This week a loaded up my car with preachers (I love doing that) and we (all five of us) drove three hours away to a small town to meet a national believer. When we pulled into this picturesque town I was immediately taken by their vast views of the snow capped mountains in the distance past the brown hills spotted by green shrubs in the arid landscape. It is the kind of place you can breathe deep (even with half a lung =).
We spent four hours that day in this man’s one room home without moving except to eat a snack his dear wife brought. He told us the story of the last years of police antagonism and attacks from radical Muslims. This man has been a believer for ten years and is one of the few believers who has the great privilege of having a Christian wife. During his first few years as a believer he was tested in his faith by his unbelieving family. This is a common trial all Muslim background believers must go threw.
The last two years, however, have been a trial on all sides. He and his wife have both been arrested, questioned, and threatened on multiple occasions. As the unofficial leader of the small house church in his town he was singled out for the worst of the treatment. One thing that struck me as I listened intently for those four hours to his enthusiasm for Christ was the comparison between the three still attending his church and the average church attendee at an American church this weekend.
You see, this man had about 14 people in his church gathering weekly and claiming to be believers. During the week three years ago the police came to his house, arrested he and his wife, and threatened them. They both stood strong in the face of this pressure. At one point he told the police, “You can cut off my head and I will still worship Christ. You cannot stop me from being a Christian.” They asked him if he was meeting with Muslims and shaking their faith. To which he replied, “We meet to study the Bible in my home. You are welcome if you’d like to come.”
The Sunday following this conflict with the police his congregation when from 14 to 3! He is not discouraged, though. He claims that God is using this persecution to reveal who are the real believers in Christ. He compared it to the fire that cleanses gold.
So how about you? If you knew that the police would be watching you tomorrow as you go to church? If you knew that they might arrest you? If you knew that they would try to ruin your business or your job? If you knew that you would get death threats? Would you still go to church tomorrow? If you were put to the same test, where would you come down on it?