As I think back to that evening I am reminded of the persecuted church. We were 12 or so young adults all gathered together with our Bibles for a time of worship, study and fellowship. We talked freely about the passage, several people played guitar while we sang....and we didn't have to worry about being heard, getting caught, or being followed home. Not even a thought of something stopping us entered my mind. I knew that we were completely safe. There was nothing to worry about, nothing to be afraid of, and I am so grateful for the freedom that we have to do that.
But there are believers in Christ all over the world who gathered for worship, maybe on that very same evening, whose story would be so much different than ours. They would say that maybe they walked for miles in the middle of the night....that they met in a barn, not because they wanted to watch the sunset, but because they wouldn't be found as easily there. They might tell you that in a group twice the size of ours, they had one Bible...or maybe they didn't. They would probably say that they spoke in hushed whispers and prayed earnestly, for the sake of their young children, that they would not be caught. And maybe they were found...beaten up, imprisoned, killed...and yet they count it a joy and an honor to suffer for the name of Jesus.
Next week my brothers and I will be leaving to volunteer at The Voice of the Martyrs--a ministry to the persecuted church. In preparing to serve there, I think of the faith and courage of our brothers and sisters in Christ. And I wonder if I could have that much strength. Think about it. Could you? Yet I believe that there is persecution in our churches here too. It may be more subtle--it's not like we have to worry about someone coming into our services with a machete, or a machine gun, or an order from the government. But Satan is attacking the church with a vengeance. There is always going to be opposition to the truth, and when this opposition arises, do we stand back, pretend we're not looking and let it happen? Or do we hold firmly to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and speak out? We have the opportunity to demonstrate bold faith. Let's pray for the strength and courage to do just that.