One of my favorite ministries is Voice of the Martyrs. They offer a free subscription to their monthly newsletter describing the plight of the persecuted church of Jesus around the globe. You can subscribe here. I encourage you to do so. The perspective God will give your own suffering is something you will not regret. And you will know better how to remember your brothers and sisters in chains (Heb. 13:3).
This month’s issue contains a brief article entitled, A “Moving Church” in Central Asia.” It gives an account of a city in one of the most religiously restrictive nations in that part of the world where the Christian population shrank to just 70 people after many fled relentless government persecution. It then explains how believers there found a creative way to practice their faith.
One pastor who had been under intense scrutiny from authorities thought of an inventive way to provide for his congregation. They couldn’t hold meetings in a set location, and many believers were afraid to be seen attending a meeting. With assistance from VOM, Pastor “Ramil” purchased a minivan that soon became known as the Moving Church.
On Meeting day, Ramil picks up four to six believers in the van. They sing, pray, read Scriptures and listen to teaching by Ramil or one of his elders as they drive around the city. After two hours, he drops the group off and picks up another small group of Christians. He does this throughout the week so all the believers under his care receive spiritual nourishment, fellowship and encouragement.
This account of ingenuity under duress moves me on multiple levels. Among other things it inspires me to want to serve my own people with greater zeal and devotion. Pastor Ramil clearly understands what it means to shepherd well the flock entrusted to his care.
Additionally it makes me want to find some way better to help those living under freedom to give up a nonchalant attitude about meeting in community for worship and fellowship. More often than I care to admit I confront a take-it-or-leave-it mentality when it comes to church attendance. The Scripture exhorts us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Heb. 10:24-25). With texts like that it makes me wonder how professing believers can treat the Word and the Table as optional.
Are you reading this and must admit that you are AWOL on your covenant member commitments at your local church? Worse yet, that you don’t belong to any gospel-treasuring community of believers? May I encourage you to let the “Moving Church” of Central Asia spur you on to love and good deeds such that you get a move on toward joining/rejoining a body of believers? If not, you might as well take a knife and cut Hebrews 10:24-25 out of your Bible.