The Official Writing Challenge
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You're a good writer. One thing I thought might make the opening more powerful is to split the first sentence into two for more impact. It felt like a long first sentence, and primed me (the reader) for a wordy piece. That was my first thought as I read the opening. That's my honest opinion as a reader.
What if everyone who posted in Challenge entries also commented on/critiqued at least three others? I'm shocked that so many post, and so few read and post a review for others. It seems only a few people have the courtesy to critique but would like the critiques on their own. I am new here, and originally was excited about this site. If you are one who DOES regularly read and comment on others work, then may the Lord bless you mightily and publish you quickly.
You covered some big issues in this story. Congratulations. The way things were handle showed spiritual discernment. The closing, while important fell a little flat. Seemed too different and disconnected from the flow of the story. I know word limits can stifle an ending. Overall, well done.