Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Elementary School (07/19/04)
TITLE: Not Ashamed
By J. C. Lamont
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Michael felt so on fire for God and took the verse “do not be ashamed of the gospel of truth” to heart, openly expressing his faith no matter what the cost. Classmates labeled him a Jesus freak or simply ignored him, the school suspended him for repeatedly praying in the cafeteria before meals, and a teacher had confiscated his Bible when he discovered it in his locker. He failed a science exam because he had written the truth according to the Bible, instead of the required answers based on evolution, and ended up spending hours in detention for talking about “religion.”
As Michael stood at the door, his mind replayed the hours passed in detention in vivid detail. Stuck in a vacant classroom or besides bullies and troublemakers, he tried to keep his thoughts on God and on the Bible, but at times he would despair. It was so hard being alone at school, being the only Christian. Perhaps he should stop being so vocal about his beliefs.
He wondered if being a Christian was worth it. Where was God when he was in detention? Where was God when he walked home alone, watching all the other kids laughing together?
He would glance up at the clock to see how many hours of detention remained, stretching his still legs underneath the desk. He doodled on the desk, drummed his fingers, gnawed on the end of his pencil; wishing he were anywhere but there. The sun shone so brightly through the open window, it seemed to mock him for being stuck inside.
His thoughts turned to Paul and Silas, beaten and bloodied from being whipped and chained in a prison cell for being vocal about their faith.
“Bet they wondered where God was too,” he thought bitterly.
As Michael recalled the story more clearly, he remembered they didn’t question God; in fact they praised God. They were brutally tortured and imprisoned for speaking out about Christ, yet they sang hymns. Michael squirmed in his seat, feeling guilty for complaining about a mere two hours of mindless sitting.
“What gave Paul and Silas such strong perseverance?” he wondered. “Why didn’t they question where God was through of that?”
The answer seemed to come almost immediately, like a gentle breeze flowing from the open window, a whisper from the Spirit of God, always with him as promised: they had been glad to suffer for Jesus, because he had suffered so much for them.
Michael stared at the floor in shame. How could he have questioned the point of being a Christian? How could he have so quickly forgotten all that Christ had gone through?
“I won’t give up,” he vowed to himself. “This is nothing compared to all that. I won’t let them break me.”
The persecution for being a Christian wouldn’t stop, he knew. But he had come to accept it. Elementary school would have been so much easier though, if he had someone, anyone, a teacher even, who was a fellow believer. Someone he could talk to, someone who could encourage him and support him.
Michael took a deep breath, turned the handle of the door, and walked into the classroom. “Hello,” he smiled, setting his briefcase down on the teacher’s desk. “My name is Mr. Michael Williams.”