Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)
By Tisha Martin
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Russ woke to find himself cramped. Horrific smells permeated the air. Gunpowder smoke, musty air, dead bodies. Total darkness surrounded him. He groped for his knapsack. He withdrew a tin and struck a match.
A layer of snow covered the sides of the hole he was in. His heart lurched in his throat as he spotted a fallen soldier beside him. Russ thought he recognized the face, but couldn’t place it. The soldier’s expression was peaceful. Russ wondered how it could be, since dying on the battlefield was not an easy way to go.
A curdling screech echoed outside then exploded. The match quivered and went out. Russ was grateful for the safety of the foxhole, but his mind went to the man lying beside him. Realization set in now, and he knew who the soldier was. How long had Joe suffered? Russ looked away from his friend in torn pain.
His hands tingled as he blew into them, trying to bring warmth and a bit of relief. Lighting another match, he noticed a white object sticking out of the soldier’s shirt pocket. Russ pulled it out and began to read.
It was a letter written in shaky handwriting. ‘I am about to die, but wanted you to know if you found this that Jesus is the answer to everything. He loves you and died for you. Only realize you’re a sinner going to Hell and ask Him to forgive you. Trust Jesus to take you to Heaven when you die. I’d like to meet you there. J. Chapman.’
He remembered the day he’d been introduced to Jesus, and rejected it. He folded the paper and stuck it in his shirt, intending to make a decision later. The match was flickering; he knew he had to get a comfortable position before it extinguished completely. He brought his feet under him to keep warm and leaned back against the dirt. Blowing out the match, he closed his eyes.
Amidst the noises of bombs, airplanes and firing guns, the words from the dead soldier’s plea swarmed in Russ’s brain while he slept. Pictures of Hell rose up in a dream, and knew already he was fighting a war likened to Hell. Men screaming like children because they had been shot severely, and no one to give them medical treatment. Then images of Joe telling him about God’s love and salvation in Jesus Christ.
A shrill outcry woke him, and he jumped. His feet were beyond numb; he tried to move his toes around inside his boots, but they were stiff. His hands shook. Russ knew what he had to do. Bowing his head, he asked Jesus to come into his heart. A wide grin on his lips, he ignored the cold, bombs and snow. He rested in the firm assurance of going to a place far fairer than he was now.
Russ turned Joe’s letter over, retrieved a pencil stub from his rucksack and began to write:
Dearest Joan, As I sit here in the cold morning of a foxhole, my heart is aching for you but at the same time I’m rejoicing. The other side of this letter is from the pocket of a fallen comrade and has given me the answer to all of my problems. It’s Jesus. I’ve asked Him to save me. Please read it and ask Jesus into your heart, too. Tell our little boy about Jesus and when he gets old enough to understand, I pray he’ll accept Him. Then we can spend Christmas together having received the greatest gift of all. Now I know what Joe was trying to tell me at boot camp when he tried to witness to me. It sure brings great peace. I can imagine how cold Joe must have been while writing his letter. Germany is colder than I’d ever dream. I love you, sweetheart. Give Russie a kiss for me. Forever yours, Russ.
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