There was a lot of “fall-out” from this event of arrests. On one hand, Harry lost his job and Orin experienced increasing pressure at work. On the other hand, this event surprisingly opened the hearts of some who were previously closed to the Gospel. Terry, whose husband, Tom, may have been a believer, was really touched with pity for those arrested, and when we next visited them, she asked to see the Jesus film again.
Questions remained. What would those who denied the Lord do now? How would we handle our relationship with them? And as a fellowship, where should we go from here?
One part of the answer was in a report we workers commissioned from a top lawyer who did research into our legal rights and privileges as believers. The report turned out to be a powerful paper, stating what we believe, explaining the implications that stem from our beliefs, particularly emphasizing their non-political nature, and then giving a clear statement about what the law says concerning religious freedom here. At the end of the paper were answers to a number of specific questions.
The Lord used this document in several ways. First, it gave a clear statement of what a born-again Christian is and explained about the unity among believers.
Second, it sought to debunk the negative and mistaken ideas locals had about Christians. It laid this out clearly in everyday language that any person or official could understand. This document could be given to the police as a defense or as an aid to their investigation.
Third, it gave us a clear legal opinion on what our rights and limitations were. This helped the local believers to be confident in their beliefs and rights.
Fourth, it led to some significant changes, such as meeting more openly without the need to fear what the neighbors would think, or what the police could do to us. It made clear that we did not need permission from the police to meet, but could just inform the authorities where we were meeting and they had to allow that.
The report also pointed out that we workers could not be legally expelled for religious reasons. We are guaranteed a court case and if the reasons for expulsion are religious in nature, the law provided that we must be granted entry again and given another residence permit.
Precedents, such as the arrests that had just occurred, served to educate the authorities as well as the public about what the law says and to open the way for greater implementation. The Lord was not long in bringing us more such opportunities.