Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Blessed (10/11/12)
TITLE: Genesis--It's a Beginning
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom
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The boys in the front row snickered. Pastor Dave put his hands on his hips and cleared his throat. The boys blushed and wiggled in their chairs.
After pausing briefly, Pastor Dave plastered a smile on his face and continued his monologue. “As I was saying, our focus is to help you develop a relationship with our Lord by writing your thoughts in prayer journals.” The chaperons passed passed out notebooks. “For your first entry, write a letter to Jesus and tell him why you are here. This is just between you and God, so don’t worry about anyone else. We’ll meet in the dining hall at noon.”
He dismissed the crowd with a nod of his head and the kids scurried to a private spot. A girl in outdated clothes plopped into a beanbag. Her hands trembled as she began to write.
Deer God, I’m Shay and I’m 14 years old. I came here cuz my school told me to. I didn’t wanna come at first. There are some Jesus freeks in school and they scare me alot. But I came cuz they said food was included. I don’t get to eat every day and as long as the freeks are given out free food I thot I should come so I did. I don’t know what else to say except I’m really hungray.
In the opposite corner, Tiffany nibbled on the end of her pen before writing in big loopy letters.
Dear Jesus, I came here because I can’t get confirmed unless I attend one of these retreats. Plus I needed a break, so when this opportunity came up I jumped at it. It’s hard to be the prettiest and smartest girl in school. I have to get up early to make sure my outfit, hair, and make-up is perfect. Plus I am so tired from cheerleading practice. Being the captain is hard work. I have a high standard to maintain. I also have to keep up on the latest fashions and make sure I don’t wear the same outfit twice in one month. It’s time for lunch. Amen.
The next few days zoomed past. When they weren't writing in their journals, the kids had small group meetings. Pastor Dave led Shay and Tiffany’s cluster. Shay hardly ever lifted her head or shared, while Tiffany monopolized each conversation.
As the retreat came to an end, Pastor Dave gathered everyone together. He looked at the kids and smiled from ear to ear. “For our last journal entry, I’d like you to write about what you have learned this week and your plans once you return home."
Tiffany skipped over to her corner. She whipped out her purple pen and began scribbling in her notebook.
Dear Jesus, Thank you for showing me how lucky I am to be me. I’d just die if I looked like Shay. I mean really, did she think no one would notice that she wore the same jeans every day? Also thank you for my many talents. When I get home, I’m going to hang out with my friends and have a huge party.
Shay shuffled over to her corner. The tears began to fill her eyes as she flipped open her journal.
Dear God, This week has been good. Not only did I get food but I also learned about you and your love. I didn’t think anyone could ever love me. I’ve always had an empty spot in my gut and I thought it was cuz I was hungary, but this week I stuffed myself and that feeling was still there. It wasn't til I got to know you that it went away. Jesus I’m scared to go home. What if I can’t find you to fill that hole?
Shay brushed away a tear and glanced around the room. Pastor Dave was watching her. He crossed the room and stood next to her. “It’s been an honor to get to know you, Shay. I’d be delighted if you came to Sunday School. Keep your chin up and your eyes on the Lord.”
Nodding, Shay held her head high as a glimmer of hope crept across her face.
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