It is precisely where the Church exists in an openly hostile environment that it truly lives. Yet in every environment there are still individual followers of Jesus, or sometimes small pockets of them, both in church and out of church, whom the world hates and despoils, knowing Whose they are. And these one or two, two or three, are usually associated with an extended group who do not know their struggles (yet) but who stay near them and support them in various ways. Some of these, as they wake up, get pulled into the arena with the others already there, where the witness of Christ is undefeatable, right up to their physical deaths. These are those who with John the Revelator can be called συγκοινωνοι εν τη θλιψει (synkinoní en ti thlípsei > Greek, “companions in suffering”)… “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” (Revelation 1:9 NIV) Do you see the churches full of these? How would you know them if you met them there? Are you one of them yourself?
Exiled to the isle of Patmos, that’s John the Revelator and those who, like him, are “brothers and fellow partakers (συγκοινωνοι) in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus.”