I’m reading Samuel Tadros’ new book Motherland Lost, a history of the church in Egypt.
He starts at the beginning when the evangelist Mark showed up in Alexandria and tells a wonderful story about Mark’s first convert.
After he wandered all day in the majestic city, the apostle’s sandal strap broke. Mark found a shoemaker who could repair it. His name was Anianus.
While he was working, Anianus gouged his hand. “God is one!” he swore.
Mark was moved with compassion. In a maneuver that calls to mind Jesus’ miraculous healing, he grabbed mud from the ground, applied it to the wound, and healed the man.
Anianus was undoubtedly stunned and suddenly wide open when Mark shared the gospel with him. The man and his whole family converted, becoming the foundation of the Alexandrian church.
As Tadros says next, Mark “baptized them and in due time ordained Anianus bishop over the city.”
Don’t you just love that? A shoemaker becomes the city’s first bishop. That’s the church for you. A city bursting with scholars and philosophers, and Mark picks a cobbler.
But that’s how God works. Forget the scribes and Pharisees, he says. I’ll take fishermen.