For such a time as this


For some time, I have wondered why the Lord has placed an emphasis on small groups meeting in homes. (According to a survey by the Pew Forum in 2009, nine percent of Protestants in the USA “hold services” in  homes.)

In other nations, the rise of house churches is often in response to persecution. But here? In Christian America?

Esther was married to King Ahasuerus (probably King Xerxes I) “for such a time as this.” She saved her people.

As I survey the Christian landscape, and look at what is going on politically, I wonder if the Lord has been behind the simple/organic/housechurch movement “for such a time as this.” It would only take one act of Congress, for example, removing the tax exempt status of churches, for some building-based churches to find themselves fighting for survival.  Or what would be the impact of a couple of terrorist attacks in church buildings? Or some strategically planned law-suits aimed against Evangelical convictions?

Thankfully, God knows the end from the beginning.

 

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Photo credit JovanStojan (Creative Commons)

 

 

Extraordinary video: Egyptian Christians respond to violence

A few days ago, I received a link to a most extraordinary video. It shows the response of Egyptian Christians to the violence that has gone on there.

The video came with this comment:

“Millions were totally astonished by watching the content of this video which was broadcasted on National TV. It was a real testimony to the love of God and His forgiving power, that was demonstrated through real people; deeply wounded by the loss of their loved ones, yet they are forgiving their enemies and praying for them to see the light and be saved.”

I requested permission from those who made the video to post it on my blog. Their reply: “Yes, go ahead! If the whole world knows that this is the proper response to the terrorists, they will have no sway over us.”

 

May we weep with them, intercede for them, and learn from our brothers and sisters in Egypt.

House churches and persecution

Dan Hubbell

 

Dan Hubbell is an apostolic father who works in many Third World countries where persecution of believers is common. Recently, he sent me a response he had given to a church leader from a Third World nation asking for prayer that his church could find a building to meet in. 

As I mentioned in the last post, we may not be facing persecution by government authorities here in the West, but for economic reasons we may find more and more churches meeting in homes, restaurants, dorms etc. So note Dan's loving response to this brother.

 

 

Son, thank you for sharing this urgent need of a gathering place for the church of your city. 

Let me share what the Lord is stirring in my spirit in response to your prayer request: 

We are living in both a perilous time, and time of a mighty move of God in the closing days of the ages. 

What you are experiencing is happening all over the world, for believers are under great persecution and are faced with the same question: Where are we to gather as a church in our town/city that is safe from persecution from Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Communists, etc.?  This challenge from the “natural understanding” is going to get worse and worse throughout the world or better and better from the “spiritual understanding.” 

On one of our recent mission trips, some servants shared this incident with me: authorities in their province with whom the believers had gained great respect, told the house church leaders that if they would meet in private homes in small, family size groups of 2 or 3 up to approximately 12, depending upon the size of the house in which they were gathering, they (the authorities) would not bother them, but if they continued to meet in larger numbers than “family size”, they would have to arrest them and close the gathering. 

Isn’t it interesting that God used these authorities to remind the believers in that country that His Church/ekklesia is relational and family.  For Jesus told His disciples: “where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.” 

In my discernment from the Lord, I am strongly recommending servant leaders in every nation (including the USA) to keep their gathering size as small as possible, i.e., family size like having brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, visiting, etc. 

Meeting in small family size groups does not guarantee there will not be persecution, but it is less likely.  Remember in the Book of Acts about Saul of Tarsus persecuting believers as they gathered in their homes, etc.  Church buildings and/or large house gatherings become targets for persecution.  

Also, remember the biblical understanding of the Lord’s church/ekklesia, that in any given town/city, there is only one church/ekklesia, even though they meet in multiple locations, i.e., houses, apartments, offices, factories, caves; or as in Africa, under trees, in the woods, forests, jungles; or in the USA, houses, apartments, offices, etc., throughout the town/city. 

As persecution becomes greater and greater, we will not be able to meet with all the believers in one location as they did in Jerusalem on Solomon’s Porch, but rather multiply into small family size house type gatherings. 

Even here in the United States, house churches are facing town/city ordinances against larger gatherings in any one house/apartment, etc. primarily because of congestion, neighbor complaints, etc.  So, I am reminding you that this issue you are facing is worldwide and all believers need to know this and adjust their gatherings accordingly.  By the way, we are practicing what we are advising you, son, for we gather here in our town in homes as small family size groups as well. 

James, I encourage you to again to log onto our website http://www.churchrestoration.org and search the teachings about persecution, gathering places, house churches, etc.  This will give you the biblical basis for what I have written to you in this email to you, son.

Remember that I love you dearly and faithfully pray for you, your family and other believers who gather in His Name in your nation.


A suggestion for Memorial Day

The US holiday of Memorial Day commemorates citizens who have laid down their lives in military service for our country.

Around the world, there are citizens of the Kingdom of God who face death on a daily basis because of their faith. I have spent time in nations where believers are persecuted for their faith; they are ostracized from their communities, will likely lose their job or housing, they may be thrown out of the family. Everyday life is much more of a struggle because of their faith. I have friends who have spent time in prison because they have shared their faith, others who have had to flee their country, others who are spied upon or questioned by security police.

In some nations hostile to Christianity, if it is discovered that a family member follows Jesus, it is a matter of family honor that they are put to death. In some nations, known Christians live with the reality of potential violent death every day. 

I have had the privilege of sharing life briefly with some of these believers, facing possible danger because of my faith, but I come home to safety. My brothers and sisters cannot leave.

An average of 171,000 Christians worldwide are martyred for their faith each year (World Christian Database)

Here's my suggestion for Memorial Day: let's honor those who have died in military service for our country, but let's also pause  to pray for our fellow-citizens of the Kingdom who face martyrdom because of their faith.