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Stepping into another's reality

14 Jun, 2017 :: Kingston, Jamaica


During an all-night prayer event in Kingston, Jamaicans had the opportunity to participate in a ‘persecuted church’ simulation: a hands-on activity that allowed them to experience what believers around the world go through when they are persecuted for their faith.

The simulation began with a quiet church service, but took a drastic turn when crewmembers acting as armed militia swarmed the room. The churchgoers’ wrists were bound and heads were covered with cloth bags, and they were forced to walk single-file from the venue. The participants were brought through a series of rooms where they were ‘interrogated’ about their faith and had their belief in God ridiculed.

No one was harmed during the simulation, and a code word was given so that participants could be extracted should they feel something was too much for them to handle. At the end, the ‘believers’ and ‘persecutors’ talked through their experiences.

Simulation participants heard from two crewmembers who had acted the parts of an arresting officer and an interrogator. “It was tough for me to play the role of a man persecuting believers because I also believe in Christ,” said Klodi Pepa (Southeastern Europe). “One of the ladies was proclaiming the gospel to me, and I wanted to say, ‘Amen, sister!’”

Raphael Arndt (Germany) reminded the men and women that while the crew involved in the simulation had been acting, the experience was true to what many believers around the world experience. A man told his peers that when the quiet church service was interrupted by the militia and he was forced to file out under their watchful eyes, he began to shake. “This is a simulation,” the man agreed, “but what about those people who are going through the actual thing?”

“I really put myself in their shoes and I was just balling,” said an older woman. “I was just so overwhelmed.” The woman believes the empathy she now feels will help her in her prayer life.

"What we should keep doing is praying for our brothers and sisters," said Raphael, urging the Jamaican believers not to forget what they experienced as they stepped off the ship, but to be moved to action.

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