We've been doing our training in a church. From the American perspective, it's more of storefront, with the pastor living upstairs, and the church meeting in his "living room" downstairs. In this country, there are "registered churches"- they have agreed to be under government supervision. They still do some great work, but everything they do must be approved by the government. Even their pastors must be approved (or even appointed) by the government. By registering, the church gains some freedoms- they don't have to hide their activities, or worry about being suddenly shut down. But the registered church also loses something signficant- the freedom to operate with God as their government.
I've been trying to imagine what would happen if the US government tried to "register" the churches in this way. I know that there are certain restrictions already, and I'm aware that we sometimes worry about how that may become limiting. However, the church in America still enjoys an incredible amount of freedom. The contrast is striking.
Our training location is not registered. That means that they are much more able to follow their conscience, and to obey what they believe God is calling them to do- regardless of what the government's opinion might be. But it also means that we try to keep our comings and goings very discreet. Too much attention can be very dangerous. Many of these pastors have already served some jail time for their ministry.
Our trainers represent both the registered church and the illegal church. They work together well, and seem to have a healthy respect for the struggles that they each face. The Kingdom of God is apparently able to focus on their common calling, rather than judging each other for the difficult choices they have made. And I'm realizing that there may not be any "right" decision in this kind of situation.