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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Editor (05/27/10)

TITLE: Shining Stars
By Joan Campbell


Tonight, while working late, my head finally acknowledges what my heart has known for some time: - this job is stealing every last remnant of my hope and joy.

Eight years have passed since I became the first female Editor of the “Eastern Cape Beacon.” I believed then that the weekly newspaper, with a circulation of almost sixty thousand, would forge change and I was proud to be at its helm.

Yet as I stare at this week’s layout, complete but for my editorial, I concede that we have failed. I have failed.

My predecessor had warned me how difficult this position would be. The Eastern Cape, birthplace of Nelson Mandela, is a place of contrasts. To a visitor, the province’s natural beauty may mask the problems of unemployment, poverty and HIV/Aids so prevalent amongst its people. Yet every week our newspaper reports on these hardships.

This edition’s headlines tell it all: Xenophobia threatens violence in squatter camps; Poachers kill mother rhino in Game Park; Farmers fight to survive devastating drought; Teachers charged with assault; Rail strike continues.

Every page is filled with bad news, devastation and defeat.

I try to clear my mind as I start working on my editorial, one that will once again highlight corruption and nepotism in the local government. Yet, the thought lingers that in eight years of reporting nothing has changed, except that the despair I see all around me has now sunk its icy talons into my life too.

As I rummage through my desk drawer for a pen, my hand grazes against cool leather - my Bible, forgotten and unread for months. There was a time when I could find God in its pages, but the darkness all around me has even obscured Him from my sight.

A photograph falls onto my desk as I open the Bible: six children crammed on a sofa, smiling for the camera. My friend, Lynne, had sent me the photo last Christmas with her newsletter, telling me about every child’s progress, with the pride and love of a true Grandmother. Except that these are not her grandchildren, but rather several of the children cared for by Agnes, their foster mother, in a poor Eastern Cape settlement. Lynne, as she supports Agnes’ work, has developed a deep love for each child.

I put the photo aside. More sad stories, I think. Children abused and neglected by their own parents – what is the world coming to?

My eyes are drawn to a passage in the open Bible: “…so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…”*

I look again at the photo and a quiet understanding dawns on me. The children are cared for and loved. They have light in their lives.

Suddenly I know that this Editorial must be different.



It is easy to lose one’s way on a dark night, when the stars are obscured. I have lost my way recently, with the darkness of the world closing in on me as tangibly as a heavy blanket of cloud, settling a hopeless despair deep into my soul.

This darkness takes many forms here: poverty, corruption, violence and racism, to name but a few. Yet today I will not dwell in the gloom, instead I will point you to the light. For there are many among us who shine a light – beacons as bright and true as the Southern Cross that graces our sky.

One such star is a woman called Agnes, who cares for more than ten children in her small house in a dilapidated settlement outside East London. These children’s stories are dark ones: abusive and neglectful mothers, or parents who have died of AIDS. Some are HIV-positive themselves. Yet each one of them has found a home filled with light and love because this Godly woman, selfless and unafraid, lets her light shine in the world.

Another bright star is Lynne, the white woman who speaks fluent Xhosa. She has supported Agnes, sourcing financial and medical support and loving the children as if they were her own. On Sundays she comes to teach the settlement’s children about God and His love for them. And they believe her - for they see it shining through her eyes.

From them I learn: - do not let the darkness overcome you. Instead, shine to overcome the darkness.


Author’s Note:

Although the Editor and newspaper in this story are fictional, Agnes, Lynne and the children are not. This is my tribute to them. Thank you, my beautiful sisters-in-Christ, for so faithfully shining God’s light into the world. You are an inspiration.

* Philippians 2: 15-16 (NIV)

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This article has been read 1153 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Elizabeth Cain06/04/10
A beautiful story that reminds us to shine brightly in this dark world, pointing many believers to God's light. I loved how you wrote about true people. It really is inspiring. And encouraging. No matter how dark things get, light can always be found if one looks for it—or better yet, if one becomes a light himself.
Dusti (Bramlage) Zarse06/04/10
They would be honored by this tribute.
Francy Judge 06/07/10
I'm glad to hear this was based on a true story because it touched my heart. I love how God's light can shine in the darkest places. This is very poetic. Great job.
Virgil Youngblood 06/08/10
On topic and captivating. Well done.
Linda Germain 06/09/10
Excellent! Loved it.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/10/10
Wow this is absolutely beautiful. You always do a wonderful job, but this piece will touch and change so many You will never know the full impact of these powerful words but they are as limitless as the stars. Congratulations on such an outstanding piece my dear friend.
Glynis Becker06/10/10
Such a beautiful story, so well-written and a very well-deserved win! Congratulations!
Troy Manning06/10/10
Very nice writing! Congratulations on the 1st place!
Gregory Kane06/10/10
Speaking as someone who shares the same continent, we have just the same seemingly insurmountable problems here. Would that we had fearless and insightful reporting to shine a light in our darkness. Well done on your well deserved win.
Nicole Campbell06/10/10
Wow, this is so amazing! Well done. You really deserve this recognition. You are such an awesome writer. God has really given you a wonderful talent to be a light through your writing. You rock!
June Dickie06/10/10
As someone who lives in this very area, and who knows some people like your heroes, I am thrilled at your win, and very moved by your piece. Well done, Joan!
Eliza Evans 06/10/10
A very beautiful tribute, Joan. Tenderly written and full of meaning. Love the title, too.

Annnnd! First Place! :) :)

Roy Campbell06/10/10
Well done on this beautifuly constructed story with a real life angle to it. Your enthusiasm comes through - a well deserved win. (notwithstanding that the accolade is from a somewhat biased husband!)
Adrie Zandbergen06/10/10
Every week I am the first one to see the highest rankings, but this week I missed it!!!! Because there was no 'hinting' I thought the results would be out later. What a wonderful surprise and congratulations from (also biased) your biggest fan!!
Patricia Turner06/10/10
A beautiful tribute. Congratulations - you deserve this 1st place EC!
Elizabeth Cain06/10/10
Congrats on the double win!!! EC and 1st place. Excellent job!
Ruth Stromquist06/10/10
This is so awesome, Joan! A very well deserved first place win! And an encouragement to us all, when the darkness seems great. Praise the Lord! I repeat, awesome!
Lollie Hofer06/10/10
What an encouraging story. No matter how dark the night, there are those who faithfully serve the Lord as shining stars. Thanks for introducing us to these amazing shining stars.
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/10/10
Congratulations on BOB for this inspiring story.
Yvonne Geldenhuys06/10/10
Wow Joan! Awesome. I am so proud to have such a sister, with such wonderful insight and wisdom. Nicole says it so well: you rock! Keep going - God is doing great things through your writing.
Denise Erasmus06/12/10
Joan, you continue to astound me. It is such a privilege to see you consistently growing your special gift. Congratulations on your 1st Place, and keep going!
Fredrick Nicholson06/15/10
Wonderfully written. Captivating story. How on time is the arrival of those who bring the good news!! Congratulations!!