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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Church (12/06/07)

TITLE: The First Church of the New World Religion
By Gerald Shuler


Hollingsworth slid his index finger around the bottom of his cup, hoping to find a morsel of flavor that he had missed. Nope, mercilessly empty. Maybe tomorrow someone in the group will find another rat to share. Rats. He couldn’t believe they were looking forward to eating rats. At least it was safe food. Nearly every other creature had been killed or diseased by the radiation.

The Holy War bombs had changed everything. A quick glance at the horizon confirmed his point. The once breath-taking landscape was now just an annoying reminder of the nightmarish devastation.

He glanced at the others one by one. Lilly was carefully combing what little was left of her long blond hair. ‘Thank God for Lilly,’ Hollingsworth thought. The Bible Raids had nearly wiped out Christian literature but Lilly was a fountain of memorized scripture. Recently she had started speaking almost entirely in quoted verses, making conversations with her more challenging.

Chunk was tuning his guitar. Before long he’d bust into song and, just like always, the others would join in the praise and worship. Hollingsworth noticed that Chunk had tightened the rope around his waste again. Who would have believed his skinny frame once weighed 300 pounds?

Lester tossed a small twig into the fire to watch the sparks fly. “Did any of you see what they did to our old church building?” he asked, knowing that he had been the only one brave enough to risk going into town. “They made it their headquarters.” He watched for a reaction from Hollingsworth. There was none so he spat on the ground to show his own disgust. “Headquarters. The church has become headquarters for Anti-christ.”

“That’s not the church,” Chunk said, plucking a pleasant chord from the guitar. “We’re the church… what’s left of it.”

Hollingsworth stood to his feet and walked toward the middle of the group. “That’s what I’m having trouble understanding.” He kicked a few pebbles, just to give time to cement his thoughts before speaking further. “I’ve always been taught in church services before the Holy War that Christians didn’t need to worry about all this suffering. Almost every preacher was saying we’d be raptured out before anything got tough. Why are we still here?” He looked in the eyes of each of them, one at a time. “Why weren’t we raptured?”

The blank stares were all Hollingsworth needed. They didn’t understand it either. Lilly put her brush down on the tomato crate that housed her treasures.

“But in those days, “ she said, “after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light.” She smiled sweetly. “That’s Mark 13: 24.”

Lester pushed some more kindling into the fire. “What does she mean by that verse?” He asked. “The sun still shines and the moon’s no different than it’s ever been.”

“It means the worst is still to come.” If nothing else, Chunk had a way of getting right to the point. “But it doesn’t answer the question of why wasn’t the true church raptured.” He strummed a final test of the guitar and then started softly singing some tune he’d made up.

“These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Lilly explained. “That’s Revelation 7:14.”

Hollingsworth was familiar with the passage she had quoted and it made since. How had they missed it all these years?

“Chunk’s right.” Hollingsworth stated. “The worst is yet to come.”

Chunk stopped singing and all eyes centered on Hollingsworth.

“It doesn’t matter that we are still here. God knows where we are and that should be enough. He knows when to get us out of here.”

“Reverend Hollingsworth, we sure could use some encouragement. Do you have a word for us?”

Who had called him Reverend? It didn’t matter. Instantly memories flashed of his time as pastor of the church that was now Headquarters to the New World Religion. Finally, Lester was going to get a reaction to his earlier bit of news. It wouldn’t be the expected response, though.

Hollingsworth turned to face the small congregation. ‘Lord,’ he thought, ‘I would rather this cup pass for all of us.’ He went to the huge rock that had recently become his pulpit. ‘Nevertheless,’ his thought concluded, ‘not my will, but thine be done.’

He breathed in God’s anointing. “Let’s have church.”

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This article has been read 1127 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Cherry Bieber 12/13/07
An excellent visual! We are not far from this scene. Thanks be unto our God that the building and man's institution of religion and denominations are NOT the church!
Jan Ross12/16/07
Very descriptive of a time so many believe will never happen. You took a bold stand against the more popular belief and you did it well. Great job but I must admit I cringed at the thought of eating rats! :) Christmas blessings!
Jan Ackerson 12/16/07
Excellent story!

A few things you'll want to fix--a small tense change in the 2nd paragraph, and "waist" instead of "waste" (the way you have it is a very interesting image!

This is a change-of-pace end times story, very well-written.
Marita Vandertogt12/17/07
Excellent writing.. and a powerful message. (let all who have ears...)
JoAnne Potter12/18/07
Really like this! The story delivered what the title promised. Good pictures, and lots of showing rather than telling. Well done.
Temple Miller12/18/07
Great imaginative interpretation alive with sensory details. Good job.
Catrina Bradley 12/18/07
This is just plain good. The story line is a creative twist on the rapture debate, the descriptions are great, and you brought your characters to life. I noticed one small error - "since" should be "sense". I truly enjoyed reading your entry. I don't think you'll be in Level 2 very long. :) Cat
Peter Stone12/19/07
Great article. So many believe the rapture will occur before the Tribulation, which I believe they conclude by reading Revelations chronologically. If Jesus does return after the Tribulation, as I believe, a lot of people will indeed get a shock.
Sara Harricharan 12/19/07
This is very interesting. I liked this future look at a small church. The ending took a little too long to get to(my own opinon, though, lol) and I have two nitpicks-typos.
Great job, this was an enjoyable read.
Joanne Sher 12/20/07
Great description and detail. I was very engaged!
Debbie Wistrom12/20/07
So creative, congrats on 2nd!
Keep writing, you have a true voice.
Ann Renae Hair12/20/07
Excellent! I enjoyed your perspective on this future event. Congratulations on 2nd place!
Sheri Gordon12/20/07
Congratulations on your 2nd place. Very good writing, and a great job with the topic.
Dee Yoder 12/21/07
Great descriptions and dialogue. I like the different viewpoint you've presented in this story (but I hope we're NOT here!). The characters have good strong voices and creative interaction. Congratulations!
c clemons12/30/07
Good writing, a little bit sci-fi though. I like to think the scriptures are accurate enough, without further scare tactics. If Hell is not enough of determent your imagination will not do the trick.
Ramona Pugliese01/10/08
I am happy for you!
Chely Roach08/11/08
An awesome glimpse of what "could be". Incredible writing here, and very brave of you to counter the mainstream end times theory. Well done!
T. F. Chezum05/02/10
Well done. I like the characters and their interaction.