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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Conversation (face to face) (10/07/10)

TITLE: A Costly Conversation
By Brenda Shipman


A Costly Conversation

The young woman sat beneath a sprawling tree in the school’s courtyard, while the children she taught gathered around her like chicks clustered about a mother hen. They ate their lunch outside everyday in this way, enjoying the fresh air and birdsong. She opened the large cloth enfolding her lunch and began to nibble on a crusty piece of bread and garlic sausage. Catina turned to the small boy next to her and asked, “Luca, what did you bring to eat today?”

He held up a chunk of bread and smiled, revealing a crowded jumble of teeth. “Would you like a bite, Teacher?”

Catina laughed. “No thank you, Luca. I am not very hungry. Here, please help me,” she said, handing him her sausage. The Communist-dominated Romanian government of the 1940s left the common folk struggling to feed their large families. Luca’s hungry eyes lit up at the first bite.

“Luca, I have something else for you. Would you like to see it?” She reached into her skirt pocket and pulled out a small pamphlet.

“What is that, Teacher?”

“It is a little book, Luca. It tells the story of God’s love for us, how He has made a way for us to become His children and go to heaven to be with Him. Would you like me to read it to you?”

“Yes, please,” Luca said between huge bites of sausage.

And the young woman’s heart filled with joy as she told the child the age-old story of hope and redemption.

A man, a member of the secret police, hid in the shadows - observing, listening, and gathering evidence. He would not arrest the woman yet, though. He would delay for a few weeks, for a more perfect moment.

The long-awaited day finally arrived for Catina. She walked arm-in-arm with her father down the aisle of the ancient church and locked eyes with Petru, her groom. When they reached the altar, she stood on tiptoe to kiss her father. Petru held out his hand to her and together they climbed the steps to the dais.

The pastor smiled and opened his mouth to begin the ceremony. The doors to the church burst open and members of the secret police stormed down the aisle.

The officer in charge loudly pronounced, “Catina Istok, you are under arrest for participation in the Underground Church and for distribution of treasonous propaganda.” His eyes were cold steel as he spoke and stood rigidly before the congregation. A woman, Catina’s mother, began to cry as others mumbled and shifted uneasily in the pews.

Petru moved in front of his bride and yelled, “You have no evidence of this! This woman is innocent!”

But Catina put her hand on his arm and spoke softly, “It is alright, Petru. He is right. I have been sharing Jesus with the children at the school.”

Petru’s face crumpled in agony as Catina held out her arms to be handcuffed. The officer grabbed her wrists and roughly snapped the manacles in place. She turned her eyes to her beloved, kissed the chains that bound her wrists, and said, “I thank my heavenly Bridegroom for this jewel He has presented to me on my marriage day. I thank Him that I am worthy to suffer for Him.”

The officer dragged Catina down the aisle, her long white dress trailing behind. Her groom wept, and trembled at the knowledge of what surely awaited his bride.

Upon Catina’s arrival at the prison camp, they stripped her of the beautiful white gown and clothed her in drab prison garb. They led her into a small cell where several prison guards smiled at the prospect of ushering her into the horrifying initiation that most young girls and women experienced in Communist-controlled prisons. It was the beginning of her nightmare, and the first of many other unspeakable evils at the hands of her torturers.

Upon her release five years later, she greeted the groom who had faithfully waited for her. Petru embraced the broken, nearly destroyed woman he loved and tried to hide his shock. She looked thirty years older. He whispered and cried in her ear, “My love, what have they done to you?”

Catina pulled back and looked into his grief-stricken eyes.

“Petru, it is okay. I am alive. Do not hate those who have tortured me. All that I have endured – it is so small compared to the sufferings of my Christ. It was the least I could do.”

Author’s Note: A fictionalized account of a true story shared in Richard Wurmbrand’s book, Tortured for Christ.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/22/10
Wow your story made me stop and thank God that I was born into this country at this time. As election day nears I'm reminded how easy it is to forget the blessings we have in this country. Thank you for reminding me.
Nancy Sullivan 10/22/10
This is such a powerful reminder of our freedom to worship and share the Gospel. May we never abandon our gratitude and fierce protection of it. Great job.
Laury Hubrich 10/24/10
Oh my goodness. I often wonder if I could stand up for my faith like this. Wonderful writing and I love what she said when they arrested her. Wow.

I'm so glad I can still have conversations like this with the students I work with. I wonder for how much longer, though...
Colin Swann10/24/10
Very poignant and engaging; it had the flavour of the reality which you revealed at the end. Romania is a place where my Church helped to finance and build a Christian rescue village for young people from the streets etc. and some of us support individual children on a regular basis. Very well written and meaningful.
Dee Yoder 10/24/10
The speech she made as she was being arrested burned my soul! How convicting and wonderful to have this kind of faith in our Lord. I loved this story and felt every emotion it detailed. Great way to tell of this kind of faith and devotion. I think you should share this in some way for publication.
Lollie Hofer10/25/10
The title was very appropriate for this story. As an American, I can't even begin to imagine the suffering - her suffering nor Christ's suffering. Thank you for sharing such a dramatic, thought-provoking story.
Jan Ackerson 10/26/10
Heartbreaking and inspiring--and very well-written.