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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Astonishment (02/02/12)

TITLE: Reckless Abandon
By marcella franseen


Bethany sat in the front row of her church, Bible resting in her lap, slips of paper marking the passages God had given her to share this morning. As the Pastor ran through the mornings announcements her mind slipped back to that first day in Haiti, shortly after the enormous earthquake that devastated the small country.

She had arrived with a team of others, all there to offer their medical services. They had left the United States ignorant of what exactly lie ahead, but trying to imagine it in their minds, to prepare for what they would encounter. They quickly realized the worse they could conjure up fell far short of the horrific reality.

She was astonished as she walked the streets. It was more like walking through a maze of rubble, bodies, death, and poverty. A young boy of 9 or 10 years sat on the side of the road, alone. His face bruised, his lips swollen and scabbed over, dried blood caked his bare chest. His was the first of countless faces burned into her memory. These sights, combined with the sounds of pain and loss, were fists punching her in the gut and chest over and over again, threatening to overwhelm her with sorrow and despair. It was a constant fight to set her emotions aside and focus on the task at hand.

The smell was indescribable. How does one describe the smell of death? It is different from any other. There is a heat to it, a fire that burns your nostrils and emblazons your lungs. On the rare occasion she was given a shower she would scrub her hair and body till her skin shined pink in an attempt to rid herself of the smell, but it was always with her. Even now, thinking about it, her nostrils began to burn.

But, in the midst of all the bad, there was good: incredible, miraculous good. Just as the cocoon means death for the caterpillar but birth for the butterfly, the earthquake that hit Haiti took everyday people and changed them into heroes.

She had seen doctors sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those on the threshold of eternity, all done through a translator. On more than one occasion she had watched as a person slipped from physical life into physical death having only moments before made the leap from spiritual death into spiritual life.

She had served in Haiti for over a year before returning to the U.S. When she first returned friends and family kept saying how wonderful she must find it to be back. She was thankful for the hot showers, fresh food, and adequate shelter, but it had been hard transitioning back into so much prosperity taken for granted.

She left the smell of death to be hit with the smell of life: hustling, bustling, self-serving life. The maze of rubble and need that was currently Haiti was replaced by a maze of towering buildings and greed. She found the stark contrast astonishing, and even offensive. Surely this isn’t how God wants it? No, not the God she knows who is drawn to the broken hearted and loves the poor and oppressed. Could it be that our great God never meant us to hoard His gifts and blessings but to invest them in others, to pass them along? How tightly we hold onto our treasure, so afraid if we release it, it will not return.

Broken, she turned to the Word of God, seeking out His heart for the poor and needy, as well as those blinded by self-love and greed. That is when He showed her, passage by passage, that He never meant for these two worlds to exist apart from each other, but that, through love the one would overtake the other until they were so mingled you could no longer differentiate between the two. This kind of love can only come from knowing Jesus, because it is a kind of love that is willing to pay a price, to set aside its own well-being for that of another, even to lay down its life.

The Pastor was now introducing her. She picked up her Bible, walked to the podium, and looked out over the congregation. Opening her Bible she began to share about Haiti, but more than that, about God’s incredible love for us through His Son that enables us to love others with reckless abandon. A people given to loving others like Jesus…now that would be astonishing!

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This article has been read 371 times
Member Comments
Member Date
annie keys02/09/12
Powerful! Is this a true story? Fiction or not, this is a heart wrenching depiction of reality after the actual event. Your words brought life to what the MC was feeling---and wrenched my heart. Well done, VERY well done. If a true story, my heart salutes you, my friend.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/09/12
This brought tears to my eyes. You speak the truth so eloquently. My daughter just returned from a totally different mission trip but had many of the same feelings and conclusions. Great take on the topic.
Hiram Claudio02/10/12
This was masterful and deeply moving. It reminded me of the many missions trips I've been on and the truth you reveal is both convicting ... and freeing.

Thank you SO much!
Amanda Brogan02/10/12
A great reminder to jump out of our comfort zones and cozy lifestyles and to use our American prosperity to help those less fortunate!

I noticed just a few minor spelling mishaps at the beginning. "Mornings announcements" I think should be "morning's announcements" or “morning announcements.” And "the worse they could conjure up" would probably sound better as "the worst they could conjure up."

I liked the way you described the smell of death (even saying "who can describe it?" really added an element of powerful emotion to it). I also liked the contrast that the MC saw between the spiritual life that was being born out of death as opposed to physical life in the U.S. that was breeding spiritual death. My heart broke with hers for all those trapped in death -- in both countries.
Theresa Santy 02/10/12

The stark constrast is astonishing indeed.

I'm left moved, and speechless.
C D Swanson 02/10/12
Moving, riveting, inspiring. Great entry! Thank you.
God Bless~
Allison Egley 02/13/12
Oh, this is very good. Very powerful. You bring up some good points!
Karlene Jacobsen02/15/12
My pastor went to Haiti shortly after the earthquakes. We support a doctor down there and have helped to build a pharmacy for the hospital. When he came home, he was undone emotionally. It changed his life forever.
Lisa Fowler02/15/12
Excellent read. Thanks for sharing.