Continuation of the story:


I had been asked by mutual friends to visit her with a small team, as she had never had a visitor! That was hard to understand, as she was from a country just a short flight away!

Through carefully veiled email communication, we learned that we would be doing English Corners at the University for any of her students who would like to come. They had never had anyone come to do this before, so the students were very excited and there was a large group of them who showed up at that meeting. We would be very careful about what we shared at that open meeting.

She had also communicated very carefully, that she would like us to share with the students who had already been led to the Lord and were being discipled in her apartment on a regular basis.

So, there we were, in her apartment. Her cellphone was off and put away. Her wall phone in her apartment was disconnected, as she had reason to believe that was how they (the authorities) tried to keep tabs on what she was doing.

I had just taught the group about non-verbal communication and so we had the students acting out different scenarios, demonstrating how to show different feelings non-verbally. It was fun and there was quite a bit of laughing between the 26 people crammed into the very small living room.

Then came the knock on the door. Instantly, there was total silence in the room, as the teacher asked through the closed door, "Who is it?"

A man's voice said, "Can I come in, please?" 

Again, Cari said, "Who is it?" 

And again, the man asked, "Can I come in, please?" 

A third time Cari asked, "Who is it?" 

Finally, he identified himself as a student turning in a late paper. Cari opened the door just enough to receive it and he left. We all heard him going down the stairs and opening and closing the outside door to the apartment building. 

During that whole time, nobody moved or made a sound! But once that everyone heard the outside door close, everything continued as they had been before the knock on the door. Nothing was even said about it! That was a normal part of life there, which was hard for us to even imagine living in those circumstances. We felt like we were definitely way out of our comfort zone, but we didn't say anything about it.

This happened three times in the few days that we were there. IF the students had been discovered having a Christian meeting, especially with foreigners, all of them would have been arrested and possibly kicked out of school. At the very least, they would have been taken to the police station and interrogated. The teacher would have immediately lost her visa and been deported. Our team would have been questioned and probably lost our visas and been deported.

It was illegal for anyone in the country to have any meetings of more than a few people without government permission, and religious meetings were only permitted through the government church. The government church had strict rules, like no children could attend under 18 years old. There could be no teaching on creation, the virgin birth, the resurrection, or the Second Coming. 

So, you can see why home meetings (house churches) were preferred by most Christians, even though illegal, therefore they were risky, and even dangerous. 

Do we treasure and protect whatever freedoms we have? Do we pray for the persecuted church around the world?


READ more stories by Neal and Yvonne Pirolo!