you for sharing.

Emily Gibson05/22/09
This is an important before and after story--you have the kernel of an amazing transformation. Watch your spelling, grammar and punctuation and it will be more powerful. Try to find someone to proofread for you before you submit.