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Don't let the 17-year-old Stephen where the story begins fool you. He is enthusiastic but immature as he tries to defend the only true God in a hostile world. Follow him through his teens. Then walk with him in his twenties as he gains inner strength, falls in love and marries, becomes a Christian and a deacon with healing powers. Stand tall with him when, now a giant in faith, he finally faces the greatest challenge of any human being: Death by his own choosing.
In Antioch, Stephen’s best friend is crucified for defacing its patron goddess, and the city turns on Jews.
He flees to Cyrene. There he meets Simon. Persecution against Jews is worse here. They try to keep Stephen out of the market, university and local Olympic games.
He decides the only solution is to pass himself off as a Gentile and start a secret synagogue with secret worship. When discovered, Stephen suffers at the hands of both pagan Gentiles and Jews.
Simon cannot handle the persecution any longer, so moves from Cyrene to Jerusalem. When Stephen visits Jerusalem for Passover, he sees Simon carrying the cross of Jesus. They both become Christians and the persecution starts all over again.
Stephen decides to move permanently to Jerusalem. Saul goes after them both. They rush to save each other’s lives.
As Stephen takes his final steps toward the stoning pit, he can still hear his father in years past. “Take another step, Son. Now another. Hold your head high. Don’t let them see weakness. You’re doing fine. Now another step. I’m here, Son. I will never leave you. You’re almost home.”
This is a wonderful book to show how family and friends stick together when things go wrong until they are righted.
Historical background and discussion questions are at the end.