A dark figure hurried through the Roman patrolled streets of Jerusalem. The man wrapped his long coat tightly about him and pulled the hood down past his forehead. His body struggled against the wind, and he prayed he wouldn’t run into any more soldiers.
Nothing he did helped to repress the memory of what had happened earlier; the images lingered, and he shivered as he remembered.
“Binyamin ben Ari, open up! We have orders to search your shop...” Soldiers yelled and threatened to break down the door, just as Binyamin ran to open it.
“Out of the way, You!” A soldier used the hilt of his sword and shoved the young Jew with a force that sent him sprawling into several tables loaded with sacks of grain. The tables wobbled and tipped, spilling wheat, rye and barley across the floor.
Binyamin landed on his back. A blow to his head pulled a blanket of darkness across his eyes. Before he blacked out, he prayed for his wife and two young boys.
Later, when he regained consciousness, the shop was quiet. He gripped the edge of a table and pulled himself up, but his vision blurred, and he doubled over until the pain passed.
“Anna,” he called. “Samuel, Symeon...” Panic nearly overwhelmed him as he searched in vain for any sign of his family.
Dazed and confused, he bolted the door to his business, now sacked and lying in ruins, and hurried toward home.
The memory remained vivid as Binyamin touched the side of his head. Yeshua, he prayed, my family...I’ve never felt so alone and helpless... A sudden blast of cold air made him catch his breath, just as a hand grabbed his arm and drew him into an alley.
“Shhh, do not speak. Follow me.”
Binyamin swallowed to still the beating of his heart. The shadowy figure led him through a hidden doorway, where a hand grasped his other arm and guided him down a series of stone steps. They went through another door and into a dimly lit room.
“Abba!” Binyamin heard his wife shush Samuel. She held Symeon, and the three of them rushed into his waiting arms.
“What happened; how did you...?” He looked around at the unfamiliar faces smiling as they witnessed the happy reunion.
It was then he recognized the man who had found him in the street. Shimon reached out and embraced the new convert, “Binyamin, you are all right? I was on my way back to get you. Come, sit. You look pale.”
People parted to let the young man and his family through. Shimon told Binyamin how he and several other men had entered the back of his shop when the soldiers had arrived. They were able to rush his wife and children away and hide them just in time.
“You knew the soldiers were coming?”
Shimon nodded. “We look out for one another. Our love for Yeshua HaMashiach binds us together as one body with our Lord as the head. Each member has a function. You will understand this more as you fellowship with other believers.”
“But...how will I know where my family and I will fit in?”
Shimon’s eyes twinkled, “Some mysteries must be revealed by the Ruach HaKodesh; other things are much more obvious. You are a baker, are you not?”
“Then, my brother, I would say you will fit in very well with those of us who are hungry.”
Gentle laughter filled the room with warmth. He would have smiled with them, but the color drained from his face, and he staggered. Several men helped him to a bench. Anna lifted his hood and gasped at the sight of his wound.
In a matter of seconds, Binyamin’s head had been tended to, and he was given a little food, along with a warm drink. “Where are we?” he asked.
“In the home of David and Miryam,” Shimon answered. “Persecution from the Sanhedrin and the Romans has forced us into hiding. We meet in different homes for the breaking of bread, and as we learn about Yeshua, we learn how to meet one another’s needs as well.”
He motioned for the believers to gather round the young family, so new to the teachings of the Way.
“Now, let me introduce you to your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Tonight, we will pray together to restore your spirits. Tomorrow,” he grinned, “we will work together to restore your shop.”
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