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In the Underground Church

She was only thirteen when she was forced to leave her home country of Bhutan. Her parents kicked her out of the house a year earlier after discovering she had put her faith in Christ. Police officials were now forcing Christians to leave the country. Her Christian sister and brother-in-law already left. Purnima found herself alone in a group of fugitives with no idea where she was going or what she would do there. After being dropped off at the Bhutan-Indian border, she came to live in an Indian refugee camp with her sister and brother-in-law. The Lord continued to work in Purnima’s heart and she began traveling with other Christian youth to preach the gospel in surrounding villages. During one of these expeditions, her group was caught by police, beaten mercilessly and thrown in prison. With false allegations raised against her, the now fifteen-year-old girl received a sentence of three years in prison. Nevertheless, amidst the hardships of prison life, she still shared the gospel with her cellmates and continued doing ministry upon her release.

These types of situations aren’t uncommon in places where Christianity is forbidden. Often-times, fathers beat their own children, families disown members, and governments imprison and torture citizens who profess faith in Christ. If you live in this type of culture and choose to follow Jesus, you might pay with your life. Instead of shrinking back, however, we see believers risking everything to share the good news with those who have never heard. They know the high chances of prison, torture, and even death. But, they continue speaking out despite adversity. They see the great need for Jesus in the lives of Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and so on, knowing that animism and idols won’t save them; they know that although they may lose everything, they will reap an eternal reward in the next life; they read God’s Holy Word and decide to walk in obedience, even in their unfavorable circumstances. Whatever the case, these Christians face persecution that would make your knees weak, but steadfastly pursue God’s mission in places that forbid Christianity.

Compare that to Christian life in the US. There’s no need to be afraid of torture when sharing our faith. Yet, we keep it confined within our home or our Sunday morning fellowship. The chances of imprisonment are close to nothing, but most believers haven’t shared the love of Christ with their neighbors. Why is faith taking a back seat to relationships, family, degrees, education, houses, cars, retirement, etc.? Consider the widow that Jesus describes in Mark 12:41-44. Many rich people “put in large sums,” but she offered two copper coins (approx. 1/64 day’s wage). Jesus says: “this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Are you placing everything you have into God’s offering box? 

Persecuted believers in the Underground Church don’t enjoy such freedoms as we have. Nevertheless, the irony is that they are more free spiritually than we who have freedom of religion engrained in our very Constitution! We need to use our freedom to demonstrate our obedience to God.

Pray that God would stir up your heart and the Church in this country to follow in the footsteps of the Underground Church. 

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