"Mark," Standing strong in the storm

Over the past few months, Brother ‘S’ has had the opportunity to disciple a new Believer, a former Muslim, who we will refer to as ‘Mark’. Mark is extremely excited about his faith and each week has great questions about the Bible and what he is reading. From their first few meetings, Mark has been eager to share his faith with his family and friends.

Recently, he asked to be baptized. Brother ‘S’ replied, “Are you sure you want to take this step in your faith? Are you sure you want to commit your life to Christ, no matter what it may cost?” Immediately Mark answered that he was ready, and they began to plan the details for his baptism celebration. As the planned baptism celebration drew near, Brother ‘S’, Mark, and fellow believers met for their usual church gathering. It was a blessing to worship, pray, and study the Word together.

After the meeting, Brother ‘S’ felt he should call Mark to see if he had made it home. He tried many times, but Mark did not answer. The next day, Mark called Brother ‘S’ from a new phone number. He wanted to meet with Brother ‘S’ to tell him something important. When they got together, Mark told Brother ‘S’ that after the church meeting he had been mugged. A group of men took his phone and wallet. He went to the police to declare the crime and was surprised when the police officers said, “We’ve been thinking about you. We were going to be coming to visit you soon at your home.”

They led Mark into an office and made him wait. After some time, an officer came in and asked Mark, “How was your church meeting this evening?” He proceeded to ask Mark many questions about his life and faith. Without being given a reason, Mark was placed in handcuffs, taken to a cell in the basement, and forced to stay there overnight. He was not officially registered at the police station, and they refused to let him call his family. The police attempted to intimidate Mark by hitting him and insulting him. He did not sleep all night because he was wondering what they were going to do to him.

The next day he was brought back upstairs for further interrogation. He was shown pictures of other Believers, the location of discipleship meetings and church gatherings. They asked him questions about national Believers and foreign Believers in the city. Mark kept asking them, “Why am I being interrogated? I came here to report that my phone and wallet were stolen.” They then asked Mark to sign a statement indicating that Brother ‘S’ was the one who shared the Gospel and led him to faith in Christ. Mark refused to sign the statement and continued asking why they were holding him. Eventually, when they saw that he would not cooperate, they allowed him to leave.

When Brother ‘S’ met with Mark he could see that Mark was clearly shaken. Brother ‘S’ shared his own similar experience and the stories of many other Believers who have faced these challenges. This greatly encouraged Mark. When he was asked “Do you still want to continue to gather with the church? Do you still want to be baptized this week?” Mark confidently answered, “I am ready to die with Christ!"