Persecution ahead: Time to prepare for the underground church

While my last article took the optimistic view that America can yet be saved from our new Nazi overlords, the more likely scenario is a rapid descent into tyranny, which sooner or later will phase into the great tribulation of end-time prophecy.

COVID-19 was more than just a pretext for crashing the U.S. economy to take down Trump. It served to justify repressive police-state controls across the globe. The election-fraud campaign was about more than stealing the presidency. It produced the stunning abandonment of any pretense of fairness or due-process in the vicious enforcement of Marxist narratives by all the power players of the elites: a result that will likely not be reversed despite the coup being completed. The dystopian jack-booted surrealism of Baghdad Biden’s pending “inauguration” is more likely a glimpse at the “new normal” than just an historical aberration.

That’s the soberingly pessimistic view we must include in our contingency planning, even as we hope – and work – for the best.

If that is the “new normal,” it won’t really be new for Christendom as a whole because the first generations of Christ-followers endured an even worse form of demonic oppression under the Romans than we are likely to see (at least in the early stages of America’s transformation). And Christians in more recent centuries have faced similar persecutions in numerous Marxist and Muslim countries. It will only be new to American Christians who think that stability and peace is the norm and not the exception in world history. In truth, our forebears were blessed by God for obedience to Him, and we have slowly lost that national blessing for disobedience.

In my own contingency planning, I formed First Century Bible Church in early 2020 to create a network of “remnant” Christians and congregations to help Christendom transition to the “underground church” I believe will be necessary for our survival. Remnant Christians are those who have resisted attacks on the truth and authority of the Bible on various issues and usually suffered persecution at varying levels for doing so – without compromising their faith. Their experience has opened their eyes to spiritual and cultural realities that less assertive believers rationalize away to avoid discomfort or remain blind to. My eyes were opened in the LGBT wars. Others were awakened by different attacks on God’s truth. Our duty is to prepare for a great awakening of believers triggered by the season of trials that has just begun.

In God’s plan for transforming spiritual babies into adults, persecution often serves as the “refiners fire” – the tool of the Master Silversmith to purge the dross from the silver until it offers a perfect mirror finish in which He sees Himself. As Psalm 66:10 says, “For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.”

In my travels I have learned a lot about the underground church and want to offer a few tips for my fellow Americans who want prepare for the worst.

1. Don’t trust the government. One of my first encounters with the underground church was in Cairo, Egypt. Anne and I took a three-day layover there on one of my trips to Africa, and we met with a couple of Christian groups there. Egypt allowed them to operate openly on the condition that they did not evangelize the Muslims. But one of these groups connected us with an underground church that evangelized street kids. We learned that they had great success running a business as a front and recruiting the kids into the business where they were introduced to Christ and converted. The biggest challenge was persuading these teens not to have their official government IDs changed to read Christian instead of Muslim – because they literally risked murder by their families for conversion. And, of course, the leaders of this church risked their lives for engaging in evangelism.

2. Hold church services as “invitation only” events and don’t let anyone outside the event know where it is taking place or what is being done there. During my 50-city speaking tour of the former Soviet Union, I met many Christians who had lived under the Soviets. There were many families whose relatives were jailed, killed or sent to Siberia for the mere possession of a Bible. The KGB would have agents attempt to infiltrate Bible study groups, and other agents would be stationed outside of homes where home churches were suspected of meeting.

3. Develop direct person-to-person networking to share critical information. Organize larger-scale church networks in cell groups. In one city in central Russia, the church that was hosting us for a major conference was hated by the mayor, who was a holdover from the Soviet days. At the last minute he forced the hotel where our event – for more than 1,500 people – was to be held to cancel. In the U.S. that would have killed the conference, but in less that 24 hours these Christians changed venues and pulled off a hugely successful event in that new location where more than 1,500 people attended. That was all done by word-of-mouth because they used person-to-person networking for critical communications.

4. If you hold public services, assume you will be under surveillance by government agents.

Belarus is the last old-style Communist country of the former Soviet Union. The church we spoke at there was allowed to operate openly, but when I was picked up at the border that morning the pastor warned me passionately not to say anything that could be construed as critical of the government, because there were always agents in the congregation monitoring what was said.

Now, I realize these examples seem impossibly far from anything that Americans might ever have to endure in this country. But who would have ever thought even in December of 2019 that state and local governments across America would lock down our churches like they have done? Who would have imagined the intense censorship of President Trump and his supporters, most of whom are Christians? Who would have believed that an incoming federal government – controlling all three branches – would be seriously discussing legislation to declare MAGA rallies as domestic terrorism? Who would have expected that the grossly anti-Christian Equality Act would be this close to passage after being stopped in 2019 – and that the most extreme elements of that movement would be on the threshold of having the full power of the U.S. government backing them? How far are these things, really, from what the Soviets did?

I think we’ve got the time to prepare for serious persecution and enough warning signs flashing that we should get started now. Join the First Century Bible Church network if you agree.

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