The Power of God’s Church
Joseph Stalin decided to destroy Christianity in Russia and started with the Lutheran Church. The Lutherans were to be the case study in how all Christian denominations would be liquidated. First, Stalin had the pastors killed or imprisoned. Then the church buildings were confiscated, Bibles and hymnals and all religious material was destroyed. Lutheran families were broken up. Men were forced into the army. Women and children were loaded into box cars like cattle and scattered throughout the remote regions of the Soviet Union. Some to the deserts of the Islamic areas, others to the arctic wastelands of Siberia. In a shockingly brief time, the Lutheran Church of the Soviet Union was wiped off the face of the earth.
But Lutherans are too stubborn to just die (I know because I married a Lutheran)! Though scattered, the Lutheran women worked painfully to keep their church alive. They had no pastors, no church buildings, no Bibles or hymnals. But they sought each other out across the miles of desolate countryside. They met in one another’s homes to pray and minister to each other. They wrote down all the religious instruction they had learned by heart. Bible verses, Catechism, hymns, liturgy etc. They held religious services and, at the risk of imprisonment, passed the faith onto their children. Many of the people surrounding them and a converted Community of believers was formed with elders and deacons. The Lutheran church was reborn.
The church was revived with house churches. The West sent them Bibles and they even had a Seminary training pastors. The church outlasted Communism.
How many Western Churches would survive a deliberate attempt to exterminate us? Could our church live on without pastoral leadership, a building, even a Bible? Jesus promised “The gates of Hell would not prevail against His church.” We embrace our Christianity by faith. Jesus stated we will be persecuted and promises we will overcome because He will be with us. The Lutheran Church in Russia knows this by bitter experience. Let’s pray for the persecuted church regularly.
–By Rev. Dr. William Lewis