“Sister Lydia, this is Pastor Benjamin. We’ve heard through an informant that we’ve been discovered; it appears the time has come. We’re meeting tonight as usual but those who come must be willing to take a stand. I’m calling everyone in our group just to let them know.”
Lydia hung up the phone. Could this be the time we’ve been watching for? She picked up her Bible holding it tightly to her breast. Father, purify my heart, make me strong—strong enough to stand. Let your Spirit rise up within me and give me courage. I cannot falter if it is in Your strength I stand.
The days were dark. It was unlawful to possess a Bible, to speak the name of Jesus or refer to God in public except, of course, to curse. The sacred halls that once resounded with true spiritual worship had been transformed into houses of carnal amusement, vapid and shallow. Blasphemous venom spewed from the mouths of the government leaders—local, state, and national. Anyone who believed their lies turned alarmingly cold, lost in a sea of self-deification and contempt. It happened all so fast…one position of power, one deceiver, one successful election—the people’s choice.
Small groups of believers formed tight bonds. Unbelievers couldn’t understand why they would risk their lives just to be together. But the faithful knew all too well. Without the strength they garnered from holy fellowship, their hearts would have fainted—they would have succumbed to the pressure to conform. Now all home groups were targeted as a result of national legislation; they were deemed dangerous to the cause—rebels against the godless society.
Lydia began to pray as she walked through her house. Her finger gently swiped a speck of dust off the frame that embraced the portrait of her late husband who led her to the Lord so many years earlier...such a wonderful example of Godliness to her and all who knew him. I remember his words: “The day will come when believers will be persecuted simply for believing.” What would he have me do? If I remain here, I may live and continue to work for my Lord. Yet, if I go I will be numbered with the believers and die. Surely this is what Paul meant: “to live is Christ, to die is gain.”
Visions of unimaginable horrors—times her beloved Aaron never spoke of except those rare occasions when television documentaries catapulted him back to the days of his youth when he endured forced labor in the Gross-Rosen camp. The chilled atmosphere caused her stomach to churn; the taste of bile stung the back of her throat. She remembered the prayers they offered on behalf of the persecuted church last time they worshiped together. Was history now repeating itself? First the natural, now the grafted?
The clock struck half past six; it was time. As Lydia put on her coat, she turned and looked at her small apartment one more time. This house is not my home. I surrender all.
There were no cars in Pastor George’s driveway. The dim lights inside the house didn’t appear to draw unusual attention from passersby. She knocked gently; Pastor George greeted her with a warm handshake and motioned for her to join the group downstairs. “I’ll join you in a moment; Brother Samuel is on his way.”
As Lydia walked down the stairway, she was overcome with the presence of God. He was near, watching, listening, and imparting strength in such a time of need. The darkness of the hour but a mere shadow as the ethereal glow on each believer’s face lit the room. They each made their decision. They will stand—together as one.
The small group greeted their elder sister, embracing her and whispering words of encouragement. The atmosphere was ignited with a holy radiance–fiery commitment, burning passion, blazing zeal.
Pastor George entered alone. “Brother Samuel was arrested outside the house; they found his Bible. Oh, God strengthen our brother!”
The group began to pray standing side by side, their arms fitly joined together, locked, and inseparable. Their fervent prayers were buzzing in the air though deliberately muffled so they could not be heard beyond the closed door. For years they met in this room and studied the scriptures together, committing the life-giving Word to memory in preparation for this very hour.
As they were praying, footsteps could be heard throughout the house. Suddenly, but not unforeseen, armed soldiers burst through the door.
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