We asked a young actress who has worked with us before to play the part of Perpetua. The diaries of Perpetua and the documents appended by Christians after her death mention that she sang a song while she was in the arena before they released the wild animals to attack.
Pearl, the actress, and I were trying to find a song she could sing in this scene without copyrights and not too modern sounding. We hadn't found anything that felt right. Pearl sent me two scripture verses that she felt could fit the story.
Psalm 23:1, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
2 Timothy 1:7, "For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness but of power and love and discipline."
But still, we had no song. Pearl admitted to herself and me that she is not a musician, but she prayed. She went for a walk and felt suddenly a tune in her heart. It was haunting and ancient sounding — just right for the time period.
When she went back to the apartment where she was staying and converted the verses into Latin — they rhymed! Only God can do really incredible things like that. So Pearl sang this in the arena and then also in the studio to give us a crisper piece of audio. It was such fun realizing that the Holy Spirit had given us a song rather than searching for rights for something that was too modern! Marvelous! Unexpected.
Recently, we heard of a young lady named "Mary" who lives in a city near where Perpetua and her fellow Christians were martyred 1900 years ago in North Africa. Mary had no idea. She was excited to know that she is not the first single woman making her way in this part of the world to accept the radicalness of faith in Jesus Christ. Mary dreams of being able to find a Christian to marry, but her family doesn't know she is a Christian. She is afraid that when she announces her faith publicly, they will rush her into marriage with a Muslim. The stories of the martyrs were encouraging to her, and she is eager to see The Heritage stories — of her heritage and people from her land. We are eager to get them to her.