Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: STAND UP FOR JESUS (don't write about the song) (04/09/15)
- TITLE: Not Here
By Julie Berry
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It seemed like every person in this high school was out in the hall headed one direction while I pathetically tried to maneuver around them.
“Monica!” Finally, a familiar face. “Where is everybody going?”
“Cindy, “ she answered, “where have you been? Required meeting in the auditorium. Come on, let’s go!”
“Let me put my gym clothes in my locker and I’ll be right there, ” I answered.
“I’ll save you a seat!” Monica called back as she flowed in with the masses and seemed to disappear.
I hurried to my locker and then sprinted to the auditorium. I located Monica and took my seat. I leaned over and asked, “What’s up? Why the assembly today?”
“No clue,” Monica replied. “Beats going to English.”
“True,” I muttered and settled back in my seat as our principal stepped to the podium.
“Students, today we’re excited to have Mr. Abad Aarzam with us. He’s the Director of Muslim Studies at the university and would like to share his view on current world events, especially in the Middle East. Please join me in welcoming Mr. Aarzam.”
Tepid, obligatory applause broke out around the venue as Mr. Aarzam approached the microphone.
“Students of Lincoln High School, welcome and thank you for allowing me to speak today. I’d like to also thank Principal Colson and the school board for extending the invitation. They’ve been very gracious and kind.”
“Snoozefest. Wake me up when it’s over, “ I thought to myself.
Mr. Aarzam prattled on for a few minutes about his education and qualifications. Next, he launched into his background covering his childhood in Iraq and his eventual move to the States with his family.
Just when I thought boredom would totally engulf me, he continued.
“It’s a new day in America. The religion of Islam has gained popularity in American cities and attendance at mosques is at an all time high. I’m here to today as the face of the modern Muslim. Headlines on the news and online too often depict the extremist arm of Islam, for example ISIS, a group known for beheadings and other barbaric acts. This is not true Islam. Islam is a peaceful religion and Allah is a kind god. Muslims desire, as Christians do, that we all live together in peace and treat each other with respect.”
He had my attention. I sat up a little straighter.
“I am here to share truth. Truth is Allah. The Jesus spoken of in the Bible is not the only way to heaven. Allah is the one true god.”
The students begin to stir. A couple of the teachers approached Principal Colson. The auditorium came to life as everyone “awoke” from the stupor of a boring, required lecture that had quickly become much more interesting.
Unwavering, Mr. Aarzam proceeded. “We must fight the stereotype of the radical Muslim that this country believes is the norm. It is inevitable that America will soon cease to be designated a “Christian” country and will instead embrace Islam as France and other countries in Europe have already begun to do. You are the future. I challenge you to rise up, let your voices be heard. Tell your parents, tell your grandparents the truth – Allah is the true god. Jesus was a prophet. Allah reigns.”
The auditorium erupted. Principal Colson stepped up to the podium and pushed Mr. Aarzam to the side. Students were out of their seats – some yelling, some crying, others simply standing and watching it all unfold in disbelief.
“Seriously?” I thought. “Did I seriously just hear that?”
I too found myself on my feet unsure of what to do or how to respond. I was raised in a Christian family. I was active in my church and youth group. I believed. No, I more than believed – I knew.
This couldn’t be allowed. Not here. Not in my school and in my country that was founded by strong men of God.
I closed my eyes, opened my mouth and as loudly as I could, I began to sing. “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, you soldiers of the cross.”
I opened my eyes to see Monica stand to join me. “Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.”
One by one other students and teachers began to lift their voices too in singing the great hymn.
Mr. Aarzam was escorted quickly out of the auditorium but the singing didn’t stop.
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