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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Control (01/30/06)

TITLE: The Road Home Leads Downward
By Lynda Schultz


Edificio Los Caobos
Medellin, Colombia
Friday, June 5th, 6:00 p.m.

“Are you going to Sabána tonight, Jenny?” asked Ruth, as she prepared two cups of tinto, the strong Colombian coffee that the girls were accustomed to drink after dinner.

“No,” replied the other girl.

It was a remarkably short answer from one who usually had lots to say. Then, from the dining area, Jenny spoke again.

“Ruth, I just don’t know what to do. Daryl doesn’t seem the least bit interested in what is happening in Sabána. The last time I mentioned it to him, he dismissed the subject, and me, without giving either of us a chance. Miguel was so excited about beginning regular Sunday services, and about the possibility of having one of the students from the seminary come and preach. How what do I tell him? What’s Daryl got against starting a church there? Isn’t that what we’re all here for?”

She paused, thinking back to the humiliation of that afternoon.

ICM Mission House
Medellin, Colombia
Friday, June 5th, 2:00 p.m.

It was as though a blanket had fallen, covering all of them in its heavy, dark folds.

“I’d really appreciate some help with this,” continued Jennifer. “We have three complete families, plus six or eight singles who come to the studies. I’d like to …”

“I’m sure we all appreciate the interest you’ve shown in Sabána. We’ll certainly pray about it,” interjected Daryl, “but we don’t have the personnel to handle the job, and right now we really need to move on to take care of these details on car policy.”

Afterwards, Jenny wasn’t sure which had come first — the anger or the tears. Wasn’t she “personnel”?

ICM Mission House
Medellin Colombia
Friday, June 5th , 4:30 p.m.

“A disruptive element.”

That’s what Daryl had called her. Summoned into his office after the staff meeting, the mission director had warned her of his intention to write to the home office about taking disciplinary action. He even went so far as to question her call.

Jenny knew she was running the risk of being asked to resign. After all, whose side would the mission take in a disagreement between one young, single, female first-termer and the man who had run the mission operation here in Colombia for almost 25 years?

He wouldn’t ever come to visit Sabána, except perhaps to plant some flowers at the graveside when the fledgling church finally died from lack of care. Well, he may as well write the epitaph for both of us, she reflected bitterly. But we’re going to die trying.

Miguel’s house in Sabána
Medellin, Colombia
Tuesday, August 24th, 8:15 p.m.

Only one half hour since she’d arrived and disaster had entered hard on her heels. Jenny stood as though carved from stone, stunned by what Miguel had just said to her. The Sabána cell group had struggled through periods of falling attendance at the Bible studies. They’d resisted the nasty innuendoes about the “warmongering gringos and their brainwashed, ignorant followers” that came from the community. They’d jumped at the rocks crashing against Miguel’s front door as the believers met for prayer. She’d been with them through all of it, and they’d survived. It was almost a badge of honour that the devil should consider them a big enough danger to send his demons to harass them. But Jenny had never considered that SHE might be considered the devil holding back a launch, that now seemed more likely than ever to never make it off the ground.

Miguel hadn’t said it in those terms, but that was what it amounted to.

“All I said was that Daryl wasn’t in agreement with what we were doing here, and that we should pray and work harder to convince him to consider Sabána as a possibility for the mission’s next church plant.”

“But that is not how these people understand it. They watch, and they only see the gringos fighting like dogs over an old bone.”

Power struggle. That’s what they saw. Jenny was horrified. A filthy power struggle. She didn’t need Satan to destroy Sabána, she was doing it all by herself, in her battle of wills with the mission director. She was right about this project. She just knew it. But it was turning out oh so wrongly.

“Oh God!” she cried within herself. “I’m sorry. Please …”

There were no words adequate enough to express her pain.

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Member Comments
Member Date
janet rubin02/08/06
Frustrating story. Ministry is hard. Reminds me of so many churches. The story wasn't clear to me though. Who was right? Who was wrong? What is the conclusion?
Beth Muehlhausen02/11/06
Lots of emotion and well-stated conflict. I was left hanging...had a little trouble finding resolution. Still, good expression and unique style.
Val Clark02/14/06
Actually, Lynda, I did think your story had a beginning and end. Your character realizing she was out of line was a satisfactory conclusion for me. A hint: if your character asks someone a question and it's answered you don't need to say 'replied the other girl.'