Monday, April 23, 2012

Shall Trouble Separate Us?

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 4/23/12

I was thinking about swords last December, as I walked around this silent ancient amphitheater in El Djem, Tunisia. Although not as large as the Colosseum, this structure is better preserved and has been made a UNESCO world heritage site.

The unremarkable rural township of about 10,000 residents which surrounds this sandstone giant today gives the tourist no clue as to the former 'glories' of a place where crowds of 30,000 citizens regularly gathered for public spectaculars, courtesy of local merchants who funded its construction with wealth generated by olive oil production and trade.

Like Rome's famous arena and others still standing across Europe and North Africa, this theater was built to offer local citizens and visitors excitement and entertainment: on this spot they enjoyed watching bloodthirsty battles between wild animals and fierce warriors (some scenes from the 2000 Russell Crowe epic, Gladiator, were filmed here).

As well, this site is documented as one where our Christians brothers and sisters of that era were sent to a terrible and violent death because of their refusal to bow the knee to Caesar. They honored the Lord by being willing to give up even their lives for His sake, and their spilt blood is an enduring example for us. Today, it is a humbling reality that Christians in many nations continue to suffer and die for their faith on a daily basis. May our Almighty God grant them--and us--by the Spirit of Christ, the grace and strength for whatever trials we must face.

photographer: Kathryn Day, France. "I'm an Australian, single woman serving in the south of France since 2010. I work in media production with an international team. Our ministry focus is on making the Gospel available across the Arabic-speaking world via Internet and social media, and in doing so to lead our contacts to Christ, and to support in-country disciple-making and church planting."

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