I was sitting in Church. It was a beautiful, calm night and we had been singing a very moving worship chorus. My 16yo daughter was on the platform singing with other members of our wonderful youth group. We had just taken the offering.
Suddenly though the windows and doors came men, armed with rifles. Dressed in camouflage fatigues and with their faced painted, they were only young. Idealistic, a bit cocky.
We were shocked, but when they shouted to get on the floor, we didn’t hesitate. My daughter didn’t get down. She only wanted to get to me, so she shouted “Mum!” and started to run. Without a second thought one of the intruders turned and shot her in the stomach. She was screaming and I tried to reach her. I got up to run but the man beside me, one of the intruders, threw me on the floor and held me down.
I could hear others around me being forced to the front of the building where we gathered. Then one man, their captain I think, asked the young people on the platform one by one if they would deny their faith. “No!” each of them shouted.
In a rage the captain turned to his men. “Kill them all!” he yelled. There was the sound of gunfire, cries of pain and bodies falling. Then it was our turn.
We were forced to kneel. I could touch my daughter’s leg as she lay curled in a ball on the platform, crying from the pain of her wound. They were coming towards me. “Will you deny Christ” they were asking. When the answer was no they would shoot and move on. The man next to me, my friend, refused to deny the Lord. I heard the shot and felt his body slump against me.
I asked God to comfort my dying daughter, and my dear family. Then it was my turn.
I am crying as I write this because the memory of those moments is so real.
For a little church in Brisbane it was a play; an act, a way to understand and empathise with the persecuted church; but for churches and congregations all over the world, the bullets, the blood and the choice are all too real.
Please remember the persecuted and suffering church in your prayers. Martyrdom does not belong to history. It still happens today.
One further thing. I sat in church, aware that any minute soldiers would come storming in and that I would “die” and I asked myself, “If this were real, if there was a possibility that I might die for my faith, would I still be here?”