Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Evangelism (11/01/07)
- TITLE: Where the Sinners Are
By Janice Cartwright
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But Harold Schmidt was not in the habit of ske-daddling anywhere. “Mind if I watch awhile?” Without waiting for an answer he dug up an empty box, slapped it down, straddled it and sat. The crew went back to their task. Using bare hands or buckets, they gathered gobs of shrimps from the nets and loaded them into an iced well. Sorted as to size, they would be sold to local restaurants or shipped north.
One of the men needed a number 9 box; he reached out a burly paw. “You still here?” When he grabbed the wood carton he nearly jerked Harold’s seat out from under him. But the lubber caught his balance. As he recovered his feet, the preacher noted the man’s thickly muscled arms. It triggered an idea.
“I can best you arm-wrestling.”
“Shrimper cursed and spat in the water: P-tooey! You say! I wouldn’t waste my time!”
Harold didn’t budge. “If you can put me down, I’ll leave and I won’t be back.”
“You’ll go anytime I say!” Inches from Harold’s face the man smelled robustly of his line of work and honest sweat.
Harold never batted an eye. “But if I put down yours, you give me 15 minutes to say my piece.” He looked around; their talk had collected the others. “That includes the lot of you.”
“C’mon Joe it’s worth it to get rid of this pest.” The truth was it had been a good while since they witnessed a first-rate arm-wrestle. They were curious, too. This man of God didn’t look like any sissy-tail. Two of the men cleared off what passed for a table and somebody slopped a bucket of seawater across the top. There were no chairs.
In semi-squatting position Joe and Harold squared off. First they planted their elbows side by side on the coarse plank and lined up wrists. They locked palms. Joe bore a mighty forearm to the match, but Harold, reared on a dairy-farm, packed no piker of a grip either. One two three was countdown.
The rivals commenced their labor. Timbers shivered and blood vessels beetled. Faces purpled. Sweat streamed down their backs and off their arms to re-wet and re-salt their work surface. Back and forth, up and down, and once it looked like it might be permanent deadlock. As you would expect, the crew backed their man noisily. But the Lord had His too and He was not in the habit of losing.
Harold preached to a half-dozen ill at ease fishers that Sunday. Only three bent the knee but after that his reputation preceded him. He could board any trawler in the turn basin sure they would take him on. If not eagerly, at least with respect. Through the years many came to Christ at His call, for he seemed to have the gift. But if only one repented, the evangelist’s joy that day was as vast as heaven and its angels.
Into his latter years Harold Schmidt continued to minister the Word. Like Moses *`his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.’ He also delighted to remember the old days:
“I had the time of my life preaching Christ on those shrimp boats. Best thing though I never had to convince the rocky old salts they were sinners. I figure that was half the battle won. They knew. Not like some who have to think to dredge up a little sin to be sorry for.”
He liked to recall the day some of his well-intentioned Christian brothers showed up at his door. “They tried to talk me out of going down to the docks. Said it was dangerous and that anyway it was a sin to cast pearls before swine. I told them, `Come to think of it, you might be right. But I guess the Lord will forgive me if I refer you to one last scripture before you leave:
**`Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.’”
Harold always was the crusty one.
* Deut. 34:7b (KJV)
**Mark 8:33b (KJV)
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