Tuesday 31 March 2020
"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. "
Throughout the history of the Soviet Union there has been periods of time where the State advocated the control, suppression, and ultimately, the elimination of religious beliefs. The Communist Party destroyed churches, synagogues, and mosques, ridiculed, harassed, imprisoned and executed religious leaders, flooded the schools and media with anti-religious teachings, and it introduced a belief system called "scientific atheism," with its own rituals, promises and promotors. The total number of Christian victims under the Soviet regime has been estimated between 12-20 million.
Religious beliefs and practices persisted among the majority of the population, but only in private. Although some practice was tolerated in public but it was strictly controlled, had to be registered, and anything evangelical was forced underground and the state secret services sent of lot of operatives to infiltrate the underground churches and many Christians suffered greatly for their faith in prison.
There is a story told, of where an underground church gathered one evening, when suddenly the doors were kicked through and the Christians surrounded by soldiers holding their rifles screaming, “we are going to shoot you all, but anyone who isn’t really a Christian or will renounce their faith can leave now and we will spare you” a couple of people quietly left the building. Then something very unexpected happened the captain of the soldiers went to the doors closed them and all the soldiers put down their rifles. The captain explained to the bewildered Christians, “we are Christians to, but we had to be sure you were all genuine believers, anyone who is willing to lay down their life for their faith we know is a genuine believer. As soldiers we cannot afford to be caught as we would be immediately executed.” The whole group worshiped, prayed and listened to the word for the whole night with a deep and new sense of fellowship with Jesus.
Today we explore a difficult theme of suffering for our faith in Jesus. For any Christian walking with the Lord, living boldly for Jesus, it is clear throughout the New Testament that suffering because of your faith goes hand in hand with the Christian life “Don’t Be Surprised When You Suffer for Christ, But Rejoice!” 1 Peter 4:12-19.
Acts 6 v8-16 & chpt7
“A Christian is someone who shares the sufferings of God in the world. "