Youth from Atlantic Baptist Association churches went “underground” Nov. 22 and after being harassed, scared and arrested, some decided they wanted a faith worth living for.
“Every day many strap a bomb onto their chest and die in the name of their faith,” said Travis Crocker, associational youth leader who organized the event. “For them, their sacrificing is over. They are done. It takes real courage and perseverance to live out your faith, carrying your cross daily, despite the costs.”
Crocker, student and family minister at First Baptist Church, Beaufort, said more than 230 young people from about 23 churches confronted the question by the end of a scary night, “Do you have a faith worth living for?”
Youth arrived at First Baptist Church, Havelock, much like they would for any other event, talking, gawking, giggling and texting. They packed the pews and worshiped, led by River Bend Baptist’s youth group.
Director of Missions David Phelps told them about Christians who crossed the border to be baptized in Armenia knowing they faced death or excommunication when they returned home.
Meeting breaks up
Youth learned persecution is not only in other lands, as Chris Leader of Ignite Outreach in Apex told them about persecution in America. Leader’s address was interrupted by a hurried announcement that authorities were on their way to stop this “illegal Christian meeting.”
Youth fled to McCotter Blvd. Baptist Church where they heard Cliff Lawrence, pastor of Colony Baptist Church, describe the duty of every Christian to witness despite discomfort or alienation. Lawrence was then “arrested” as authorities burst into the sanctuary, took him captive, and evacuated the building.
As students left uneasily to waiting buses, they filed past a car engulfed in flames in front of the church, intensifying the unease of their experience.
On their way to First Baptist Church of Morehead authorities at a traffic stop waved regular vehicles through, but they stopped buses bearing church names and searched them for Bibles. They arrested chaperones if they found Bibles.
As they continued to Morehead, a spy on each of the five buses stood to get the attention of all passengers. The spies said they had been sent as suicide bombers to kill all the Christians on board, and then revealed the mock explosive device they were wearing.
Then they said since watching the persecuted church in action that they no longer wished to die for their faith but to embrace a faith worth living for. They converted to Christianity on the bus ride to Morehead.
Fading to reality once they arrived at First Baptist everyone enjoyed a hot dog dinner. Allen Stabley, River Bend youth minister, led the group through real scenarios that Christians face today such as being persecuted for their faith at school, work or even at home. They were shown tools to respond respectfully to persecution.
Crocker closed the evening with a message on living out an authentic faith and hiding the Word in the hearts where no one can take it away.