ABOUT BOOK: 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. The Gentiles 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 he 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 decides to move permanently to Jerusalem. Saul goes after them both. 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.”
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Thank you for liking (loving?) the book. It was a parallel book written from the point of view of Muslim converts and what they go through today, including hiding their faith and pretending they are still Muslims just like Stephen tried to hide his Jewish faith among the pagans.
Since I have been teaching the Bible to so many Muslims over the past six years, I have asked myself, "Would you be willing to die for your faith?" I thought long and hard about it, and decided yes, I would. It is popular today for people to pray for "a peaceful hour in which to die." I used to pray that. I no longer do. I want my death to have meaning to those I leave behind. That is what Stephen did. Amazing faith. Amazing.
Again, thank you, Deana.
“Stephen Unlikely Martyr,” by Katheryn Maddox Haddad, is book 7 in the Intrepid Men of God series. This is a 442 page book filled with a mixture of fiction and truths from the Bible. This is not a fast or easy read. But, it is a good read.
The story of the life of Stephen begins in his teen years, as he sees one of his friends being crucified. They want to arrest Stephen too, and so begins his life on the run. As he and his parents travel, searching for a safe place for Jews to live, they seem to encounter one problem after another. I thought Stephen was a bit immature for his age, although I did enjoy the close relationship he had with his parents. He spent his lifetime trying to understand the best way to tell others about Jesus. He tried doing it in secret and he tried speaking publicly. Neither seemed to turn out well for him. This poor young man was so faith-filled and faithful. He desired to share the Good News with every person he met. If only he would learn to not be so impulsive in his speech!
Haddad is well-known for her books of biblical fiction. She starts out her stories with what might have been, the fictionalization. But her stories always end with biblical truths. She also inserts many theological insights into her books. She does plenty of research, so she writes very knowledgeably. I have read a few books from this series and have enjoyed each of them.
I received this book from The Book Club Network and the author in exchange for my honest opinion. Review posted at Amazon, Goodreads,Facebook and Barnes & Noble. Book was not avaialbe at CBD or DeeperShopping.
Thank you, Mary. Actually, Stephen in my book represented persecuted Muslims who are right now living what he did every day - wanting to spread the gospel but fearful of their life. They try one secret method, then another. I purposely made Stephen a very fearful young man so I could lead him step by step to make the turnaround and do what I dare say none of us would do. Again, thank you, Mary.