What kind of place is this?

Setting:  A nondescript, but large, rented house: 4 bedrooms, a large sitting room. The back door leads to a courtyard bordered by a high brick wall, shade trees, stone benches for sitting and storytelling. It is a most pleasant environment.

The following four conversations took place at Gospel HQ (headquarters). Such conversations took place all the time (as in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week), but these four are most relevant to our story.

Conversation #1

Time:  Onis’ 2nd day at HQ.

Setting:  Private room, kindly given by Paul and the others to help Onis recover.

Participants:  Onis[1] and Demas.

D:  Are you resting well my friend? I hope all the noise doesn’t disturb you too much.

O:  I’m OK, but a little concerned about where I am. There are too many people coming and going. There were two soldiers at the door when I came. Are they still here?

D:  The soldiers, yes. They’re here all the time. I guess we didn’t explain. They are here to guard Paul. He is imprisoned here as a dangerous enemy of the state. (Demas chuckles).

O:  He . . . what do you mean? What has the honorable Paul done to deserve imprisonment?

D:  The Roman government is afraid of the Christian Gospel. Paul’s mission in life is to preach the gospel to every corner of the Empire. So they tried to stop him by putting him in prison.

O:  So who are all these people coming and going? What do they come here for?

D:  What else? They come to hear the gospel, repent, and become followers of Jesus. (Demas says with a wide grin).

O:  But! But! I don’t understand! Don’t the soldiers stop this criminal activity?

D:  My young friend, never, ever, ever underestimate the power of God.

“For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him.” Acts 28:30-31.


[1] We know him as Onesimus, but he didn’t want to give his full name to begin with.

Alarmed with Compassion

Setting #3: A rough, lawless settlement in Rome

It had been a long walk through the dusty streets of Rome. Demas found himself tired and hungry. He sat down in the shade of a building and pulled out his bread and wineskin to take some late lunch.

Then it struck him. He had just passed the rubbish pile and a solitary young man, weak and sickly looking, was digging through the smelly rubbish, looking for something to eat.

Demas got up, bread and wineskin in hand, and headed back the way he came. “If the poor young man is still there, he should have my lunch.”

Near the dump, Demas was stopped dead in his tracks by a battered body spread out on the ground. He immediately recognized the body of the boy who needed his lunch. But he had been bashed up and it looked like his head had hit a sharp stone upon falling to the ground.

Alarmed with compassion, Demas knelt down and checked the boy. He was unconscious and limp, but still warm and breathing. He must be attended to before he bleeds to death.

Demas removed his tunic and wrapped the boy’s head as best he could, lifted him to his shoulder and carried him single-handedly to the hospital, leaving his bread and wineskin for someone else to enjoy.