Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)
TITLE: The Oasis
By Edy T Johnson
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Frank Somers slapped the coffee table with his newspaper. "What's the world coming to!"
"What?" Frank's wife looked up from her knitting.
"I thought I spoke my piece at council meeting last week. Nobody disagreed with me, then. Now this." He handed the paper to Nancy. "See here, our pastor’s face right next to this fellow re-opening the Sinbad. He's sure managed to pull the wool over pastor's eyes. He showed up at council, asking for our support for his venture. Seems he wants this middle-eastern restaurant to be some sort of 'mission outpost.' What a joke. That part of town is the pits. And, the character who lost his lease at the Sinbad had all these unreadable quotes painted on the walls. Who knows what they mean, but I'm sure it's not good. Could be terrorist propaganda, for all we know."
"Hmmm." Nancy read, "Says here that the Sinbad is opening under new management. 'Jeremy Hassan, proprietor, invites everyone to come meet our neighbors at a grand opening.' So, what's wrong with that, Frank?"
"What's wrong? Look again at the photos. Some neighbors. Those skimpy skirt women are obviously looking for business.…"
"Frank! You don't know that."
"It's obvious. And you can be sure those kids don't know who their father is, either. That whole street is just crawling with dopers, illegals, pagans of every stripe. Look at those bigger-than-life size Buddhas in the window next door. The whole street is like that. It's like a mini-UN, as ungodly a place as anything you'll find anywhere in the world."
"You said this Jeremy pulled the wool over pastor's eyes. How do you mean?"
"Well, he wants us to 'work with' this riff-raff. ‘Come to the open house. Visit with the neighborhood,’ like we have anything in common with these heathen. He wants us to invite them into our homes, our church. Can you believe it? Talk about apostasy, the world in the church. They'll contaminate everything we've worked for. What's happening to the church, anyway! If even our pastor can be so deceived as to be duped into this folly, well I'm ready to pull our membership. My mother would turn over in her grave to see what the church is coming to. She always told my sisters and me to 'keep your skirts clean,' and we had a pretty good idea what she meant."
"Frank, what about the 'great commission'?"
"What about it? We support missions."
"Do we?" Nancy handed the newspaper back to her husband and resumed knitting.
"Of course! We have a big budget dedicated to missions. What are you driving at...you don't actually think we have to rub shoulders with these...these...losers, do you? You want to make friends with them? Nancy!"
Nancy looked at Frank over the top of her glasses, but she said nothing.
"Oh, I suppose you're going to remind me that Jesus ate and drank with sinners...Nancy! Are you calling me a Pharisee?"
Nancy continued her knitting.
In the wilderness of this world, the church of the firstborn operates an oasis. The Prince of Peace established this haven and furnishes the living water that turns this part of the desert into an outpost of Heaven. All weary travelers are welcome. The firstborn even follow their Master out into the heat, the night, the storms to find those who have fallen by the wayside and bring them in. No one is ever turned away.
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