10 Nov The Fear of Unfamiliar Faces
Global Worker Feature
I’m sharing my testimony this week at church,” my friend said.
“I wish I could come.”
“You’re welcome to,” she said, with a tentative look. Hospitality was so engrained, she couldn’t help herself. I offered a sad smile. We both knew I couldn’t go. My white face would draw unwanted attention to their underground meeting.
“Thanks,” I said with a sad smile. “But…”
“You are protecting us. I know.”
We both knew the stories: churches shut down, pastors on the run, people being punished for praising God. No, I couldn’t go. I knew my comings and goings were watched by the police and I wouldn’t put my friend and other brothers and sisters at risk.
Despite my precaution, months later three men entered the underground meeting. As unfamiliar faces, they were noticed immediately. A few believers whisked a government worker, who secretly believed, into a backroom to protect her from being discovered. They waited. They didn’t know yet, if the visitors were plainclothes policemen, but they seemed suspicious and these believers had learned, from the time of their salvation, to always be on the lookout for someone suspicious.
In the main area, one of the visitors started photographing all the books on the bookshelf. Those in attendance stiffened. Another man grabbed the offering box and it’s contents and a third approached the pastor. “You can’t meet here,” he ordered. Now they knew. These were policemen – their location had been compromised.
One officer started interrogating the pastor. Another confiscated the sound system and the one with the camera took photographs of everyone in attendance.
Believers were dispersed.
The pastor didn’t give up hope. If they could keep their meetings small, divide up into groups, the police would ignore them, he figured. But few were willing to open their homes, for fear of being discovered and punished.
Sometime later, the pastor cautiously passed the word. He found a new place to meet. They gathered, thankful to be together encouraging one another, yet wondering, would they be discovered again?
These believers, genuine in faith, face such obstacles. Fear is prevalent and when they need each other’s support the most, they are pulled apart.
This house church has grown to a point where it cannot be hidden. Numerous times the pastor has been interrogated by the police and told his congregation cannot meet, yet the pastor continues in his mission of teaching the truth. These believers push through their fear and persevere in gathering together to worship. Please pray for continued boldness in the face of rising pressure.