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A Story of Valentine

Christian history describes several men named Valentine (or Valentinus), and a woman named Valentina. Legends tell about the courage of a Valentine who died for his faith on February 14th. The legends encourage Christians to boldly stand up for Jesus in the face of struggles.

The following legend is from The Story of St. Valentine: More Than Cards and Candied Hearts by The Voice of the Martyrs with Cheryl Odden. To learn more about this and other children’s resources, visit the resource page.

The story begins as Valentinus was dragged before the emperor of his land. Valentinus’ ankles and wrists were put in chains as he stood before Emperor Claudius and members of the court.

Then the emperor looked fiercely at this man who disobeyed his law and said, “What is this I have heard of you, Valentinus? Why will you not live in peace by obeying my laws, worshipping the Roman gods and turning your back on your God?”

Valentinus looked up at the emperor and said for all to hear, “If you knew about the grace of God, you wouldn’t have asked me to deny Him and worship your idols!”

Claudius was stunned and shouted, “How dare you challenge me!” As he sat on his throne, the emperor glared at the defiant priest standing before him and asked him another question, “Is Jesus God’s Son?”

Valentinus smiled, and with his face glowing with joy he said, “Yes, Jesus is God’s Son. And if you believe in Him, your soul will be saved.”

Claudius sat on his throne and thought hard about what Valentinus had just said. Suddenly, Claudius stood up and exclaimed, “This man’s words made sense! What is wrong with asking Jesus to save our souls?”

The chief prison guard named Marcus stood up and said, “Emperor, you are being misled by the words of this criminal. Why should we turn our backs on worshipping the Roman gods when this is what we’ve been taught since we were children?”

Fearing he might also be arrested, Claudius changed his mind and cried, “Take this criminal away! He is to be put to death for breaking my laws!” Marcus grabbed Valentinus by the arm and led him to his prison cell.

Marcus took the rusty iron key from his belt and turned the lock on the cell door, throwing Valentinus onto the cold, hard dirt floor.

But Valentinus knew he was not defeated. He had just told the emperor, Claudius the Cruel, about Jesus Christ. Even the court officials heard. “He rejected Jesus’ free gift of salvation,” Valentinus sadly thought, “but maybe someday he will accept it….”

There are countries in the world today that say it is wrong for Christians to gather together and worship. If they are caught having a Bible study, prayer meeting or baptism outside the buildings where the government allows them to meet, they are often arrested. Like Valentinus, these Christians use this opportunity to share the gospel with the police who have arrested them.

(Source: The Story of St. Valentine: More Than Cards and Candied Hearts)

To Do and Learn
•    As you celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, remember Christians around the world who share the gospel with their enemies.
•    Note: In some strict Muslim countries today, citizens are forbidden to observe Valentine’s Day because it is seen as a Christian celebration.


Ada’s Mission

Ada's Mission
A Christian youth group in Nepal

In the snowy mountains of Tibet, “Ada” helped people called “nomads” grow food gardens. Nomads live in tents and move from place to place each season. They wear clothes made of sheep’s wool or yak hair from the animals they raise.

One day, police showed up at Ada’s house and took her to prison. They told her to write a paper that said she had broken the law. But Ada was doing God’s work. She had not done the bad things they wanted her to write. “What should I do?” Ada wondered. She prayed for God’s help, and Jesus told her to write only the truth.

Instead of saying that she did the bad things, Ada wrote about the good things Jesus has done for her. This made the police angry. They snatched up Ada’s paper and ripped it to pieces. Then they shoved another blank paper toward her and told her to write what they wanted. Ada only wrote about Jesus. The police became so mad they beat her.

Ada was afraid she would not be strong when she was in prison, but Jesus was with her, just like He promised. Jesus worked through her to tell her persecutors that He loved them and wanted to forgive them. Ada prayed for the men who hurt her and told them, “Jesus loves you.”

When the police realized Ada would not write what they wanted, they let her go. They said, “Leave our country and don’t come back.” They didn’t want her to tell anyone else about Jesus.

Not only did Jesus help Ada through her suffering, but He also helped her love those who hurt her. Ada loved the people of Tibet so much that she cried when she had to leave. She still wanted to share Jesus’s love with them.

But God had a plan for Ada. Tibetan nomads also live in a nearby country called Nepal. And that’s where God sent her next. Now Ada shows God’s love to the nomads in Nepal.

J.G. Spires, who wrote this story, was a college intern at The Voice of the Martyrs in the summer of 2016.


Wise as Serpents

The September 2016 issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter features stories about bold Christians in Nigeria. Please preview the stories before sharing them with your children or class. Or, share stories from this site with your children, then pray together for the people in the stories. Note: To subscribe to the free monthly The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter, visit the subscription signup page.

Nigeria
Lion in Nigeria

A pastor from Nigeria recently visited The Voice of the Martyrs to talk about persecution in his country.

“Northeastern Nigeria is not a safe place for Christians,” he said. It is like living in the midst of lions. Yes, the best way to explain the situation is like that of a goat living in the midst of lions. Every Christian in the northeast fits into this description. It’s only the grace of God that is sustaining me and other Christians there.”

The pastor has been the target of persecutors. His house was burned down, and some of his teeth were broken in an attack by radical Muslims.

The pastor knows he could be attacked again at any time. He follows Jesus’ instructions to “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). When he suspects that enemies are searching for him, he parks his car near his house as if he were at home. Then he quietly and secretly slips away from his house on foot. Christians in other locations let him stay at their home for a while.

Pray for the pastor’s protection.


Help for Those in Dangerous Places

The August 2016 issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter features stories about “front-line” workers who serve the Lord in dangerous places. Please preview the stories before sharing them with your children or class. Or, share stories from this site with your children, then pray together for the people in the stories. Families and groups may also “adopt” front-line workers to support. Read how below.

Prisoner Alert

Adopt a Front-line Worker
Groups, individuals, and families can sign up for The Voice of the Martyrs’ Adopt a Front-Line Worker program at www.vombooks.com/adopt.

Those who sign up receive a prayer card with the name and picture of a worker who serves the Lord in a country where Christians are persecuted. They pledge to pray for the worker for a year. If they choose, they can also send offerings to VOM to help support front-line workers.

Read the letter below from Martha W., a staff member at Hope Lutheran Church in Virginia where kids participated in the Adopt a Front-Line Worker program.

Sunday School Children Adopt a Worker
This past year, our church staff, congregation and our Sunday school children adopted [front-line worker’s name], a missionary in Vietnam. During congregational prayer and staff prayer every week, he and his family were remembered in prayer; prayers for their protection, prayers of encouragement, and prayers for opportunity to share the Good News.

Our Sunday school children (ages 4 years through 5th grade) remembered him each week during their Opening. This is a time when they sing songs, read Bible verses, and this year, the children were encouraged to bring an offering to support [front-line workers]. They had a display at the front of their room that included his family picture and a pretty gold box for offerings.

The children were taught about what a martyr is and how important it is to pray for their safety. If you had been there to hear some of our brave children come forward and make up a prayer, using the microphone and praying in front of all the children and adults, you would have needed a tissue! Their beautiful prayers were heard by our heavenly Father….

Bless your continued ministry throughout the world.

Update: Martha added, “For our Sunday school children, it will be a year they will always remember.”


Boy Reads the Bible for Six Hours

Parents and Teachers: Last year, The Voice of the Martyrs distributed 1 million Bibles in hostile areas and nations that restrict Christianity. More than a quarter of a million of those Bibles were children’s Bibles. The July 2016 issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter features stories about VOM’s Bible distribution work. Please preview the stories before sharing them with your children or class. Or, share stories from this site, like the one below, with your children, then pray together for the people in the stories.

Note: To subscribe to the free monthly The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter, visit the subscription signup page.

Uganda
The boy (in the red shirt) who read the Bible for six hours

VOM contacts recently went door-to-door in Uganda to tell people about Jesus. (Enter “Uganda” in the Search box to read about the lives of Christians in Uganda.) At one house, a teenage boy answered the door.

“He had heard about God, but he did not care about God at all,” the workers said later. “He did whatever he wanted to do with no guidance from anyone.

“He admitted he had not been living a good life….He could read, so we gave him a Bible. At first he read from Psalm 1. By the time he got to Verse 3, he realized that his hands were dirty.

“‘I cannot read with dirty hands,’ he said. ‘Let me wash and return.’ He washed his hands then read the whole Psalm.

“We went on to another house, and when we passed by his house two hours later, he was still reading his Bible. After six hours, we stopped by his house on our way out of the village, and he was still reading. ‘I can’t stop reading,’ he said. ‘Every word I read invites me to read more….I pray I come to know more about this God.’ We told him about a Bible teacher and a fellowship that could help him.”

(Source: VOM contacts. Edited and paraphrased from the original for clarity and length.)

To Think About

  • Read Psalm 1. Why is it a good Bible passage to show someone who has not been living a godly life?
  • Why do you think Christians in Uganda go door-to-door telling people about Jesus when Christians in some parts of the Uganda are persecuted?
  • Do you know someone who is not a Christian? What do you think their reaction might be if you offered them a Bible? (Discuss any plans to witness to a non-Christian with a mature Christian adult, and ask for their advice and prayers.)
  • Why do you think the boy felt he needed to wash his hands while reading the Bible?

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