Sarah made her way down the stone stairwell, her dingy white dress dragging behind her. Her long brown curly hair bounced with each step. Her sandal clad feet leaped from the final step, landing on the stone courtyard. She kept her head down as she passed through the crowds of people going and coming, preparing for the gathering this evening to worship the Roman emperor and pagan rituals which were customary once a month in Smyrna.
Checking to make sure she wasn’t being followed, she darted quickly down a gray stoned paved alley lined with buildings.
She could hear the crowd at the amphitheater cheering; the celebrations were starting. She glanced up before running into two men carrying woven baskets of bread.
“Forgive me, sirs.” She called back towards the men.
She heard them mumble something.
Looking around once more to make sure no one was behind her- It was clear, she darted into one of the small buildings that lined the stone street.
She quietly shut the wooden door behind. An amber glow protruded from the rear of the shop.
She slowly made her way back. Several others were already seated either in the floor or on the wooden benches.
“Sarah, Tis good that you have come. The passage was without trouble, I presume?” The older man with gray hair and a long gray beard that matched questioned her.
“It was, thank you sir.” Sarah replied
She took a seat beside her friend Ruth on the dark gray stone floor. The younger in age took to the floor to allow the elders the benches.
“I believe everyone to have arrived.” The elder man said as he walked to the front of the small dimly lit room taking his place in front of a make shift podium in front of several large wooden crates stacked atop one another.
“We put our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. In these times of great trial, we must put away temptation. Our thoughts be in peace as we ask for strength and courage. We must endure as did Jesus Christ endured. We must never deny our savior for this worlds pleasures are not of God, but of evil. We must resist the temptations that lie at our doors, awaiting for a moment of weakness to take us. I tell you that it more so will come that we will be taken into the prisons for our belief in the one true God and our refusal to follow the emperor and the ways of the unbelievers. Do not fear as our place is not of here, we will be with our Lord whom cherish us as his children. His love flows down to us. His mercy is with us always.”
A commotion in the street outside interrupted the service.
One of the younger men pulled himself from the floor and inched his way around the corner to peer out. Through the small shop window at the front of the building he saw a large crowd gathered, they were shouting something that he could not make out.
“There is a crowd gathered around our door.” The young man said as he turned toward the group.
“What shall we do?” An older woman asked.
“If they are here for us, we can only pray for strength and courage.” The elder man said as he walked over toward the doorway leading to the front of the shop.
The group patiently waited and prayed while the crowd shouted outside. Moments later, the crowd dissipated and silence took the street once more.
“They have left!” A slender young man spoke up regarding the new silence from outside.
“One must go to be sure.” Another man replied. The group agreed in unison.
“I shall go forth.” The slender young man replied.
He made his way to the front room and slowly walked toward the window and peered in both directions. Nothing- He cracked open the wooden door and peaked out.
He heard a loud cheer coming from the direction of the amphitheater, but nothing more.
He returned to the back room. “I see nothing, the celebration seems to continue as there where cheers from the amiptheather.”
“I think best that we disband and return to our homes.” The elder man replied.
They made their way one by one out the front and quickly hurried off in different directions to their homes thankful to God they were spared for one more night.
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