I have the privilege of serving third graders at my church on Sunday mornings. They have powerful, space-themed curriculum that is teaching them to be ambassadors for Christ. Yesterday’s lesson was, by far, one of my favorites this year.
The lesson centered around the persecution of Christians, a topic that has come up a few times as they’ve studied the book of Acts. Specifically, they learned about early Christians worshiping in the catacombs (basically underground cemeteries with tunnels and bones). In order to engage the children well in the lesson, the Fellowship Kids staff set up a special room for worship.
The children had to whisper and walk quietly into the room, showing a card with a fish symbol on it to communicate secretly to the worship leader they were Christians. Once we were all in the room, we sang quietly so the Roman soldiers wouldn’t hear us and arrest us for worshiping Jesus.
Singing quietly next to tables covered with bones stirred within me thoughts of our risen Savior. His bones aren’t in the catacombs. His bones aren’t in a grave anywhere. We worship a risen Savior who defeated death.
I also thought about the dedication members of the early church must have had to worship in the catacombs. They loved Jesus enough that they were willing to go underground and worship surrounded by death, probably a constant reminder of their own fate if they were caught. I imagine it was cold and damp, and the stench of death likely filled their noses and saturated their clothing. Yet they were faithful.
I have the freedom to worship Jesus openly and publicly. I have a cushy seat at church each week, and I serve third graders under the glow of a black light in a space ship. I have more Bibles than a shelf can contain.
Yet I find myself wandering.
The things of this world grab my attention daily. They distract me from my personal time with the Lord, and they bombard my thoughts during times of corporate worship.
I oversleep and miss my time in the Word, and I feel rushed and flustered on Sunday mornings.
But, in other parts of the world, Christians gather quietly. They share God’s Word with one another in hushed tones and sing softly to their Savior, knowing their fate if they were to be discovered.
I needed that visit to the catacombs yesterday. I needed the reminder of my risen Savior, and I needed the reminder that I have it easy as an American Christian. I needed to remember there are persecuted Christians all over the world.
Would you take a moment and pray for the persecuted church? Maybe even ask God what He wants you to do about it. I’ll be praying with you.