Every year, David Platt, the current president of the International Mission Board, hosts what he calls “Secret Church.” Despite its name, Secret Church is no secret. Quite the contrary, close to 50,000 people participate in the six hours of instruction and prayer for persecuted nations. Although it is no secret, the meeting earns its moniker from the people it seeks to remember — the secret churches that gather in persecuted nations. In years past, I’ve heard about the gathering and flippantly refused to go, bewildered by the ability of some to listen to a six-hour Bible lesson.
This year some persistent and obnoxiously enthusiastic friends of mine convinced me to go. (To be fair: I wanted to go and see what instigated all the hubbub but it’s easier for me to blame my friends. In any case, I ended up there). Friday night, I showed up, Bible-in-hand, pen loudly clicking, ready for anything. By the time we cracked open the pizza boxes, about fifty students and faculty had gathered, chatting with that lively vigor of a Friday night.
The night began as any night of Bible teaching should: with prayer. A short introduction by Andrew Scott prefaced the video, and, like horses charging from the starting gates, we were off. Because my friend had warned me about Platt’s rapid pace, I was somewhat prepared for his breakneck speed. After a funny joke about Eutychus falling out of a window and dying after many hours of Paul’s preaching, Platt began his teaching about the centrality of the Scriptures and the necessity of maintaining firm belief in the truth it safeguards. Those of us who had let Andrew know we would be coming had small books to take notes in. At first, I doubted that we would make it through the 150 pages of notes; but it dawned on me after the first 30 pages that we would indeed make it.
The night was divided into four sections of teaching with times of prayer dividing the sections. During these times of prayer, we prayed for persecuted Christians in the Middle East. From its inception, Secret Church has been a time for Christians in the West to catch a glimpse of the suffering of their brothers and sisters and pray for them. These times of prayer were quite moving, for as I prayed I knew that I was walking in the same shoes as thousands of others who had also been praying for the persecuted church. It was as if the blinders I had put on at safe, quiet OBU were ripped off for an all-too-brief twenty minutes and I could see the and feel the need for God to act.
Secret Church was a unique experience. During that night, I was not only challenged to treasure the Scriptures but also the friends I can gather with and worship God together. That night was a poignant reminder of all that I have and to be grateful for how God has blessed me.