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May 31, 2024

Moses the Black: From Criminal to Christian

May 31, 2024
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King of Thieves

His name struck fear into hearts all across Egypt. His strength, speed, and cunning were legendary. He had a band of 70 robbers who roamed Alexandria, killing and robbing at will. He took what he wanted, caring nothing for the authorities. Yet this terrifying man, guilty of so many crimes, spent the second half of his life atoning for them, and died a peaceful hermit. He left us a legacy of forgiveness, accepting it himself and extending it to others. But how did this man go from Lord of the Robbers to servant of the Lord? How did Moses - become Saint Moses the Black?

The Beginning of the Journey

Moses' journey begins in the city of Alexandria around the year 360 AD. There, he was enslaved by a government official. He had trouble following orders and was often causing trouble. He was eventually released from slavery for stealing his master's wine; his master believed that he would die without his support. Instead, Moses robbed him. While making his escape with his master's money, Moses ran into a motley gang of robbers. After he helped them escape from the law, they made him their leader, and began recruiting other thieves for their gang. For nine years, they terrorized all of Alexandria. Moses believed fully in his own strength, courage, and intelligence, and cared nothing for God or for the truth.

Then, one heist took a terrible wrong turn. Moses’ companions, whom he thought were his friends, turned him in to save their own skins. Moses managed to escape out into the desert, badly wounded. Utterly exhausted, dehydrated, and bleeding, Moses stumbled into the only shelter he could see. It was a hermitage of desert monks who had given their lives to Christ. When the Roman authorities arrived, Moses fully expected these law-abiding pacifists to turn him in. Instead, they told the soldiers that there were no robbers there, "only beloved sons of God." The monks nursed him back to health, and Moses was surprised to learn that they were not weak men as he thought. Rather, their strength, courage, and virtue far surpassed his own. He wanted to be like them, and wanted to know where they got their strength. Though he now had the desire, his journey from weakness to true strength would be a long one.

The Monastery at Scetis, still active today.

From Bandit to Abbot

Over the course of many years, Moses got to know the source of their strength personally - Christ. He spent the rest of his life in the monastery, and even managed to convert some of his former fellow bandits when they attempted to rob the hermitage. Many years later, when Moses was an old man, he received word that Berbers, nomadic raiders, were going to attack their monastery. He and some of his brother monks chose to remain behind; Moses had reminded them that those who live by the sword will die by the sword.

This week, enter the world of 4th-Century Egypt and follow Moses and his gang of robbers as they go from fellow criminals to brother monks. Hear each step of Moses’ conversion as he slowly learns to release his own strength, choosing instead to lean heavily on the providence of God. Hear it all this Monday, June 3rd, at!

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