“Claudine, don't be so hard on yourself,” a childhood friend pleaded as she handed her a basket after the guard had left. “Just give lip service to their demands.”
Claudine's eyes widened. “You mean tell them I won't serve Jesus anymore?” That was unthinkable.
“Shh! Not so loud! The guard might hear you!” Grieken laid her hand on her friend's arm. “You have been in this dirty dungeon for over a year, now. Just tell them you will obey their rules, and--”
“But I can't!”
“Don't you want your baby back? I'm sure he is crying for you every night.”
Claudine's pale face crumpled.
“You can just pretend not to follow Jesus,” Grieken continued. “God will forgive you.”
“Maybe. But I could never forgive myself! Grieken why are you talking this way? He--our Heavenly Father-- is so good to us!”
Grieken shrugged. “Others are recanting.”
“Yes. They are terrified of being buried alive. That is the latest punishment.”
Claudine's white face grew even whiter and she leaned against the stone wall to keep from collapsing. She lifted her chin slightly. “I can never recant. Never! The thought makes me ill, dear sister. Jesus died for me. He's been with me every step of the way. Oh please don't suggest such awful things to me!'
Grieken lifted one corner of the cloth covering the basket. “I just wanted to help.”
She leaned closer and whispered into Claudine's ear. “There is a letter from your husband in there, so bite carefully.”
Claudine smiled weakly. That meant it was probably baked into the loaf of bread.
“Are they praying for me?”
Grieken looked solemn. “Yes, sister. Everyday. Many times a day I am sure your name is breathed in prayer.”
Claudine nodded but didn't look up when Grieken left. Her heart was broken, but Jesus was there. It was enough.