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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Rejoicing (11/22/04)

TITLE: Praise in Prison
By Allen Duty


Jim’s head was pounding. He had been awake now for more than thirty hours, and hadn’t eaten anything since the day before. The coarse cloth tied tightly around his head prevented him from seeing where he was, but the echoes of his earlier inquisitions told him it wasn’t much bigger than a walk-in closet. The small wooden chair he was strapped to poked and prodded each one of the bones in his lower back, making him more uncomfortable by the minute. The handcuffs cut off circulation to his fingers, which made them burn and tingle as they hung helplessly behind him. The door to the room slammed shut a few minutes earlier, and Jim was unsure whether his questioners had left the room or not. In the silence, his head sagged as he started to drift off to sleep.

“SIT UP STRAIGHT!”, a voice screamed at him, no more than eighteen inches behind him.

If Jim wasn’t strapped to the chair, he would have jumped through the ceiling. He had no idea there was still someone in the room with him.

Jim had been arrested yesterday morning for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with an undercover agent in the south side of Philadelphia. A few months ago, the United States government passed a law making it illegal to discuss anything pertaining to religion outside of approved centers of worship. Christianity was deemed to be the most dangerous of all religions practiced in America. As a result, the government closed down any church that would not allow the government to install an official who was regarded as compliant with the new policy. In addition, the executive branch mobilized a division of the Central Intelligence Agency that would act as the enforcers of the new law. Their job was to gather information on anyone who was thought to be breaking the law, arrest them, and “educate” them on the importance of tolerance in America.

“Lean forward,” grunted the man who stood behind him. Roughly, he began to unfasten the latches that held Jim to the wooden chair. He grabbed Jim under his arms and forced him to stand. Taking him by the shoulders, the guard spun him around and pushed him forward. The door to the small questioning room swung open, blasting him with cooler air from the corridor outside. Though his back was stiff from being strapped to the chair for so long, Jim was grateful to be standing up for a change.

The guard pushed Jim through a series of hallways that seemed to go on forever. They finally stopped, and the guard swiped an electronic key card that opened a metal door in front of them. With a warning not to move, the guard unlocked the cuffs that bound Jim’s hands behind his back. Pulling the cloth off of his eyes, he gave Jim a hard shove into the room and slammed the door.

Though the room was dimly lit, the light made him squint with pain from being blindfolded for so long. Once his eyes adjusted, he surveyed the room. There was no bed, only a small blanket no larger than a bath towel tossed in the corner. A few feet away from the door, there was a metal plate with a biscuit and a package of crackers on it. Rubbing his forehead, he sat down next to the plate and let out a long sigh. He was relieved to finally be alone and out of the immediate watch of the guards. He picked up the plate and praised God for His provision.

Jim remembered the words the apostle Paul wrote from prison: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am . . . I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11, 13). With a lump in his throat, Jim began to sing hymns to the Lord. Though the walls of the holding room kept him from family and friends, they could never keep him away from His Lord and Savior.

Member Comments
Member Date
Lois Jennison Tribble12/01/04
A chilling tale, Allen, and may we be diligent to work that it may never come to pass. Disturbingly well-written. God bless!
Debbie OConnor12/02/04
Wow! Very well done. Almost too realistic. Great entry.
Sandra Clayton12/03/04
Well written and frightening. We've lived for so many years believing it could NEVER happen here, in the United States of America. But, has anyone besides me noticed all of the angry anti-Christian articles and comments from some of the media lately? Or, the tolerance towards everything but Christianity? Believe me, it COULD happen here.
Phyllis Inniss12/03/04
This sounds so frighteningly realistic that we musst continue to resist any attempt to do away with our freedom to worship.
Linda Germain 12/05/04
Allen, beautifully done. You certainly know your way around a story! Stunning and thought provoking. Looking forward to MORE of your postings.