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Spotlight Story

Kazakhstan News and Facts

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. (A country is landlocked if it is not next to a sea or ocean. The Caspian and Aral Seas in the region are actually big lakes.)

Athletes from Kazakhstan excel in many sports, including water polo and women’s rugby.

In one traditional sport, a man and woman race each other on horseback. If he wins, he kisses the girl. If she wins, she whips him with a whip.

The leaders of Kazakhstan often talk about making stronger laws about religion. Some leaders want people to go to prison if they have a religious meeting without permission of the government.

The Kazakhstan constitution provides for religious freedom. Kazakhstan Constitution Day, celebrated on August 30, is a public holiday. Soldiers march in parades and the government educates the citizens about the constitution. This week, pray that the leaders will honor the freedoms in their constitution and rule their country fairly.


Activities Story

How to Build a Wall in 52 Days

A Skit from the Book of Nehemiah

Characters

  • Narrator
  • Nehemiah
  • Two or more Builders
  • Three enemies: Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem
  • Messenger

Suggested Props

  • Short wall made of cardboard building bricks/blocks or boxes, with enough additional blocks to complete the wall to the desired height
  • Cardboard cutout swords
  • Cardboard cutout trowels and other building tools
  • Trumpet
  • A “letter”

[Variation: Make stick puppets to depict the characters, and make a wall out of plastic interlocking building blocks. For younger children, the teacher may read all the parts while the children display the appropriate puppets as they appear in the skit.]

Narrator: Nehemiah was a servant of the king of Persia. He was a Jew and a follower of God.

One day visitors from Jerusalem told Nehemiah that their city was in ruins. Jerusalem was an important city to the Jews. Nehemiah knew that enemies would not respect the Jews or their God if the city was in terrible shape.

The king allowed Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem, and he gave Nehemiah supplies for the trip. The people in Jerusalem were happy to see Nehemiah. They agreed to help him build a wall around the city. Walls were important in those days because they kept out enemies and thieves.

Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem were three of the Jews’ enemies.

(Nehemiah and the Builders are standing by a short wall that is in disarray. The three enemies are off to the side, watching.)

Nehemiah: Let’s build our wall!

Builders: Yes, we want to help!

(Nehemiah and the Builders begin to straighten and add to the wall.)

Sanballat: You Jews are weak builders. If even a fox stood on your wall, it would fall down!

(Nehemiah and the Builders stop building briefly to pray.)

Nehemiah: (prays) Hear our prayer, O God. Our enemies hate us.

(Nehemiah and the Builders resume building the wall. Some pick up building tools.)

Tobiah: (to the other enemies) Let’s attack them!

Sanballat and Geshem: Good idea!

(The enemies pick up and prepare weapons.)

(As the narrator describes their silent actions, Nehemiah and the Builders pray, then pick up weapons in one hand while holding tools and working on the wall with their other hand. One Builder stands by Nehemiah with a trumpet. The enemies watch, then put down their weapons one by one as they see the Builders pick up theirs. Sanballat begins writing a letter.)

Narrator: Nehemiah and the Builders prayed, then they picked up weapons to hold while they worked. A trumpet player stood next to Nehemiah to call the workers together if they needed to fight the enemies.

(Messenger enters and approaches the enemies.)

Sanballat: (to Messenger) Take this letter to Nehemiah.

(Messenger takes the letter to Nehemiah.)

Messenger: (reads letter aloud to Nehemiah) Sanballat says, “Come to a meeting. We want to talk to you about your wall.”

Nehemiah: Please tell him that I am doing a great work and cannot come.

(Nehemiah returns to building and Messenger returns to the enemies and whispers to Sanballat.)

Sanballat: (to the enemies) Let’s think of some ways to frighten them! They will be too weak to work if they are scared!

(Nehemiah and the Builders stop to pray.)

Nehemiah: God, help us be strong.

Narrator: The people did not let fear, mocking, bullying, threats, or distractions stop them from doing the right thing. They worked so hard that they finished the wall in 52 days — a very short time to build a city wall.  Everyone knew that the wall could not have been built unless God was helping the builders. The wall was a testimony to God’s faithfulness to His people.

For Discussion

  • What were some of the ways Nehemiah’s enemies tried to stop him from building the wall around Jerusalem?
  • Hebrews 10:36 (NIV) says, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” What does it mean to “persevere?” How did Nehemiah and the Builders persevere?
  • What are some of the ways people try to stop Christians today from doing what is right?
  • How did people try to stop Jesus from doing the will of God?

Spotlight Story

Gabriel

Nigeria
Gabriel

Earlier this year, radical Muslims attacked Christians in a village in Nigeria. The Muslim group “Boko Haram” has attacked many people and places in the area. They are fighting to rule Nigeria by Muslim law.

Gabriel, a boy in the village, lived with his father, also named Gabriel, and his mother. The father Gabriel was sick in bed with a serious illness. Gabriel’s mother wondered how she could flee with her son and her sick husband. She left her son Gabriel standing with a neighbor while she went to help her husband. As the boy waited, one attacker’s bullet hit the neighbor and another hit Gabriel. Both fell down. The neighbor died, and Gabriel suffered from a wound in the leg. The wound later became infected.

Please pray for Gabriel and for healing and comfort for all those who have been attacked in Nigeria.


Spotlight Story

Update: Sarah in Egypt


Sarah before she was kidnapped

A previous post told about Sarah, a girl from a Christian family in Egypt. In September 2011, when she was 14, Sarah was kidnapped by radical Muslims.

Most Muslims in Egypt would never think of kidnapping anyone. But some extreme Muslims kidnap Christian girls and try to make them become Muslims.

After Sarah was kidnapped, her father filed a missing person report with the police. The next month, radical Muslims said that Sarah had become a Muslim and had willingly married a Muslim man.

But Christians know that kidnapped girls are often forced to marry Muslims. Some Egyptian girls who have escaped kidnappers have told how Muslims tried to make them convert to Islam, the religion of Muslims.

A recent report from a VOM contact in Egypt said, “Sarah is still kidnapped. Please keep praying for her.”

Others to Pray For


Spotlight Story

A Grandfather’s Sacrifice

Vietnam
Vietnamese Boy

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king…‘We do not need to defend ourselves to you. You can throw us into the blazing furnace. The God we serve is able to save us…If He does this, it is good. But even if God does not save us, we want you…to know this: We will not serve your gods. We will not worship the gold statue you have set up’” (Daniel 3:16–18, New Century Version).

Jiang was a 3-year-old Vietnamese boy. He was special, because he was the first grandson of his father’s parents.

Jiang’s grandfather, Mr. Giang, loved him very much. But Jiang was able to see his grandfather only when it was dark — never in the daylight. During the day, Mr. Giang hid in a secret cave in hills outside their village. At night he traveled down to the village to be with Jiang and the rest of his family.

Mr. Giang was hiding from the police. They were looking for him because he refused to build a worship altar to the spirits honored by many non-Christians in Vietnam. The police feared Christians because they thought Christians would not obey the communist government. So sometimes they tried to force people to follow false religions just to keep them away from Christianity.

Thanks to his grandfather, Jiang could grow up knowing the truth of the gospel. But sometimes following the truth requires a sacrifice. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3, Jiang’s grandfather endured trials for refusing to bow to false gods.

From the Kids of Courage archives

To Think About
Who made a sacrifice so you could hear the gospel? (Don’t forget those who were persecuted in the past for translating the Bible into your language.) What would you have to sacrifice for more people to hear the gospel?


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