All of us were eagerly anticipating this day, but no one as much as my oldest son. We were in the process of visiting several of our area’s churches, and this week would take us to the church affiliated with the Christian High School that he was looking forward to attend. This is a school well known in the region for attracting students from all over the world, and since my son has a fascination with world cultures, he couldn’t wait to meet some of the student body!
We were almost to our destination when we saw the road block and the stern-faced police agent guarding it. I glanced at my wife. “We only had another block or so to drive,” she stated logically. “Maybe she would let us through!”
But it was not to be. “You can’t pass,” she said, rather nonchalantly.
You can already guess at our response: “Why?”
“There is marathon starting in just seven minutes,” she answered. “The runners will be using this road.”
“But that’s seven minutes from now. We’re just going to the church up the road! It can’t be more than a block away. Surely you can let us pass!”
“No sir, I can’t,” was her unhelpful response. “If we did that, we would have to let everyone else through as well!”
I glanced quickly behind me. “There isn’t anyone else around!” I argued. “We would just like to go to church!”
“Sorry, no can do.”
But she was already walking away, and with such logical reasoning, we had no choice but to retreat. A quick examination of our road map showed that there was, indeed, another way. It would mean a bit of backtracking, followed by a long detour, but it would bring us much closer to the church without having to use the “forbidden” road. If we wanted to go to that much trouble, we could park on the side of the road and walk the rest of the way. Judging from the map, it wouldn’t be more than a 100 metres hike.
But with the price of gas these days, did we really want to take that long detour? I decided to ask: “Do you want to drive all that way? Or should we just go back home?”
The vote was unanimous: Take the detour!
I was happy to see my family investing in going to church, so we began our 15 minute drive and soon found ourselves parked along the side of the road and ready for our little “hike”. The weather wasn’t exactly cooperative. It was one of those wet, rainy fall days where the breeze has a bone chilling quality to it. In addition, the little wooden bridge we had to cross was covered with slippery moss, and it only took a moment for my wife to discover just how slippery it was!
Despite everything, we finally arrived on the road that led to the church. We could see the building in the distance, but we were beginning to realize that our original judgment of “100 metres” was more than a little bit under exaggerated! We were already chilled to the bone (except my older son of course, who, as a teenager, never feels the cold!), and to make matters worse, my wife, after her brief encounter with the bridge’s wet wooden surface, was walking rather slowly to avoid repeating the experience!
I slapped at my arms to try to stimulate some blood circulation. Would we make it before we froze to death? As my younger son pressed up against me for warmth, I quickly prayed for outside help.
It wasn’t even a minute later when a van zipped by and then stopped abruptly and backed-up until it was right beside us. The driver lowered his window. “Are you going to church?” He asked.
“We’re trying to!” Was my shaking response.
“You must be freezing. Let me drive you over.”
We didn’t stop to argue, but piled into his warm van. “How come they let you pass through?” I asked him, once we were all inside.
“Oh, they know me,” he answered.
That didn’t really make sense to me, but before I could ask any more questions, we had arrived.
The rest of our experience that morning was very positive. We enjoyed the cozy warmth of this lovely little church, and to make matters even more pleasant, a missionary from China was the guest speaker. My kids refused to go to kids’ church because they wanted to hear, firsthand, of his experiences. In the long run, we found that the morning had been well worth the frustrations. In fact, once back in the car, my boys were already asking to return the next week!
“Why?” I asked.
“A missionary from Haiti will be talking about his experiences.”
It sounded like a good plan to my wife and I, but our only hope was that on the following week, the road would be free of road blocks!
Though it seemed to us that we had gone to a lot of trouble to attend church, we had to admit that compared to what the majority of the Christians in the world have to go through to get to church, this had been child’s play. Some walk for hours in much worse weather conditions than those we faced, but neither fatigue nor illness will stop them. Even worse, in some countries Christians risk imprisonment and torture if they are found attending an assembly of Christians. It doesn’t stop them, however! They still faithfully attend!
“They must have a fantastic preacher and all members must be terrific!” You may say.
Not likely. Many of these churches don’t even have their own pastors. Some just gather around a forbidden radio! But their love for Christ and their desire to worship God with other believers pushes them onward.
Another interesting phenomenon about these Christians is that they don’t complain. You would never hear any of them saying something like, “All they are after is my money!” Why not? Because most of them don’t even have any money!
Other statements that you would never hear in these forbidden churches are: “They are a bunch of hypocrites!” Or “No one cares in that church!” The only goal of these Christians is to assemble with others to worship God! Nothing else is more important! By focusing solely on God, this activity becomes the highlight of their week.
What about you? Are you willing to walk 300 metres in the rain to attend church? What is YOUR purpose for attending?
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb 10:25 NIV)
Watch out! Road block ahead! Will it keep you from going to church?