We’ve just had the first of our weekend training events with a select group of 10 young people passionate about serving the persecuted Church. As well as studying and/or working, these ‘Advocates’ are spending the next ten months joining with us at Open Doors Youth to help get out the fact that over 100 million Christians today are at risk because of their beliefs.
Here Becky writes a bit about what happened and how spending a weekend hearing stories from those who know the cost of following Jesus has impacted her…
It was 10:15pm, pitch black and cold as small groups of Open Doors Youth Advocates were quietly making their way through the darkness to a secret church gathering. Every part of me was on edge, I kept thinking trees were people, and any sound was the footsteps of the secret police. Even though I knew the whole situation was set up, and later that night we’d be returning to the comfort of the Open Doors offices, my heart was thumping.
But for many Christians this dangerous journey isn’t set up, it isn’t one off, it is a normal part of their faith. They regularly risk everything, not knowing if this might be their last chance to meet in secret with their fellow believers. Every one of the people involved in the weekend with me filled out the application form to become an Advocate because they couldn’t let their brothers and sisters suffer like this. They get that supporting the persecuted church can never be an optional extra to Christianity.
Doing Secret Church was just one of the many things that got packed into our first weekend together. On Friday evening the weekend kicked off with a session about using whatever we have to build God’s kingdom. On every grave stone, between the birth and death dates, there is a dash. That dash is our life – what are we going to do with it?
On every grave stone, between the birth and death dates, there is a dash. That dash is our life – what are we going to do with it?
That question was ringing in my mind as we went on to do secret church together that same night. As a musician I love meeting with God through sung worship, therefore I thought it would be an incredible challenge to worship God in silence. Yet there was something so profound about it, maybe it was because with all the music stripped away I realised what a crazy privilege it is to worship God out loud.
In so many countries the church is being silenced; in North Korea it is illegal to even be a Christian. Whether it was hearing about the horrific persecution that occurs there, or eating a bowlful of tea flavoured rice (which for the record is disgusting) the session ‘Live like a North Korean’ was another that shook us to the core. Yet it was amazing to hear how in such a shut down place God is building his kingdom, right now.
Throughout the rest of the weekend we also had a session on how we can use our written talents to raise awareness about our persecuted brothers and sisters. We also heard more about how we can advocate politically for the persecuted church, and even began writing to our local MPs. As well as that we filmed a promotional video for Open Doors over lunchtime, needless to say the weekend was full on.
Spending a weekend away with people passionate about the persecuted church has given this ten month discipleship course an awesome start. Saying ‘yes’ to advocacy won’t necessarily be without cost, but what is that cost compared to what our persecuted brothers and sisters face daily? Just like all Christians, persecuted or not, we can also hold onto the fact God has already won the battle for us. His light will always conquer the darkness, but the darkness will never put out his light.
Let’s stand together for the silenced church.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.