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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Pros and Cons (08/14/14)

TITLE: Now or Never
By John Esposito


The night air was thick. The sunset did little to reduce the heat from the day. Iím tired and ready to go home and lay down for the night. I canít though I have the night watch. Everyone has left and itís just me and the prisoners. My instructions for the evening were to carefully watch over the two men in the inner cell. The two men were Paul and Silas, both followers of Jesus.

Earlier in the day the men were arrested for trying to throw the city into an uproar. The magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. Itís been a while since Iíve seen anyone flogged so severely as these two men. They had huge welts across their backs and legs. After everyone had left I saved the bread from my dinner and shared it with them and then gave them some water to drink.

I knew they were innocent and I didnít feel right making them sit down on the cold damp cement floor with their feet in the stocks. I donít know much about this man they called Jesus. I do know that whoever was with him had these special powers. I have heard that he healed many people and even brought some back from the dead. Times are changing and people should listen to them and others like them.

Physically they were beaten, but spiritually they couldnít be broken. They began to pray and some of the other prisoners were listening and chanting themselves. Then about midnight they began praying again and singing hymns to God. Now all of the prisoners were listening to them. The lights were now out and the jail became filled with a joyous noise. Iíll just sit and listen for a while and maybe Iíll be able to rest my eyes a bit.

I must have dozed off for a minute or two and was awaked by a violent earthquake that shook the whole prison. The sound was thunderous and things were shaking and falling over. Then all at once the jail cell doors flew open. And I donít mean just opened up, I mean they swung back and slammed against the bars and even bent some of them.

As I walked over to the cells it was hard to see with the moon shining through one the higher windows. I assumed everyone had escaped and now faced being arrested myself and possibly being put to death for allowing this to happen. I panicked, and so not to shame my family I drew my sword and was about to kill myself when I heard someone yell out, ďDonít harm yourself! We are all here!Ē

Shaking and confused I lit one of the nearby lanterns, and then rushed into the cell. Paul and Silas were still there along with the rest of the prisoners. Both men were smiling. Still trembling I fell to my knees before them both and asked, ďSirs what must I to do to be saved?Ē They replied, ďBelieve in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.Ē

In that split second I lost all authority. I had to choose between life or death. I had to decide between my faith or the law. In that split second I had to weigh the pros and cons and try and balance out the scale. It was now or never and had to decide, and I had to decide now! It was really good to see Paul standing there grinning when I opened my eyes.

Looking around, one by one the prisoners began to close their cell doors. Yelling, ďGo with these men and free yourself. We will stay till morning and tell them what happened here.Ē Walking home I though to myself that this had to be an act of God. The rest of the town was fine. The ground only shook under the jail.

When we got to my home they spoke the word of the Lord to me again, and to all the others that were in the house that night. After they were done speaking we cared for and washed their wounds. Everyone there was immediately baptized.

My family and my home became engulfed by the Spirit. We all sat down and shared a meal together. I was so filled with joy because I had come to believe in the Lord and my family also. I have never felt so alive then I did that night. Amen!

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This article has been read 174 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 08/21/14
Great writing, on topic and of course the powerful message of being filled with the Holy Spirit, and the wonderment of Christ's power.

Well done.

God bless~
Rhonda Burns08/21/14
Nice telling of a bibical story from the perspective of the jailer. There was some verbiage in the first few lines of your story that I really liked. I love it when words paint a picture for you. Well done.
Larry Whittington08/21/14
I liked how you gave life to this Bible story.

Peace and joy comes when in obedience a person gives action to his faith by being baptized for the forgiveness of his sin.
(He may have even been the one who had beaten Paul and Silas.)

Stories written like this make very nice reading stories for children. Another person could read this each year to a group of children and many would get to hear about this Bible person's obedience to Jesus.

Again well written.
Rachel Barrett 08/25/14
I loved that! What an unexpected main character.

There were a couple of places where I got a little mixed up with tenses. At the beginning, it seemed to start out past tense ("The night air was thick"), and then seemed to move to present tense ("I'm tired and ready to go home"). Then it went back to past tense.

The message of the story still came through clearly; that just tripped me up a little bit. Could also be just me.

On second thought, perhaps it is one of those times where one could get away with a shift in tense, because it puts the reader right inside the jailer's mind, getting his thoughts play by play. I'm not the world's authority on tenses. Just thought I would share what came to mind.

At any rate, that really had me hooked! I liked your word pictures. Plus I'm a shameless sucker for Bible stories rewritten from the perspective of a minor character. :)

Thumbs up!!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/26/14
I totally enjoyed this story. You brought it to life and I could really relate to the MC. Your beginning was great; you started off with the conflict right away. I also could see the topic right away too. In the MC's mind, he began evaluating if it was just that Paul had been arrested.

I noticed a couple of minor things in the construction of the article. You mixed up the tense some, starting with present, then switching to past and back again. This is easy to do. In fact, I missed one spot in my article this week as well, even though I was aware of it and triple checked it.

The other minor thing was some missing commas, especially after introductory phrases and parenthetical phrases. I have a thread on the message board where I give links to some of my favorite resources. Also, you may want to check out Jan's Writing Basics on the message boards. She is a great help for all levels of writers and responds to everyone who posts.

I liked the POV of this familiar story. It was unique and fresh. I think this would make a brilliant Sunday School lesson. I could even see some questions for kids to consider and ways to relate the MC's fears to things kids deal with today. I'd really encourage you to consider tweaking it and maybe expanding it for kids. You have a great way of expressing yourself, and I was totally into the story from beginning to end.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/26/14
I try not to read other comments as I comment so not to impact my opinion. I see someone else pointed out the tense issues and I thought I'd give you an example of how to keep it in the present tense. (Often past tense is easier to do, but often present can pull reader in.)
The night air is so thick, it's almost an effort to walk through it. Even though the sun has set, the heat from the day lingers on. Iím tired and ready to go home and lie down for the night, but I'm on duty until the day shift comes in to relieve me. Everyone's left, so it's just me and the prisoners. My boss got in my face before he left. "Watch over them two in the middle cell. If they escape, you might as well go with them because your life won't be worth a plum nickel."
I feel drawn to go see them in person. Paul and Silas are local celebrities, going from town to town talking about this fellow Jesus.
I added a bit to show you some ways to add dialog and some suspense.
Again, I want to stress what an awesome job you did with this piece. Even though I knew the story, I was still hanging onto each word. You did a great job of staying true to the Bible while still adding your own touch to the story which makes the reader stop and think.
Sheldon Bass 08/26/14
I love your take on the topic. The message comes through clearly too. This is an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading your next entry!

Seems someone else has covered enough critique for now. Yes, pay attention to the tenses, and please take advantage of all the wonderful writing tips and lessons available here at faithwriters. I'm so happy to have you with us!