There was an air of mystery as JYF arrived at the minor hall on the 15th January. As we mingled with the few children from Extra club still waiting for lifts, we were each given a note which read, “Meet in basement at 7:45”. As we moved one by one downstairs into the basement, we were ushered in by two people holding torches, who secretively moved us along into the room. It was completely dark apart from a lantern on a table, encircled by chairs. Anyone who tried to ask what was going on was instantly silenced. Only the lowest of Whispers were permitted. It was only when everyone had been accounted for that we were finally informed of what was really going on.
JYF’s Secret Church 2016 had begun
We continued our study of 2 Timothy, delving deeper into chapters 1 and 2. We had difficulty reading in the diminished light, and we often struggled to hear. In fact, some of us even struggled to stay awake! We learned to help each other, seeing when someone needed the light brought closer, and seeing when someone was cold and needed a jacket. We learned to be something JYF hasn’t been for a very long time – quiet! But on a much more serious note, we learned that this is what it is like for our Christian Brother and Sisters in persecuted countries all over the world. We realised just how hard it is for them, and the level of dedication they have to the gospel, risking capture, torture and death, for the sake of the gospel. This is the only way they were able to meet together as Christians. We discussed that whatever situation we are in, we must “guard the good deposit entrusted to us” (2 Timothy 1:14).
We then headed back upstairs to be greeted with warmth, light, ability to talk normally again, and the delightful news that Aileen Walker had ordered us all pizza! As we got tucked in, we continued our discussion, and realised that it was a lot harder to remember what we had heard downstairs (in the situation of the persecuted church) than it was to remember our discussions in our much more privileged position, in a country where persecution isn’t as severe. We discussed how difficult it is for the persecuted church, both to be bold enough to meet and also to remember what they had learned, so as to share it with others. It was a good evening, not only because of the pizza, but because of the lessons learned. I have an even greater respect for Christians in persecuted countries, and in light of how dangerous and difficult it is for them, we all realised how we have a responsibility to them too – to pray. We prayed together at the end of the night, asking that God would strengthen the persecuted Church, and help them as they would continue to spread the word.