Summary: Within 3 years of its launch, the early church faced persecution and death. And yet the church not only continued to survive, but thrive. How did it manage to do that?
OPEN: April 11, 1970, 3 men set off on an adventure.
They were the Apollo 13 crew, and their adventure was to be the 3rd manned moon-landing.
Their spacecraft look like this artists drawing
(We put a picture of the spacecraft on the screen).
• The main module (the Odyssey) was designed to be their home for the journey to and from the moon
• and attached to that was the “lunar module (the Aquarius) that would allow 2 of them to land and lift off the moon.
A little over two days into the flight, they contacted NASA with these now famous words:
“Houston, we’ve had a problem”
Now that was something of an understatement. What they’d had was an explosion. Exposed wires had set off an explosion that destroyed one oxygen tank and damaged a 2nd.
Now, they still had enough oxygen to breathe, but those oxygen tanks were also used to power the fuel cells in the main craft. With those tanks gone, the fuel cells would be increasingly depleted to the point where the crew would never be able to make reentry into earth’s atmosphere.
BUT, if they could power down the Odyssey and then move into the landing module… they just MIGHT make it home.
But that created a new problem.
The landing module wasn’t designed to hold 3 men that long.
The biggest issue was CO2.
The lunar lander was equipped with scrubbers designed to clean the air for 2 men for 2 days…not 3 men for a 4 day trip. If something wasn’t done soon, the constantly increasing CO2 in the landing module would poison their air and they’d die long before reaching home again.
Now you’d think: Why didn’t they just change the filters on the scrubbers?
Well they would have, except they didn’t have any that shape.
The scrubber filter in the lander was round… but the spare filters they had were square.
(We showed a picture from the movie “Apollo 13” which showed the two filtlers).
They literally had to fit a square peg into a round hole.
NASA worked round the clock to find a solution.
Ultimately they came up with a jimmy-rigged contraption made of, duct tape (yes they had duct tape on board), cardboard, plastic bags and hoses from their space suits.
The crew followed NASA’s instructions… and made it safely home.
Apollo 13 was 1000s of miles away from home.
The crew was in a hostile and unforgiving atmosphere.
But they survived because they had been trained in the basics.
And they survived because they asked for the help of mission control.
Thus, they overcame the impossible and they survived where ordinarily they would have died.
APPLY: Now, that brings me to our text this morning.
About 3000 people were baptized into Christ and began the adventure of a lifetime.
But just a short journey into the faith – just like Apollo 13 – they faced “A PROBLEM”
Within a mere 3 years’ the church was faced with INTENSE persecution and cruelty: