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Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:16

Slave to Christ

Geronimo was an Arab convert from Islam to Christianity in the 16th century when the Mediterranean coastline of Europe was troubled by raids by North African Muslims. Those who were captured often ended up at a slave market. This is what happened to Geronimo, who became the possession of Pasha Ali, a Calabrian renegade, at a slave market in Algiers in May 1569.

In order to survive, the slaves generally accepted the religion demanded by their captors. The Pasha tried hard to induce Geronimo to renounce Christianity and return to Islam but the slave stood firm in his Christian faith. On 18 September 1569, during the building of one of the Forts in Algiers, the Pasha sent for Geronimo and gave him the choice of either renouncing Christ or being put in one of the concrete blocks that were being made for the construction of the Fort. Geronimo would not deny Christ, so he was bound hand and foot and thrown alive into a mould in which a block of concrete was about to be made.

When the French removed the Fort in the 19th century, the skeleton of Geronimo was found and laid to rest in the Cathedral of Algiers.

O Jesus, I have promised
to serve you to the end –
be now and ever near me
my Master and my Friend:
I shall not fear the battle
if you are by my side
nor wander from the pathway
if you will be my guide.

J E Bode (1816-74)

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.