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“I’ve been called back to Rome.” Cornelius looked up from the parchment on his desk. Julia could see the tension in his jaw, the furrow on his forehead. 

“I thought you retired?” She flashed him her brightest smile and watched as he mustered the effort to smile back, but the smile didn’t reach his eyes. 

“You’re always trying to make me feel better. It’s a dispatch from Gaius. He’s a prefect now. He said he knows I’m retired but he wants a first-hand report on the ‘Christian situation’.” 

Cornelius stared out the window of his study as he continued, more quietly. “I never thought I’d see her again.” 

Julia studied her husband’s face. They’d been in Judea a long time, made a life there, left the army behind. They were still Roman citizens but they now belonged to a different kingdom, an empire without walls and borders, a new life more powerful and more real than they could have ever imagine. 

“I can still remember the smell,” Cornelius continued. “Too many humans and animals packed into tight streets, fighting for survival and . . .” He trailed off. 

Julia waited. She knew he hadn’t finished. She hadn’t seen her husband like this for a long time. It was like he was back there, before the army, before the killing, before all of this, before he’d been shanghaied into the army and made a career out of it. Before he’d climbed to the rank of centurion; before he’d earned men’s respect and women’s admiration. 

“She is rotten to the core. Filthy. . . not just the streets but the politics, the corruption. Pax Romana. . . There is only one way to find peace Julia.” His tawny gaze flicked up and fixed on hers. “We’ve found it. There is no way I can go back.” 

Julia moved around her husband’s desk. She ran her fingers over the scar on his forearm, like she always did when he was troubled. 

“I served with Gaius in Scythia. I’m not worried about him. But I thought God wanted us here. He’s been so good to us Julia. Showed us the Way. I’m afraid if I go to Rome, I won’t come back. I’ll be killed or imprisoned.” 


“Perhaps? What does that mean, perhaps?” 

Julia just looked at her husband. “When we first became Christians some of our friends called us crazy. Now they worship with us. Maybe God has work for you to do in Rome. Don’t be afraid my dear husband. Perhaps He has a task for you there. And if you die, you would only be sharing in our Saviour’s suffering. I know your heart Cornelius. You were unafraid to call Peter here. . . to have the Christian leader and a Jew, in our home. You started this group of worshippers in Caesarea. Maybe God wants to spread the word in Rome. I’ve heard brother Paul has arrived there also. Maybe God is working behind this. I don’t want to lose you but if God calls us, we must be faithful. I’d rather lose you to death than to disobedience. Besides, Gaius is an old friend after all. Perhaps he needs to experience the joy and peace of knowing our Saviour and being free from the guilt and burden of his sins.” 

“You’re right, as always my love. Let us pray and fast, and we will find the way forward. His will be done.” 

“His will be done,” echoed Julia. 

“Now come and give this old soldier a kiss,” said Cornelius as he pulled his wife into his arms. 

“God knew what He was doing when He gave me the gift of you.” 

“You bet He did,” Julia laughed as she ran her fingers over his leathery face, as she had done since they’d been married. “And He hasn’t finished with us yet.” 

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