From an isolated part of the prison, he was escorted into the room. Many choices were made in there. All of them were to live, but the question was how long. Simon Cephas, the evangelist, struggled to keep his feet underneath his battered body as they dragged him to the bleak entrance.
He knew that there was a choice to be made in that room – except to him, there was no choice. His decision had been made the day that he had accepted Christ into his life. A young flock of believers he had to protect—even if it meant that, his life was lost.
In a rough movement, the guards threw him to the floor. Tumbling, Simon struck his forehead against the jagged wood of a table leg. His final test had begun.
Uneasily, Simon pushed himself to his feet, forcing his stiff shoulders to sit squarely. Bloody rags were wrapped loosely around his feet, hiding from the tribunal open seeping gangrenous wounds offensive to their sense of civility. For this same reason, he had been granted a luxurious lukewarm five-minute shower without soap. He still had the remains of a scruffy beard on his chin and cheeks (at least the part that survived the torturous plucking three nights ago).
For a long moment, silence weighed heavily in the room. Simon wished the mock trial would begin so that it could end. He stood in the center of the room with one light directly over his head. In the shadows, he was barely able to make out the table with three forms seated behind it. The soft shuffle of papers and the murmurs were the only sounds that alerted him that the tribunal was real. Rumor among the underground churches was that they were a trio of mannequins.
“Simon Cephas,” A shrill female voice finally spoke. Despite his injuries, Simon smiled. His fate was decided. “Do you admit that you are a...” her voice paused as if she was searching for the politically correct term.
Before she could finish, he spoke.
“I do admit that I am a Christian.”
A gruff voice questioned him next. “Do you understand what this means, Mr. Cephas?”
“I know that it means I must make a choice, one to live comfortably as a betrayer of my people; or two die a painful death and live among my people as a hero.”
As if on cue, the final member of the tribunal shifted forward, seemingly resting their chin on their hands, like they were intrigued by his answer.
The last member finally spoke, their voice a quiet, softspoken female. “So you’re not afraid of what we can do to you.”
Simon found himself nodding in response to her question, then shocked with the tribunal’s ruling. “Then you choose, your life, or supposed fellow Christians.”
Another light flickered on, revealing another badly abused form. He watched in horror as the torture continued. The unknown saint took each blow without a sound and Simon swallowed painfully.
A life for a life.
“I choose life.” He whispered and the light overhead went out.
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that, I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him...(Deut 30:19-20)
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