Behind the Scenes

Missionaries Shrouded in Mystery

Admittedly, this is a hard one to write.

What would YOU want said if the country in which you lived promised to throw you in prison for converting to Christianity? How could you possibly convey what God was doing "underground" without blowing your cover? 

We're not writing about a missionary from long past. This is a couple that you personally support with each offering you give at Calvary, equipping them as they secretly serve the Lord in a land hostile to Christianity.

So we're going to be a little cryptic here, but the story is too good not to share.

We can only say that we speak of a Muslim nation very far away, and a family who has served in an underground fashion for many, many years.

Just for fun, let's refer to this missionary couple as Aquila and Priscilla. That seems a fitting title for a couple who faithfully serves the Lord and the church [Acts 18 + Romans 16]. Aquila and Priscilla, it is!

If you weren't reading, we'd ask you to close your eyes and picture the scene. Do the best you can--everything you're about to read is 100% true. Aquila and his wife hold an underground church service in their home each Sunday morning. If you swooped in for a couple of hours, you'd notice people trickling in quietly so as not to draw unwarranted attention to their visit. Most weeks, just under 20 people gather in the living room to worship the Lord. 

Before they start, a member of the group stands up and begins walking around the circle. 

Because they extend their cupped hands to each group member, you might wonder if this is a strange way of taking an offering. That is, until you begin to see cell phones deposited. These phones are then tucked away in a room way down the hall. Turned off. Door closed. There's no reason to risk anything, and a live cell phone could mean someone listening in. That could be catastrophic. 

One of the girls in the group plays guitar. She tunes it quietly and begins to sing. The group chimes in, careful to keep their voices quite low. The thought of singing loudly never crosses their minds. Too dangerous. Someday in Heaven, they'll shout their praises. For now, they have to settle for whisper-level worship.

Then they take prayer requests. A young woman about 20 years old with shiny black hair raises her hand. She proceeds to share in her native tongue, "The Bible says we are to pray for our enemies, so I would like to pray for ISIS." The group then prays for, perhaps, the worst terrorist group known to mankind... that they would hear of Jesus and accept Him as their Savior.

After prayer time, someone opens the Bible and reads backwards. Well, that's how it looks to English-speakers, anyway. This language reads right-to-left, so books appear to turn pages in backwards order. Every eye is glued to the scripture they hold in their hands. Most Bibles are small so as to be easily concealed at a moment's notice. 

When church is over, cell phones are returned, and people gradually meander back outside. Everyone prays that each will be safe and that they'll be able to meet again the following Sunday. 

So goes life and ministry for Aquila and Priscilla.

Converting to Christianity carries with it definitive ramifications. Therefore, converts are few. There are no "seekers" at the underground church. Far too risky. Only believers are invited. 

Isn't it incredible, then, to know that in the past 3 months, 2 Muslim women have put their faith and trust in Jesus?! 

This mother-daughter duo is now praying hard for their other family members to place their faith in Jesus. When the mom trusted Jesus one evening around the dinner table at Aquila and Priscilla's house, she feared she might lose her husband and children... assuring she would live the rest of her life completely destitute. All it would take would be one member of her family to "spill the beans" regarding her conversion, and she would be utterly and totally ruined. Unable to support herself. Alone.

You would guess this woman would take great pains to hide her newfound faith in Jesus.

However, when she got home that night, she simply couldn't contain her joy. She pulled her 16-year-old daughter aside and said, "Tonight I became a Christian!" The daughter's eyes welled up with tears, as she gasped, "Oh, mom. I was afraid to tell you, but I've been secretly reading the Bible! I want to become a Christian too. Can you help me?" 

Aquila had the honor of stealthily baptizing this mom and daughter in a kiddie pool on Sunday, June 14, 2015. 

Now we have a little surprise for you. God, in His gracious love, has made a way for this couple to come to America to spend an entire year being refreshed, further educated in the Bible, and equipped for even more ministry. We're also excited to call them our "missionaries in residence" right here at Calvary, knowing that they'll intentionally reach out to Downingtown's "unreached people groups," who are mostly immigrants from other countries. Aquila, Priscilla, and family just arrived and are settling in to their temporary, year-long housing. 

We don't want to panic you, but you have only one year to figure out who Aquila and Priscilla are. Please seek them out at church, reach out to them, shower them with love, share your life with them, ENCOURAGE them... anything you can think of. One year. We simply can't name them from the pulpit. Governments follow people like this. 

When Aquila and Priscilla stopped by Calvary only hours after arriving in Downingtown, Aquila's first words were, "I'm here to serve the church that has supported me for so long. Please tell the people I'm ready to share with them about what God is doing in my country." 

So be on the lookout, and we have a feeling you'll spot them. After years of living the Christian life in hushed tones, they're ready to lift the name of Jesus up as loudly as they can!

We've only scratched the surface of what God is doing through this couple in a foreign land. You won't believe some of the stories of how our precious Jesus is reaching Muslims! What a great time your small group, family, or friends' gathering will have listening to the adventures this couple can share. Call the church at 610.363.7171 and ask to speak to Pastor Bill or simply use our Contact Us form to let us know you want to connect with Aquila and Priscilla soon. It'll be a visit you'll never forget.

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What Happened at Hot Date Night

A week ago, June 10, we hosted the first-ever "Hot Date Night" for couples-with-children at Calvary.

The participating couples purchased a restaurant gift card through our website [there were a lot of choices and price ranges], dropped off the kids around 5:30, and then picked them up at 8PM.

When the night got rolling at 5:30, a whopping 99 kids were registered to spend the evening having a blast with our volunteers while moms and dads got the night off.

However, 99 was NOT the number the Lord had for that night. We didn't realize it at the time, but there was one child the Lord wanted there who wasn't yet signed up!

As the evening unfolded, teens began arriving to help out with childcare [more about that in a second]. One father dropped off his students at the church to help with the night... with his elementary-aged son along. When this youngest sibling saw the fun at the church, he begged his dad to let him stay. The father decided to purchase a gift card last-minute and take his wife out. With the addition of this very happy boy, we saw 100 children ready for the night of their lives. 

What do you do with 100 kids for 2 1/2 hours???

How about have a giant worship + dance party? The gym pulsed with children singing songs at the tops of their lungs and getting all their wiggles out at the same time. 

And how about glitter crafts with photos?

How about snacks and karaoke???

Wait-- we almost forgot the most important part. Our storyteller, Nancy, brought her dog in to help tell the parable of the Rich Young Ruler from Luke 18. You could have heard a pin drop! Seriously.  We're not sure how she miraculously kept the attention of so many tiny ears, but she certainly did. She even worked the plan of salvation into her talk so no child would leave without hearing the good news of Jesus that night. 

Now, you might be amazed to hear of everything done with these children... but you haven't heard the half of it yet! 

Our students participating at Camp at Old Mill as counselors this summer stepped up to help at Hot Date Night. Scores of teens huddled around Children's Ministry Coordinator, Britt Price, for about 10 minutes while she debriefed them on what to do for the night. Everyone wondered... would they connect with the children? Would they be able to keep them engaged while also engaging themselves?!

Not. To. Worry.

These teens got right in there with the kids, hugging, dancing, singing, gluing stuff... you name it. If it involved making the night awesome for the children, the students were all over it. What was most impressive was the way they watched out for the children, making sure each child felt safe and loved while their moms and dads were away. 

Toward the end of the evening, Student Ministries Pastor, John Lawley, joined the party to present the ABC's of the gospel. The kids got to hear about Jesus not once, but TWICE during the course of the evening. Talk about making a night count for the Lord!

Another giant worship + dance party wrapped it up, and then the evening was over. 

If you've seen Calvary's pictorial "2 Cross Vision," you probably already picked up that this vision was on display Wednesday night. Children's staff and teen volunteers got under their cross by serving both kids and adults in such a tangible way. And, because the gospel was presented not once, but twice, children understood more clearly Jesus' cross and what it means for their lives.

Isn't it wonderful to know that God uses your gifts and service in such awesome ways?! Whether you were there Wednesday night or you give financially to support Calvary as we do these outreaches OR you prayed for Hot Date Night to have an impact... you were a part of what happened that evening. 

When it was all over, many parents asked, "Can we do this ONCE A MONTH?!"

Okay, so the timing of that question may have been just a teeny bit off, but our tired-but-happy children's staff DOES plan to do it again! Saturday, August 19, 2015 is the next Hot Date Night.  

P.S. We want to end this blog with one amazing tidbit. One married couple who took advantage of the opportunity to go out on a date Wednesday night told our staff that this was the first time they'd had a date in 7 years. You read it correctly. Seven. Stories like that help us realize that every ounce of time and effort spent to pull this off is well worth it. May God be honored and thanked for what He is doing at Calvary!


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