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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)

TITLE: The Slow Thaw
By Cheri Hardaway


Zita studied the ornate doors leading into the sanctuary. Sanctuaries were places to run to in times of trouble. Yet four years ago, she’d run from this one, vowing never again to cross the threshold of Grace Church. She still recalled the sting of Mrs. Hunter’s words after she’d dared to share her secret.

“Didn’t I teach you girls you need to be ladies? That today’s world is full of lust and sin, and you’d best be careful to stay out of temptation’s way. Obviously, you weren’t listening.”

While Zita stood stunned, Evangeline Hunter had unsheathed the sword of the Spirit to finish her off.

“Mark my words, girlie. Hebrews 13:4 (NKJV) – ‘Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.’ You, miss, are a fornicator. You’d better get your life right, or you’ll find yourself in the hot place!”

Zita had gone to Mrs. Hunter first, upon learning that she was pregnant. She’d never told a soul about the rape, because she’d been afraid they wouldn’t believe her. She’d foolishly left the mall with a boy she didn’t know. He’d been charming in front of her friends, but as soon as they were alone, he’d changed. He’d forced himself on her and left her to find her own way home.

Two months later, the clinic confirmed her fear. The school nurse offered to arrange for an abortion, saying her parents didn’t have to know. But Zita just couldn’t.

She was a good girl. Mrs. Hunter doted on her, often holding her up as exemplary. She always had the week’s scriptures memorized, and she knew the answers to the questions asked in class.

One thing she didn’t know, however, was how to tell her parents about her predicament. They would push for an abortion, and she needed Mrs. Hunter’s support to stand firm in her choice to have the baby. After all, it was under her tutelage in Sunday school that Zita learned all she knew of God’s word. That’s how she knew she couldn’t terminate her pregnancy.

Zita bolted for the bathroom. Later, cried out, she crept down the hall to the foyer. She’d almost escaped when Mrs. Hunter’s injured tones drifted from around the corner.

“How could she? I fill those girls with scripture every Sunday. When she told me she was pregnant, I stopped her mid-sentence. I told her exactly what God’s word says about that kind of behavior!”

Zita didn’t wait to hear more. And just as she’d promised herself, she never went back to Grace Church.

Nor was she bullied into a quick fix to her problem. She somehow managed to survive the next seven months, and little Angelina was placed for adoption.

Life went on as usual, but Zita felt anything but normal. She was confused. Why had God let this happen? Scripture said God would never leave her or forsake her. So where was He the night she was raped?

She graduated from high school and went away to college, and still her heart felt cold and frozen. It wasn’t until she met Hannah Fisher, that it began to slowly thaw. Hannah was warm and transparent. She openly shared her own life’s heartaches — multiple miscarriages that rendered her barren; her husband’s refusal to adopt children; and his subsequent affair, that sounded the death knell to their marriage. Yet she was still so happy, so strong, so free. Why?

Eventually, Zita risked sharing about the rape. Hannah’s compassion cast a great weight from her heart. She ventured a question.

“Hannah, do you attend church?”

“Yes. Do you?”

In response, Zita told Hannah about Mrs. Hunter.

Their friendship deepened. Desperately, Zita craved the peace she saw in Hannah’s life. Why was she so different? One day she asked.

Hannah answered. “Zita, you know God’s word, but you don’t know God. He’s so much more than do’s and don’ts. He wants to be your Father, your Savior, your Friend.”

That day, Hannah introduced her dear friend to her Best Friend. Hannah’s love and friendship had whet Zita’s appetite; she took the bait. Together Hannah and the Holy Spirit reeled her in.

Now, on spring break, Zita stood in the foyer of Grace Church, ready to extend forgiveness and that same hand of friendship to Mrs. Hunter, whom she suspected knew God’s word… but not God Himself.


Hannah smiled when she heard Zita’s message on the answering machine.

“Please pray for me. I’m going fishing!”

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This article has been read 1147 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jacqueline Zerres02/08/07
A very touching story. A wonderful lession in grace, as well. How we need to be sensitive to those who are broken. Well done!
Venice Kichura02/09/07
What a heartwarming story---I loved this!
Pat Guy 02/13/07
Yes, heartwarming and poignant - unfortunately so true sometimes.

Beautiful words to a beautiful story. Well done.
Betty Castleberry02/13/07
This shows just how easy it is to pass judgement on somebody without knowing all of the facts.
Thank you for writing this touching piece.
Jan Ackerson 02/13/07
What a`beautiful picture of grace!

This might be a bit light on topic, but it's wonderful nevertheless.
Joanne Malley02/13/07
A nice message that it's not enough just to know God's word...we also need to know WHO our God is. This makes for a more effective relationship with our Father. Very nicely done! Blessings, Jo
william price02/13/07
Great message! Very well written. God bless.
Sara Harricharan 02/13/07
What a story! I was with Zita all the way through, this was deep and wonderful to read. I loved how you wrote the character and presented the struggles in contrast to Hannah. Great work!
Laurie Glass 02/13/07
I really enjoyed this. Well written with a great message. Very nice.
Jacquelyn Horne02/14/07
I loved this too. Good writing. I would caution you to watch your "either/or" and "neither/nor" rule.
Sheri Gordon02/14/07
For years, I was a director of a pregnancy counseling center -- an outreach ministry of our church. We heard stories like this all
the time, and I thank God we had several "Hannahs" to reach these girls. You did a great job of getting your message across.
Myrna Noyes02/15/07
Very touching story! It seemed a bit weak on topic, and as I read I kept wondering how it applied to fishing. Of course, at the end you did tie it in. I did think it was well-written.
Cheri Hardaway 02/15/07
A couple comments have mentioned that my entry was light on topic, and I have to agree. When I contemplated the topic, I was reminded of how I, as a new believer many years ago, did more hunting of men than fishing. Load that gun, take aim, and blow them away; beat them with your Bible -- that sort of approach to sharing the good news. I finally came to an understanding of why God encourages the gentler approach of "fishing," came to see how it is much more effective in touching lives for His kingdom. You can hold a person at "gunpoint," but you cannot force them to surrender. It is hunger for something better that causes surrender.

And religious legalism has inflicted its own brand of pain on me over the years, even more as a Christian than when I was lost. And I felt that was what I had to write about, that someone out there might be ministered to in reading about Zita's -- a completely fictional character and experience, by the way -- journey.

Many blessings,
Karen Deikun02/15/07
While this might seem weak on topic,I don't think it really is. I think it demonstrates fishing rather than talking about it - which is perhaps a little harder to do - unless we know how to fish that is! This was wonderful - a blessing to read. Keep using your gift as God leads.
Edy T Johnson 02/16/07
What a gripping story, Cheri! It illustrates how much we as Christians need to have that listening ear, to really get to know what's behind the obvious "outward appearance." It grieves my heart to think how many might have been shamed out of church membership because of judgmental attitudes from within the church. Thank God for the friendship evangels that live out God's mercy for a hurting world. Thank you for this powerful message!