Thursday, July 14, 2011
THE CHURCH AT SMYRNA: THE SUFFERING CHURCH
Reverend Albert went to the little man-made basement to have his usual study of the Bible. This was kind of a hideout in his friend’s single story house, far away from town. His underground house churches, which were growing like tentacles all over the province, had authorities wanting his head. It was not that bad that he lost his house confiscated by the government but the grief was about his two boys languishing in jail for preaching Christ. He hoped God would see all these and respond appropriately. He always knew his turn will come. It was not a matter of if but when.
What saddened him a lot these days was the members of his house churches, who had lived not only in abject poverty but also in danger everyday from being captured. If imprisoned, they would most probably be tortured for their faith. Some were reportedly executed without proper trial. He prayed everyday for them as he preached and taught in secret meetings all over the place. To evade detection, Albert would shift from house to house to stay. Once, he was almost captured by the secret police when a family from the neighbourhood betrayed him. They purportedly wanted to hear the gospel but reported him to the authorities instead. God planned the escape when Albert’s friend came back in the nick of time and swiftly ferried him elsewhere. The friend lost his property as he couldn’t go home either.
In the stillness of that humid basement, he knelt down and cried. He told God to help him not to entertain the temptation to give up. He needed divine strength. Then he saw a bright light shone towards his face. Although he shielded himself with his hands, he could see it was an angel.
A strong voice spoke…
“These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty--yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.”*
Albert’s fear turned to faith in God. He cried with tears of joy, not because God took away the problems of persecution but that he was in the centre of His will. That day, he rejoiced that God saw the works all His suffering children did. Deeply encouraged, he told God that he was ready for anything. Then he heard a commotion outside the house followed by loud knocks on the door. Reverend Albert got up and said, “Lord, I am ready, even to die!”
*The above verses are taken from Revelation 2:8-11
Next: The CHURCH AT PERGAMUM: THE COMPROMISING CHURCH http://psbible.blogspot.com/2011/07/church-at-pergamum-compromising-church.html