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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Church (12/06/07)

TITLE: The King Has Left The Building
By Joanne Sher


"It looks like a castle, Mama." Becky tugged on her mother's scarf, her eyes never leaving the structure. "Does a king live there?"

Rachel looked at the building's columns and turrets. "It's a cathedral, Sweetheart. A big church. Kings live in castles, not churches."

"Actually, a king did live there, but he hasn't been back for a while."

Becky turned toward the unfamiliar voice. A lad, perhaps twice Becky's age, smiled through a dirty face and torn clothes.

"Really?" Becky asked.

Rachel eyed the boy suspiciously, resting her hands on Becky's shoulders.

The boy nodded, smiling brightly. "In fact, I'm one of his subjects."

Becky looked him over. "He doesn't give you very nice clothes."

Rachel blushed. "Becky!" She turned toward the boy. "I'm sorry, young man. She didn't mean anything."

He grinned. "It's fine. She's right, of course. My king is very generous, but not necessarily in material ways. He always provides, though."

"You said he's gone." Becky scrunched up her face. "How does he give you stuff when he's gone?"

The boy laughed. "Oh, he's here. Just not in the cathedral."

Becky jumped up and down. "Can you show us where he is?" She turned toward Rachel. "Mom, can we please go see the king?"

Rachel looked down at her. "I'm sure this king doesn't meet with just anyone. We probably need an appointment."

The boy grinned, shaking his head. "No appointment necessary. We can go right now."

Becky left her mother's side and stood by the boy. Rachel raised her hand to call Becky back, but seeing her excitement, walked toward them instead.

"I'm Becky and I'm eight years old."

He grinned. "My name's Michael. Ready to go?"

Becky nodded eagerly. Michael looked back at Rachel, who also nodded.

"Okay then. Follow me."

Michael sauntered along the sidewalk. His guests followed. At the first intersection, he turned right, heading down an alley.

"Are you sure this is the way?" Rachel held her purse close to her chest.


About 500 yards down, they arrived at a dead end, strewn with garbage. Michael pointed into a corner of the alley, behind a beaten-up refrigerator box.

Before them were two women, both seated on the pavement. One, probably in her 60's, was ghostly pale and clearly sick. She was resting her head in the lap of the second woman, in her late teens, who was running her fingers through the ill woman's hair. Both ladies, to the shock of Rachel and Becky, were smiling.

Becky turned to Michael and glared at him. "Kings are boys. These are not boys."

"Kings are also wealthy: they don't live in alleys." Rachel grabbed her daughter's hand. "Let's go."

"My king has wealth beyond your wildest imagination, and he is here." Michael gently grasped Rachel's hand and led her back to the women. Becky followed.

"Look at them." Michael pointed toward the women and smiled. "Have you ever seen such happiness on the faces of women so sick and destitute? Only the greatest riches - the riches of Christ their King - can produce this joy, this peace.

"You know, it's been said that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there.*" Michael pointed up the alley, where the three had walked moments before. "That cathedral used to be filled with my King. But not any longer. The people who enter that building these days worship their egos, their possessions, themselves." He turned toward the women and knelt in front of them. "The real church is here. My King is here, with Sarah and young Teresa."

Rachel wept. She knelt beside Sarah. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

Sarah smiled. "Your scarf would be lovely, if you don't mind? Prayers would also be a blessing."

Rachel removed her scarf and wrapped it around Sarah. "I would be honored to pray for you."

Becky removed her own scarf and gave it to Teresa. "Here you go."

"Thank you. God bless you, dear."

Becky bit her lip, then tapped her mother on the shoulder. "I have an idea, Mom."

All eyes turned to the girl. "Why don't we all go pray for them in that church? Then the King will go back there; right, Michael?"

"That he will, Becky. That he will." Michael looked to Sarah and Teresa. "Ladies?"

"God bless you, Michael, but we'll stay here."

Michael, Rachel, and Becky walked back to the cathedral hand in hand. And, for a sweet moment, the King was back in His castle.

* Matthew 18:20

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This article has been read 1309 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Catrina Bradley 12/13/07
The child's dialog is so authentic! I had to laugh at "He doesn't give you nice clothes". Such an original story line, too.
Peter Stone12/14/07
A touching entry, and how sad that the King is back in His castle for only a moment, ie, while three gathering in His name were praying there.
Ann Renae Hair12/14/07
My first reaction is 'Ouch'. Next I pray the spark will reignite the fire lost in the cathedral. This one certainly makes me check my heart. Very original and timely piece.
Laurie Walker12/16/07
This absolutely took my breath away, and I have to thank you for writing it.
Jan Ackerson 12/18/07
Joanne, this is one of my favorites of yours. No red ink from me; this is excellent!
Karen Wilber12/18/07
I can't find anything to red ink. With stories like this, no wonder you're in "Masters". The dialogue propels the story along so that the reader "gets it" along with Rachel and Becky. You managed to work in the "building" and the "people" in the church theme. Excellent!!
Temple Miller12/18/07
Lovely story. And it beautifully illustrated how to get the King back into his castle. Good lesson
Betty Castleberry12/18/07
Oh my. This is stunningly wonderful, and true. Very well done.
LaNaye Perkins12/18/07
This is so touching and it blessed my heart. Well done.
Dee Yoder 12/18/07
Beautiful, Joanne. You've created realistic characters with the dialogue and descriptions. This also has a message the church needs to hear. (Love the title!)
Sally Hanan12/18/07
Nicely done. Red ink wise, I'd love more prose instead of dialogue all the time. It was heart-warming to have the boy be so assured of his status with God.
Sharlyn Guthrie12/18/07
What a great title and concept to remember, as well!
Mariane Holbrook 12/19/07
What a tender story. And so well told! Good job!
Marita Vandertogt12/19/07
Wow - this holds so much! It's tender and beautiful ... the image of the two women outside the church made the story read like an allegory, the women symbolic of the King's purpose, as well as the young boy. I absolutely LOVED this.... LOVED IT!!
Sara Harricharan 12/19/07
I love the fairy-tale feel to this! It is so beautiful. I liked the bit where Becky said "He doesn't give you very nice clothes." That was just so real and it showed her spunky personality.

RED PEN: I didn't see a whole lot to 'nitpick' here, but I think the note where Rachel wept, should be one paragraph. I almost missed it. ^_^ Good job.
Loren T. Lowery12/19/07
A slice of everyday life, if we would but open our eyes and hearts to see and hear. I liked the flow of this and was thorougly engaged as I walked down the path it took me through.
Yvonne Blake 12/19/07
Sweet story! I liked the excitement of Becky and Michael's insistance.
Great writing.
Paula Titus 12/19/07
The character of Rachel is so true to life, great writing!
Sheri Gordon12/19/07
This is really sweet. Excellent dialogue, and good character development in so few words. Very nice job with the topic.
LauraLee Shaw12/20/07
From title to end, this story really touched my heart. Just beautiful.
Randy Foncree12/21/07
Fabulous article Jo Ann. There is a verse that comes to mind that says it is the sick that need a physician, not the healthy. God is where people are open to Him, and many times that is among the poor and destitute.

There is another scripture that comes to mind that says if we see a brother in need of food and clothes, and all we say is go be warmed and filled; I'll pray for you, our faith is dead. I'm glad you put the part about offering the woman's scarf. Just some addes thoughts.

God bless and I look foward to reading more of your writings Jo Ann...Sincerely Randy
julie clark 07/24/15
brilliant just brilliant great child responses exciting and honest and an anxious mum looking on brilliant piece of writing