Let’s go back to the Roman Empire of the First Century…

…and watch through the eyes of a young, unhappy slave named Onesimus (which means “useful”). He finds himself in a predicament that will lead to torture and perhaps death. The world of the Roman Empire is a highly structured society of deities, slaves, masters, prostitutes, government corruption, soldiers—and a young new religion based on the Jewish faith. Onesimus doesn’t know much about it, except that it is quite strange and should probably be illegal.

It’s a very different world than ours, but the struggles of this young slave are not so different: finding peace, love, purpose, and integrity in a world that seems to care about none of those things.

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the beginning

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To Giarri
From OnesimusI hope

I hope your health is good. Thank you for your letter, and, of course, for your faithful assistance all these years.

No, Giarri, I do not want these letters included in my collection. You know my requirements—only letters that he wrote, and only those whose contents are helpful to everyone.

I know you what you will say—“But you’ve included the one that is only about you!’ True, that letter is about me, but it is about so much more. It stays.

If you find others letters, send me copies and I will decide if they belong. And please keep trying to find a copy of the one to the Laocideans. Someone must have one.

As for your idea that we should write my story—I do not like it, Giarri, as I am sure you will know. One thing I have learned in my long and unlikely journey is this: freedom comes from focusing beyond myself. Still, your argument is compelling, especially if the focus is the work he did. I’ll begin sending you my recollections in the next letter.

As for your last question—no, I do not think I will survive this. I suspect it is my time. But perhaps not yet.

I must end this letter now. My writing ability is not what it used to be. Tychicus visited last week, and we recalled the memory of so many who are now dead. So many.

Say hello to the whole household for me—especially Bacchus and little Terentia.

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© 2017 Markus McDowell

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