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How Much do we Value our Faith?by Duane Mabee on March 8, 2019
They arrived at the nondescript apartment individually and in pairs, watching carefully to detect any secret police who might be tailing them. Several had scars on their hands or necks from being shackled and mistreated for their faith. Yet none seemed to be fearful. Instead, a sense of peace, quiet joy, and spiritual expectation filled the room as they entered… Soon all eighteen of them had arrived. Each is an overseer in an underground house church movement, all from the same section of a country where Christianity is illegal.
I asked our translator to find out how many people they oversaw. After three or four minutes of discussion they had an answer: about twenty-two million…
They immediately put me to work. They had me start teaching early each morning and continue, virtually nonstop, all day long in our hot, crowded room. They had traveled at least thirteen difficult hours by train and now sat all day long on hardwood floors.
When I asked that a Scripture passage be read from Bibles we had brought in their language, several quoted the verses from memory. I later learned that many had memorized entire books of the Bible while in prison risking further abuse if they were caught. “They can confiscate pages of Bibles that we may smuggle into prison,” one woman explained to me, “but they can’t take away that which is hidden in my heart. So whenever someone slipped me a page from a Bible, I memorized it and then passed it on to someone else.”
I learned that if any of these people were caught at our training event, the minimum penalty would be three years in prison… I found out that fifteen of the eighteen had already been imprisoned for their faith, one for twelve years. Another of them, who publishes a Christian newspaper, which is illegal, mentioned that he could not go home after our meetings. “The secret police are watching my house, planning to catch and arrest me,” he explained.
At the conclusion of our time together, I asked how I might pray for them. “Pray that we will become like you in America,” one of them said. “You have many Bibles, freedom to worship openly, and even air conditioning to keep you from being distracted.” “No,” I replied, convinced… they should be teaching me. “Instead, I will pray that we become like you.”