Peter had recently come to faith in Jesus Christ. He left his previous religion which each of his family members practiced and were part of. His conversion was considered illegal, and was unaccepted by his society and his community, particularly his family. Shortly after his conversion, Peter became part of a church body, which quickly became his Christian family. This group became an integral part of his life; one which he participated in daily.
After his conversion, Peter began sharing his faith with his relatives and family. They did not receive it well, and he was rejected, beaten, and even threatened with death. This was a tremendous shock to Peter–to see his loved ones whom he cared so much for reject not only Christ’s love, but him, personally. He began to question himself: Should I stop sharing Christ? he wondered. But Peter found that there was genuine joy found in sharing Christ that remained even when he was rejected…it somehow felt beautiful and worthy.
That same day, Peter turned to his church brothers and sisters–he cried and shared with them his encounter with his family. Suddenly his painful beating and rejection turned into a celebration with this newchurch family. He felt the connection with this body of believers who had walked the same journey ahead of him. At that moment, Peter realized that this must be part of following Christ–being rejected and threatened like everyone else in his church. It felt right to Peter and to the church, to suffer for the sake of sharing the Good News.
The following week at his job as a public-school teacher, he felt a great burden to share Christ with those who had never heard of Jesus. If he shared, he knew he would be fired, taken by the secret police, and his reputation destroyed, he would also greatly increase his chances of being killed. Peter loved being a teacher and his care for his students had no limits, so he began sharing his faith with individual students. Some students he began to disciple, while others rejected his faith. Peter soon became bold enough to share with other teachers.
One day the headmaster invited Peter to his office and asked him to tell the story of Jesus. Peter loved sharing his story of Jesus and God’s redeeming grace, and this situation was no exception. Unbeknownst to him, radical teachers had reported him to the police–the headmaster had created a trap for Peter, and the next day the police dragged him in. It was an unrelenting and painful journey for Peter from that point on. He lost everything–his reputation, his family, and his job; he was treated like a criminal in his own community. The secret police attempted to force him to return to his original religion.
To this day, Peter is part of his church family–they mentor him spiritually, pray with him and for him, and meet with him in secrecy, since his family put him in a type of prison. He has experienced great hardship but when he is in fellowship with his church family, he is with believers who have walked this treacherous road before him. Peter sees that he is not dealing with the result of sharing his faith alone as an individual, but he sees the whole church together, coming around him and going through these tribulations with him–hosting him at their house, hiding from one house to the next, defending him when those who want to hurt him come searching for him; God has given him earthly encouragement and support in these fellow believers. Those who are after Peter realize he is protected by an entire community of fellow believers. Peter knows he is not alone.
** Names and places changed for security reasons