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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Missionary (10/19/06)

TITLE: The Street Corner Missionary
By Ann FitzHenry
10/25/06


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What is he doing here? I thought there were shelters for people like him. Swallowing with distaste, I contemplated the elderly figure standing on the street corner. The man, dressed in tatters, looked like refuse on the roadside. I clicked the power door lock. No telling what someone like that might do. Avoiding his gaze, I feigned interest in the white sign standing next to him. In bold red letters it read, “Matthew 22:37.” Oh great, another Bible freak trying to spread his version of the “good news.” Hasn’t he bothered to watch the news lately? There isn’t any. Tossing my hair and laughing, I glanced in the rear view mirror. Something about the poor soul seemed vaguely familiar.

Beep! Beep!

Startled out of my daydream by an anxious Ford Festiva, I gripped the steering wheel and joined the flow of traffic. I hope he isn’t here tomorrow.

The next morning dawned with fingers of frost glistening on the pavement. Approaching the intersection, I recognized the same gnarled man standing on the corner. Oh no, you’ve got to be kidding. Why doesn’t someone do something? With only a shabby overcoat between him and the weather, he blew the rising steam from his coffee cup. I turned up the radio and looked the other way.

By the next day, sleet and snow gripped the city. With the weather slowing traffic to a crawl, I scanned the icy streets. Surely he wouldn’t be out in this weather. My heart dropped when I glimpsed the old man standing next to his sign. Why does he tug at my heart? I wonder if he has a family. Lifting his right hand, he gestured in a half-hearted wave. Was he waving at me? No, I must be imagining things.

Images of the forlorn figure standing by the road plagued me for the rest of the day. What is so important about Matthew 22:37? I found the answer in a box of old college textbooks. My confirmation Bible, packed away and forgotten, waited with the truth. I opened the inside cover. Written in my mother’s shaky hand was the inscription, “To Carolyn, Easter Sunday 1978, Love, Mom and Dad.” I haven’t seen the folks since Memorial Day. I need to give them a call. Gingerly turning the pages, I flipped to the book of Matthew and read, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” I bowed my head in shame. The man, poor in the ways of this world, was rich beyond measure. He knew the love of Jesus.

Waking early the next morning, I hurried downtown to meet the street corner missionary. What would I say to him? Would he ever forgive me? My doubt disappeared when I looked into his grizzled face. In an instant, I recognized the mischievous glint sparkling in his eyes.

“Dad?”

With a smile as bright as the rising sun, he opened his arms in an eager embrace. The tender forgiveness of his tears cleansed my weary soul.

“What are you doing out in this weather? You should be at home.”

“No, Carolyn, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. If just one person reads God’s word, my mission has been a success. Seeing you pass every day, I hoped it might be you. God created the world in six days. I got you in four. Not bad for your old Pop, huh?”

Shaking my head and laughing, I patted his shoulder. “Oh Dad! Let’s go get some coffee.”

Beep! Beep!

Stuck in the middle of the intersection, sat a woman staring in our direction. I motioned for her to join us. With a look of disgust, she accelerated and drove away.

“No, I think I’ll wait for her.”

Matthew 22:37 KJV


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This article has been read 815 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Valora Otis10/26/06
"God created the world in six days. I got you in four. Not bad for your old Pop, huh?” You had me after the first paragraph! Wonderfully written, right on topic. A delightful story that made me read until the very last word. Bravo!
Betty Castleberry10/26/06
A very good read, and very well told. I like the twist at the end.
Val Clark10/26/06
Very creative story and definitely on the topic. Loved the double twist at the end. Fav image: looked like refuse. Characters are well drawn and believable. Strong depiction of place and good use of more than the one sense. Well done, yeggy.
Trina Courtenay10/27/06
You got me right from the begining. I thought I had figured out the twist but then you said she'd talked to her Dad only a short time ago and then 'twist' it was him! Way to keep readers, reading. Of all of your entries so far, I'd have to say this one is a favorite. Keep up writing for the glory of Him!
Donna Haug10/28/06
Ha! I love stories with a twist. This was another twisty one! ;) Good work!
Jan Ackerson 10/29/06
Very cute, realistic characters, skillfully written--but I don't get why she didn't recognize her own father.

What I really loved was the dad's way of "getting" the daughter, and the good humor that typifies their relationship...and the "end after the end." Great touch.
Amy Michelle Wiley 10/29/06
Great twist on the story! Good job. I like it.
Donna Emery10/29/06
Very nice! It made me smile and I enjoyed reading it. Thanks so much for sharing this.
Ruth Neilson10/29/06
Beautiful message with a perfect twist. I love the ending!
Sandra Petersen 10/30/06
This is a priceless story! And I loved the twist at the end: “No, I think I’ll wait for her.”

Peggy Bennitt10/31/06
Excellent story! It was a bit far-fetched that she wouldn't recognize her Dad, but it really didn't detract from the story. I very much enjoyed it.
Edy T Johnson10/31/06
You really articulated so beautifully that approach-avoidance conflict (that I'm sure we all experience when we see those worse-for-wear vagabonds waiting on street corners). The weather reports going from bad to worse served well to heighten the tension. You are a great writer, and your words got their grip on me!