Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Jump In With Both Feet (11/28/19)
- TITLE: Jump, Big Alvin, Jump
By Mariane Holbrook
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Pastor Jim Miles, sitting beside him on the front porch, laughed heartily and remarked, "Alvin, one of these days you're going to use that strength to beat the devil and bring people to Jesus."
"Well, preacher, then I'd have to walk down and kneel at the altar at church and get saved. Then I'd get baptized under the bridge at Muddy Creek and sure as shootin', as skinny as you are, you'd drop me. No sir, I'd rather sit on my porch on Sundays and swat mosquitoes."
Pastor Miles laughed with him. "I'm not giving up, Alvin. The church needs you and I need you."
Big Alvin smiled and gripped the pastor's hand warmly as he prepared to leave. He enjoyed the pastor's visits even though the pastor sometimes turned their conversations about "fishing for trout" into "fishing for men."
That evening while Big Alvin was working in the barn, a swarm of angry hornets attacked him. They zeroed in like torpedoes, puncturing his face, neck and arms. Rushing back to the house with the hornets following him, he shouted to his wife, Pearl, for help.
Pearl ran to the freezer, removed several beef steaks and began applying pieces all over his infected body. Big Alvin's face quickly began swelling until he was unrecognizable.
"Alvin, I'm taking you to the hospital right away."
Writhing in pain, Big Alvin was unable to see through the narrow slits in his eyes caused by the swelling.
At the hospital, Pearl sat alone in the waiting room while Big Alvin was being examined. A devout believer in the healing power of Jesus, she prayed earnestly for her suffering husband. Spotting a pay phone on the wall outside the waiting room, Pearl phoned Pastor Miles who promised to come immediately.
When the pastor arrived, he took Pearl's hand and prayed. "Father, we pray for Alvin that Your healing virtue will pour through his body removing all infection. Give him peace and let Your presence be known to him as we pray in Jesus' name. Amen."
Big Alvin was hospitalized for five days. Both Pearl and Pastor Miles arrived every day to encourage and pray for him. Finally, the swelling receded and Big Alvin was permitted to return home.
For several days during his recovery, he was uncharacteristically quiet but one evening he phoned Pastor Miles, asking him to come over.
As they sat together on the front porch, Big Alvin said, "Jim, I felt sure I was dying in the hospital. I was scared to death. I know I'm not ready to die and I want you to pray for me to be saved."
Thrilled, Pastor Miles opened his pocket New Testament and read several verses, explaining the way of salvation. He led Big Alvin through the sinner's prayer, then Big Alvin called for Pearl to come.
"Honey, I've just been born again. I want to thank you and Jim for praying for me for so long and never giving up."
They all stood with their arms around each other, weeping and praising God for this miraculous event.
When the next Baptismal service was announced at church, Big Alvin grimaced. After the service, he reminded the pastor of his fear that the pastor would drop him and everyone watching would laugh at his expense.
The next Sunday at the small bridge over Miller's Creek, fifty members of the church walked down a well-worn path to the deeper water. Big Alvin refused to participate, preferring to watch from the bridge.
One after another, the new Christians were baptized. People shouted, praised the Lord and the group joyously sang "Shall We Gather At The River," "On Jordan's Stormy Banks We Stand," and "Amazing Grace."
Pastor Miles glanced hopefully up at the bridge but Big Alvin shook his head signifying, "No."
Finally, the pastor asked the crowd to bow their heads for the benediction. Suddenly, they heard a loud, deafening splash. Big Alvin, unable to contain himself, had jumped from the bridge into the creek to be baptized.
While the crowd erupted in laughter and applause, the pastor made his way to Big Alvin, placed his hand on Big Alvin's shoulder and shouted, "Glory to God. I hereby declare you've been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen."
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