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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)

TITLE: Befriending the Freshman
By Joanney Uthe


A light drizzle blew cold wind through Tami’s sweater as she scurried between classes. The dreary and fickle weather matched both her mood and the girls on her dorm floor. At least she didn’t have classes with any of them.

Sliding into the last seat in the back row, Tami unloaded the necessary supplies for the class, not noticing the occupant of the next seat. “I think you’re following me. Weren’t you in Biology right before this?”

Tami looked at the young man, his chocolate eyes twinkling as he smiled at her. “Uh... yeah.” Couldn’t she think of anything more intelligent to say?

“So, you are following me from class to class. My name is James.” He offered her his hand. “I like to get to know those I have more than one class with.”

“I’m Tami.” She accepted his hand as the professor walked in. After class Tami and James talked until his next class, and continued their conversation between classes for several weeks.

Tami packed her backpack for her study group one night as her roommate, Steph, blocked the dorm room door. “Why don’t you study here tonight?” Her words were more a command than a question.

“I get more out of group study sessions and I’ve got a test tomorrow. With finals next week, I need all the study help I can get.” Tami didn’t need to explain her actions to her better-than-thou roommate.

“Tami, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about James. I’m worried about you. He’s a nice guy and stuff, but we’re freshman and the girls on the floor that knew him last year, well, we’re all worried.” No one on Tami’s floor, including Steph, had been friendly towards her since they found out she was a Christian the second week of school. Why were they concerned now?

“James and I are just friends. Besides, I don’t have time for a serious relationship right now, and he is seeing Bekah. So if you will excuse me, my friends are waiting for me.” She reached for the doorknob, only to have her roommate block it even more adamantly.

“Has he asked you to his church, yet?” Steph’s interference was grating on her nerves, but also peaked Tami’s curiosity.

“He knows I go to church every week. Why would he ask me to try his? I need to study for this test. Please let me out.” Before I lose my witness.

“Just a warning, he may say he does, but he doesn’t believe the same things you do. Be careful, Tami. I don’t want to see you get caught up in a cult.” Steph stepped away from the door.

Steph’s words replayed in Tami’s mind as she walked to Bekah’s dorm. A cult? Why would she say that? Tami knew James and the others were active in their church, but she didn’t know which church they attended, only that they all attended the same one. Could they be part of a cult? What did Steph know about cults? She only went to church when her parents were in town. Tami wasn’t sure if Steph even owned a Bible. Guess I haven’t done a very good job of witnessing to my own roommate, have I Lord?

Not able to afford an airline ticket home, Tami stayed in the quiet dorm the week between trimesters. Only a handful of souls could be found in the entire dorm; no one she knew had stayed on campus. Looking at her church website, she decided to join one of the Sunday School classes starting that week; “What Cults Teach.”

She arrived early and found the room nearly empty; only three other people. “I’m surprised to see you here,” a familiar voice greeted her. Looking to see who was talking, she recognized the handsome graduate student who taught her biology lab. Tami’s perplexity must have shown on her face. “Whenever I see you on campus, you are with people from one of the cult churches in town. I thought you were one of them.”

“You’re the second person in as many weeks who’s told me that, but my friends have never mentioned where they go to church. Perhaps I need to learn more about their religion and find a new set of friends.” Tami felt a peace come over her as she accepted his offer to discuss it over lunch after the service.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 02/09/08
Very nicely written. Good character development.Enjoyed this read - a good cautionary tale.
Dee Yoder 02/10/08
A good reminder that "cult" churches have many nice, decent, kind people caught up in them. It's difficult to know, just by socializing, if the message of the church is scripturally sound. Good dialogue!
Sharlyn Guthrie02/10/08
This is the first entry I've seen on cults for this topic. It's a good fit and an important message.
Jan Ackerson 02/10/08
Really creative entry!

I had a few questions, though--why didn't the cult try to recruit her? And why were the non-Christian girls so up on cults? Maybe some questions that could have been answered with more words, huh?

Your writing really drew me in; I had to know if she'd get "culted"!
Betty Castleberry02/10/08
Cults are scary because many of them seem so "normal". I think you made this point. I want to know what happened. Did she talk to James again? Nicely done.
Holly Westefeld02/10/08
An enjoyable read. I guess James wasn't as glittery as he seemed. Amazing how some of these stories are applicable to more than one proverb. :-)
Loren T. Lowery02/11/08
Great example of this week's topic and very contemporary with our lives. It brings to mind the phrase "birds of a feather, flock together" and how easily we judge and are judged by those we just hang out with.
Debbie Wistrom02/11/08
Wow, you just never know. This was well done and a joy to read. Thans for the tale, keep writing.
Edy T Johnson 02/14/08
"What did Steph know about cults?" The fact that this label came from someone who was at best an infrequent church goer would make me instantly suspicious---of HER intentions. That was a nice bit of plotting!

This entry could grow into a novel, as I see so many avenues to explore (even Walter Martin gave credit to the "cults" he wrote about for noticing and emphasizing something that mainstream denominations were neglecting).

Thank you for leaving a comment on my entry, too. I do appreciate you, dear friend!