I heard and believed the commands of the Creator given to His people the Jews,
my relatives who worshipped the Greek pantheon ostracized me. I left Antioch
and moved to Jerusalem. There, I spent as much time as possible in the Court of
the Gentiles, listening to every teacher I could. Sometimes I stood at the
fringes of the crowd that would form around a man named Jesus. He spoke with
more authority than any of the Jerusalem-based rabbis, but many of the priests and
teachers of the law scorned Jesus because he came from Nazareth.
I left my work and joined a throng that followed Jesus through the countryside.
We walked all day, and when the children grew famished, Jesus ordered the
entire crowd to sit on the side of a grassy hill. After a while, the twelve men
who always seemed to be closest to Jesus came by the group where I sat, and
distributed bread and fish.
became even more diligent in bringing my sacrifices and tithes to the temple,
in hope of hearing Jesus speak again. He must have taken his message to the
outlying towns, because I didn’t catch a glimpse of him at the temple until a
few days before one Passover, and then he was leaving.
palace in Jerusalem is up the hill from my house, which is not elaborate by any
means, but sometimes I can hear the noise of banquets and gatherings there.
Before dawn on the day before Passover, I woke to the shout ‘Crucify him!’ The
sound of the mob made me shiver. I must have been one of the few people in Jerusalem
who didn’t wander out to Golgotha that day. When I learned that Jesus of
Nazareth had been crucified, I was at the temple, in the Court of the Gentiles.
fifty days later, a crowd in the street blocked my way to the market. A man I
recognized as one of the dozen who were usually near Jesus spoke loudly to the
crowd: ‘Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus,
whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’
of Nazareth—the Christ? The promise of the Christ drew me to Judaism. Now what
was I to do? ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you,’ the man said, ‘in the
name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.’
did, and spent increasing time with the apostles, learning. I spoke to other
Greek Jews I knew, and they were baptized, too. When the believers decided to
live as a community, holding all possessions in common, and sharing to meet
members’ needs, widows I knew expected relief in their distress, but the Hebrew
Jews in charge of distributing food for the poorest believers did not visit
them. The widows came to me, and when I heard that my contribution to the
believers had not reached these patient women I went to Peter.
the believers’ meeting on the next Lord’s Day, Peter said: ‘Choose men from
among you, full of the Spirit and wisdom, and the apostles will give them the
task of distributing donations.’ The Greek believers surged forward to vote.
Peter read the names of the chosen: ‘Stephen.’
nodded. Stephen was the wisest, most Spirit-filled man I knew. Peter named
other qualified men, and the list seemed good to me. ‘Nicholas of Antioch,’ Peter
said, and stopped. I stared at him. Me, they’d chosen me to work with Stephen.
seven made a good team, and I rejoiced in the wonderful things Stephen did among
the people by virtue of the Spirit’s grace and power. Stephen made certain Jews
nervous, and they seized Stephen to try him before the Sanhedrin. False
witnesses swayed those in judgment. The mob stoned Stephen and spread
throughout Jerusalem, rioting against the believers. As I helped bury Stephen,
cries of fear and distress rang in the streets. The apostles sent word that we
believers should leave the city, and scatter. The mob is approaching again. I
have a good cloak, and a new pair of sandals. If I can evade them, and reach
the alley, I think I’ll head for Samaria. The Jews despise Samaritans too much
to search for believers there.
Heidi Dru Kortman DTM
God's gifts and call are
Kortman, a CWG Apprentice graduate, ACFW member since 2004, and Word Weaver
member has published devotionals in various newsletters, and a collected volume
of devotionals. Her poetry, flash fiction, and short stories have appeared in
small magazines, and a website. She is applying herself to the task of writing
smoothly polished fiction.