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Stories from the Past: Joy in Jail

Chinese girl

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand started The Voice of the Martyrs in 1967. VOM has helped and encouraged persecuted Christians for 50 years. Pastor Wurmbrand told the story below more than 25 years ago.

Where: China
When: 1990

One afternoon, I heard a young girl in a prison cell near mine crying. “I don’t like it here!” she said as she cried.

The girl, Joy, was about 5 years old. She and her mother, Mrs. Lee, had just arrived at the jail. Mrs. Lee had spoken out against the government for arresting her pastor. She was rewarded for her loyalty with a prison sentence.

“Don’t cry, Dear,” I heard Mrs. Lee tell the girl. “Jesus will take care of us.” But Joy continued to weep.

“What’s going on?” I heard another prisoner say. “What is such a young kid doing here? What have you done?” she demanded of Mrs. Lee.

Mrs. Lee quietly explained her situation. Other prisoners in nearby cells scolded her. “I think you’re a bad mother!” one said. Even the prison director came to the cell and tried to get Mrs. Lee to deny her faith and speak out against her pastor. “Give up!” he told her. “Then you and your child can go free!”

Mrs. Lee sounded miserable. But finally she agreed to stand in front of a crowd gathered outside the police station and say, “I am no longer a Christian.”

Later other prisoners told me what happened after Mrs. Lee and Joy went home. “Jesus is not happy with you,” Joy had said to her mother when they were safe in their house.

“Joy, you cried in jail. I had to say I was no longer a Christian because I love you,” her mother had answered.

“But I don’t want Jesus to be sad,” Joy said to her mother. “If we go back to jail, I will not cry.”

Mrs. Lee hurried to the prison director. She told him, “You talked me into saying wrong things so my daughter could be free. But she is braver than I am! She is a Christian, and so am I. Do what you want to with us. We are ready.”

Mrs. Lee and Joy came back to the prison. But Joy no longer cried.

(Based on a story told by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs.)

How VOM Helped in the Past: Help for Families of Prisoners
The Voice of the Martyrs helped provide for Chinese Christians whose family members were in jail, and still provides for prisoners’ families today.

Pray
*Pray for Chinese Christians whose pastors are in jail.
*Some Chinese people seek riches. Pray that they will put God first.
*Many Chinese people follow no religion. Pray that they will know Christ.
*Some Chinese Christian children are insulted at school. Pray for them.
*Pray that Chinese Christians will not be afraid to share the gospel.


North Korea: Girl’s Mysteries Solved

North Korean girl

Parents and Teachers: The March 2017 issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter features stories about bold North Korean believers. 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.  (Subscribe to the newsletter here.)

One night, five police officers burst into a two-room home in North Korea. Sixteen-year-old Hae-won and her family lived with her grandfathers in the tiny house. The police scattered the family’s belongings everywhere as they searched for — what?

“What could they be looking for?” Hae-won wondered.

After their rude search, the police ordered Hae-won’s grandfather’s arrest. But instead of taking her grandfather to prison, they took her father! In North Korea, entire families can be punished if the government doesn’t like the activities of one family member. After Hae-won’s father was imprisoned, the government sent Hae-won and the rest of her family to live in a mountain region far away.

Hae-won did not understand what was happening to her family. And there were other things she didn’t understand. Something unusual had happened when she was 10. She woke up in the middle of the night and found her grandfather sitting on the floor with his eyes closed. Was he talking to someone invisible? Hae-won didn’t know.

Sometimes she heard her grandfathers talk about “the Resurrection,” or “the Second Coming,” or “the Red Sea.”

“Silly old men talking nonsense,” she thought.

After Hae-won grew up and had a family of her own, she decided, like many North Koreans, to escape from her country. Conditions were harsh in North Korea, and often there was not enough food to eat.

Hae-won’s family faced many dangers and obstacles during their attempts to leave — they were even imprisoned for several months for trying to flee the country. Sadly, Hae-won’s husband died from the cruel treatment in the prison.

Solving Mysteries

Hae-won continued trying to get out. She finally succeeded in escaping to China, where a Christian invited her to church. Soon she trusted in Christ as her Savior. As Hae-won read the Bible and learned more about God, many mysteries were solved for her. She realized that her grandfather was praying to God when she discovered him in the middle of the night. He was a secret Christian! It was not legal to follow Jesus in North Korea, so Christians practiced their faith quietly.

Hae-won now understood that her grandfathers had not been talking nonsense, but were discussing the Bible. And the police had searched their home for a Bible. North Koreans can go to jail just for owning one.

Today Hae-won lives in South Korea. She teaches others who have escaped North Korea about Jesus. Many who leave North Korea also have childhood mysteries to solve.

Hae-won is thankful for her grandfather’s faithful secret prayers. She told VOM workers, “I realized that I came to Christ because of my grandfather’s prayers.”

(Source: VOM contacts. Edited for clarity, length, and age-appropriateness.)


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.


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