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St. Nicholas

As the Christmas season begins, we will hear a lot about Santa Claus. The character of Santa Claus was based on a real man named Nicholas. But Nicholas did not wear a red suit and fly with reindeer.

Nicholas lived in a place that is now part of Turkey. He was born in the town of Myra about 200 years after the birth of Jesus. At that time, Myra was part of the Roman Empire.

Nicholas grew up as an orphan after his parents died. As an adult, he became a Christian leader.

Persecution
An evil Roman leader named Diocletian decided that Christians were bad people. Since Nicholas was a leader in the church, Roman officials sent him to jail. Other Christians also suffered in prison under Diocletian’s rule.

Later, an emperor named Constantine came to power, and he liked Christians. He freed Nicholas and other Christians from prison. Nicholas continued to help orphans and others in need.

During the Christmas season remember Christians who are still persecuted for their beliefs around the world today.

Read another story about Nicholas here.

The information above is from the book The Story of St. Nicholas: More Than a Reindeer and a Red Suit, by The Voice of the Martyrs with Cheryl Odden. To learn more about VOM’s resources for children, visit the resource page on this site.


Ten Things Persecuted Christians Are Thankful For

Give Thanks

Thanksgiving will be celebrated this week in the United States.

To Do and To Discuss

  • List 10 things for which you are thankful.
  • Read below the list of things persecuted Christians have said they are thankful for.
  • How many of the things on their list are available to you?
  • Are there any things on your list and the persecuted Christians’ list that are the same?
  • Can you provide persecuted Christians with anything on their list?

Persecuted Christians Are Thankful For:

The prayers of other Christians
“I knew there were people praying for me. It gave me the spiritual strength I needed to live as a Christian and to trust God.” — A pastor in prison in Asia
Friends who encourage them
“I am thankful that I have many friends here who help me when I’m discouraged.” — A boy who lost his parents in an attack by radical Muslims
Hope in Jesus
“I see people dying, crying, how Jesus gives them hope. This gives me courage. I am convinced there is no better job in the world than to serve God this way.” — Persecuted pastor in Nepal
Encouraging letters
“We have a family of faith that loves us and cares for us. We are not alone! — Maryam Rostampour talking about her feelings when she received letters while in prison in Iran. (Visit Prisoner Alert to learn how to write letters to persecuted Christians in prison.)
God’s Peace
“I started to pray, and I got the peace that is beyond understanding. I felt so close to God at that moment.” — Christian who was arrested in the Middle East
Bibles
“I have longed for this Bible, and now I am thankful.” — Christian in Uganda who received a Bible from The Voice of the Martyrs. VOM provides Bibles through the Bibles to Captive Nations and Bibles Unbound projects.
The conversion of persecutors
“Muslims want to hear the truth. They are just waiting on you and me to share the gospel with them.” — A Christian in Syria
God’s Power
“God is in control, not [the persecutors].” — A Christian in India
Joy in Christ
“I have Christ’s joy in my heart.” — A Chinese Christian prisoner answering another prisoner who said, “I have been watching you; your face is never sad.”
God’s gift of salvation through His Son Jesus
“They can burn down my house, but they can’t burn Jesus from my heart.” — A Christian in Pakistan

International Day of the Bible

The Bible tells about King Josiah, who re-discovered the words of God. He read the words to all the people of the land to turn their hearts back to God. (See 2 Kings 22-23.)

International Bible Week is celebrated during the week of Thanksgiving in the United States. This year, the International Day of the Bible will be observed on November 24. People will read passages of the Bible aloud in public.

Ask a mature Christian to help you discover a story or passage in the Bible that is new to you. Read the passage aloud.

As you learn more about the Bible, remember Christians in the following countries who could be persecuted if they read the Bible aloud in public. (The list is not a complete list.)

  • North Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Turkmenistan
  • Somalia
  • Eritrea
  • Afghanistan
  • Iran
  • Syria
  • Uzbekistan
  • Qatar

A Missionary to Muslims

Arabian PeninsulaA mosque on the Arabian Peninsula

A worker from The Voice of the Martyrs recently visited a missionary from another country. The missionary was led by God to leave his home and travel to a land where the people follow many different religions. He lived in the land with his wife and children. Read below what the missionary told the worker.

The missionary said:

For the first year I was here, I tried to preach to Buddhists, but I failed. The next year I preached to atheists. But I just couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t have the confidence to reach out to them.

Most of the people in the land are Muslims. But I never thought of reaching out to Muslims because I hated Muslims.

During this time of failing, I read Genesis 12 where God told Abraham that all nations would be blessed because of him. Then I felt touched by the Holy Spirit. I was reminded of the children of Ishmael (Genesis 16) who are the Muslims. I realized that God has not forgotten the Muslims.

So finally I began to reach out to the Muslims despite my dislike for them. I got to know more about them and began to make friends with them.

If you want to serve the Muslim world, you must get closer to them. In the beginning I did not preach to them, but rather helped them at harvest time. I helped them in the fields doing long days of manual labor. I learned their language.

Not Easy Work
One day, after seven years, a Muslim man invited us into his home. “I’ve been watching you and your family for seven years,” he said. “You are not like other people; you are better. In fact, you are better than Muslim people.”

Since that visit, God has blessed our ministry and many in the area have come to know the Lord. But it has not been easy. Some Muslims want to stop Christians. A Muslim leader has told his people, “If there is an ‘accident’ and you hurt a Christian, don’t worry about it! We know how to deal with the policemen.”

The happiest thing I ever experienced was when two Muslim leaders came to Christ.

Sadness
My wife was a full time worker, too, serving beside me. She died three years ago at the age of 41. We were and are very poor. We had no money to pay a hospital when she was sick.

My son has had his ups and downs in dealing with our situation. When my wife was alive we used to ask him what he wanted to do when he grew up. He would always say, “I want to be just like you, serving God in missions.”

After my wife died, someone asked him the same question. “I want to make a lot of money,” he answered. “I don’t want to be so poor.”

But recently when I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, he answered, “I don’t need anything. Just pray for the grace of God to be on our family.”

Please join the missionary in prayer for his family. Pray that they will reach more of the people in the land for Christ.

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

To Talk About

  • Why didn’t the missionary reach out to Muslims at first?
  • What changed his mind?
  • Have your mind and heart ever been changed by something you read in the Bible?
  • What did the missionary’s son want for his birthday?

Justin the Chicken Farmer, Part 2

Hen and Chick

Read the previous post about Justin, a teenager from Mindanao, an island in the Philippines. His father died in an attack by radical Muslims. His story continues below.

Living on the Chicken Farm
Two years later, someone came and saw our difficult situation. He told us there was a pastor somewhere who cared for children who could no longer live at home. He said I could live there, too.

At first I didn’t want to go. I thought I needed to find work to take care of my mom and my little sister, Genevieve. But later I changed my mind. I decided going to school was more important, so I went with him. I was 10 years old.

I lived in the house of the pastor’s daughter and son-in-law. They had a chicken farm. They take good care of me and are raising me. So I take care of the chickens.

Since I left, I’ve only seen my mom and sister once in six years. They live in a difficult area, and it is hard for me to go there. I can’t call them; they don’t have a phone. I miss them very much.

Thankfully their pastor visits the chicken farm every once in a while, and I get to hear how they’re doing. Sometimes I get letters from them.

Nice Memories
I still think a lot about my dad and sometimes I get sad. But sometimes I get happy because I have nice memories of him.

When I’m struggling, I ask God for help. I like to read the Bible, too. The best part of the Bible for me is Psalm 23. You most likely know it — “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Then I know that God takes care of me even better than I take care of the chickens.

To Think About
What did Justin have to leave behind to move to a safer place where he could go to school? What does Justin do when he is sad about his situation? What do you do when you are sad or scared?


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