the bottomline

Never in Danger, but Could Have Been
Sunday, November 4, 2018 by Dan Allen

If a certain US Senator could have a “Spartacus” moment (which neither resembled “Spartacus” nor a very good moment), I had a quasi–Apostle Paul moment minus the basket (none was found large enough).

You may have noticed from my writings that I do not mention the country I am in (please do not when responding). That’s on purpose. Although as a democracy which claims to have religious freedom, the present government follows one religion and has made it rather difficult for any others especially Christianity. Missionaries may not be permitted into the country. I have a ministry friend who was held-up at the airport while they let his team of pastors in and then sent him home the next day. It took over a year to find out why. He is still not allowed back into the country. So, we walk a thin line. I’m here visiting friends, which I am. I have many in this country. If pressed, I’d also mention that I mentor men. Pastors’ Conferences have turned into Leadership Conferences for this very reason. And, of course, I always bear gifts for the kids at the orphanage even when I do not go, as in this time.

At the present locale, nothing was put in print so there would be no paper trail. When push came to shove, the stacks of books on the table in the back were quickly distributed to the men and they were told to put them in their book bags . . . and don’t mention my name. 

What happened is that either the press heard about our conference or they were just nosing around and discovered it. We hold this on the grounds of a quasi-Christian group with a large cathedral on quite the compound with numerous buildings and at least one other chapel. Although they have a front gate, the back of the property is quite wide open. Anyone can get on at anytime. If the press had come into the room where we were meeting, they may have taken photographs with an accompanying article in the local paper. I’ve been taught that all news can be good even negative news if it is spun properly. However, this could have riled–up the dominant religion whose fanatics have little scruples when it comes to persecuting minority religions and are often looking for a fight.

Upon learning the press was on the grounds, the doors to the conference room were shut tight. Windows and curtains were closed. I was asked to leave the stage and sit in the back. One trusted leader was sent outside to dissuade any attempts of getting in. Thirty or forty minutes transpired with leaders in huddles and a nervous tension in the air. Finally, the men were asked to go back to their rooms and I was ushered into the room of the conference director. While there, prior to opening the door upon a knock, my handier turned out the lights in the room just in case it was the press so they would not see me. I was thinking we could have a secret code or knock, but this was no time for joking. My driver than backed the vehicle as close to the front entrance of the building we were in (about 20-yards away). After the coast was declared clear, I was cautiously escorted out and immediately put in the car. I tried to get my sunglasses out of my computer bag which was being put in the back seat, but was instructed – “just get in.” Off we went through a side gate and out of any potential danger.

The debate now is—will we try to meet tomorrow. If it appears the threat remains, the pastors will be asked to quietly leave tonight or in the morning, one–by–one so as not to draw attention.

You do remember the story of Paul being let down in a basket on the Damascus city wall because there was a legitimate threat to his life (Acts 9:23–31)? I’m not sure how many men it would have taken to get me out a window and down to the ground to safety. I’m also afraid of heights. 

This situation — overly cautious or wise decision? I’m not in this country enough to know. But it is obvious the threat of persecution is real to these brothers and their church members . . . and they deal with it every day. It wouldn’t be a bad idea right now to pause for a moment and pray for the persecuted church. This very minute there are many who are suffering for the cause of Christ all around the world.


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