September 5th 111A.D.

Dressed in his normal attire, Joseph Barjona stood before Emperor Decius. “What do you have to say for yourself?” questioned the Roman leader harshly.
The scrawny-looking man that was between the two guards answered firmly but respectfully. “I confess that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour, Emperor Decius.” Disgusted, the man of great influence raised his voice. “You are a fool! Be prepared to die! Tomorrow morning, you will be entertainment for the masses as you become food for my lions! Take this rebel away!”

December 7th, 2003

Mr. Bessel” stated Tom Morris, President and CEO of Computer Works Industry, one of the fastest-growing and most prestigious companies in the world. “We would like to see you fill this position and become our Southern Regional Manager.” Monty Bessel was thrilled! To be in charge of seven states and acquire a raise of nearly a quarter of a million dollars annually at the same time, was more than Monty had ever expected. Tom Morris continued, “There is only one problem Monty...and that is your...well...your Christianity.” Concerned, Monty Bessel fidgeted slightly, then straightened. His boss looked him in the eye. “We understand being religious. Certainly some religion is good and I personally encourage it among my employees. But...what we desire is that you will give us your word that you will not give your religious opinions so freely and...well...that you not be so visible with your Bible.” Tom Morris gave an almost unnoticed sigh, like he was glad he was done with these last statements. Monty was surprised at the requests. He had a habit of carrying his Bible with him most places he went and as a born-again Christian, he would witness whenever he had opportunity. He again moved about in his seat, visibly revealing his discomfort with being put on the spot. The well-dressed executive felt assured that this much-coveted position would be his and he certainly had been counting on all of the benefits and rewards that came with the promotion. Yet, the choice, though difficult to make, was clear. Hesitantly, Monty responded, “I am sorry sir. I cannot promise those things.” Sternly, Tom Morris looked into Monty Bessel’s eyes with sorrow, yet a cold firmness. “ Then unfortunately, you will no longer be considered for the position of Southern Regional Manager. Good day, Mr. Bessel.”

September 6th 111 A.D.

As Joseph Barjona was being led to the center of the stadium, thousands of seated onlookers chanted and cheered. Hateful shouts and comments were audible from the crowd. Joseph’s clothes were in shreds due to the harsh beating that he had received for the last full hour. The scars and wounds, still bloody, were present throughout his entire body. Alone now, the four guards having returned to safety, Joseph watched as two of the more ferocious-looking lions were released from their cages and came closer. Dropping to his knees, the holy man opened his mouth. “Heavenly Father, I thank thee the creator of all life, for thy blessings, for the salvation that you have given me through faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Obviously weak from the treatment he had received, Joseph fell to his knees and lifted his eyes toward heaven. “I thank thee, O God, that you have counted me worthy to suffer for you.” Closer now, the two hungry animals began circling the praying man. “May I also be found worthy to reign with you Lord in your coming kingdom, in which you shall rule and bring peace to the world.” The beasts lunged suddenly! Joseph ran not, neither did he attempt to dodge his vicious attackers. He never made it to his feet. Whether he desired to die on his knees or whether he had no time to stand, only God knew. But no matter, within less than a minute, the pair of lions had done their work and Joseph Barjona, through much suffering and horrible pain, entered into the presence of the Lord.

December 7th, 2003

Monty Bessel was disgusted! What persecution! If only others knew how much he suffered for his faith. He was sure to bring this up at Wednesday night prayer meeting! Sure, he still had his six figure salary and his company paid health and life insurance and the fancy private office, but what a price to pay for being a Christian! Yes, Monty thought to himself, what a price!


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