In Antioch, Stephen’s best friend is crucified for defacing its patron goddess, and the city turns on Jews.
He flees to Cyrene. There he meets Simon. Persecution against Jews is worse here. They try to keep Stephen out of the market, university and local Olympic games.
He decides the only solution is to pass himself off as a Gentile and start a secret synagogue with secret worship. When discovered, Stephen suffers at the hands of both pagan Gentiles and Jews.
Simon cannot handle the persecution any longer, so moves from Cyrene to Jerusalem. When Stephen visits Jerusalem for Passover, he sees Simon carrying the cross of Jesus. They both become Christians and the persecution starts all over again.
Stephen marries, then decides to move permanently to Jerusalem with his wife and small children. Here he becomes a deacon to help Greek widows and is given the power to perform miracles by the apostles. Saul goes after both Stephen and Simon of Cyrene. They rush to save each other’s lives.
As Stephen takes his final steps toward the stoning pit, he can still hear his father in years past. “Take another step, Son. Now another. Hold your head high. Don’t let them see weakness. You’re doing fine. Now another step. I’m here, Son. I will never leave you. You’re almost home.” (See Below for Reviews)
IN PRAISE OF STEPHEN: UNLIKELY MARTYR
* * * * * – Like watching a movie. Placed me right there. Had to read it in one sitting – Right Said Fred
This is a wonderful story of a character in the Bible, that I have always wanted to know more about. The author uses dialogue so well. It was really like watching a movie more than reading a book. I plan on reading more by this author.
I won’t share any spoilers here, but suffice it to say, that I could relate to Stephen as a young man, and then watched him grow into a powerful leader, and experienced his life through the eyes of an author who obviously does an incredible amount of research.
I could not put it down this morning. It pulled me through, chapter by chapter. I highly recommend this!
* * * * * – Story Comes to Life – Deana
I always get excited when I start to read a book from this author. Her writing shows how much research she has done and makes the characters so vivid. I didn’t know much about Stephen but was so mesmerized by the story I couldn’t put it down. The beginning of the book is hard to read but an important part of Stephen’s life. It is hard for him to understand the torture that his friend is enduring. He cries out in agony for his friend and can’t watch as the brutal treatment continues. I do remember reading in the Bible about many people who were ridiculed, beaten and tortured because they would not back down from their beliefs. It is hard to understand why people would be tortured for their beliefs.
The author has brilliantly written Stephen’s story and helped me to understand him better. I loved how he was always concerned for the safety of his parents. As the family travels on a ship, the description of the sea made me feel like I was standing beside Stephen feeling the waves crash and the wind blow as the storm became fierce. I loved reading how Stephen honored his parents and respected them as they tried to keep him safe on the ship. It must have been hard for the family to live on the meager food they had.
I enjoyed the talk between Stephen and his father. Stephen witnesses how the Jews are treated in the city they have come to. Ezekiel in his wisdom encourages his son to always stand up for his beliefs. Even though Stephen has seen friends lose their life, Ezekiel explains that he must not get discouraged. It made me think of all the people today who are in foreign lands spreading the Word of God. They have chosen to be martyrs no matter the cost. This is a lesson that Stephen will come to embrace. I loved reading how he grew in his faith and matured into an adult who wouldn’t back down. He does have a stubborn streak at times and his actions cause riots to break out.
As you can see I completely lost myself in the story and loved the history that the author provided. Stephen is a true martyr and his actions were not unnoticed. He is a strong man who stands up for the rights of everyone and let’s everyone know how much he loves God. The author writes his story with knowledge, grace and great compassion. I look forward to reading the next book from her.
* * * * * – Myrna – Very good book
* * * * * – Mary Arndt – Her stories always end with Biblical truth