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Before the breakup of the Soviet Union, Christians were routinely persecuted for their faith by the Communist regime. We have many inspiring stories of courageous Christians behind the Iron Curtain who were willing to die for their faith during this difficult period in world history.

One such story involves a house church in a city in the former Soviet Union. The small group of believers who gathered there were afraid to carry Bibles, so they memorized large sections of the New Testament and recited Scripture to each other. Each week they would arrive at the house at different times, to avoid arousing the suspicions of KGB informers.

On one particular Sunday the church members were all safely inside the building, with the windows closed and doors locked. They began the service by softly singing a hymn and praying. Suddenly, the door burst open and two soldiers armed with automatic weapons walked in. One shouted, “All right, everybody up against the wall. If you wish to renounce your faith in Jesus Christ, you can leave now and no harm will come to you.”

Two or three church members left, then another. “This is your last chance!” the other soldier warned. "Either turn your back on this Jesus of yours or stay and suffer the consequences!" Another member left. Two more covered their faces in shame and slipped out into the night. No one else moved.

Parents with small children trembling beside them looked down reassuringly. They fully expected to be gunned down on the spot or, at the very least, imprisoned. After a few moments of silence, the soldiers closed the door and looked back at the church members left standing against the wall. One of them said, “Keep your hands up but this time in praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, brothers and sisters. We, too, are Christians. We were sent to another house church several weeks ago to arrest a group of believers. But instead, we were converted.”

The other soldier added, “We are sorry to have frightened those who left, but we have learned that unless people are willing to die for their faith, they cannot fully be trusted.”

(SOURCE: from a sermon by Eric Ferguson, "Lay Down Your Load and Head Down the Road" 7/17/08)

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