“Mama, Mama, come quickly.”
“What is it, child?”
“Mama, it’s Lydia. The soldiers have her.”
Olivia grabbed her shawl and slid her feet into her sandals before running after Lena. Oh God, please spare my Lydia.
When Olivia and Lena caught up with the soldiers, they had Lydia between them. The purple frock that Lydia had been embroidering was thrown over one of the soldier’s shoulders. “Excuse me, sir. That is my daughter. Please let her go.”
The soldiers stopped in their tracks, each one had a hand clamped on Lydia’s wrists. “Hold fast, girl.” The soldier on the left took both of Lydia’s wrists and the other stepped towards Olivia. She could see the trail of tears that had made their way through the dirt on Lydia’s face.
“Your daughter makes a mockery of our king. She will be punished.”
“Wh-what do you mean, sir?”
“This garment here, she has embroidered this image for all to see.” He held the frock for her to see, but did not release it. Beautifully stitched, was a cross that held Jesus, His blood trickling from His side, and the words, ‘Jesus, my King.’
Tears filled Olivia’s eyes as she looked at her daughter. Her Lydia, only thirteen, had boldly stitched her faith for all to see. Humbly, Olivia bowed her head, and then she looked into the soldier’s eyes, “It is so. Jesus is our King.”
“No, Mama.” Lena pulled on Olivia’s arm and gripped her hand, “Take it back, they will take you too.”
“Lena, go home now. Never forget what Jesus did for you. He loves you, Lena. I love you, too.” The soldier grabbed her arm and pulled her away from the sobbing, little girl.
“You remember this, little one,” the soldier sneered at Lena as he pulled on Olivia, “say goodbye to your mama. She’s as good as dead.” In one final act of contempt, he spat towards the girl, and then continued on.
Olivia thought of her home and her husband. She prayed that he would someday see her allegiance to the Master. Oh Lord, please protect my Lena. She is so young. Help my husband to see your love.
As they entered the city, many merchants and shoppers stopped what they were doing to gather around the soldiers. “We have captured two traitors who proclaim that Jesus is their King. This is a transgression punishable by death, by order of King Jorah.”
“Long live King Jorah,” chanted the crowd.
Olivia searched the crowd for someone, anyone who might be able to help her daughter. The pounding of her heart seemed to beat right along with the shouts of the crowd.
“I’m not afraid, Mama.” Lydia had always been a brave one. Her faith had grown so in the short time since they had been visited by the traveling apostles. Olivia knew that nothing or no one could make her daughter denounce the name of Christ.
From the midst of the crowd, her Josias appeared before them. “That is my wife and daughter; I will take them now.”
“No, they will be punished,” shouted the soldier. The crowd agreed with loud cries.
“Please, give them another chance. They are just women; they don’t know what they are doing.”
“The crime has been committed. They will be hanged unless they deny Jesus.”
Lydia and Olivia stood silently. They watched as the big man crumbled to the ground, his tears watering the grass below him.
Later in the cell, Lydia took a needle and floss from her hem and began to pull them in and out of the front of her dress. “Everyone will know who my King is. I will die giving glory to the Saviour.”
“Daughter, do you have another needle, and more floss? I too, would like to show my love for the Master.” Lydia pulled another needle from the hem of her dress and they stitched and sang hymns together.
Lena sat with her head bent over the piece of linen, her fingers delicately pulling the floss through the fabric to recreate her sister’s design of so many years ago. She and her father traveled many miles each day sharing the message of Christ, and pieces of cloth that would remind the converts of the sacrifice that was made so long ago.
She smiled at the beautiful cross that she had stitched, and thanked God for the lives of her mother and her sister. She was sure that they were smiling, too.
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