“I will go to Jerusalem, even if I have to die there!” These words came out of Paul's mouth with so much firmness, enough to end what looked like an argument between the five disciples in the room. Agabus was the most appalled. In his decades as a prophet he had never experienced such ‘madness'. He had just told Paul what would befall him if he went to Jerusalem – imprisonment and probable death. Yet, Paul didn't cower. Luke was puzzled. He exhaled deeply, then said, “Brethren, let us rejoice. For in all things, the will of God will surely manifest”. The other disciples nodded in agreement. Then as they took turns to kiss Paul, the evangelist, Philip, walked in. Trophimus jumped from Paul's side to hug Philip. “Welcome sir, even though it's your own house” he joked. “Thank you Trophimus. Are my daughters around?” “Yes they are. I'll go call them now. Maybe later you can tell me the story of how you disappeared from the face of the Ethiopian eunuch. I've been aching to hear it from you” Philip laughed and said, “I didn't disappear, the Spirit carried me. But details later Trophimus. Just call my daughters, I am starving!” The whole room burst into laughter. By the next week, Paul was en route to Jerusalem. Aviva could not believe her eyes. Nothing could have prepared her for the experience she was having that day. She had walked with Paul to the Jerusalem temple, teasing him about how he's yet to marry. He was her favourite brother and she enjoyed his company a lot. But today was different, she watched him get brutalized by an infuriated Jewish mob. She watched him bleed until Roman soldiers interfered. She watched him as he tried to defend himself but was silenced by the multitude as they cried, threw dust around and prayed for his death. She wept bitterly on the shoulders of Oren, her son. “Uncle! Uncle Paul!” Oren was screaming as he sighted Paul behind bars in the castle. He was sweating profusely, with teary eyes and a pale face. “How did you get in?” Paul asked, locking his fingers into his nephew's. “I snuck in through the back. I know it's wrong but I had to. Uncle, I'm so scared. This might be the last time I'll see you” Paul laughed, with a voice scorched from all his shouting in the temple earlier. Then continued “My time has not come Oren. There's still a church to be built in Rome. But tell me, why did you say this?” Oren went on to narrate to Paul how he overheard the plot between the Chief Priest and about forty other men. “They are planning to ask Lysias, the Roman commander, to bring you for a Jewish questioning tomorrow and kill you in the process.” Paul sighed. This was the nineteenth time he was being informed of a planned assassination. Most times, the Lord told him directly. “Thank you very much Oren. Now I want you to tell this plot only to Lysias. I will have a centurion take you to him. Be very discerning.” “But Uncle, will you really be fine?” “I honestly do not know. Since my experience at Damascus, I have lost control of my life. But I know Jesus will preserve me from these men who persecute me for the gospel's sake. Only pray for me with your mom. Now go! “ Finally, the day drew to an end and Paul retired to sleep. As he laid down, from the corner of his eyes, he saw a centurion walking briskly towards him with an unsheathed sword. “Why is he coming with a sword? Was he paid to kill me?” Paul thought, and stood up quickly. The centurion advanced faster until he reached Paul. Then he held Paul by the neck and whispered into his ears, “The Jews will kill you tomorrow if you stay here. I have orders to take you to Caesarea. But we must leave now. We get to Antipatris tonight, then Caesarea tomorrow. Girdle up! we move now.” Paul heaved a sigh and muttered thanksgiving to God. Then they set for an escape out of Jerusalem. The next four years of Paul's life were spent mostly in Rome where he established a church from his apartment. One day, as he taught Christian persecution, a Roman convert raised his hands and asked, “How are you still a preacher after all your persecution experience?” He smiled and replied, “Blessed are you, when men revile and persecute you. Rejoice, for great is your reward in heaven”. Then he added, “Those were Jesus' words. They kept me going!”.
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