And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:22
Daniel, a young “underground” house church believer from Muslim background (MBB) would not attend the open church in his Middle Eastern city because he felt its leaders were cooperating with the government. Everything had to be secretive in the house church meetings with no loud singing. It was risky meeting like this. Daniel shares his story of discovery and what he learned from the experience:
“A few months ago, I was at the church leader’s house. They were old family friends and I was helping their kids to repair their computer. The mother answered the door and men came into the house. They were plainclothes police with papers that showed they were from security and had authority to arrest. They took everyone’s phones, disconnected the internet, and gathered all of the computers while they searched the house for Bibles. They found 300. They didn’t want to touch the Bibles, like they were dirty. They took the husband and wife away in handcuffs.
“The leaders were still imprisoned when the police came to my house about a month and a half later pretending to be postmen. In my whole life, that was the first time I saw my father cry. They searched through my room and took my computer, my books, my prayer notebook, my written plans for our youth group, and my personal Bible. They also took my sister’s laptop and all of our cell phones. At the end of their search, they told my parents that they were going to take me with them. My mother was distressed, but I hugged her and told her I would be back.
“They took me to the central prison. I was there for two weeks. They only beat me the first day, but they still threatened me. For the first week I didn’t answer their questions, but the second week was difficult. I was imagining my mom and dad—I had talked to my dad and knew it was a more difficult time for them than for me. I still wondered what I had done wrong and why I didn’t have the right to praise my Lord.
“After two weeks they let me go after guaranteeing I wouldn’t flee. About a month later they also released our leaders on bail. After that, they told me my case was still open and they could call me in at any time. We were uncertain of our sentence because they wouldn’t hold a trial for around six months. Constant pressure. It was a pleasure to be persecuted for my Lord.”
Asked what he learned from the experience, Daniel replied, “First, God taught me patience. Eventually, even though I was worried about my family, God gave me a chance to witness to my persecutors. I really don’t hate them. I love them because they don’t know what they’re doing. They’ve been taught bad things, they’re not bad themselves. I felt a responsibility to tell them about the light of Jesus that can break through their spiritual darkness…I want western people to know that God is working in the Middle East, through persecution, deception, and difficulties.”
RESPONSE: Today I will be thankful that God can work through my fellowship of believers regardless of the level of freedom we enjoy.
PRAYER: Pray for those in underground house churches who risk everything to meet and fulfill the five functions of the church.