When I was 15, I’d listen to the conservative evangelical teaching of Back to The Bible on the radio, then watch the 700 Club on TV. I’d read a book by faith healers Frances and Charles Hunter, followed by a book about persecution by Romanian pastor Richard Wurmbrand. I read Scripture devotionally from a J. B. Phillips translation of the New Testament and studied my New American Standard Bible.

It was a spiritual hash and a highly unconventional approach to discipleship for a teenaged follower of Jesus. But when my Jewish parents told me, “As long as you live under our roof, you will not be permitted to attend church,” they were clear that they hoped this ban would starve out my new faith in Jesus the Messiah.

For the first three years as a believer, I worshiped alone in my room, sustained by radio preaching and Christian books I became adept at sneaking into the house. I could not attend church on a regular basis until I turned 18. Until then, I grabbed snatches of fellowship where I could with friends at school and occasional visits to their churches when I spent the night at their homes.

During the past few weeks, COVID-19 shelter-in-place rules have moved most (though not all) believers out of pews and into their homes. America’s churchgoers are now participating in corporate worship, prayer meetings, and Bible studies via Zoom, Facebook Live, or YouTube. While some are hopeful this will be a temporary hiccup in church life, others who are elderly, immunocompromised, or chronically ill—or live with those who are—may not be able to physically attend a church service for the foreseeable future because of the ongoing pandemic.

My experience as a new believer in a home hostile to my ...

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