Lion's gaze

Lion's gaze

Monday, December 29, 2014


Historical background tidbits: 
  • The Romans invaded the British Isles shortly before Christ was born. Their presence and rule was radically rejected by the northern Pictish nations (Cruthnae peoples).
  • The Cruthnae tribes were fierce, deadly warriors, experts at ambush and lightening attacks.
  • Hadrian's wall and other walls were built as an attempt to stop or limit the constant attacks decimating the isolated Roman troops and colonies. But it took hundreds of years for the Romans to eradicate the Cruthnae tribes.
  • Tradition tells us that early in Christian history, monks and others traveled through the northern parts of the British Isles.
  • We know from Scriptures and history that numerous Roman soldiers became followers of Christ. Some of these men were certainly sent to isolated places in the first 3 hundred years after Christ.
  • If you've read this much, I'll let you in on a secret: These are actually the first two chapters from a book (maybe movie too) I'm writing called "Tarandi".

Part 1 – Walls of Grey

375 AD - near Hadrian's Wall, northern Great Britain

The low fog, seeping through the trees and blanketing the field beyond, hid the ground and made the stillness even more eerie in the dim morning light. Marcus Silvanus was sure he had heard the slight thump of a weapon against a tree, but the pounding of his own heartbeat in his ears seemed loud enough to block other slight noises. Afraid to move his head even a fraction of an inch, so as to not give his position away, his grip tightened on the cowhorn at his side. As he thought about moving it slowly up to his lips, a sudden spray of bark stung his face and made him jerk his head back from the tree. The quivering shaft of a very deadly and decidedly close arrow, protruded from the edge of the massive oak. Flinging himself behind the tree, he immediately shattered the silence with the triple blast of an attack warning. The screams of the enemy punctured the grayness and he heard the crashing of bodies through the brush as he dropped the horn and jerked his sword from the scabbard. Falling on one knee with his back to the thick trunk and his helmeted head now level with the brush around him, he waited for the crashing to come closer. As the first of the wild tattooed bodies leapt over the bushes to his left, he spun around and chopped a fur-clad Pict across the throat. Without waiting to see what happened, he leaped back to the tree and grabbed his shield just as another wild-eyed warrior ran around the other side. Bringing his spiked club down on Marcus' upraised shield with a mighty blow that almost knocked him to his knees, the veteran Roman soldier instantly thrust his sword into the man's unprotected chest and spun to the side. He quickly swung the sword around and down across the hairy neck. Knowing he didn't need to waste any further time with the falling body, he dropped to one knee and with his shield held firmly before him, took in the battle below him. He saw the dim glint of armor from the main body of Roman soldiers as they stood together against the massive onslaught of the screaming Picts. The tightly held shields and the protruding spears were taking a fearsome toll on the loosely organized wild men and the disciplined Romans were keeping them back with their defensive formation.

Marcus moved cautiously down through the trees and towards the surging bodies, but as quickly as the attack began, it now suddenly melted back into the fog. The Roman soldiers did not follow the shadowy forms leaping back into the forest, but lifted their shields and weapons and shouted the victory cry:

"Hail Rome, the great victor…hail Caesar the Lord."

Marcus did not join in their words, but looked at the now-still bodies of the men lying on the ground near him. Dropping to one knee, he set down his shield and sword and bowed his head.

"Lord, forgive us for killing these men. I know you died for them and would much rather that I told them of You. Forgive me."

Rising to his feet, he heard a low groan from the bushes in the direction of the Pict retreat. Pushing his way down through the wiry branches, he almost tripped over the prostrate body of a young Pict warrior. Head bloody from the fearsome wound that had peeled back his matted scalp, Marcus could see the wound was not mortal. The light, patchy beard told of an age of no more than 14 or 15 years old, and he had probably just witnessed his first battle. Marcus squatted at his side, then pulled the outstretched arms in and deftly rolled the muscular figure over onto his stomach. Crinkling his nose and almost gagging at the fetid smell of the unwashed body, he pulled out his dagger and began cutting a strip of the rough, thick leather skin from the bottom of the boy's covering. Quickly tying the hands together, he cut and made another strip for a hobble to keep him from easily running away. As he worked, he noted the heavy silver chain around the tattooed neck and pulled it off to study it. A circular star sign disk of some deity or clan hung from it and Marcus stuffed it in his leather pouch.

"Found a live one, eh?"

The rough voice of Quintus rolled ahead of his footsteps as the muscular soldier made his way through the bushes.

"We'll have a good time with him tonight, you can be sure of that!" Quintus spat at the groaning form, then kicked the boy over to see his face.

"So, they send their children against us too? Soon it will be the women as well, then we'll really have some fun!"

His loud, raucous laughter soon attracted the other soldiers and the seasoned warriors encircled the boy's now slowly moving form. Suddenly opening his startlingly blue eyes, the still figure looked up at them. Picking up his shield and stepping back, Marcus saw there was no fear in the young man's eyes, but his senses seemed still dulled by the mighty blow to his head. Some of the soldiers began to kick him and laughed when one kick glanced off his shoulder and touched the wound in his scalp and he screamed from the pain. Marcus quickly stepped forward and set his shield down hard between the boy and his tormentors.

"I, Marcus Silvanus, claim my right to take this prisoner for Rome. From this moment on, he is the property of Rome."

He looked the men in the eyes and saw their disappointment. Marcus had probably just saved the life of the young Pict warrior, as the men still had the blood lust upon them and wanted vengeance for the lives of their fallen comrades.

Quintus sneered at Marcus, then said, "Saving him for Rome, or saving him for yourself?"

Some of the other soldiers chuckled at this crude joke, but Marcus noted that his brothers in the Way were not laughing and several looked at him curiously. He felt other eyes on him and glanced down at the young man. Meeting the icy gaze, he realized the young warrior knew he had saved his life, but he saw no gratitude there, only anger and hatred. His heart fell and he wondered if he had done the right thing…


Part 2 – The Chieftain

377 AD - near Hadrian's Wall, northern Great Britain

"Hipitosh lalech ma'hind groandand. Translated into your language, it is 'The High Lands touch the sky and become the pathway for the gods.'"  

With a broad gesture, Tarandi swept his hand across the sky and gazed at the mountains to the north. His eyes reflected the deep blue of the sky as he turned his head to look steadily into the eyes of the Roman.

"My people will come again and again until you are gone. You Romans can never take the highlands from us and you will never make us bow to Rome. We will always be free!"

His square chin jutted out defiantly and except for his tattooed face, he looked like a painting from some Roman fresco. Marcos noticed the tight muscles twitching in his jaw and answered quietly:

"Tarandi, neither you, nor your people, nor the Romans are free. No man is truly free until Jeshua sets him free. The word of the Holy One of God to us is: 'If the Son sets you free, you shall be truly free.' He told us that everyone in the world is really a slave to the Twisted One, the Deceiver of all men.'

His gentle but insistent way made Tarandi's face soften as he stared at the older man’s wrinkled face. His questioning look caused Marcos to explain more carefully:

"The Twisted One is the same one that makes your people think they have to kill their children in sacrifice to him. He is the same one that makes Romans want to take slaves and use them like animals to fight in the arenas. He is the same one that made the Jews want to kill the Perfect Son of God. He is the one you Picts carve into the rocks as a snake and gives your priests the power to do harm to others, but does not truly heal them. His very name is Deceiver, for he will do anything to keep men from knowing the Truth that sets them free."

" But Novantae Cruthnae are slaves of no one!" Tarandi indignantly stated.

"Tell me Tarandi, when your people drink the strong heather brew, do your women not run into the bushes with the children to hide? Why do they hide? It is because they are afraid the men will hurt them! Why would they want to hurt their own families? When you sleep at night in your houses, why do you put logs against the door? It is because you are afraid of the spirits! When a man sneaks into another man's house and visits that man's wife secretly, why does he do that? He knows that man will try to kill him when he finds out! Why does he do it even though he has his own wife? It is because all men do wrong things and the Enemy keeps them chained with fear. You are very right when you say the Picts are mighty warriors and very fierce, but they are also like all men everywhere and really serve the Twisted One, not the Creator of everything."

"But you serve Rome and kill others for her, why are you any better?" The Latin was halting and mixed with the Pict language, but Marcos understood the bitter verbal thrust.

Tarandi's question burned into Marcos' heart and he looked down at his sandaled feet. The young Pict felt a flash of shame at his cruel question and he regretted it immediately. He had grown fond of the older soldier with his strange words that seemed to stab like knives into his heart. He saw the struggle on the lined face of the old centurion as the tanned face lifted to face him.

"Tarandi, I have asked my Lord many times why He wants me here. I know He loves your people and my heart is grieved within me at my life of war. I pray everyday for God to somehow help me use the Sword of His Word instead of the sword of Rome. The Word is a sword that gives life, not takes it away."

As the shadows lengthened like dark fingers from the trees, the two men stood up and Marcos again felt a pang as the clink of chains came from the young man's feet. His manacled ankles were scarred and even the wraps of cloth around them did not hide the short chain that kept the captive young warrior from running away.  Tarandi grabbed the ragged piece of cloth tied in the center of the chain, lifted it and turned to walk slowly towards the wooden lean-to along the wall, straightening his back and trying to walk with as much dignity as possible.

Raising to his feet, Marcos gathered his light toga more tightly around his shoulders. It was cool tonight and the fires would need stoking to keep him warm in his hewn-block shelter. He glanced once more down the long, gray wall, disappearing into the evening gloom. He looked for any guards manning the wall again tonight. Discipline was growing harder and harder as the men lost hope. Rome was going under and they would soon be totally on their own. It had been months since they had heard anything and the men were growing anxious to head further south, away from this useless wall Hadrian had built. It certainly didn't stop the Picts and only served to keep them in one place as easy targets.

He looked down at the silver chain with its star-shaped clan sign in his hand and breathed a deep sigh. He had planned to give it back to Tarandi tonight, but had forgotten after the young man's verbal thrust. Marcos flipped it over his neck so he wouldn't forget to give it back tomorrow, then slowly walked to the gatehouse and ducked to enter the low doorway. His two best friends and brothers in the Faith were singing a beautiful hymn about Jesus in a garden. He sat down on his cot to listen and soon joined in the musical praise. He knew they had been praying again for their families and for Marcos as he taught the young Pict warrior about Jesus the Christ. With the riots in Rome becoming more obvious from the last reports they had received, they were almost sick from worry for their families. Marcos thought of his own elderly parents and prayed silently again for their protection. He prayed also for someone to tell them about his Jesus. He knew they had been disturbed by his attempts to explain about Jesus, but he knew they had been tremendously impressed by the changes in him since the day he had come to believe.

His mind on the far away hills of Rome and his praise to the Lord, Marcos missed the first quiet thump of feet on the ground. At the sound of more feet hitting the earth, his friends jerked up and he snapped back to the present and leaped from his wooden cot. Jerking his sword from its sheath, he grabbed his helmet from its peg by the door and thrust it down over his head as he and his two friends ran outside. The war cries of the swarming hoards of Pict warriors were all around them and he braced himself for the first wave of wild-eyed men as they rushed upon him. His two friends had their backs to each other as they fought impossible odds and as he saw them fall before the massed warriors, and prepared to meet his Maker. The rushing, fur-clad Picts suddenly stopped only a dozen paces from him and the screaming, jeering faces of a dozen warriors surrounded him. They were like a pack of wolves, delaying the kill to heighten their thrill. He moved forward to put an end to their fun and die with dignity, but a mighty blow smashed into his helmet from behind and he only dully felt the rushing ground as he crashed face down. He sensed savage kicks to his body, but was thrown suddenly onto his back as a large, blue-eyed warrior flipped him over with his foot. The giant barbarian grasped his gleaming long sword with both hands to plunge it downward, and Marcos stared into the man's face as he waited for the finishing blow. The muscular figure above him looked at his chest and suddenly his wild, contorted face changed to one of unbelief. He reached down with one hand and yanked the chain off Marcos' neck. As he looked more closely, Marcos saw great pain, then a look of utter hatred and anger filling his eyes. The gnarled gray-haired warrior raised his face to the heavens and screamed a long, almost animal scream of emotion. Once again raising his sword with both hands, he looked down at Marcos before he plunged it into his body. A sudden voice called:

"Padrenti! Padrentri! Leh hamen biernyon." Marcus recognised Tarandi's voice and the word "father" and "your child". The frozen figure above him turned to find the voice and Tarandi again spoke:

"Biruchna tawand romantsa. Padrenti cowant kratskit." "The Roman saved me. Father spare him!" Tarandi cried.

The rugged, bearded face again registered unbelief and shock and as Tarandi pushed through the men, he spoke quickly to assure his father that the shaven-headed large youth before him was really his son. Finally recognizing his now-older tattooed son, he cried out and leaped over Marcus to embrace the young man. Almost as tall as his father, though slimmer, his wide shoulders promised a powerful physique. The wooly group of warriors pressed round the father and son and Marcus was left on the ground to nurse his splitting headache. He closed his eyes tightly against the burning torches and winced as he pulled his helmet off to relieve the pressure of the rapidly swelling bump on the backside of his head. Carefully moving his head to one side, he opened his eyes the merest slit and saw the crumpled bodies of his two spiritual brothers lying just beyond the noisy crowd. He closed his eyes again and began to pray for the families of the two slain Roman soldiers. It was hard to even think when his head felt like it was being split in half from throbbing pulses, but he managed to pray even for the hairy warriors around him.

The rumble of many questioning voices faded in and out from the milling mass of warriors and Marcus felt himself on the very edge of consciousness again. He had no idea how much time had passed, but the ground was growing colder beneath him.

"Marcus, are you still alive?" Tarandi's voice came from above him and he slowly forced his squinting eyes open enough to see the face of the young Pict staring worriedly down at him.

"I'm not sure yet..." came his croaking reply.

Relief flooded Tarandi's face and he squatted down to look into the rapidly swelling face of the older man. He reached down and carefully pulled the Roman to his feet and Marcus swayed as he tried to open his eyes enough to peer at the blurry figures standing before him. The powerful form of Tarandi's father swam into his view among the tattooed warriors in the front of the silent crowd, and the heavily muscled man stepped forward as his commanding voice suddenly boomed out in the language of the Cruthnae:

"Because you let my son live, I will let you live! Because you chained him, his chains will now be yours. Because you taught him the ways and speech of Rome, you will learn the ways and speech of the Novantae Cruthnae. Because you treated him well, we will also treat you well, but you will never return to your land or to your people." The proud figure looked straight into Marcus' eyes for a few seconds, then turned and walked away.

Tarandi translated, though Marcus realized he could already understand many of the words. The young man spoke to him directly:

"It looks like your God has given you what you want! The bite of your chains will be bitter, but you say your heart is free no matter what happens to your body! I want to know more of your God. Now you will tell me all this in the land of the Cruthnae, since your days of war are forever over."

Marcus gazed back at the serious young man, then looking beyond him at the swarm of hostile eyes, he huskily forced out a reply:

"No, Tarandi, my days of true warfare are just beginning, but not with swords or spears. God is sending me to your people and I will now fight for your souls. With chains, or without."

Tarandi looked down at his soon-to-be-removed chains, then after a glance back at the blackening eyes of his former captor, turned to follow his father. Marcus bowed his head briefly to give thanks for his life, then also turned to follow his new owner into the Land of the Cruthnae.

© COPYRIGHT 2015 - All rights reserved by the publisher/owner of "The Lion's Eye" blog


Historical background tidbits: 
  • The Ethiopic empires had contact with Jewish travelers and communities for hundreds of years before Christ. It appears that some contact with and influence from Judaism is reflected even in the ancient practises of some of the ethnic peoples.
  • Tradition tells us that a number of the disciples traveled far and widely, maybe even to India. Historically, Christianity came to Ethiopia very early and changed the history of that region and it's peoples.
  • Some extinct Ethiopic languages and writings have never been deciphered and remain unsolved mysteries to this day.
  • Contrary to what a few Bible critics have claimed, camels have a very ancient presence in most of the Middle East.

Part 1 – In the Desert

75 AD - Ethiopia

Miniature clouds of dust swirled out from under dirty brown sandals as the uneven staccato thud of feet invaded the silence of the late morning. The leader of the little band lifted a wrinkled hand to shield his eyes from the glaring sun and peered into the shimmering, rocky landscape ahead. His steady pace slowed to a stop and leaning on his walking stick, he turned to look at the straggling forms behind him. The cloth-covered heads lifted as his voice reached out to the little group.

"We will rest here."  

He pointed to two scrawny trees at the side of the faint trail, offering sparse shade to the weary travelers. Making their way to the hard, pebbled soil beneath the branches, the tired forms shrugged off their heavy packs as their leader spoke again.

"We cannot be far now. I have seen signs of others on the trail."

Lifting her lined face to look at him from under her scarf, his wife's dark eyes sought his.

"Andrew, we are almost out of water."

Her soft voice was scratchy from weariness and her dry lips cracked and bled from the unaccustomed movement. The bags under her eyes spoke of exhaustion beyond words.

"Are you sure we are near?" she questioned.

"Rachael, God has always provided. He will not fail us now."

His deep voice carried over to the second tree and the others looked up, eyes shining from under their dusty cloth coverings. Two small figures struggled to their feet and made their way to Andrew's rock. Studying the little girl's trusting face and that of her brother, he suddenly reached out and embraced his two grandchildren, pulling them close. He buried his face in their robes, then looked heavenward.

"O Lord God Almighty, we are here because we love you and you have commanded us to go. We are tired and need water and rest. Please provide for your servants from your abundant supplies. In the name of Yeshua your Son we implore you, amen."

His simple prayer brought amens from the other three adults, and one by one they also sought the Lord in supplication. As they cried out to God, a small but insistent voice unexpectedly broke their reverent concentration.

"Grandfather, grandfather, something's there!"

All eyes jerked open and they turned to follow the finger of the excited little girl. Coming towards them in the distance was a strange figure, swaying back and forth, rocking like a boat on the sea. A camel strode purposefully in their direction and soon a light curtain around the box on it's back parted to reveal a dark, shining face. The golden glint of metal shone from the broad forehead above a bright, toothy smile. The conveyance and its beast drew near, and a soft command issued from the black face. The awkward contraption slowed to a dusty stop and protesting loudly, the animal splayed its ungainly legs and settled to the ground. Without a break, the dromedary immediately closed its eyes and began contentedly chewing its cud. Two very black hands spread the ornately adorned curtains and a handsomely costumed figure stepped from the box.

"Mashaka hilem Qwandoni" the powerful voice called out, and the figure bowed deeply from the waist as his hands came together at his face. He looked expectantly at Andrew's blank face, then after a slight pause, spoke again:


This time he spoke in the language of the Hebrews and Andrew jerked slightly with surprise, but answered quickly:

"Shalom alaikum"

His mouth hung just a little open and his squinting, leathery face revealed the shock of hearing the African speak his ancient language.

"My name is Andrew and this is my family." he stated. "We are coming in peace with important tidings".

"You are all welcome, may the Almighty's name be praised forever! Please come to my humble abode and wash your feet from your travels. My name is Jalef Adoni Malel and you are my honored guests!"

There was a tinge of exotic accent to the Hebrew words and the tall figure beckoned with a puffed, silver-adorned silky sleeve. His loose pants were gathered at the ankles and bejeweled hands promised more than just a "humble abode". He asked politely:

"Would the children like to ride with me in the rahala?"

He pointed at the box, glanced at the bright-eyed youngsters, then looked directly into Andrew's eyes. His kind face and honest gaze disarmed any doubts the Hebrew had, and he nodded his assent. The children ran quickly to the camel's side, then remembering their packs, returned to the tree, picked them up and looked questioningly at Jalef. He said:

"No problem for my strong friend! He can carry all that and more over many days travel, without complaint…well, without trouble anyway!"

He laughed and picked up the two packs and as he tied them on the sides of the box, said:

"We have been waiting for all of you! One of our prophets had a dream that you were coming and told us to wait for you today at this place. He said you had a message from God, may His name be praised forever, for us, so I came to welcome you. You are only a few hours from my home and the whole village is waiting!"

The adults picked up their packs, and as the protesting animal groaned his way back to his feet, they soon followed close behind the swaying red box. The children laughed and waved at their parents from the open curtains and a new spring seemed to be in everyone's step.


Part 2 – Messiah's messengers

75 AD - Ethiopian village

The unusual music once again stirred Andrew's soul and he felt as though he needed to join the dancers in their intricate steps. The gracefulness and synchronization of their moves and the flashing colors were the most beautiful presentation Andrew had ever seen. He understood some of the words and recognized different Psalms by the names of God and names for places in them. It was a tremendously moving way of acting out the message, and awakened emotions in his heart that he had only experienced many years before.

"It makes my heart cry out to God to see the beauty of what He has done for us so wonderfully portrayed! I never imagined such a way of telling His story. Thank you, Jalef." whispered Andrew as he leaned close.

Watching the dancer's finish and return to their places, the giant's face shone with wonder and emotion and the silvery lines reflecting down his cheeks revealed the tenderness of the heart beating within the silken-wrapped chest.

"May the Almighty be forever praised for His Word to us." he softly rumbled. "It is so precious and so living! Oh, to see His Promise come. To see our Messiah lead us into greatness again. We have waited so long..."

His earnestness touched Andrew deeply and the pressure in his heart could be contained no longer. He felt as though his chest would explode at Jalef's open and almost pleading look. He bowed his head and cried out to God for the words he wanted so desperately to share. Lifting his face to gaze through brimming eyes at the expectant looks of the men and women gathered quietly in the large room, he felt like bursting from the joy of the moment. His eyes fell on the tear-streaked face of his wife. She nodded vigorously and his spirit began to fill with the power of God as words came to his mind –

"Tell of Me. Tell them from my Word."

The whispered commands moved him so greatly he suddenly rose to his feet and lifted his hands and face to the heavens. Every eye was riveted on his shining face and he began to speak:

"To You Who fills my heart and soul…To You who brought us to these precious ones…To You who prepared their hearts for this moment…I give my praise and my love! Oh Holy One, let Your message flow out to them. May Your faithful love fill their hearts as it fills ours. May Your wonderful Truth now be revealed to these prepared ones. I ask this in the Name of Your Son, Yeshua, amen."

At the mention of a Son, several questioning looks passed between the men seated on the ornately decorated pillows in front of Andrew and he quickly began his story.

"My friends and gracious hosts, my heart is so full of the message from God to you I can hardly speak. For over a thousand years, we Jews have looked for the Promised One of God. For over a thousand years we have prayed for our King to come and lead our nation into glory and peace. For over a thousand years we have suffered at the hands of our enemies and cried out to God for the Holy One to come and defend us. For generations, our people have known of the promise of One being born in Bethlehem and of the Tribe of Judah and the family of David. A wonderful thing happened during the reign of King Herod. God's holy angel appeared to a young betrothed maid from the family and lineage of David, with the incredible news that she would soon be with child, though she was a virgin. God's messenger told her the child would be from God Himself and was the long-awaited Promised One!"

A rumble of shock and excitement flowed through the group and Andrew continued:

"This holy child was born in Bethlehem, just as the Word foretold. He grew up as a carpenter's son, but full of the Spirit and wisdom. When he reached 30 years of age, he was confirmed as God's Holy One by many miracles. He traveled about healing the sick, driving out demons, and even caused the blind to see!"

Andrew's intense expression was filled with wonder at the memory.

"We followed Him, knowing He was the Promised One, the Messiah. We saw him feed 5000 with only a few loaves, walk on water and even raise the dead back to life!" Andrew almost shouted the last sentence and many of the men jumped to their feet in excitement. "Yes, he even raised the dead to life and we saw it all! We saw Him, touched and heard Him, even ate with Him and followed Him for almost three years."

"Where is He? We will follow Him too!" the men cried as they heard Andrew's words.

Andrew tried to quiet the agitated group, but Jalef finally shouted them down with his deep, powerful voice and the room finally settled down to a dull rumble of voices talking.

"Remember the words of the prophet Isaiah?: 

 'Behold, my servant shall deal wisely, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. Like as many were astonished at thee (his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men), so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they understand?'

"We could not understand these words and the ones that followed, for they seemed to be talking of our Messiah King, but the Prophet seemed to be talking about our people rejecting the Messiah! Of Him being crushed and killed! My friends, now we know why, now we know that He is indeed the Messiah! We were waiting for a King, but God was sending a Savior and King. We wanted a Messiah to remove the crush of the Romans, but God gave us a Messiah that removes the burden of our own sins. We were looking for a Lion; and He indeed is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, but God also gave us a Lamb. He is the Lamb of God, the Passover Sacrifice. He came not just to free our bodies, but to give our spirits life. But hear now what our people did to their Messiah: they spat upon Him and beat Him and hung Him upon a tree to die!"

"Nooooo..!" the wail of the voices was deafening and the despair of the men was almost overwhelming. Many of the robed figures ripped their clothing and held up their hands as though imploring Andrew to tell the truth, to correct his last statement. Some fell to their knees in dismay and buried their faces in their hands. Andrew continued loudly:

"Yes, we stood below that tree and watched His blood flow out. The blood of the Perfect Lamb of God. Blood shed by God's Holy One for us. Like you, we that followed Him, wept and despaired over His death. But there was something greater, something so wonderful you will now shout and weep for joy! Like the Holy Word says, God "...would not suffer His Holy One to suffer corruption" and He raised Him from the dead! He is alive, He is alive! We saw Him alive and even ate with Him and watched as He rose back into heaven! He is alive and will come back for those that love and serve Him!"

The stunned men were looking at Andrew in disbelief. "He is alive?" they asked. "How can this be?"

Andrew again explained the whole story to them, starting this time at Adam and Eve. Hours later, when he again explained the resurrection, there was silence. One man stood up and said: "I believe! I believe! He is the Messiah! I believe!" Another began to weep from joy and pulled the first man to himself in a spontaneous embrace. "I believe too! He is our Lamb, He is our Messiah!" As more and more of the men began to express their belief in Yeshua as the Messiah, some began to dance. Their faces were radiant and shone like spotlights in the dim, smoky light of the oil lamps. Soon, a group of the men had pulled Andrew and his wife and family into their dancing and they were caught up in the magic of that unforgettable moment.

As the night wore on, Andrew shared much more from the Scriptures with them. There were many questions and more expressed their belief in Yeshua as the Messiah, after Andrew had shown them the passages of Scripture telling of Him. The morning glow began to show through the windows to the east when Andrew asked for bread and wine to be brought for all. He broke the bread with them and they drank from the cup as Andrew explained those wonderful symbols. When they had finished and Andrew sat with his wife watching the sun rise over the distant hills, the
y bowed their heads and sat thanking and praising God for the miracle of His Perfect Son.
© COPYRIGHT 2015 - All rights reserved by the publisher/owner of "The Lion's Eye" blog

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Historical background tidbits: 
  • The setting for this fiction short story is shortly after the first European "discovery" of Brazil. The Roman Catholic church had a strong Jesuit presence soon after the first ships began to arrive. Greed was a powerful driving factor.
  • Huguenot pastor/missionary/explorers first came to Brazil in the early to mid 1500's. Due to persecution in France, they were searching for new places to settle and live in peace. Soon filled with compassion for the indigenous peoples they found, these highly educated, godly people desired to reach out to them with the Good News of Christ.
  • Jesuit priests killed these early Huguenot explorers and their families, ending Brazil's first contacts with the Gospel.
  • Brazil had 10x more slaves (!) than all of north and central America combined. When the indigenous people were decimated, the Portuguese began bringing black slaves from Africa in huge quantities. Brazil's Quilombola communities are some of the visible remnants
  • It is said that a few Huguenot children survived Jesuit massacres by hiding in the jungle and were later found by Dutch sailors and taken to the United States.


1552 AD - Brazilian coast off Bahia

Slap…slap…slap. Jon Pierre Lindoney lay with his back against the rough surface of the central mast, listening to the familiar sounds of the waves smacking against the wooden hull. The shadow from the mast in late afternoon sun kept his weary body out of the baking rays, but his sweaty skin was only slightly cooled by the tropical breeze that filled the faded sails above him. The ragged edges of his once-full trousers, now barely covering his thin, bony knees, were vivid evidence of his extreme estate.

Forcing his hands into fists, he studied them, turning them back and forth slowly. Rope burns and unhealed line cuts had so stiffened his callused fingers that he had been having difficulty grasping the sail ropes and in hauling in the fish lines. The blotched and wrinkled skin across the backs had deep creases cutting across the surface from too much sun and his nails were cracked and pale white.

Looking up and shading his eyes, he automatically scanned the horizon for any unusual shape. Only the familiar bulges of the swells broke the endless circle in the distance and he bowed his head tiredly. A deep sigh pushed up from his chest and hissed slowly from the thin line of his lips.

"Oh my Lord, I am so weary of this long voyage. Please, oh God Most High, help us to find the Great Green Land soon. We are so tired and weak and need food and water. Please God, for Your great Name's sake, lead us with Your Spirit and fill us with Your hope."

Sweat joined forces with sweat and a drop traced its way down the deep crease above his mustache and disappeared into his short beard. He opened his eyes and again looked at his now folded hands. He wondered if his stiffened fingers would ever again play his viol. It had been months since he had even looked at it in its molding leather case.

Pushing to his feet, he made his way to the rope ladder tied to the side rail, stretching down from the crow's nest high above his head. Balancing carefully as he stepped up the cross pieces, he pulled his way skyward, scarcely pausing on the familiar upward journey. The sway of the ship made him grasp the rope more firmly and wincing from the pain in his hands he tried to concentrate on each rung. Pulling himself onto the small platform, he stood and hugged the hot mast and gazed into the distance. A movement below caught his eye and he glanced down to see a stocky figure step out of the steep stairwell by the cabin. He saw the bearded face turn upward and a hand shaded its eyes as a gravelly voice boomed up at him from below:

"So, you still believe your God will save us, eh?" the figure shouted up to him with it's Portuguese-accented French.

"We have almost no water and cannot catch anymore fish without bait! Unless we have a miracle now, we will die and rot in hell!"

The captain glared up at him, then turned and made his way back the way he had come. Settling down for his turn at the evening watch, Jon Pierre faced the setting sun. A few clouds lay on the horizon and the edges glowed with fiery display. As the sun dropped lower against a cloud, Jon Pierre noticed that the cloud did not let any light through as usual. The pointed top thrust up and seemed to swallow the sun. Jon Pierre quickly jerked the small telescope from his wide cloth belt and aimed it at the distant object. The swaying ship made it hard to track and the Frenchman lowered the cylinder to carefully clean the eyepiece and front lens. It was hard to find a clean spot on his tattered shirt, but he finally raised the bronze tube to his eye and found the rapidly disappearing form in the distance again. The shape of the mountain was now clearly highlighted by the sinking sun and his heart hammered in his chest.

"Land ho…land ho…land ho!" bellowed forth the urgent call.

Curses soon floated up from below as the men tripped over each other in their rush to get up the stairs. They poured out on the deck and quickly followed his outstretched arm, pointing due west. Jumping and laughing and crying all at the same time, a few fell to their knees and bowed their heads in thanksgiving. The captain made his way to the pilothouse and soon the bow swung from its southwesterly course to head directly toward the still-glowing clouds. Jon Pierre could hardly take his eyes from the dim mountain and his heart swelled in thanksgiving to God.

All evening the ship creaked and groaned it's way westward, until the boatswain yelled the 10-fathom warning as he pulled his knotted rope and weight from the sea. They set anchor for the night, but no one slept and the whole crew lay on the decks to await first light.

Jon Pierre made his way across the weathered boards to the group of six men sitting in a circle. In the dim light escaping from the smoky glass of the flickering oil lamp, he could barely make out the serious faces of his brothers in the Faith. They backed away slightly to make room for him and he sat a little heavily as his legs gave way beneath him. He saw the concern in the other men's eyes, but their own emaciated forms made him wave it off as nothing.

"It is only weakness from flying like a crow too often." he quipped to ease their concern. The joke caused a few men to smile, but like everyone else, they knew he was weak from hunger.  As he looked from face to lined face, he saw expectation for his next words. He quietly folded his hands and spoke to them:

"My brothers and dearest friends in this world, God has again proven Himself the Faithful and True One. As we draw near to the land He has given us to reach, we need to pray for these who do not know Him. We know not what lies ahead and some could lose their lives before they return to France. Let us pray now."

As each man poured out his heart to God, they asked Him to protect and somehow reach these hardened sailors before it was too late. The witness of their lives and mouths had indeed reached some of the ships "permanent" crew and those few had also drawn close and sat outside their small circle. When the last man finally finished, Jon Pierre again looked at each man in the inner circle. He pulled a leather-wrapped parchment from his belt and held it up for all to see.

"This document contains a record of our trip, this year and day, and each of our names. I will finish filling it out before we leave the ship, and each man here should now sign it as a witness to our commitment to our Lord. We will send it back with those from this ship's crew that are now walking in the Way. If the Lord so wills, our families will then know we have reached this Great Green Land and are trying to reach those to whom our Lord has sent us. As each of you knows, it is reported that there are many pagan peoples in this land, peoples for whom our Lord has died and rose again. We must remain true to the goal that is set before us and try to tell them of the coming of the Promised One. May God bless each one as we press forward into the great unknown that lies ahead."

He passed the document to the first man and produced a small quill and bottle of ink with stopper from his wide belt. Each man carefully signed his name to the bottom and solemnly passed it to the next. When the last man had handed the scroll back to him, Jon Pierre signed his name and put the date below it:  January 23, 1552. Carefully rolling the document up and wrapping the soft leather cover around it, he then held it up to heaven and prayed:

"Oh Lord Most High, we pray that your mercy will be great and you will give us good success in this venture you have put upon our hearts. Please protect this document and the one carrying it, that our loved ones may know of your good mercies in bringing us this far. May You guide our feet as we step upon this mighty land for Your Name's sake, amen."

In the first light of dawn, every eye was on the dark shape of the coastline stretching out before them. With each passing minute, their hearts grew lighter as they saw the distant shapes of the hills and rocky cliffs ahead. After the heavy anchor had been weighed and the ship moved closer to the coast, the sun broke over the ocean and shown upon the glistening white beaches and the dense jungle-covered greenery. They could easily see the coral reefs with their breaking surf just out from the beaches and even the fronds of the palm trees that seemed to be everywhere.

Seeking a channel through the reef, the first boatload of crewmembers rowed down the coast until they finally headed toward the beach. Cheers went up from the men still aboard the ship as the small craft finally rammed into the sand and the men leaped to pull her higher. Boatload followed boatload until all 23 members of the crew and 7 passengers were standing on the beach. Among the last boatload to leave the ship, Jon Pierre vaulted out of the small craft, fell on his hands and knees and kissed the sandy beach.

During the next six weeks, the small group of believers helped the crew of the "Le Gloria du Mier" gather water and food for their continued journey down the coast and the men quickly regained their strength. Many of the plants and animals were strange to them, but there were birds like wild black turkeys and large animals almost like a giant pig. It had a long snout and the meat was quite different and similar to cow or horse meat. What fascinated Jon Pierre, were the bands of beautiful blue and red parrots that flew over their heads in the late afternoons and the large, reddish monkeys with the loudest calls he had ever heard. At first they were greatly afraid of the monkeys, thinking them spirits of demons or some band of wild men about to attack them. But they finally spied the fleeing bands in the trees and recognized them as some kind of monkey. After several close calls with large spotted cats following hunters, they decided to never hunt with less than three men and some of the men from the ship's crew would not hunt at all. They all greatly feared these fierce cats, but after managing to shoot a beautiful female with a fresh kill of some kind of large beaver-like creature, they decided the skins would bring a small fortune in Europe.

Many of the ship's crew kept searching up the small rivers that were every few miles up and down the coast. They finally admitted to searching for gold or some other treasure, but seemed to always return empty handed and frustrated. Although Jon Pierre and the Christian community back in France had financed the trip, the half French/half Portuguese captain and his mostly Portuguese crew were looking for riches to take back with them. They planned to continue down the coast and find the colony of Portuguese Jesuit priests and hoped to trade their tools and other goods for the gold that was rumored to be plentiful in that region.

Jon Pierre's group had quietly decided to stay at their present location, as water and game were plentiful and there was fear of the militant Jesuit reaction when they learned the hated Christian Huguenot "heretics" had arrived on these shores. They kept their own council however and waited upon the Lord for clear direction for where to go.

During a short northern recon trip up the coast, the captain's men spied a large canoe on the beach with their telescope. The captain immediately decided to press southward for the safety of the Jesuit settlement before any hostile "barberos" appeared. Soon, the little group of seven Frenchmen stood watching their only connection to the distant continent disappearing down the beautiful coastline. When the gray sails finally slipped from view, the men gathered beneath one of the log-covered lean-tos under the palm trees. Each man felt the need to join together in prayer to the Lord. Falling on his knees, one of the young men of the group began to pray and the rest soon followed suite. All felt the power of God moving among them as they cried out in supplication to their Lord.

Jon Pierre was the last to pray. He lifted a curl of brown hair from his face and looked heavenward:

"Oh Lord God Almighty, Creator of this land and those who live in it, we have come to this place to bring Your words of hope to it's peoples. We have left our loved ones and families in obedience to Thy order and we ask Thee now to help us. We gladly give our lives to Thee, but only ask for Thy wisdom and strength to stand firm. Guide us now with Thy mighty hand and show us the way in which we should go."

The Frenchmen had never planned on actually settling in this spot, for they knew the Jesuits would soon be hunting them. Their supplies were simple and consisted mostly of the tools they needed to survive in this unknown place. They had a few gifts for trading, but mostly had brought in their hearts the greatest Gift of all to give to the people they found. The first Europeans to walk these shores had told of many strange peoples with even stranger customs and speech. This word had reached the Huguenot settlements in France and a great desire to tell these barbarian nations of the Savior of the World had gripped them. These men were also scouting out safer lands for their families, for they had lost many friends and relatives at the hands of the Church of Rome.



1552 AD - Brazilian coast - Bahia

"Pato chye te'amoni!"  Jon Pierre leaned closer to the red-stained face and looked into the grinning, toothy mouth.

"Pat toe chi yeh tea money" he tried again. The whole line of naked men laughed until tears streamed down their faces as Jon Pierre grinned weakly and glanced over his shoulder at the French men sitting behind him. They were smiling, obviously relieved it was his turn to try communicating with the Indian men. Jon Pierre was not sure what he was doing wrong. Looking again at the cooked wild turkey leg in his hand and then at the line of squatting red-dyed men in front of him, he was starting to realize how daunting a task they had undertaken.

After moving north during a weeklong hike away from their original location, the Indian men had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. The Frenchmen had set up their camp near a small river that ran up from the coast into the densely covered hills. The "black" water was actually quite clear and they had no trouble spearing fish by torchlight from its banks. Early one morning, as the sunlight began to find the holes in the thick canopy of trees and shine off the water droplets on the leaves, the men had looked up from their cooking fish and there stood the "barbaros". Their bodies were rubbed red with some kind of dye and feathered armbands made their muscles bulge on their arms and legs. They stood warily watching for any hostile moves by the strangely garbed invaders, but none of the men dared move a muscle. Actually, they were as scared as the red men were and long moments passed as each group wondered what to do next. Each native man carried a short, black bow in one hand and a bundle of deadly looking long arrows in the other.

Jon Pierre slowly straightened up and saw the eyes of each Indian on the pot in his hand. He held it up slowly in front of him, then took one step forward. The bows came up slightly in his direction and he prayed silently for God to protect them and help them show these men they were not hostile. He reached in the pot and pulled a turkey leg out for all to see. He raised it slowly to his mouth and took a bite, then held it out to the naked men. He slowly stepped forward and held out the leg again to the nearest stocky man. The whites of his eyes stood out starkly against his blackened face, but no fear was in them. He looked Jon Pierre directly in the eyes and also saw no fear. He lowered the bow completely and reached out to take the wild turkey leg. The others immediately relaxed and soon crowded around Jon Pierre, touching his skin and clothing and talking excitedly. They were especially curious about the bronze buckle of his belt and the texture of his ragged shirt. Each new touch left trails of red smears and soon his arms and face were covered with the marks. His beard also fascinated them and they each tugged at turn on his beard as though to see if it was really connected. Jon Pierre did not want to show too much fascination with their bows and arrows, but he was able to finally get them to understand his oft-repeated words for those items. It was somewhat confusing, as they seemed to have a different word for each arrowhead, but he tried to write them down anyway.

Their pots and pans and metal tools attracted the Indian men like magnets. Jon Pierre had one of the long knives they used to cut trails and after showing the Indians how it cut the vines across the trail, he presented it to the stocky older man he had first approached. The black-striped face was split with a smile and the other men clustered around to see his prize. He said something to Jon Pierre and as suddenly as they appeared, they vanished into the rain forest in single file, stepping high over the vines and logs before them.

Turning to the other Frenchmen, Jon Pierre rolled his eyes heavenward, smacked his forehead and stated:

"Though my heart is thankful to the Almighty for this wonderful contact with these people, I am humbled at the task that lays before us! Truly it is no small thing."

These highly educated men were no strangers to other tongues, having studied both Latin, Greek, and Hebrew and spoke French, English and some Spanish and Portuguese. But learning the totally unwritten language of these forest people was not the same. They were not even really sure it was a complete language, as many said the "barberos" were not really quite human. The Huguenot's held to the belief that the languages of the world were all created when the earth's "single language" was confused at the Tower of Babel after the flood. They believed the resulting languages had to be complete languages, but there were still some lingering doubts, as these people seemed so primitive.

One week passed without sign of the Indian men again and Jon Pierre wondered if they had been offended by something they had done. All their doubts were dispelled one day however, when nearly a hundred men, women and children suddenly appeared with palm baskets on their backs, held with bands across their foreheads. The men came forward first and the women and children stayed back under the trees within easy running distance of the dense forest. The men stepped forward and began to talk quite loudly and lined up in front of them. They seemed angry, but Jon Pierre was not sure, as it seemed to be some sort of ritual dance. The men's bodies were now painted with long black stripes and designs across their faces and they had feather headbands with short blue, red and bright yellow feathers in them. Their heads were shaved up the sides and as they rocked and stepped back and forth, one of the men kept time with some sort of rattle.  They slowly worked their way forward and as the music and dance suddenly stopped, the same stocky Indian man stepped forward and held out a beautifully woven wide cotton belt with intricate black and red threads forming a design on which small shells had been attached.  Jon Pierre stepped forward and took the belt from the man and said:

"Thank you! I accept your gift in Jesus name!" The man looked at him, then lifted up his own gift from Jon Pierre and said in his tongue:

"Toncai ma, te'he to wato manyan" He turned and walked back to the others and they immediately sat down and watched the Frenchmen from the edge of the clearing.

Over the next few hours, some of the Indian men began to clear off small sections of jungle and dragged logs into the clearings. The women swept the ground with branches and slowly the children began to come closer to the Frenchmen. By nightfall, lean-to shelters had been constructed and the Indian people were hanging bark hammocks and fires were already started in the cleared off areas in front. The Frenchmen admired the great strength and ingenuity of these people as they gathered from the jungle all they needed to survive.

During the next few months, the admiration of the Europeans grew as the Indians taught them many new things. They showed them which vines to use for tying their lean-to's together, which vines contained drinkable water, and how to find and use the wild cotton they used for thread. They even were shown how to weave fans and baskets from the different palms and plants and how to make the coarse flour from the large roots they brought with them. They planted pieces of the roots and soon had gardens growing near their houses. Jon Pierre and his men were surprised at how often they bathed and at the ease with which they swam across the deep little river. Their skill at hunting was only surpassed by their skill at fishing and hunger did not seem to be a problem among them.

Jon Pierre and several of the others were trying to learn their speech, but were often frustrated at their difficulty in writing down the complicated language. Obviously these people had a sophisticated grammar and it was only after many hours of frustration that the Frenchmen could even hear the minute differences in words that often brought so much laughter. Jon Pierre had already catalogued over two hundred names of plants and he was astounded at their knowledge of the different trees. He was slowly beginning to understand some simple sentences and learned that the people called themselves the "Kreeran tupi". Their personal names were still a secret and it was absolutely mystifying how their families were arranged. Jon Pierre could make neither heads nor tails of who was the woman of whom and exactly whom the children belonged to. The people seemed reluctant to use specific names, but used terms for each other that varied from person to person.

What was obvious to the Frenchmen now, was the time needed to tell these people of Jesus. They had tried to imagine telling them of God and His love, but they were having trouble even figuring out the names for plants and animals, much less the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!  These men were used to ministering the Word of God to others and they longed to be able to tell these people of the Promised One of God.  Many nights they watched the shaman blowing smoke on the sick and singing to what they believed were evil spirits. They spent many nights dancing round the fires, singing to the full moon and pounding their sticks on the ground to the beat of the rattles. The Christian Frenchmen could feel the presence of the Enemy of God around them and prayed with increased fervency for fluency to tell them of the Liberator of their souls.

By the beginning of their second year of contact with the Tupi people, the Frenchmen were starting to learn many simpler sentences and were able to understand much of the day to day conversation. A quite prosperous village had grown around them, especially with the arrival of more Tupi people from a second and third group related to these people. They learned of other more distant groups and also heard that there were rumors of white men to the south. The Frenchmen were trying hard to learn enough words to tell them some Bible stories, but it seemed almost impossible to discover some of the Tupi words for God and they finally chose to use a character from their stories called "Tupan", the great creator. Their creator-god seemed rather evil, but they thought maybe they could teach what the Yahweh of the Bible was really like, but use this name of Tupan.

The Tupi taught them to eat many new fruits and animals and of plants, roots and barks that served for medicines. The Frenchmen were trying to make rough cloth from the wild cotton as their own clothing had rotted and fallen to pieces. Many of their iron tools rusted beyond use, but the steel swords and bronze seemed to survive well. More stories were being told of white men in the jungles to the south and of fiercer Indian peoples joining with them. The Tupi were growing restless and over half of the people disappeared into the jungle early one morning. Jon Pierre sought out his "uncle", the stocky recipient of his bush knife gift and tried to understand the reason for the disappearance of so many people. He carefully questioned the man and could see worry clearly on the normally inscrutable face.

"Watoh mam riyeh, tahom poyeh? Why does the face of my uncle draw up?"  He questioned.

"Poyeha, tahom mreca, ritok was to'a. -- “The uncle's face is fearful of the darkness in the forest" was the reply.

"To'a em?” “Where is the darkness?"

"To'a coan. The darkness is coming," said the older man. "To'a coan prestondat. The darkness is coming with great hunger."

"Prestondat emtoh? What is the hunger (for)?" asked Jon Pierre.

"Prestondat cuphem. Prestondat cuphemi. Hunger for spirits. Hunger for (your) spirits."

The older man looked stricken and stared at the ground. He was obviously afraid and suddenly jerked his head up and looked into the jungle. Jon Pierre followed his stare and the crack of a limb brought both men to their feet. Jon Pierre's "uncle" spun around and took off running as hard as possible for his jungle hut, yelling at the top of his lungs. From the jungle on all sides came the loud calls of men and as Jon Pierre ran for his sword, the first arrows began to fall around him. He had learned to run quickly through the dense undergrowth, but black-painted bodies with fully drawn bows aimed in his direction, suddenly cut off his escape route. The first arrow caught him in his thigh and spun him around to see other black bodies running at him with their war clubs raised high. He fended off the first blow with his left arm, feeling the bones break before the mighty strike. He fell to the ground and as he waited for the finishing blow to his head, heard the sound of curses in Portuguese coming down the path. He looked up to see a sweating Jesuit priest and heard his captors drawing away as the robed figure drew closer to him.

"Finalmente pegamos voces! Falei para os barberos estupidos a nao mata-los, mas parece que ja fizeram!’ - ‘We finally got you! I told those stupid savages not to kill you, but it looks like they already did!"  He spit at the groaning figure before him and kicked Jon Pierre savagely.

"Gastamos mais de um ano andando atrás de voces! Heréticos! Demônios! Malditos! Malditos todos vocês! We spent more than a year chasing after you! Heretics! Demons! Curse you, curse all of you!" his white-flecked lips stood out from his red face and the bulging veins seemed almost ready to burst from his thick neck. Sweating profusely, he instructed the blackened Indians standing around Jon Pierre to tie him up and carry him down the trail.

As they approached the Heugonaut village, Jon Pierre was in and out of consciousness from the pain in his ruined arm. He saw the shattered heads and bodies of four of his fellow Frenchmen lying on the ground in pools of blood and heard the screams of Tupi people being tortured by their "barbero" captors. Other Jesuit priests were ripping the Frenchmen's things from their huts, and as they threw them into a pile in the center of the village, another Frenchman was dragged unceremoniously in by his captors. His head was bloody, but the wound seemed superficial and he was still alive. His screams pierced Jon’s ears as the cruelty and frustration of the Jesuit’s spent itself upon the helpless man. His moans finally ceased and the many blows and burning sticks failed to move the still form and they turned away from the now almost unrecognizable body.

Over the next few hours, the "barbero" warriors had captured the remaining two Frenchmen and tossed their tied up bodies alongside Jon Pierre and his dead, bloodied companion. The hot noon sun beat mercilessly upon them as the Jesuits gave the orders to kill any Tupi's they found and they began burning all Jon Pierre's carefully guarded notes and books. With the flames leaping higher, Jon Pierre suddenly began to sing the second verse of Psalms 23 from the Huguenot Psalter:

"SI seurement, que quand au val viendroye,
D'ombre de mort,
rien de mal ne craindroye.
Car avec moy tu es à chaque heure…"

“Though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for Thou art with me...”

His two weakened companions soon joined with ever-louder voices. Their black-robed captors stared back at them incredulously, then stopped throwing limbs on the fire of books and papers and came quickly to the bloodied, singing figures. Grimacing faces contorted from fury, they took their walking staffs and beat the helpless men. Words of the Psalm were interspersed with sharp cries of pain as new bones were splintered, but the Frenchmen bravely tried to keep singing. Soon an order was given and they were brutally tied to poles and carried like wild pigs through the jungle in the direction of the nearby coast. Jon Pierre was mercifully unconscious from the pain in his tied up, broken arms for most of the short trip, but when their three bodies were finally thrown in a heap at the edge of the cliff, he came to full consciousness.

Jerking the rough poles out, the glaring Jesuits ordered them to stand. They staggered slowly onto their bound and shattered feet, keeping away from the sharp dropoff so close behind them. Staring directly into the hate-filled faces before him, Jon Pierre abruptly shuffled around, turning his back to his captors. Looking out over the beautiful emerald sea, he lifted his bound, broken and shaking hands as high as the grating bones permitted, and with blood dripping from his elbows began to pray loudly in French:

"Oh God most high, thank You we can die for Your Name's sake. Please receive our spirits and comfort our families. In Jesus name I pray, amen."

Turning around to join him as he prayed in Jesus’ name, his two battered companions also tried to lift their arms and weakly echoed their husky amens. The screaming, protesting Jesuits rushed suddenly upon the three helpless men, and with their staffs, pushed them over the 300 foot cliff to the jagged rocks below.
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