Last night my small group from church met together, as we do weekly. We spend time together, catch up on each other’s lives, study the Bible and pray.
I really appreciate this group and their commitment to coming together, as well as their commitment to serve. When I visited with Syrian Christians two weeks ago, I asked the group if they’d like to send something small to bless the Syrian believers living in a war zone. Two women from my group came back with over 50 button-down shirts and a selection of lotions and perfumes for the women.
Over Christmas, we came together to pack small kits for the local homeless shelter: socks and toothbrushes, granola bars and other items. One of the women organized it, and we all covered the costs together.
I enjoy these brothers and sisters and the community and fellowship they provide. But I realized last night that there is something missing from our group, and I thought back to my time worshipping with a small group of Arab believers in Jerusalem two years ago.
I sat in on their weekly worship time, where they sang, studied a Scripture passage and then celebrated one of the member’s birthdays with a cake. Most of the 15 people gathered in the room were in their 20s and 30s. Almost all of them had grown up in Muslim homes. Many of their families did not know these young men and women were believers. They held the meeting secretly in the basement of a building.
The difference between that group and mine is that the Arab believers deeply needed one another. If they missed the weekly meeting, they missed their only chance for Christian fellowship and worship for the week. For the rest of the week, many of them were alone in their walk with Christ. That time together was crucial for maintaining their faith.
And when they were together, their joy was palpable, even for me who didn’t understand the language. (One of the young men sat next to me and translated what was said in the meeting, but I missed a lot of the greetings and conversations beforehand.)
I want my group to be like that. I want my group to need each other to maintain our fire for Christ; I want us to pursue the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives just as if our faith, or our lives, could be taken away at any moment. Though we don’t face those same risks living where we live today, I want our faith in Jesus to be just as critical to our daily survival as it would be if we did.
Dory P. has worked with VOM for seven years. She grew up in Ecuador, met her husband while working with another mission organization, and now lives in Oklahoma. Between Dory, her husband, four-year-old son and one-year-old daughter, the family shares seven passports. Dory helps tell the stories of the persecuted through VOM's newsletter, and her husband serves with VOM's international department.