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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Much Ado about Nothing (not about the play) (07/28/11)

TITLE: No Hart Ministries
By Joe Moreland


Noah Hart was a busy man. Food drives; clothing for the homeless; Bibles to third world countries; fundraisers for running water in African villages; shelter for battered women. Noah was doing it all. Someone once asked how he kept so many charitable balls in the air at once.

“Organization,” he answered without hesitation. “You’ve got to stay focused and that takes organization. Lots and lots of planning. Without a plan, nothing gets done.”

The questioner, a fellow member of Noah’s church, walked away a bit surprised that God had not been a part of the answer. He supposed Noah just misunderstood his question.

Another church member suggested that Noah should open his own ministry for the various charities he handled, since he obviously had a gift for implementation, and make it his full-time occupation. Noah thought this was a wonderful idea and, with typical practicality, immediately put a plan into motion.

Noah Hart Ministries was a tremendous success. He was suddenly able to open the door to many other opportunities to serve. Along the way he was able to pay himself a generous salary and purchase a luxury automobile. Noah didn’t see any reason why people shouldn’t see that serving God did not always mean a life of low financial means. After all, God wanted His people to have an abundant life.

One day Noah was driving a fully loaded van over to the local food pantry, with his 8 year old daughter riding shotgun, when she suddenly squealed at him.

“Daddy! That man!”

“What man, sweetie?”

“That man back there on the corner. The one with the sign.”

“What did it say, Cheryl?”

“It just said ‘Hungry.’” Tears started to well up in the little girl’s eyes. “Daddy, didn’t you see him?”

“No honey, I’m sorry - I didn’t. We’re in a real hurry, sweetie. I’ve got two more trips to make after this. But this food we’ve collected is for people like him. He will get some of it later, when it gets handed out to the homeless.”

Cheryl didn’t say anything else. She sat in silence as tears continued to run down her face. She just wasn’t sure anymore who they were for.

One of Noah’s proudest days was when his new sign finally arrived for his office. It was installed on the inside of his window, facing the busy street.

“Noah Hart Ministries” the sign proclaimed in brightly lit, golden, neon letters. He beamed with pride that the whole world could now see that he was here and know about the work he was doing.

The next day, as Noah entered the office, he walked over and switched on the power to his new sign, but the “A” and the “H” in Noah did not light up. With a frown creasing his face, Noah turned the light off and back on again.

“NO HART MINISTRIES” stared back at him. Angry now, Noah got on the phone to the sign company and chewed them out, but good. Within an hour a repair man was at the office working on the sign. After a while the message was whole again.

“Sorry about that Mr. Hart. I’m not sure exactly what happened. There must be something wrong in your power source that created some sort of surge and caused those letters to blow out.”

Noah gave the man a stern look. “Is it fixed now?”

“Near as I can tell it is, yes.”

“I hope so. I’ve got some errands to run, and I’d hate for it to go out again while I’m away.” With that he dismissed the repair man and packed up to leave. As he shut the door behind him and turned to lock up, the lights on the sign flickered and then came back on…except for two letters.

“Arrgghh!” Noah raged. “Why can’t people get things right?!?”

Try as he might, Noah could never get that sign to stay lit properly. Finally, one day, the message got through to him and he knew what he had to do. The next day a man showed up at Noah’s office and the golden neon lights that boldly proclaimed “NO HART MINISTRIES” was replaced by neatly stenciled, golden, letters.

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This article has been read 672 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst08/05/11
Enjoyed your story but not sure I'm understanding the ending. It comes across to me that Noah didn’t really get the true message. Was that your intent?
Helen Curtis08/05/11
I like the general concept of this story. It's a hard thing to balance the abundance of God's blessings in our lives with the charity we should afford others. How much is too much for 'me' to keep, and how little is too little to give away to others?
Linda Goergen08/05/11
Like Anita I am a bit confused by the ending too – at one point you say “one day, the message got through to him” but then it seems he just ignored it and had what he wanted painted on. It seems Noah was so caught up in “works” he forgot the “faith” And all those “works” will be nothing when he stands before God! Good message!
Juliette Chamberlain-Bond08/06/11
I get the idea of the story and the 'much ado about nothing' aspect as well

The 'shining lights' may not always be the true ministers, seeing the real need which is before them.
The sin of pride focuses on self promotion rather than the the area of real need, and the self aggrandishment certainly makes much ado about nothing.
Without a God-centred and focused ministry, the outcome is emptiness and really does creat that feeling of 'much ado about nothing.'
On the other hand, when the focus is removed from the individual, as your character has finally come to realise, real need can be revealed by God.

I admit at first it was a little difficult to identify where you were going with this until your overall plan emerged.
The analagy works well, in the end.
Colin Swann08/06/11
An interesting story that I thoroughly enjoyed - must admit you had a meaning to your ending but I couldn't crack the code either.
Amica Joy08/06/11
I think you wanted us to know that this man is in love with himself. He loves his "I am a helper-Ego". His credo is: "I am a Do-Gooder", etc... That's what this is about, I assume. And you were playing on "no heart". A bit tough because the main character of your story can't stand seeing people suffer and that is genuine. It is just that the reason why he can't stand it, isn't really true compassion but something else. I am not certain what this something else is, though.
I feel the character is too shallow and really deservers to be developed further - but that is impossible in 750 words. Thanks for posting.
Kelvin Fowler08/06/11
I loved your ending, I loved that you made us think, to question just how much of it he really got and that it doesn't need to be neatly tied up to be good.

Sad sad man in a place where any minister needs to be careful that they are not following Noah's steps.

Excellent story and on the theme, well done. Cheers
Noel Mitaxa 08/07/11
Sad story, but too often repeated. Well drawn scenario.
Laury Hubrich 08/09/11
Very sad ending. I was hoping he would see the error of his ways. No Hart ministries is a great title for this piece.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/09/11
Quite a picture you painted of No Heart Noah! I enjoyed it.
Lillian Rhoades 08/09/11
Clever! This is an "open to interpretation piece, unless you expand it further. If only I knew what the "neat, golden letters said." I love your play on words in the title. Despite a bit of weakness in characterization and plot development, I thought your message carried the day.
Lillian Rhoades 08/09/11
Sorry, my " are all askew, or not at all.:-)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/19/11
This is a good story and I enjoyed it. In today's world it is becoming easier and easier for some to take credit for God's work.Some people just get overwhelmed by power and money. A clever plan ofSatan's that all Christians should make note of.

I did notice at times you slipped from showing to telling. I think the word limit might have limited you to show at times. You can cut out many little words like the once in Somebody once asked... Also in the sentence: Noah was doing it all. You switched from past tense to present changing it to: Noah did everything, keeps the tense consistent while eliminating two more words. In the next paragraph you repeat the words organization and lots. Just changing little things like that will free up your word count and let you do more showing.

I enjoyed your pompous character and felt that he could be a member of many churches. The message is also a great one. You did an awesome job.

Congratulations for ranking 6th in level 3 and 20th overall!