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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Barbeque/Cookout (09/06/12)

TITLE: Backyard revival
By Geoffrey johnstone
09/13/12


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Jim Bowman is the most inspirational Christian I know.

I’ll never forget the first time I met him.

“Hey, neighbor!” The big man reached across the fence line to shake my hand with bone crushing intensity.

“Good morning, Jim.” I tried to sound friendly but secretly Jim Bowman made me nervous. Perhaps it was the tattoos, or possibly the missing teeth. Certainly the broken nose didn’t help.

“What are you doing tonight, good buddy?”

“I’ll have to check with the wife,” I hesitated. Whatever Jim was selling I wasn’t buying.

“No worries,” the big man beamed. “Bring her along. I’ve invited all the neighbors for a street party - my treat.”

Somehow it felt wrong to turn down a genuine offer of friendship. Didn’t the Bible have a lot to say about good manners?

Two hours later the distinct aroma of a backyard BBQ greeted our senses as we carefully made our way through the side gate.

“Barry!” Jim Bowman greeted me like a long lost brother. Then with remarkable efficiency he introduced us to the people who now comprised our new community.

After the steaks were served I somehow found myself seated next to my host.

“Tell me, Barry. Are you a believer?”

The question surprised me. “I’m a Christian, if that’s what you mean.”

My new friend beamed a toothless smile.

“I knew it,” he blurted with delight. Suddenly the afternoon’s activities took on a new meaning. “I’ve invited everyone here because I want to share what God has done for me,” he continued.

“Wow.” My response seemed inadequate.

“Barry, will you pray for me while I give my testimony?”

“Of course,” I said without hesitating. “But first can you give me the thirty second version.”

Jim Bowman paused as he gathered his thoughts. Then he spoke quickly as he counted on his fingers.

“Jim Bowman, 39 years old, married to an angel. Took up interstate truck driving, drank too much, chased women and lived like the devil.”

“Who would have thought,” I interjected looking at one particular tattoo.

“Mother prayed for me, wife prayed for me, pastor prayed for me, I thought I could ignore them and live without God.”

“So what changed?” I ventured.

“Heart attack,” he replied. “It gave me the biggest fright of my life.”

“That’ll do it every time,” I laughed.

“The day I got home from the hospital I found my motorbike was stolen.”

“Ouch,” I knew from experience how quickly the devil attacks.

“It was just kids,” he said. “The little beggars dumped it in the creek.”

“So what did you do?” The surprises just kept coming.

“I went to my pastor and asked him to teach me how to reach kids for Christ,” he said matter of factly.

Now it all started to make sense; the BBQ, the choice of music, the church bulletins discreetly spread about.

“And how did that work out?” I tried not to sound cynical.

“So far I’ve baptized six. We meet every Wednesday night for prayer and bible study.”

Now I was truly lost for words.

Suddenly my host was on his feet. “Has everyone had enough?”

Several heads nodded with appreciation.

“Well there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” Jim through back his head and laughed. Somehow I didn’t see anyone disagreeing with him.

As he shared the gospel I began to pray. I noticed several people listening intently.

“Lord, thank you for this man,” I whispered. “You have given me fresh hope.”


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This article has been read 157 times
Member Comments
Member Date
CD Swanson 09/13/12
This was such a well-written story with such a powerful meaning beyond the words.

Thank you. God Bless~
Margaret Kearley 09/13/12
Loved reading this and so hope its a true story. Well written and wonderful. Thankyou
Danielle King 09/13/12
WOW! Jim Bowman captivated me. I could picture him from your excellent descriptions. I felt I was sitting with him at the party. Great writing.
Ellen Carr 09/14/12
A great story. I wonder if it's a true one - hope it is. One suggestion: move the first 2 sentences to the end so we learn of Jim's faith as we read more of the story. Thanks.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/19/12
I enjoyed this story. I wasn't sure where you were heading at first but I absolutely enjoyed the trip.

The only red ink I have is tine. The line about the first time I met Jim Bowman confused me a bit when the MC reached over the fence and said Hi Jim. If this was the first meeting how did the MC know his name. (Like I said it was really tiny red ink that doesn't matter to the story.)

I think the idea of having a regular cookout is a wonderful idea. The way families are spreading out and doing their own thing and the fact that many don't even know their neighbor is an alarming fact that is spreading. What a great way to not only instill the necessity of coming together as a family but also to help the neighborhood stay a good place to raise kids.