Underground Church

by Pastor Doug Engel

The village street lights seemed dimmer than usual tonight. It was late, the sun having long since gone to bed. The eery silence would be broken every now and then by a dog barking or by angry voices in the distance. They were looking for dissenters ... and I was a dissenter!

There were only a handful of us huddling together in that dark cellar. An older lady, at least 75, made us feel welcome and did her part to keep our meeting as safe as humanly possible. What was our crime? We loved Jesus and it was our desire to meet together for worship and encouragement. The Bible tells us that we shouldn’t neglect meeting together especially as we see “the day approaching” (Heb. 10:25) so we felt it was more important to be obedient to God’s word than the laws that would ban all such gatherings.

With thankful hearts we sang (really quietly) and prayed and studied the scriptures. Suddenly we were interrupted by a commotion above us! The sound of boots could be heard going from room to room. They were obviously searching. We held hands and prayed some more! And God heard our prayers because they never did find the cellar door. And even if they had found it, who would want to be found in a dark and dingy place like that?

Everything I have just described happened in a mock game when I was attending Bible School. Surprisingly, the whole town took part, allowing close to 100 students to hide in basements, sheds, or barns. We were experiencing what it must be like in a country that is hostile to the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. It was a great experience and it gave me a small idea of what it must be like to live in such a country. It also taught me how to pray for my brothers and sisters who live every day with the possibility of being arrested for their faith.

I never dreamed that something close to this would happen in Canada! I know that by saying that I’m going to ruffle a few feathers and invite criticism. Not everyone will agree with me and that’s fine. Sometimes the best we can do is to respect those who see things from a different angle than we do.

I’ve always believed that less government is better. I still believe that, by the way. So what has changed? Why does it feel like our elected governments (of all stripes) are heading down a path that smells of socialism and/or a police state? Why are alternative views being systematically ignored and silenced in the face of the COVID crisis?

I certainly don’t mean to minimize the crisis and I don’t have all the answers. I do have my faith however, and my faith tells me that all of this was predicted long ago. Seriously, this is only the beginning! Jesus said that fear would grip hearts as people panic. The heavens would be shaken and the nations would be in distress (Luke 21:25-26).

“You can expect betrayal even by your parents, your brother, your relatives and friends – and yes, some of you will die as martyrs. You will be hated by all because of my life in you. But don’t worry. My grace will never desert you or depart from your life. And by standing firm with patient endurance you will find your souls’ deliverance” (Luke 21:16-19 tpt).

Perhaps we’re not in the great tribulation yet but it is coming. I find encouragement in this, that although I may not have all the answers, I personally know the One who does. And I trust him completely. You can too!