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.