Part of ministering in a country where being a practicing Christian is illegal means being part of the underground church. What is the underground church? What does it mean? Where do they meet? Who goes there and when? Again I can’t go into very specific details as I need to protect those still there and on the off chance that my post is read by an enemy of the church, I don’t want them to gain any information they could use against believers.
First of all the church is the body of Christ. That means that each individual Christian is a member of the body. When the church is underground it is not immediately visible as it is hidden from the eyes of the agents of the government and the Enemy. It has no billboard outside with a name and service times. There is no church website with a photo of a smiling pastor. The underground church may meet in a home, in the basement of a building, out in the dessert or anywhere that believers can come together in safety. Meetings can be held at any time of the day or night and on any day of the week. However the weekend in the Middle East is Friday and Saturday and therefore the main worship meeting will often (but not always) happen sometime over the weekend. Meetings are often not open to everyone. Sadly ex-patriots and locals often do not worship together. A ‘bounty’ of about $1300 is offered by the government for information leading to the arrest of Christians who practice their faith and the government particularly targets those Christians who openly speak of their faith. Due to this, many ex-patriots have a deep distrust of allowing locals into their worship services, prayer meetings and Bible studies. Spies will infiltrate the church to then give in names of key leaders and times and places of meeting. Security is a key word for all concerned.
Why be so concerned you might ask? Sadly the punishment for meeting to worship the living and almighty God is possible imprisonment, lashes and deportation. The punishment for smuggling in Arabic language Bibles may even be as severe as beheading.
Yet the church is exploding! I know of one street alone where three (3) churches meet! I have preached in front of 150 people! I have even heard of a meeting of thousands of believers together at one time! We celebrated the Lord’s supper together every month! Worship is so Holy Spirit filled! God has raised up men and women who are gifted preachers and prayer warriors! God honours His people by blessing his Kingdom work.
Please join with me in prayer for couples like I and S and D and A who love Christ, who love His people and want to see the Kingdom of God built up in the Middle East. Please pray for brother J who has been arrested and released and still continues the work of the Lord.
Thanks for bringing these needs to mind again. I lift up those of whom you speak and pray for the true Word to spread like wildfire in the dry lands.