Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: STAND UP FOR JESUS (don't write about the song) (04/09/15)
- TITLE: Hard Time
By Gary Ritter
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They transported him to the prison and processed him in. Each step of the way a steel-barred door closed, the guards in the bulletproof offices smirking at him as he got deeper into the complex.
Jameis settled into the routine. He’d spent his share of time in juvie growing up so he knew the drill. What he didn’t count on here that he’d had in juvenile detention was the stretch of time ahead of him. The judge had said there’d be no reduction in time for good behavior. Jameis cursed him and could only hope.
Within days another black man approached him in the courtyard telling him that converting to Islam was the only way to make it inside. They spoke for some time and Jameis had to admit he was tempted.
Heading back to the cells a white guy veered over. Jameis saw him coming and waved him away. The last thing he wanted was conversation with a white honky. The man kept coming. “What yous want?” he demanded.
Whitey’s eyes had amazing depth and compassion. “I saw you talking with the Muslim. Gonna tell you, bro, that’s a dead end. Jesus is the only way.”
“Don’t call me bro. I ain’t got nothin’ in common wit yous.”
“Remember this. Jesus loves you. You’ll never find that in the god of Islam.” He left Jameis standing there, frowning and open-mouthed.
Over the next several weeks Jameis had the odd feeling a struggle over his soul was occurring behind his back, beyond what he experienced day to day in the prison. The Muslims came in force to talk, to persuade, to extol the virtues of being a part of their brotherhood. Solidarity, loyalty, vengeance; he could have it all by joining them and giving allegiance to Allah. They promised he’d come to look forward to the times of prayer each day, pledging his faith, and lifting up Mohammed, the prophet of the all-merciful one.
At the same time the white guy somehow found him at odd times and spoke of Jesus. Jameis didn’t want to hear it but he felt compelled to listen. It was like he couldn’t break free from the man who spoke these words that promised true eternal life.
The day following one of these encounters Whitey showed up bruised and beaten with a broken arm. He deflected Jameis’ inquiry and talked only of Jesus. One of the Muslims sidled up to him later and said, “That’s what we do to people who cross us.” He let the threat hang there for Jameis’ benefit and quickly disappeared.
Jameis knew he faced a crossroads. The easy path lay with joining the men of his own race, submitting to them and to Islam his life and his duty. But hardened as he was in his heart the appeal of someone who loved him unconditionally made him pause from following that easier path. He saw he would likely suffer if he chose any way other than Islam. Why would he do that? What would make him even consider such an alternative?
That afternoon three Muslims cornered him in the shower. Cold water cascaded down around them. “Today’s the day, man,” one said.
Jameis took a frantic glance around. They were alone.
“You’re either with us or you pay for dissing the prophet of god.”
Naked, shivering, Jameis tried to stall. “I gotta think. I need more time.”
All three shook their heads. “Now.”
He remembered that Jesus said a man must be born again to enter the kingdom of God, that He had died for his sins. Why did Jameis care? Because, he realized, there must be something beyond this miserable life. He didn’t want God’s judgment and wrath upon him. He wanted a newness in this life, and forever.
Slowly he drew himself up, raised his chin, and faced his last jury. Against all his common sense, he said, “I choose Jesus.”
The faces of the three expressed shock and hatred. One spit at Jameis’ feet. Without a word they descended upon him.
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