Saturday, April 13, 2013

Choose Your Ending: Persecution

Tomorrow in the LCMS lectionary, we read the story of St. Paul's conversion. In honor of the martyrdom of St. Paul and others who died in the faith, the Grass Lake youth group will be looking at ancient and modern persecution of Christians, and I've created a special game for this. Begin by showing the video at this link, or another video setting up for the study of persecution.

Pass out to the students a card with this written on it, or read it aloud:

You are a new Christian in the first decade after Jesus’s death, resurrection, and ascension. Many of your friends and neighbors have been arrested, thrown into prison, tortured, and even killed for their faith. Only this group here remains in the church. A small number of children—ages 8 to 12—have been asking about Jesus lately, but they could be a trap planted by the Jewish leaders or Roman soldiers. It’s up to you to decide how the church will handle the situation. If you would like to hole up in your home together and avoid the children, go to 1. If you would like to tell them about who Jesus is and what he did, go to 3.

Around the room, you will have the following numbers and descriptions posted. You can separate the students into groups, allow them to work alone, or have them all work as a group. 
  1. Afraid of being captured for sharing the gospel, you avoid the children. You lock yourselves in the pastor's home to fast and pray. Go to 7.
  2. Relying on God’s protection if the children are a trap, you invite them to a meeting at the pastor's home, where you will worship, talk about God’s love and forgiveness, and eat a love feast. Go to 12.
  3. Remembering what Jesus died for, you decide to share the story of Jesus with the children. To invite the children to a home meeting, go to 2. To meet the children in the marketplace, go to 8.
  4. Being so small, the entire church goes to meet with the children. The children hang on your every word, hungry for the grace found in Jesus. You notice a guard pointing at you, so you tell the children it is time to leave, but one of them grabs your cloak. “I want to be baptized!” he says. To baptize the child, go to 11. To shake him off and run home, go to 15.
  5. The prison cell is dark and cold. You huddle together for warmth, praying and singing hymns to God, asking Him for the strength to overcome this trial. Suddenly, at the window, you hear a small voice. It’s one of the children that was asking about Jesus. “I can help,” he whispers. To accept his help, go to 13. To shoo him away, go to 9.
  6. For weeks you are left in that prison, no one left to help you. Finally, the guards come and begin taking you away, one by one. No one ever returns, and you know they’ve gone to be with the rest of the martyrs for Christ. Congratulations! Despite your sins, you’ve received eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.
  7. Late that night, there is a knock on the door. Someone opens it just a crack, and in rush a whole group of Roman soldiers! “You’re under arrest for attempting to start a revolt against Caesar,” they tell you, dragging you all off to prison. Go to 5.
  8. You tell the children you can tell them more if they will meet you in the marketplace the next morning. They agree, but you have another decision to make before you go—will you shout the gospel through the market, sharing with all you can? Or will you speak in hushed tones, relying on the noise of the market to mask the sound of your forbidden tale? To shout the story, go to 14. To speak quietly, go to 4.
  9. “We don’t need the help of a child!” you whisper harshly. “God can tear these very bars open if he wishes. Go home before you’re thrown in here with us!” He appears hurt, but scampers away. Go to 6.
  10. After several minutes, you hear nothing. the pastor opens the door a crack and peers out. The guards are gone. You give thanks to God and share the gospel with the children, all of whom are baptized that very night. Congratulations! You’ve survived to see the growth of the Church.
  11. Remembering what the apostles said about Jesus’ command to “baptize all nations”, you agree. You take the child’s hand and walk bravely past the soldier, who loses interest. Taking the child down to the river, you baptize him in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He goes on to share his new-found faith with his family and friends, growing the Church in spite of the persecution. Congratulations! You’ve survived to see the growth of the Church.
  12. The children come, but as they enter the house, you see a couple Roman guards not far behind them. Quickly you bolt the door and begin to pray for protection. Go to 10.
  13. “Praise God, who opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble!” you say. “He has sent us protection in the form of a child.” The boy grins and passes the key through. You quickly unlock yourselves, and knowing God will protect you, the entire group goes to the market to share the Gospel at the top of their lungs. Congratulations! You’ve survived to see the growth of the Church.
  14. Knowing God will protect you, you go to the market to share the story of Christ with the crowds found there. Before long, however, the Roman soldiers appear and drag you to prison. Go to 5.
  15. Fearing that the guards will catch you and kill you and the child, and knowing that the child can be baptized later, you all run toward home. A soldier catches up to you, however, and you are taken before the governor, who condemns you all to death. Congratulations! Despite your sins, you’ve received eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.


  1. Using this tonight! Added a few, hope you don't mind! - Andrew Braz

    1. Glad to help, Andrew! Hope the kids enjoy it--I know the GL ones did! I think this was one of my favorite theme nights. I'd love to see what you add, if you ever get the chance--expanding could be a great idea.