“He’s dead! He’s dead!” exclaimed the courier from Rome as he walked up to us.
I stopped working and stood up. The other tent makers did the same.
“Who’s dead?” I asked.
“Paul’s dead!” said the courier, wiping the sweat from his forehead. “He was beheaded in Rome about a month ago.”
Even though I knew Paul’s ministry would probably have a sad ending, the news stunned me. O Lord, why? I thought.
I walked away from the group, not wanting to talk about the apostle at that moment. It was just too painful! So, needing to sort everything out for myself, I walked down to the Aegean Sea and sat on a rock. There, I thought back over my years with Paul.
The first time that I met Paul, I was not impressed. His stature was too puny, only 4 feet 6 inches tall and 110 pounds in weight, and his public speaking talents were too shallow when compared to Apollos and the other orators. Yes, he was brilliant and could write, but these were facts which I learned later and did not figure at all into my first impressions of him.
Yet, there was something about Paul which drew me to him. Maybe, it was his fiery passion for the gospel; or his fierce boldness; or his love for the church. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but anyway, I joined up with Paul and traveled along with him as his aide.
On our first journey to Rome, we ended up swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. Somehow, the Roman soldiers did not execute us and we were able to swim ashore to Malta. And eventually, we did arrive in Rome.
Next, I spent two years, waiting for Paul while he was under arrest. When we finally resumed traveling again, everything became a blur of afflictions, hardships, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, sleeplessness and hunger.
Then, the fire in Rome changed everything for us from bad to worse. Christians were blamed for the fire and Paul became a marked man. Nero sent soldiers to hunt him down in Asia.
Finally, the stress wore me down. I could not take it any longer.
“Paul, I didn’t join your ministry to be killed by Roman soldiers,” I said on the day of my departure. “I’m going to Thessalonica, start a business and maybe marry a young woman and start a family. I’m too young for a martyr’s death!”
Paul was disappointed, but what could he do? I fled on a boat.
It had been almost two years since I last saw Paul and now he was dead. My mind wandered here and there as the blue waves splashed against the rock I sat on.
Did I make the right decision when I left Paul? I wondered. And how will I be remembered by future Christians?
for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica…(2 Timothy 4: 9)
(Continued in Part 2)