Persecution To Pandemic
Our last in person service was March 8th. Then chaos ensued. Our church went from setting up services in an elementary school each Sunday and gathering together in Gospel Communities throughout the week to quickly moving everything to virtual. For some, the only major difference was that things were virtual instead of in person. For me, it meant that I needed to completely revamp my role at the church and quickly become a video producer and web designer. That led to a busy couple of months with very little space to stop and process.
Now we are over 2 months into this pandemic. Things in Stillwater have quieted down significantly. We haven’t had a new case in our city in a month. That doesn’t mean we are out of the woods. What it does mean is I have time to process. That is what this is, my musings in regard to the church and the pandemic.
I want to rewind a bit and go back to early 2018. At that time, I was in East Asia and we had been hearing about a new religious law that was put in place. It reassigned the responsibility for controlling religious gatherings to a much stronger authority. It also made it very clear that large gatherings were not going to be tolerated. The law took effect in February of 2018 and once that happened, the crackdowns began. The police across the country began to seek out unregistered, and therefore illegal, gatherings of churches. They arrested leaders, tore down buildings and evicted long-term tenants of apartments and meeting spaces who were using those spaces for religious meetings. Believers that we knew in all parts of the country were nervous about what might happen to their gatherings and to their leaders.
Just about every one of those who we knew that were involved in the house church network were affected. Their gatherings were disbanded and many of their leaders were arrested and interrogated. The situation seemed dire. But this was not the first time this had happened. Churches throughout that coun