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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Media (in any form) (11/11/10)

TITLE: Bud Bailey's Bet
By Caitlyn Meissner
11/15/10


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Pastor Ezekiel “Bud” Bailey thumped his Bible shut, signaling that our study was over. Stuffing his reading glasses into the pocket of his Harley jacket, he leaned across the kitchen table towards me and drawled, “I have a proposition to make.”

I flinched, remembering how once before he’d used these same words to challenge me to an arm-wrestling match determining which of our churches would host the annual Thanksgiving service. As his beefy tattooed hand had clamped around mine, I’d realized how Jacob must have felt when wrestling the angel. Only, unlike the patriarch, I was defeated by this former Hell’s Angel.

Beside me, Kevin must have had the same memory, because he asked, “Not another wrestling match?”

Bud laughed, slapping his leg. “I should say not! This is about winnin’ souls for Jesus! Look, you boys know Easter’s comin’ up. Let’s make a little bet. We’ll see which of us can bring the most people to Christ on Easter Sunday. The losers can treat the winner to lunch. What’d’ya say?”

I shrugged. “Sounds good to me.”

“But a bet?” Kevin asked. “Isn’t that gambling?”

“Course not,” Bud said. “It’s just in fun.”

“He’s right,” I agreed. “I’m in. Kev?”

“‘They divided up his clothes by casting lots,’” Kevin muttered.

“Wha’ja say?” Bud asked, cupping a massive hand around his ear.

“Why not?” Kevin replied.

After lunch the next day I sent an ad to the city newspaper inviting everyone in town to our Easter service. I opened the paper Monday morning with a distinct feeling of pleasure.

That is, until I noticed Kevin’s contribution.

Come to Redeemed Assembly for Our Easter Breakfast and Regular Worship Service.

Feeling like Uriah the Hittite after his friends betrayed him, I dialed Kevin’s number.

He answered on the third ring.

“Hello, Kevin?” I yelled. “What’s the meaning of that article in the newspaper? We never said anything about Easter breakfasts.”

“You forget,” Kevin said, “that the Apostle Paul wrote, ‘I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.’”

“Oh yeah?” I replied. “Well, two can play that game!”

As the weeks passed, our ads got bigger and better.

Come to First Baptist for Our Easter Breakfast and an Egg Hunt Following the Service.

Come to Redeemed Assembly for Breakfast, an Egg Hunt, and Our Easter Carnival Featuring Fun, Games, and Prizes.

Come to First Baptist for Breakfast, an Egg Hunt, and Our Spring Carnival Featuring Games, Prizes, Popcorn, and a Juggling Act.

Come to Redeemed Assembly for Breakfast, an Egg Hunt, and Our Easter Carnival Featuring Games, Prizes, Popcorn, Snow Cones, and a Cake Walk.

Come to First Baptist for Breakfast, an Egg Hunt, and Our Spring Carnival Featuring Games, Prizes, Popcorn, a Juggling Act, and Free Inflatable Bounce Houses!


Kevin called me soon after this.

“You rented all the bounce houses!” he wailed. “There’s none to be had anywhere!”

“You’re sure?” I asked, smiling.

“Of course I’m sure! What will our kids do now?”

“‘Let ‘em eat cake,’” I said, hanging up. Though not exactly biblical, it seemed fitting.

Easter Sunday surpassed all my expectations. Our church was flooded with people, and I preached like I’d never preached before.

The following Thursday I rat-a-tat-tatted on Kevin’s door, ready for another round of our monthly Bible Study. Bobbing up and down on the doorstep, I felt as smug as a modern day Jezebel glancing out her window.

Kevin answered the door.

“Well, Kev,” I grinned, stepping inside, “how’d you do?”

“125.”

“A decent number,” I chuckled, “but MY church had 193 people in attendance on Sunday.”

“What about Bud?”

I shrugged. “Did he even advertise?”

“He said he’d put in an ad,” Kevin replied, picking up the paper.

“Where?” I asked, as he flipped through it. “Let me see.”

Kevin stopped, pointing to a picture of a bloody, battered cross, under which was an invitation to Free Will Baptist Church.

“That’s all?” I crowed. “They didn’t even have a breakfast!”

Just then, Kevin’s cell rang.

He answer it, said “sure” twice, and hung up. “That was Bud. He says to meet him at the diner. It seems he won the bet. Five people accepted Christ during his Easter sermon.”

“What?” I cried, looking from the cross, to Kevin, then back again.

As I stared at the cross, all my smugness evaporated, as Jezebel’s must have when pushed from the tower. “Ohhh, great,” I groaned. “We really made a mess of that one.”

**************

(Scripture quotations from the NIV)


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This article has been read 474 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Michelle Wiley 11/18/10
Haha, I saw the ending coming, but it was a great trip. Isn't it so easy to miss the point of evangelism in our rush for glamour?
Barbara Lynn Culler11/18/10
Touche! Great story.
Virgil Youngblood 11/19/10
Ouch! Is there a lesson in here for competitive FaithWriters? I better get my toes back under the pew. Well done.
Henry Clemmons11/19/10
I like this. Just bringing them to church isn't bringng them to Christ. Great job.
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/20/10
Excellent--a fun read and a wonderful message, too.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/20/10
This was fun to read. I liked how you demonstrated how they forgot what the real purpose of the bet was not to bring the most members to church but to bring the most souls to heaven!

Read ink when Kevin's phone rings you used answer instead of answered. I'm sure you've probably spotted it yourself but I think this story could do great in other markets so I thought I'd point it out in case you have more plans for it.

Great message and I so enjoyed the characters!
Sarah Elisabeth 11/20/10
ah, good one! enjoyed the banter and the conclusion.
Rachel Phelps11/20/10
What a great idea. I love where it ended, but also felt the last sentence was unnecessary. We knew they made a mess of it without it being said. Still, excellent writing with some really fun characters.
Nancy Bucca11/21/10
I loved this one! Great story and unique take on the topic.
Lillian Rhoades 11/21/10
Yes, Virgil, one of our recent threads broached the topic of competition. This piece underscored it. Love the not-so-subtle message.

Noel Mitaxa 11/22/10
Sometimes we forget that we're on the same team. Thanks for a fun reminder.
Amanda Brogan11/22/10
Yay for Bud! He knew what was truly important. :)

I like how you countered the competitive humor with the truth that numbers in church don't matter unless it's how many people are sincerely deciding to follow Jesus.

Awesome job! I greatly enjoyed the characters.
Lollie Hofer 11/24/10
Great story with a wonderful lesson as well. I enjoyed your characterization, the competition and the lesson learned.
Henry Clemmons11/24/10
I for one, liked the last line. Loved your title too.
Edmond Ng 11/24/10
A pleasant and light heartening read, much like a 'battle' between two churches. So much for overly creative approach to evangelism! It ought to be ‘Who’ and not ‘what’ that should draw the crowd. I enjoyed the reading thoroughly. Excellent work!
Amanda Brogan11/25/10
Yahoo!!! :D Editor's Choice again! Awesome job! ;)
Gregory Kane11/25/10
And well done to you too for your EC win. I liked your line about Jezebel.
Nancy Bucca11/25/10
I knew this was a good piece. Congratulations on your EC!
Beth LaBuff 11/25/10
I loved your story progression and your message. Excellent work. Congratulations on your Editor's Choice award!