Chuck Colson tells the story of Telemachus, a 4th-century Christian Monk.
This man lived in a remote village, tending his garden and spending much of his time in prayer. One day he thought he heard the voice of God telling him to go to Rome, so he obeyed, heading out on foot. Weary weeks later, he arrived in the city at the time of a great festival. The little monk followed the crowd surging down the streets into the Colosseum. He saw the gladiators stand before the emperor and say, “We who are about to die salute you.” Then he realized these men were going to fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowd Telemachus cried out, “In the name of Christ, stop!”
As the games began, he pushed his way through the crowd, climbed his way over the wall, and dropped to the floor of the arena. When the crowd saw this tiny figure rushing to the gladiators and saying, “In the name of Christ, stop!” they thought it was part of the show and began laughing. When they realized it wasn’t, the laughter turned to anger. As Telemachus was pleading with the gladiators to stop, one of them plunged a sword into his body. He fell to the sand. As he was dying, his last words were, “In the name of Christ, stop!” Then a strange thing happened. The gladiators stood looking at the tiny figure lying there. A hush fell over the Colosseum. Way up in the upper rows, a man stood and made his way to the exit. Others began to follow. In dead silence, everyone left the Colosseum.
The year was 391AD, and that was the last battle to the death between gladiators in the Roman Colosseum. Never again in the great stadium did men kill each other for the entertainment of the crowd, all prompted by one tiny voice that could hardly be heard above the roar, one voice that spoke the truth in God’s name.
You know, it takes something to be the only voice. It takes guts to be the lone man or woman, sticking out in a crowd. It takes heart to speak out when it’s easier to keep still. It takes courage to stand up when you’re standing alone.