The Prize

Guest Blogger – Cherie Castillo

His tiny neon green Honda took me by surprise as it rambled up the gravel road leading to my house. The boy I liked as a teenager had come to ask if he could take me to the county fair. My mom knew he was a nice boy— but that Lilliputian car made her nervous. I begged to go and she compromised by praying over the two of us before we set off.

Walking around the fair later, in the warm August sun, we came upon a square white tent. Hung across the top were signs…”Do you believe heaven is real? Do you know the meaning of life? TELL US FOR A PRIZE “!

Always self-confident—the way the oldest child is when raised by a single Mom, he laughed saying, “so easy, I’m doing this…wait here.” I waited— having no clue his life would change forever.

After awhile, he came out smiling and showed me his prize— “the Book of John.” I must’ve looked confused so he said, “I asked Jesus Christ into my life with those people who told me about Him….”

Although raised in a Christian home, I had only head knowledge of Christ. It would be years before my heart truly embraced what Christ accomplished by conquering death. My response was beyond shallow, “Oh, cool…that’s great.”

Driving back after the fair, I suddenly realized he was seriously speeding. Over the music of Earth, Wind & Fire on his 8-track player, I yelled, “SLOW DOWN”! He reached over, turned the music down, smiled calmly and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not gonna die when I’m young.”

Six weeks later to the day, he was speeding again in that matchbox Honda. Losing control, he crashed over an embankment —head on into a gigantic tree. He was killed instantly. True story.

Six weeks prior to his death, somebody went through Scripture with him and he learned about eternal life through Christ. Good thing God wasn’t depending on me!

The more we memorize, the more we can be like those in the white tent at the fair. From memory, we can share the gospel with anyone questioning the meaning of life. It doesn’t matter where— because long passages, chapters and books of Gods Word are etched in our memory. We can share the meaning of our Savior’s birth, death and resurrection.

I’ll never know who those people were in the summer of 1979, but because of them, a blonde, lanky 17-year-old boy is with the Father for eternity.


7 comments to The Prize

  • Chris Gray

    Powerful testimony! Thanks for sharing and my condolences to you with your friend’s death. How awesome to know we will be reunited with our loved ones in Christ. I volunteer with a group who faithfully shares Christ at the TX State Fair and other fairs and events setting up a booth, etc. I will send your testimony to them:

  • Vickie

    Oh my goodness Cherie, that is so powerful! Thank you so much. Our community lost an 18 year-old recently, just a few weeks before prom and graduation. My first son’s best friend drown the month before he was to start his college years. Thankfully, both of these young people knew Jesus as their Savior. We have to be ready to share the gospel and to have it memorized is the way we can always be ready. We need reminders like your true story, to keep us alert to the truth that we may be the only Bible the lost will ever read.

  • Cherie, Thanks for sharing. We are all called to be “those people” to the lost and hurting. Everyday I ask the Lord for a divine appointment that I may share the hope of glory that we have in Jesus Christ.
    Your title reminded me of verses from Philippians 3:13,14
    “But one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

  • Shari B

    Thank you for sharing this powerful account, Cherie! What a gripping reminder of WHY we memorize. To know Him and to share Him with others. May I be more like the people in the white tent.

  • Rosie

    Tremendous account, Cherie. My neighbor, a college boy, was walking by a bonfire the other evening when someone threw gasoline on the fire. It blew up and left him with third degree burns over one third of his body. Life can change totally in a matter of moments.

    If you have memorized John 3:16-21 and share it with an unbeliever it gives you the opportunity to explain man’s heart and God’s plan and perhaps lead them to eternal life. Everyone needs the Lord.

  • Sue Bond

    Dearest Cherie,
    Thank you for this powerful story!
    A few years ago I walked past a young man in the library and he was someone I didn’t know but we looked at each other and said hello. I remembered this 19 year old because he had such a beautiful smile. The following night he tragicaly died.
    I’ve often wondered what I could/should/would have done different had I’d known that it was his last full day alive.
    I need to be ready with God’s word when the opportunity arrives.
    Thank you, sweetie, for the reminder and for writing today!

  • Richie Malone

    Cherie, what a chilling story of your friend’s tragic departure from this world. But, because you were with him the day he gave his life to Christ, you know for a fact that he instantly left that little matchbox car and stepped into the arms of Jesus. In the midst of tragedy, that had to be comforting. And, your statement about how it was a good thing God wasn’t depending on you to tell him about Jesus, was convicting to me. You weren’t convinced yet, so you weren’t able to share the Gospel with him. You and I are now both convinced, so we should be ready and willing to answer that call at all times. What a great reminder for our need to have God’s word at the ready so we can deliver the good news on demand! Because, as you and the others who have commented have made clear, how do we know but that we are speaking to someone on the last day of his/her life? In that light, what we choose to talk about becomes infinitely more important.