Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Truth or Dare (08/28/08)
TITLE: Could It Be?
By Deborah Engle
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“This batch is inferior. See that it reaches the incinerator.”
“I will do as you say.”
Though it was on wheels, the cart full of signatures* was heavy. When the job was finished, Minsheng wearily returned the bin to the storage room. As he jockeyed it into position, he realized several booklets had been caught up under the rim of the container. Instinctively, he freed them from where they were wedged, then casually flipped through them.
Other than uneven folds, the pages were quite readable. In the bin, they were just sections of an anonymous book. Holding them, the title page was easy to read.
“Shengjing? The Holy Book of the western world!” His government’s willingness to produce the book, but at the same time, discourage it’s acceptance, was just another of the conflicts of which everyone was aware, but no one spoke. With it now in his hands, Minsheng’s curiosity grew.
The closed door offered him an opportunity to take a second look. Mingshen recalled the look of longing in her eyes as Mu Qin once spoke of Lao Lao reading this book aloud.
Leafing through the packet, he stopped to read here and there. ‘…the truth shall make you free.’ What a curious statement. He flipped back to the middle and allowed his eyes to rest on another line. ‘…redemption through his blood’, ‘…the forgiveness of sins’, ‘…riches of his grace’.
Caught up in the wonders of the Book, he spent several minutes reading randomly until a commotion in the hallway made him realize he needed to get back. He knew he was expected to destroy even these stray volumes, but instead, he cautiously tucked them away where they would not be seen, then returned to his station.
Minsheng struggled to focus until his work was done. His mind was filled with questions that had no answers. Forgiveness? Truth? Redemption? Grace? If the words in the book were to be believed, his concept of the Western God was grievously flawed.
Day after day, Minsheng looked for any opportunity to return to the storeroom. Bibles were very controversial, and registration was required in order to purchase one. Mingshen was reluctant to bring such undo attention upon his family, but he was irresistibly drawn to the rejected sections stowed behind the spare fluorescent bulbs.
One afternoon, he was summoned to the office, where he was told, “You are urgently needed at home. You must leave now.”
Thinking immediately of his mother, apprehension filled him. By the time he entered the bedroom, there was little time left, but Minsheng’s presence roused the old woman.
“The Book. I need to see it once more.”
“The Book? What do you mean, Mu Qin? Tell me.”
“In the trunk. There is a false bottom. …Quickly.
Fumbling in his confusion, Minsheng struggled to retrieve the mysterious book. When he found it, he could only gasp. “Here it is, Mu Qin.”
Tears filled her eyes as she held the book to her breast, whispering, “Lao Lao.” Full of sorrow, she spoke again. “I am guilty of a great wrong. For so many years I was afraid to even speak of my precious Lao Lao’s Bible, lest it be discovered.” With every word her voice grew weaker, but she persisted. “I knew the truth…the truth that makes an eternal difference, and yet I did not share it with my son.” Minsheng waited as she struggled to continue. “It is my greatest regret.”
Minsheng whispered, “I hold no ill will toward you, Mu Qin.”
“Thank you, my son. …Read…now…where the ribbon is.”
He opened the book and found a section that was underlined. His voice shook, but he read willingly, “For Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
When he finished, there was a smile on his mother’s wizened face. Her spirit had departed, and the words from the Book had eased her farewell. His sorrow mingled with awe, Minsheng held the book to his breast, whispering, “Mu Qin, Mu Qin.”
Lao Lao: mother’s mother
Minsheng: Man’s name meaning “voice of the people”
Mu Qin: mother
*Signature: folded sheets that form part of a book
Holy Bible, KJV
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