Biographies and Writing: The Early Church

          Trial and Triumph

Children learn much by reading biographies and writing paragraphs. Once children can write a complete sentence they are ready to write five sentence paragraphs. Begin by introducing the following the pattern:

  1. Introduction sentence
  2. Body sentence 1
  3. Body sentence 2
  4. Body sentence 3
  5. Conclusion sentence

Richard M. Hannula wrote Trial and TriumphStories from Church History for his five children. Many others have benefited from this and his other books. Here you may read introductions, in the five sentence paragraph form, to three of his stories from the first section: “The Early Church”:

Polycarp – Witness in the Arena – c. A.D. 69-155 

During the rule of Rome, many Christians died in the arena with huge crowds yelling, “Death to the godless.” Followers of Christ did not deny Christ and suffered at the hands of lions or fire. Polycarp, at a young age, learned from the apostle John and later became a teacher of God’s Word. For this, the Roman leaders burned Polycarp to death at the age of 86. As he burned, he prayed: “O Lord God Almighty, the Father of your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, through Whom we have received the knowledge of you: I bless You for granting me the honor of this day and hour that I might be numbered among the martyrs. You are the faithful and true God. To You be glory both now and for the ages to come. Amen.”

Constantine – Defender of the Church – c. 272-337

During a time when the church suffered much persecution at the hand of Diocletian, two commanders faced each other in battle. One of them, Constantine, reported that he had seen a sign in the form of a cross and that he was to battle Maxentius in the name of Christianity. Constantine defeated Maxentius and became the emperor in Rome. During his life time he had positive effects on the church: removed persecution, allowed worship and convened church councils that upheld the doctrine of the trinity. Sadly, he also had negative effects including intervening in the affairs of the church and weakening the purity of the church. While many debate as to whether Constantine was a true Biblical Christian, he said it best, “I myself await the judgment of Christ.”

Patrick – Missionary to the Irish – c. 389-461

Irish “Pirates” took sixteen year old Patrick captive and made him a slave in Ireland. At first, he hated those that enslaved him and those around him and vowed to take his revenge. As the years passed, he remembered the God he had learned about in his youth and gave his life to the Lord. Later, God lead him to escape and return to his homeland to get training to serve God in Ireland. Many followed Christ as he served the Lord in Ireland for 40 years. Before his death he said, “The greatest gift in my life has been to know and love God; to serve Him is my highest joy.”

As you can see reading about the lives of others provide us with positive (and negative) models for our lives. Parents and teachers need to present their children with these models and then to discuss the positives and negatives in these lives. Ultimately, the standard for whether the elements of these lives are positive or negative is the Lord Jesus Christ as presented in His Word.

Visit Richard M. Hannula’s website:


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