Middle East Christians And A Saxon Faith Story

In one Middle East country after another a largely unheralded tragedy is being played out. Christians flee for fear of hardship or persecution. Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon ... the list goes on.  The once sizeable minority of Christians in these countries has more than halved in one generation.

I am writing a book about the period when Saxons occupied England. After a spurt of conversions in the time of Augustine, Aidan and Hilda there was a sharp reaction against the new faith. When the Christian king Ethelbert died, and was succeeded by a king hostile to the new faith, Augustine's successor as Archbishop of Canterbury, Laurence, was minded to flee, as had two fellow bishops. But the apostle Peter appeared to him in a dream  and scourged his back long and hard. He asked Laurence why he planned to abandon the flock entrusted to him. He reminded Laurence of his own sufferings and death as a martyr in order that he might receive a heavenly crown.  Next morning, deeply moved by this experience, the Archbishop went to the king and showed  him the marks of the beatings on his back. The king was astonished and, when told what had happened, became afraid. He banned the worship of idols, gave up his unlawful wife, became a Christian and was baptised. He sent messengers to Gaul to recall the exiled bishops.

Could this story give heart to Middle East Christians who are tempted to flee?

Posted at 13:54pm on 14th December 2012
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