Standing Firm

By Anonymous

She gets the call in the middle of the night. Glancing at her small daughter lying peacefully beside her, she reaches for the phone and recognizes his cell phone number on the caller ID. He is outside a mountain village, on the run again. He asks her to pray for his safety. But the same call that brought her to her knees alerted the police to his location. Although the others are able to scatter, he is captured and brought in for interrogation.

While she calls friends to pray with her, her husband is in a dimly lit village police station calmly explaining the gospel of freedom to those who put him in bondage. He is unafraid. He is encouraged because he knows the police are afraid of what he tells them. But they have a job to do; they must convince him to go home and stop spreading the gospel. Although he is summoned to come in for questioning day after day, even though they confiscate his cars and equipment and fine him heavily—again, they are unsuccessful. He lays low for a couple of weeks; those who work with him take a holiday. It’s a familiar pattern, but the believers will be back. What they have, they cannot keep inside.

A Faithful Community

Just two blocks away, the new church building is packed. Some in the congregation are regulars, part of the all-volunteer staff. A middle-aged woman is learning a new phrase in English each week so she can greet traveling foreigners. There’s the young cameraman who, while filming 71 people being baptized, handed his camera to another and knelt to be baptized as well. An old cleaning lady, when she isn’t guarding the bicycles people ride to church, sings in the choir and cooks for church lunches. A young professional woman who lives on the other side of the block just heard that a church has been built in her neighborhood. Her grandmother has been a Christian for years, whispering truths in her ear since she was young, and she is excited now to be a part of a large group of believers. There is the woman in an abusive marriage who heard the gospel for the first time on Easter Sunday and one week later stood before the large gathering to tell what Christ was doing in her life. And numerous college students travel across town by public bus to spend a couple of hours each week in Christian fellowship.

Although there is no pastor assigned to the church, the members hold four services each Sunday. The elder, his wife and their son, who has recently returned from seminary, make all the arrangements. They have recently begun an international service with foreign pastors in the pulpit and a youth service that brings in new college students each Friday night.

Standing Together

We see the church elder again, but this time he is in a local restaurant sharing a meal with police officers. Sitting next to him are the young husband who was arrested and his wife. During the course of the dinner, the elder assures the police officers that the young man is not a criminal. Because the police officers hold the elder in respect, his words are heeded.

In this country, there are Christians who walk the less-traveled village roads, switching among five different cell phones to avoid detection, and there are others, with Bible degrees from well-known seminaries, serving in government-sanctioned church buildings. All of them worship the same God.

“Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who are so treated” (Heb. 10:33).

Submitted by a worker from the International Fellowship of Alliance Professionals (IFAP) living in a creative-access country.

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