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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Evangelism (11/01/07)

TITLE: The Lost Neon Lights
By Colin Swann


Much was happening in that large auditorium but Joe was only tuned into his own thoughts and the flash memories that kept taking control.

His imagination picked up on the neon lights – the name “Joe Bliss International Evangelist” was blazoned out across the city. He saw again the sea of faces of those attending the event on that chilly November night fifteen years ago. Hundreds had responded to the call to come forward to give their lives to Christ and become “Soldiers of the Cross”.

That night had been the high point of his ministry. Over ten thousand had heard him preaching on the topic “Enlist for Service”. Most were young people: coach loads of them had arrived from all over the land. He thought, ‘I was famous in those days.’

From that magnificent zenith, things over the next years started to take a slow and gradual slide. He never again preached to thousands. Firstly it was hundreds by invitation from churches. Eventually those invitations dried up and now his ministry was limited to training willing Christians in personal evangelism in his own church. He pondered whilst he sat here in this same auditorium that he had sat in all those years ago. He wondered, ‘Where did I go wrong Lord?’

Joe Bliss had travelled almost a hundred miles to check out the young evangelist whom he felt had taken his place. During the evening he thought, ‘No name up in neon lights!’ Later, ‘There are empty seats!’ Later still, ‘Less than a hundred converts!’ Joe struggled with dark feelings of envy and jealousy over this young man’s success and for usurping from him what would at one time have been his place.

Roland Crowe was unassuming in manner and when he preached that evening it was just a simple but inspired gospel message promoting his Lord. Joe Bliss reluctantly conceded, ‘He has no airs and graces,’ and began to warm a little to him.

On his way out, after the meeting, Joe heard his name called out from the rear of the foyer, ‘Mr Bliss!’

Dashing towards him was Roland Crowe. He addressed Joe, ‘Sir, could I have a word please?’ Roland put his hand out and warmly shook Joe’s hand. ‘I suppose you’ll not remember me but I was a convert of yours when you had a Crusade night here.’

He went on, ‘I would appreciate a chat with you on behalf of my team. We’re presently attempting to fulfil the ministry of the evangelist and I’m sure the members would welcome input from you. Would it be possible to make an appointment to see you?’

As Joe had booked a hotel room for the night it was agreed they would meet at Roland’s place for a coffee and a chat the following morning.

Over coffee Roland explained, ‘We introduced a school of evangelism in our region two years ago and it has been reasonably successful. We currently have forty five students going through the course.’

Roland raised a book he had brought with him and stated, ‘We use this book of yours “The Net and the Rod” as one of our training text books. We need someone to supply us with further suitable manual material for both the office and ministry of the evangelist. Would you be willing to write for us sir?’

Joe was thrilled to be asked and responded, ‘Certainly I would - thanks for asking me.’

‘Of course we would pay you a fee.’

‘There’ll be no charge. I feel flattered to be asked and it would be a privilege to do it as a service for the Lord.’

‘Oh, you’re making this awkward for me – I wanted to ask you a much bigger favour than that, for which you must receive payment. The team has requested that I ask you to come and lecture for us, from time to time.’

On his journey back home Joe Bliss felt both sad and glad. He was sad because he realised he had once basked too much in the glory of success and glad that his life had now become meaningful once again.

He said to himself, ‘Writing and lecturing – what a wonderful challenge. WOW!! Thank you Lord!’

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Member Comments
Member Date
terri tiffany11/09/07
Good story - couple of suggestions that might help - I was told to be specific - don't use words like much, many and things- detail is better sometimes. You might want to work on the last line abit more too - by showing his reaction and not telling us as much?? Just some thoughts - but a good story and good delivery:))
Anne Linington11/10/07
Assuming this is fictional- which of course it may not be- could it be written in the first person, and come across stronger? Just a thought.