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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Singing (10/31/05)

TITLE: Sacred Concert
By Dan Louise Mann
11/04/05


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Debt. Here I sit in this Philippian jail thinking about debt. Things had been going so well for me, I mused, and then that shipment ended up at the bottom of the Aegean Sea. Overnight my fortunes reversed. With no way to repay my debt, prison became my inevitable destination.

Depression has finally replaced many days of anger. I’ve taken to ignoring the other prisoners, from whom I hear only moans and curses that grow weaker each day…or are those coming from me? Don’t know anymore. My skin crawls with vermin, real and imagined, and shudders wrack my body. In the darkness I wince from sores on my ankles and wrists. You’re in a bad way Sergius, I tell myself.

Today I wake up thinking about Liberius, my jailor, whose name, ironically, means “freedom.” Circumstances threw us together. Dare I call him friend? Well, I’ve known him long enough to think he qualifies. If I ever get my freedom again, will “Freedom” be my friend? I’d like to think so.

“New… new prisoners!” Excited whispers echo along the corridors. “Who, who…?” the whisperers ask. I’m past caring. These newcomers being ushered past my cell are just an annoying interruption to my sleep.

Irritation! Something is pulling me to wakefulness. As I swim to consciousness, I hear loud voices. Not just voices, it’s… singing! HERE? But as I listen, my spirit begins to lift. Something stirs within me, and I feel an unexplainable desire to join that unseen choir.

A trembling begins and grows steadily. I feel the rocks behind my head shift, bulge inward. The floor bucks and heaves. Fear grips my bowels when my cell door crashes open. Instinctively I struggle to sit up as chains crash to the ground around me, and that’s when I realize the weight on my shackled limbs is gone. Should I flee? “No, find the singers,” a voice quietly urges me. I crawl slowly to the doorway and pull myself to a shaky stand. Keep singing so I can find you, I plead silently.

My fingers grope along the corridor wall, helping to guide unsteady steps. Squinting and shielding eyes unaccustomed to light, I see two men standing in a dimly lit cell, with Liberius at their feet! With quavering voice he says, “Men, what must I do to be saved?” One of the men responds, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”

Sliding down the wall to the stone floor, I listen as the man tells Liberius about Jesus, God’s son, how he was crucified and rose from the dead to pay men’s sin debt. Ahhh…debt. I can identify with that. “I believe,” I hear Liberius say with certainty. I glance at his face. What is it I see there?

Then the man—he says his name is Paul--fixes his gaze on me. “You, too, just heard the Good News. What say you?” he says with boldness. I hesitate, but suddenly I’m filled with a “knowing,” and I hear myself saying, “Yes! I DO believe!” Suddenly I understand that expression I saw on Liberius’ face moments before. Feelings of happiness, peace, hope, health all flood my being, and I cry out with the wonder of it!

Paul’s strong hands pull me to my feet, and we’re laughing, crying, embracing one another. Paul tells me that just as Jesus paid my sin debt, so my monetary debts would soon be paid. “Go back to your cell and wait on the Lord,” he instructs me. “I tell you this, before two days have passed, God will deliver you from this prison. When you are free, make your way to the river. God will show you the way.”

Well, it happened just as Paul said. The next day an unknown benefactor comes forward and pays my debt. Slightly dazed at the rapidity of events; nevertheless, when offered my freedom, I don’t hesitate. With determined steps, I leave prison darkness behind. Shortly thereafter I am at the riverbank where Paul and the brethren have gathered. And now here I stand, shoulder to shoulder with my friend Liberius, my voice raised in song to my new Lord and Savior.


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This article has been read 1008 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 11/08/05
Oooh, I like this a lot--what a unique and creative POV! There are a few past tense / present tense issues to clear up, but the story itself is remarkable. Thanks so much!
terri tiffany11/08/05
THis was a great way of telling the story!!
Kenn Allan11/08/05
This is one of the finest pieces of Biblical fiction I've read in a long time. I absolutely love the concept!
Ann Grover11/09/05
I liked this... Well done!
Sherry Castelluccio 11/11/05
This is my favorite so far. Excellent!
The Tornyn11/13/05
This had me glued to the screen!!! Great job!!!
Lauren Bombardier11/14/05
Wow. Well done!
B Brenton11/14/05
It all happened so fast, Dan.
But you are a credit to writing in 1st person. :)
Well done!
Karen Treharne11/17/05
An awesome take on a favorite story of mine, Dan. Beautifully told and a blessing to read. Congratulations on your win, and may God continue to bless your writing.
Deborah Porter 01/16/06
Dan, as everyone has said, this was such a creative telling of such a familiar piece of scripture.You brought it to life in a whole new way - you have a gift for getting into the character and I really encourage you to continue developing and honing that skill.

I'm in the process of editing the latest FaithWriters' Anthology (in which this story will be appearing), and need a couple of things from you.

The first thing is a three to four sentence biography note to include in the book. It needs to be written in the third person, and I know that most of us hate writing these things. If you need some ideas to get you going, have a look at FaithWriters' Magazine (www.faithwritersmagazine.com) and check out the bio notes at the end of any of the articles. That may help.

When you've finished writing your bio note, just send it to me as a Private Message. I'll also need your email address when you send the PM, as I need to send you a copy of the edited version of your story. I only do this when the editing is a little more than just a typo correction here and there.

As Jan mentioned in her comment (the first in the feedback box), the one problem was the tense. Because of the way you started it, you couldn't then jump to something that happened two days later. So I needed to edit everything so that it was all past tense, except for the final part. That's why I want to make sure you have a copy for your information.

Anyway, it's a wonderful story. Like I said, you brought the scene to life in a very real way. Well done.

With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator and Editor, FaithWriters' Magazine)