Wow! That’s the word that first comes to mind when I think about the LOCKED UP simulation for high school students at First Trinity yesterday. For 12 hours, eight students from First Trinity and Grace-Niagara Falls gave up their identities and their rights to get a little taste of what it’s like to live in a country where being a Christian is illegal.
After hearing from Marty Doster about his experience in China, the students were processed into the prison and began to experience a VERY small taste of the reality that over 200 million Christians face everyday. With guards yelling in their face, forcing them to do physical challenges, and mocking Christians any chance they got, the students began soon realized that this wasn’t an ordinary day at youth group.
One of my personal favorite moments from the day happened a couple hours into the simulation a few of the students couldn’t resist smiling. As one of the guards were telling them to smile, they responded that even if they wiped the smile off their face, they’d still be smiling on the inside. Each in push-up position while the other prisoners answered, they one by one confirmed that they were all indeed smiling on the inside because no matter what they were facing that day, they knew God was with them.
THAT, my friends, is the joy we have as Christians… not happiness that comes and goes with circumstances… but deep rooted joy in a God who loves us and cares for us and is good.
While I hope to write more stories throughout the week ahead, I wanted to be sure to share what a couple students posted on their Facebook page (for the whole world to see) as soon as they returned home from LOCKED UP last night.
“Had an amazing experience today… cant even believe christians around the world actually have to go through stuff worse than that everyday.. it was pretty [bad] but im now stronger in faith and in the bond with my “cell” mates.. love you guys and all the christians around the world!”
“I will never be able to fully explain what happened today. all i know i can express to you is that the events of this day have changed me. i, as well as a few other people, got the chance to really see what it’s like for a persecuted Christian in the world today. i feel so connected to God, my youth group, and all of the people throughout the world who are fighting and dying to keep their faith alive. today was really an amazing experience.”
Want to find out more about persecuted Christians around the world, or even write a letter to one who needs some encouragement? Check out Open Doors or ask me for more information.
Thank you for praying for the youth that participated and the persecuted Christians we were thinking of all day.
More pictures of the event can be found on the First Trinity Facebook Page.