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Church Persecution, Right Now in Florida

I began preaching on Acts, as the new year began. Last week I came to the 4th chapter. The topic, as I saw it, was the beginning of Church persecution. In the name of Jesus, Peter and John healed a man who had been lame all his life.

This good deed resulted in their imprisonment and subsequent harassment by the established Jewish officials. As the week unfolded, I found an overwhelming amount of current real world examples of the continuing persecution of disciples of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

I received an email from a lady in my church, which contained horrific photos of Christian children being killed by Isis terrorists in Iraq. One picture showed a child being crucified.

At the close of the week, I saw a brief story on the Fox News about a church in Florida and how they were being harassed by local code enforcement officials.

So I got online and started digging. While it looks like there are people in local government that have targeted all churches, one church in Lake Worth, Florida, appears to have been singled out for a greater amount of scrutiny and persecution. A code enforcement official actually attended one of their church service with a hidden camera.

Here is a news story from a local TV station in Florida. 

Common Ground Church had been holding services in a coffee shop owned by pastor Mike Olive. The coffee shop has a business license. Under ordinary circumstances, restaurants often rent or offer the use of their facility to outside groups. For example, Rotary Club meetings.

However, Common Ground Church is not being treated in an ordinary way. The church has had to significantly change how they operate, in order to avoid being heavily fined. Instead of their Sunday morning worship service, the Christians attending Common Ground are now stopping at the coffee bar to pick up small group Bible study materials, give an offering and then spread out through the city to hold small gatherings in various places.

I was able to get in touch with Pastor Olive on Facebook. So, I became aware of a very disturbing new twist in their struggle. On Sunday evening, I received this post from him:

Thank you for continued prayers for protection over the staff of Common Ground Church. This morning, before bible studies, an individual confronted me, pulled out a gun and threatened "to f***ing kill me". This person got distracted with someone else and I ran into the coffee bar and called the Police. Both individuals were arrested. Thank you to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department and to God for protection. - Pastor Mike Olive 

The individual with the gun was a disturbed person that the church had actually been trying to help.

The folks at common ground church need our prayers. But there is something else we can all help do.

Their story needs to be told. If Christians around America ignore this, stories like it are going to become more common. The next church to be targeted could be yours.

I have tried my best to pull together the basics of this story. Now I am asking you to share this post. Darkness will fade when light is shined upon it. So help shine that light.