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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bold (emotionally) (08/30/07)

TITLE: The Million Dollar Question
By Kristen Hester


I stared at the graffiti covered building that had become my second home and smiled. I’d changed a lot since I first arrived at the Christian Youth Center in my BMW one year ago. Back then I hadn’t come by choice, but to perform court mandated community service as restitution for a DUI. I had entered the musty old building carrying my Louis Vuitton handbag and an arrogant attitude.

As a recent graduate from a prestigious university, I was annoyed that instead of hunting for my first job I would be spending the next six months in an environment I had managed to avoid and ignore my entire twenty-three years. I thought I was better than the center’s director whose monthly paycheck would barely cover my salon bill. I cared nothing for the dirty, snotty-nosed children that the center served.

That night teenagers welcomed me to the neighborhood by “tagging” my car with spray painted gang symbols. The next day I rode the bus. My fear of public transportation wasn’t as strong as my desire to protect my precious Beamer.

But as the weeks passed, something happened to me and six-year-old Nataki was partly responsible. Gangster thugs may have ruined by BMW, but the dark skinned girl stole my heart. Nataki never noticed my disdain and always greeted me with a hug. She often crawled into my lap and said “You’re pretty” as she stroked my blonde hair. Much effort and money went into making me feel pretty, but Nataki’s words made me aware of my ugly insides. In the beginning, her affection made me uncomfortable. But as I learned more about her life on the urban streets, my hardened heart began to soften.

More change happened as I got to know Joyce, the center’s director. She wasn’t an uneducated deadbeat who couldn’t get a better job like I expected. She was smart, clever, hard-working and she was making a difference in the children’s lives. She also had a faith in God which I slowly began to admire and desire for myself. One evening in Joyce’s dingy, closet-sized office she lead me in a prayer to accept Jesus. I found forgiveness, peace, and contentment for the first time.

I then surprised and disappointed my family and friends by selling my BMW for a more economical car, downgrading my lifestyle, and taking a job as Joyce’s assistant at the center. I had never been poorer...or happier.

Joyce and I made a great team and the center grew. I used some of my family contacts to solicit funds and recruit volunteers for the center; but we still had many needs, including a new building. I knew what needed to be done, but the thought of asking for that much money made my stomach turn.

I spent the morning in prayer and then drove my used Hondo Civic to the skyscraper downtown. I parked in the garage and rode the elevator to the top floor. The secretary was expecting me. She gave me a strained smile and then picked up her phone. “Mr. Davis, she’s here.” She hung up the phone and nodded to me. “You may go in.”

I opened the big walnut door and glanced around the large room as if for the first time. We could fit 20 tutoring cubicles in this office.

The man behind the desk set his pen down, folded his arms, and leaned back in his chair, “What can I do for you?”

“You know from my recent emails that the Christian Youth Center is in dire need of a new building. We are understaffed and underbudgeted. Frankly, we need finances.”

“Give me specifics.”

I swallowed hard but hid my fear. “Could you donate one million dollars?”

“I’m surprised by your boldness. I never expected such a request, even from you.” He reached for his check book which I hadn’t noticed was already sitting on his desk. Without hesitating, he wrote out the check and handed it to me. My hands were shaking as I took it. One million dollars. Thank you, Jesus!

“Thanks, dad. I don’t know what to say.”

“Your mother and I were disappointed about some of your recent decisions. But I’ve looked into the center. You do good work there. We’re proud of you.”

My eyes were misty as I hugged my father. I silently prayed for additional boldness because I knew, even more than asking for money, I needed to tell my father about Jesus.

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This article has been read 1105 times
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Verna Cole Mitchell 09/07/07
This is a wonderful story of a life changed by Jesus and the boldness that brings. You did an excellent job with contrast here.
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/07/07
This is a wonderful story of a life changed by Jesus and the boldness that brings. You did an excellent job with contrast here.
Joanne Sher 09/08/07
Excellent job showing the amazing transformation that this woman underwent - and I love the last paragraph. Why is it we can get up the courage to ask for money, that is here today and gone tomorrow, and not to tell someone about Jesus, which lasts for eternity? Got me thinking!
Sherry Wendling09/08/07
Wow...Little rich girl chooses Jesus' path of sacrifice; it's a story you don't hear often. I hung on every word, and fell in love with little Nataki! Another nice touch is the suspenseful cover-up re her dad's ID--wonderful job!
Sharlyn Guthrie09/08/07
Your story illustrates eternal value so beautifully; and it definitely fits the topic well.
Dee Yoder 09/09/07
I love your MC. Her change in thinking, her acceptance of Christ, everything in this story is so good! The descriptions are great. I enjoyed reading every sentence!
April Bailey09/09/07
I run a youth center for at-risk kids (for 10+ years) and I loved how the transformation came through a child ... a small, sweet, loving child. That connection is powerful. Thanks.
Betty Castleberry09/09/07
I love it when the snobby rich kid learns something worthwhile. This one learned a more valuable lesson than most. Great writing, and I like the little surprise at the end. I didn't know the rich exec was going to be her dad.
Jacquelyn Horne09/10/07
I really enjoyed this. I love to read positive stories about the work and witness of Christ.
Marie Fieldman09/11/07
This made me smile. I like that the executtive was her father. Nataki was also a great touch! Thanks
Jan Ackerson 09/11/07
I loved the last half of this, and that the benefactor was her father.

The first half was a bit too much of a narrative for my taste--could have used a touch more "showing". I didn't really feel her previous attitude, so the change didn't grab my heart like it should have.

Love your description of Nataki--you could make a whole story with just Nataki and your narrator. I hope you will!
Brenda Welc09/12/07
I am fighting back the tears. This is such a heart touching story of boldness. You are a very good writer, you know just when to interject things into your stories. Great writing! Surely you are blessed by God and I am sure He smiled as He say the lesson learned.
Loren T. Lowery09/12/07
God does work in mysterious ways, doesn't He? Your MC at first may have only seen her BMR, but God saw her heart. Our paths are not always the direction He would have us make, so a few detours along the way helps to get us straightned back out. And, once there just look at all the others you are now able to help along their way. Great story.
Patty Wysong09/12/07
Way to show how God changes lives and how He gives boldness. Great job! :-) hugs!!
Pat Guy 09/12/07
This REEKS with boldness! I love how she chose a different lifestyle in the face of her family and carried with with her request.

Right on all the way through. Good stuff here!
Julie Ruspoli09/13/07
WOW! I really, really loved this story. Such a great message. The ending was so special, it gave me goose bumps. Great writing!
Dianne Janak09/16/07
Loved this story Kristen...you are a wonderful MASTER WRITER, swimming quite well with the sharks with no teeth! Hang in there... you are doing great! LOVE.. Dianne
Suzanne R09/19/07
The line about gangster thugs ruining her car but the little girl stealing her heart was especially effective.

Your descriptions are great - I was right there in the story thanks to your masterful story telling.