Beulah, North Dakota, 1904

Below is  a flash fiction piece I wrote for Christian Flash Weekly Event 4.  If you are interested in writing jump over there and take a look.  This week’s challenge was to write 500-1000 words of original fiction based on 1 Thessalonians 3:11. 

Beulah, North Dakota, 1904

The parishioners of Beulah Baptist Church in Beulah, North Dakota had endured the worst growing season to have been recorded in the town’s short history. During planting, the rains were so frequent and heavy, much of the seed washed away. Then as the crops should have been nearing harvest the rains stopped all together and the majority of the remaining plants dried up.

Most families had gleaned a little bit to set aside for winter. Unless the season was unusually mild they didn’t have enough. Not enough food, not enough wood, thatch or dung to burn. Many discussed abandoning the town. Before any serious decision was made, an early cold snap settled the matter. No one could expect to survive traveling in cold weather, in North Dakota.

They decided they would conserve some fuel and enable cooperation among neighbors by moving everyone into the church building together. It had the biggest barn for livestock, and it had ample room to hold their meager combined supplies. They moved all the produce and stock animals there, and promised to gather at the first sign of snow.

For the next few days the weather was pleasant, Indian summer had arrived making the coming cold seem distant. Then unexpectedly in the middle of the night, the families awoke to hear a gale blustering outside. They saddled up and gathered according to plan. The pastor and some of the other men strung the necessary guide rope from the door of the barn to the door of the church. Without it one would get lost and perish even in this short span, so severe was the storm.

A census was taken and only one family was still absent. The Sorenson family had not arrived. Even though visibility was slight, they felt they must do something. Hans Borger, a strapping young man who intended to marry the Sorenson’s daughter was going to lead the group. Four other men, including the pastor, prepared to go with him.

They would string a rope from the door to the neighbor’s fence, about 200 yards away. This fence would guide them for several furlongs, then they would use a second rope to tie from the fence to the Sorenson home, another 200 yards out. The Sorenson place was due north of the church.

The men set out and the twenty or so people staying behind alternated between worrying and praying. After a prolonged wait the door burst open and the men stumbled in. They were utterly exhausted and thoroughly beaten. Upon questioning it was discovered they had failed to even make the first leg of the journey to the neighbor’s fence. Once defeated by the blinding storm, they followed the rope back.

When the pastor got his energy back, he took to organizing the people for what would likely be a long stay together. His planning was interrupted when a little girl named Emily pulled him aside.

“We need to pray. Now.”

The pastor stared at the child for a few silent minutes. Time passed as he mustered his courage. Then he called everyone together and asked their indulgence if they would pray some more for the Sorenson family.

“Dear Lord, we ask for your help. There is something we need, and we have already proven it is beyond our ability to do it. We ask if you could deliver the Sorenson family to us here at the church. I remember several times Paul prayed for the privilege of being able to see his brother’s and sister’s in Christ again. That is what we ask today.”

Right then the wind outside changed direction. Storms in North Dakota come from the north. But a big gust of wind from the south shook the building. As the wind hit, it entered straight into the open side of the bell tower swinging the big brass bell, causing it to ring once.

The event was so loud everyone hesitated, to look up. A moment later the wind returned to its normal blustering path. The pastor picked up the prayer where he had left off, and the same wind came again, again ringing the bell. This pattern of winds ringing the bell as they prayed continued for a half hour or more. When the pastor was prayed out, everyone returned to their administrations. After a short time the door swung open and the Sorenson family collapsed inside.

When they were thawed out, they explained the wind carried the sound of the bell allowing them to know which direction to move. This gave them the courage to start away from the house. From there they found the fence. At the end of the fence they found the rope. Tied across the gap, leading them to the front door of the church.

Astounded the pastor reminded everyone the group of men had failed. They had never tied the rope across that last gap.

Bold little Emily reminded the pastor, and everyone else, God answers prayer.

The tiny town, and the little church survived the winter. Despite shortages of food, multiple storms and other hardships there was a general agreement God would bring them through. If anyone began to doubt or fear, they would have a chat with Emily.

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Christian Flash Weekly Event #1

The very first Christian Flash Weekly begins today. The entry below is my host entry. The Prompt for this week is Job 42:5, which I chose to list below as a part of my post. If you are interested in writing or reading flash fiction/micro fiction then jump over to www.christianflashweekly.wordpress.com and check it out.  This challenge closes on Monday and all participants will get a special e-badge for being in the inaugural event.

 

The Taker

I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;

But now my eye sees You;

Job 42:5 (NASB)

 

In my case, my father was the first family member taken. He had been working in the field. His ox and plow were waiting for him to return to the task. Only he never would.

Having loved ones taken was a part of life in our village. We all knew it would happen again. We all knew it would eventually happen to us.

It’s amazing that we ever accepted it as normal. We got used to the absence of those who had been taken. We got used to the idea we would be taken one day, too.

Every week we gathered in a meeting hall in the center of town and discussed it. We talked about being taken, and we talked about the taker. It only made sense. If people were being taken, someone was taking them. Sometimes we feared the taker, sometimes we revered the taker, but understanding the taker was beyond us.

I grew up and got married. About then my mom was taken. We had four kids. Next my brother was taken. The hardest day of my life was when my daughter was taken.

Then one day I was working on the house, I slipped on the ladder and plunged headlong towards the cobblestone walk.

I felt strong hands take hold of me. I found myself standing and facing the taker. He introduced me to my dad, mom, brother, and finally my sweet daughter. It was a wonderful day.

Over there, he isn’t thought of as a taker. He is called the Savior.

 

Christian Flash Weekly

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 www.christianflashweekly.wordpress.com

Last year while preparing for Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference I wrote my first piece of flash fiction. It didn’t win. I did enjoy it and the short short story fit me. It fit the time I had to write, and it fit my personality.

In the fall I stumbled across a secular flash fiction challenge. That first one was Flash! Friday at www.flashfriday.wordpress.com. I won. After that came several other competitions. Pretty soon I was addicted to flash fiction, but was disappointed I couldn’t find a similar Christian weekly competition.

This will change as of Friday, February 7. I am starting a weekly flash fiction challenge which is specifically for Christian writers. Winners get bragging rights and an E-Badge for their blog, Facebook, twitter feed or wherever else they want to use it. Judges change week to week and they also get an E-Badge.

In fact, every participant in the inaugural event gets an E-Badge too. This inaugural challenge will be judged by Edie Melson.

It won’t make you famous. But it will be a chance to hone your writing skills, maybe take a little diversion from your other projects, and don’t forget it will be fun.

Come and see us on Friday, February 7 (about 9:00 am Arizona time) for the kickoff of the inaugural event. The prompt will be a Scripture verse. The challenge will remain open until Monday Evening.