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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Conversation (face to face) (10/07/10)

TITLE: Encounter with A Stranger
By Robyn Burke


The morning sun was completely blocked by the heavy drapes mounted in the motel window. Still, something penetrated the deep slumber of the woman sprawled across the tangled sheets of the bed. She awoke with a start, rising up on one arm, when the surging headache and wave of nausea knocked her back on the sagging mattress. She cradled her head and moaned. Another night of debauchery to add to her list of sins.

She studied the sleeping man beside her. It was the stranger from the bar who had generously provided the drinks she’d been desperate for. Another moan escaped her parched lips. Why had she done what she’d sworn she would not do again? No answer came but she hadn’t expected one. She forced herself off the bed and carefully made her way to the bathroom.


The banquet room—if you could call the small room with it’s threadbare carpet and smoke stained walls that—was located at the opposite end of the motel. Once a week it became home to Victory Community Fellowship. This calling to plant a church in the darkest side of town was the toughest assignment Pastor Tim and his wife Patricia had ever faced. But, as Sally and Frank moseyed into the room, they knew this was also the most rewarding. They warmly greeted their two newest converts. The Lord was bringing the ones they’d set out to find.


She left the room, her snoring partner oblivious to her departure. Glancing across the parking lot she wondered at the busyness. Unusual for this time of day. Then she heard music, saw the sign and understood. Church. She snorted. A church right here in the middle of Sinner’s Row, she thought. But an ache filled her even as she tried to dismiss the idea that this was the perfect place for a church to be.

Inside the lounge, her eyes adjusting to the dark, she made her way to the bar and ordered coffee.

“You got money to pay for it ?” The bartenders gruff tone told her he wasn’t going to produce the cup until she produced the coins. They both knew she had none.

“Please?” She wheedled, adding what she hoped was her most winsome smile.

“Sorry Lou.” Joe was firm. “You wanna free cup of coffee maybe you should try next door.” He motioned to the banquet room. She scoffed loudly till she saw he was serious. Free coffee, she thought. Why not?


Patricia greeted her with a smile and a Styrofoam cup of steaming coffee. "Good Morning! We’re glad you’re here!”

She accepted it, startled by the nonjudgmental attitude she perceived in Patricia’s eyes. She slipped into the back row, just as the preacher was starting.

“Jesus is here. He wants to meet with you.”

She looked around for Jesus, mockingly, and froze in her seat. Another man, his face radiating, was looking at her, holding out his hand. His eyes penetrated her soul and she found she could not look away. Was in fact, compelled to maintain eye contact. Who was he?

“Jesus is here. He wants to meet with you.”

The words pierced her heart. He was holding out his hand to her. Was that a scar in the palm?

What pieces she remembered from childhood came flooding back. How Jesus was nailed to a tree. How he died for her sins.

She worked to squelch the overwhelming urge to run into the arms of this stranger. How many other strangers arms had she run to in recent times, searching for something to quiet her soul? But no amount of booze or sex had brought her any satisfaction. Why should this man be any different?

“Jesus is here. He wants to meet with you.”

Was that all the preacher could say? Then she realized with a start he was no longer speaking. Looking around, she saw most of the people in the room were trailing out. The service had ended. She turned back, to where the man had been standing. He was gone. Her heart sunk in unexpected disappointment.

She felt a presence beside her. A hand touched her shoulder. He sat down and she could feel the power, the love that flowed out of him. Unbidden, tears filled her eyes. The ache inside was now so great she thought she’d break in two.

He placed his scarred hand on hers, his whisper a caress, “Lou, I’m here. I’ve been waiting to meet with you.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst10/21/10
"Face to face with Christ, my Savior, Face to face--what will it be, When with rapture I behold him, Jesus Christ who died for me." That's the song that immediately filled my mind as I read the last part of your story. Now there's a conversation! Love the ethereality mixed with the earthiness. Excellent writing!
Charla Diehl 10/23/10
Powerfully wonderful. The vulnerability of your MC made this an inspiring read. Loved it.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/24/10
This is a powerful story and speaks to the true meaning of ministering to others. Nicely done.
Sarah Heywood10/24/10
This brought tears to my eyes - beautifully done! It makes me want to hear the "rest of the story." No matter how tidy our lives may appear on the outside, we're all like Lou when we come to Jesus. Wonderful writing!