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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Repeat (01/24/13)

TITLE: The Power of One - and My Night Caller
By Noel Mitaxa


I can’t recall which of my many sins carried a penalty like becoming a school council president, but with a dedicated staff, our council was eager to explore any new development.

Like computers, which heralded access to a brave new world.

For a few months, computer discussions repeatedly crowded our meeting agendas. Thirty years later, with PCs and I-phones anywhere and everywhere, it’s incredible that we thought that one computer would be enough. But back then we vigorously discussed class rosters, storage and security for this electronic equivalent of the Crown Jewels.

Momentum was building towards the big purchase when council elections were held, and via a secret ballot I missed staying on the council. By one vote—the power of one!

That night as I turned off the light, sleep came quickly. As poet WB Yeats observed, like the beautiful and the innocent I had no enemy but time. Little did I know that the power of one would launch a repeat attack when I would be at my most vulnerable.

Since no-one can do more in seven days than God managed in six days, pastors don’t work 24/7, but we are always on call.

And speaking of call…

Rapidly attaining nocturnal bliss-destruction status, our telephone burst into life. At 3:30am.

Stumbling out of bed and fumbling forwards, I picked up the receiver, while years of practiced phone etiquette came to my rescue: “Umfphglp… errr… Hello?”

“Hello, is that you Ron?” came a voice.

“No, there’s no Ron here,” I mumbled, with mental acuity still surfacing.

My caller became more insistent, though his words were indistinct, “But isn’t that Ron Nashfield, at 248 xxxx?” which sounded a lot like our number. Call me unreasonable if you wish, but at 3:30am, I’m not changing my name for anybody.

“No, I’m sorry, there’s no Ron here,” I affirmed as politely as I could.

His apology was equally polite as he hung up.

I returned to bed, where bliss promised a repeat run, and my head began dissolving heavily into a welcoming pillow…

But wait, our phone had decided to enjoy a repeat run of its earlier fifteen seconds of fame.

More alert now, I quickly reached it and picked up the receiver. “Hello?”

“Hello, is that you Ron?” My new, life-long friend was back.

“No, it’s me again. Who is Ron?”

“Ron Jackson in Nashville.”

“Nashville—the one in Tennessee?? Where are you calling from?


“You’ve got Geelong, in Australia!”

“I’m sorry,” he replied. “Something must be wrong with the system. Good bye.”

And so, back to bed, where sleep quickly encased my every nerve-ending.

With morning’s clear light, in a moment of idle curiosity I checked our telephone directory international calls section. There was nothing “wrong with the system.” 615 is Nashville’s area code and 61 is Australia’s country code, with 615 pointing callers to our part of Australia.

This may sound complicated, but my night caller had gained international call access and omitted the 1—America’s country code—before dialing 615. Had he included that 1, he would have headed west across the Atlantic and talked with Ron - at a mutually-agreeable time.

Instead, he was twelve thousand miles and about one-sixty degrees off-course!

That night’s interruption germinated the basis of that week’s newspaper column:

"How important is a one?
It can cost a place on a school council.

"But how important is a one that’s missed?
It may cost a spike in a phone bill - and somebody else some interrupted sleep.

"But anytime we start thinking that we don’t matter, because we feel outnumbered or isolated, we are way off-course from how God values us and from where he can help us to be. For Jesus once told three short stories—about one lost coin, one lost sheep and one lost son—to show the efforts God will take to reach the most isolated person with his love."

One secret vote and two repeat visits by the same unknown night caller thus became something to connect with thousands of un-churched readers. I hope that some responded to God’s grace, and even shared whatever they discovered with those around them.

But I also hope they didn’t phone anyone at 3:30am.

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This article has been read 529 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Danielle King 01/31/13
Oh dear, I would have tracked that night caller down and wrapped a windmill around his neck. Is that a Christian thing to do? Thought not! But isn't it amazing, the unlikely sources of inspiration to write that God gives us?

I enjoyed this, first because it's obviously a personal account and also the image it conjured up of you, bleary eyed, wearing your night cap and bed socks and answering the phone with 'umfphglp.' You certainly achieved nocturnal bliss destruction status!

You've packed a lot of fun into this humorous peice, along with your message. A thoroughly entertaining read.
C D Swanson 01/31/13
Hahahahahahahaha...This was a great tale, I loved it. And, isn't He amazing that He gives us stories from anything and everything?

I'll remember this long after I've read it. As for you, I hope your new friend doesn't disturb you any longer...

God bless~
Virgil Youngblood 01/31/13
As much as possible, live peaceably with all men, a scripture advises. About 3 a.m. sure puts the spotlight on "possible". Enjoyable read with a good message.
Beth LaBuff 01/31/13
A sinner, eh? You have an amazing storytelling presence (that transcends the written word)! Wow! I thought the repeated "power of one" was great. Many of your phrases are lol hilarious! Your, "years of practiced phone etiquette came to my rescue" and "our phone had decided to enjoy a repeat run of its earlier fifteen seconds of fame."  were a couple favorites. I completely enjoyed this. Your message of reaching that isolated person is ultimately what it's all about!
Dannie Hawley 02/01/13
What a delightful read and, certainly. we can identify with your nighttime test(s) from Holland. You've done a terrific job entertaining as well as making a powerful connection with God's marvelous truth.
Linda Goergen02/01/13
I love the way you presented the point that a message given to us by God, (even if it does come by some unpleasant means :) ) can be multiplied, as the message is then shared with others, who in turn share it with others…and so on. Terrific way to show the topic “repeat” and a delightful and insightful read!
Joe Moreland02/01/13
Wrapped up within the humorous distractions, was a powerful lesson in the importance a single person, event, vote or missed number can be. Great job on piecing it together and making a powerful lesson out of humbling and awakening event.
Allison Egley 02/01/13
This is great! I love it, and all the parallels. Nice job!
lynn gipson 02/02/13
You make even a 330 am call in the night sound so interesting. I loved this story and the message you send with it.
Excellent, as always.

God Bless, Lynn
Bea Edwards 02/02/13
It wonderful how you were able to take a life lesson and work it into this weeks challenge. As always your stories are entertaining with a punch.
Loren T. Lowery02/04/13
This is a tremendous story. I loved your voice, it totally envelopes the reader. At once we, the reader, are an outsider looking in to the life of another - foreign to us - while, at the same moment we are in complete empathy with your MC. I especially like the way the message was presented. If we but take a moment to look around and observe - God's lessons abound in our everyday lives - to which this point was well made by your article.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/04/13
What a grand story--and what a grand message!
Myrna Noyes02/04/13
Great word pictures, great humor, great message!! :) You made me smile with lines such as "Call me unreasonable if you wish, but at 3:30am, I’m not changing my name for anybody." :) Your descriptive words and phrases were a delight to read, and your thoughts on the "power of one" made me think, too! Nice job!
Cheryl Harrison02/05/13
"One secret vote and two repeat visits by the same unknown night caller thus became something to connect with thousands of un-churched readers. I hope that some responded to God’s grace, and even shared whatever they discovered with those around them."

Proof that God uses everything that happens in our lives for His glory. So enjoyed your entry. Keep writing.
Alicia Renkema02/05/13
You had me from beginning to end, I wish I could write like this... "The Power of One" all by itself (even without a 3:30 AM caller) is fascinating in so many ways. There is so much that wouldn't have happened or even existed if it weren't for that one thought; one comment of encouragement / discouragement and as in this piece that one number. God uses all things for good and I am for 1 so glad that this happened to you so that you could share this wonderful gem of a story in just the marvelous, most humorous way that you told it!