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Spotlight Story

Uzbekistan Update

ShestakovThe Shestakov family

Dmitri Shestakov spent four years in prison in Uzbekistan for his Christian work. Pastor Shestakov has three daughters: Vera, Masha, and Sasha.

You can find previous posts about his family in the following stories:

Pastor Shestakov recently told a VOM worker about some of his experiences in prison. “[My wife] came to visit me, traveling a thousand kilometers [about 620 miles] even for very short visits when all we could do was talk through the phone separated by the thick glass wall.

“She brought food and other needed items, but most important, she brought with her memorized passages form the Scriptures. I did not have a Bible there. It was a blessing, a huge blessing.”

(Source: February 2014 The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter.)

To Discuss and Do

  • What did Pastor Shestakov say was the more important thing his wife brought him in prison?
  • Find a Bible verse you would share with a prisoner if you could visit him, and memorize the verse.

Spotlight Story

“Don’t Think About the Horrible Things”

Refugee camp in India

(The story below is from SDOK, VOM’s sister mission in the Netherlands. It has been translated and edited from the original.)

Dhiren lives in a refugee camp in India. At the moment, the camp is his home. He didn’t always live in the camp. A few years ago, everything was different. Back then, he still had a house and a dad. He can remember it well, but he doesn’t want to think about it often. “It only makes me sad,” he said.

But on this day, he is thinking about it. His mother is telling visitors to the camp what happened. “My husband and I had three children and we loved the Lord Jesus a lot,” said his mother. “My husband loved to teach others from the Bible.

“A lot of Hindus lived in our neighborhood,” Dhiren’s mother continued. “Many of them were not happy with us, but I did not expect it would get out of hand the way it did.

“One day there was an attack, and I fled with my children into the woods. My mother-in-law lived in our house, and my husband stayed with her. Angry Muslims lit our house on fire.”

Sadly, Dhiren’s grandmother and father died from injuries received during the Hindu’s attack. “And our house is gone, and that is why we live here,” said Dhiren’s mother.

“When I think about what happened, I lose hope,” she continued. “But then I pray. God is alive, and he gives me strength and comfort.

“Now that you’ve heard my story, don’t think only about the horrible things that have happened,” Dhiren’s mother urged the visitors. “Think above all about our special God who even in all this misery is very close to us. He is full of love and gives us comfort in our grief.”

Will you pray that Dhiren and all refugees will be comforted by God in their sadness?

(Source: SDOK)

Spotlight Story

“Not Even Children Were Spared”

Bold Believers in Eritrea

Officials in Eritrea continue to arrest Christians for practicing their faith. A few months ago, police arrested more than 180 Christians as they gathered to pray for the situation in their country. About 80 of the Christians were women and children.

The women and children were required to sign a statement saying they would no longer meet together for prayer. Then they were released. Men in the group and those who did not sign the agreement were kept in jail.

A Christian in Eritrea said, “The fact that not even children were spared is an indication of the severity of the persecution of the church in Eritrea.”

Enter “Eritrea” in the search box for more information about Christians in Eritrea, or download Bold Believers in Eritrea from the Downloads section.

Spotlight Story

Bethlehem Family Separated

Gaza and the West Bank

Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, is a city in the West Bank today. It is about six miles from Jerusalem. Christians live in Bethlehem, but most of the people are Muslims.

Saif, the father of five children, was a Muslim in Bethlehem. After studying the Bible, he gave his life to Christ. But his wife was not ready to become a Christian.

Saif’s five Muslims brothers told him to choose between them and Christ; they did not want a Christian in their family. Saif chose Christ.

Saif shares his faith with people who do not know the truth about Jesus. As a result, he has been arrested and has had to move to Jerusalem to continue sharing the gospel. His wife and children still live in the West Bank. Saif visits with his wife in Jerusalem often, and has encouraged her to read the Bible. He believes she will soon turn her life over to Christ.

Pray for families who are separated because of the faith of someone in the family. Pray for Saif’s brothers, wife, and children.

Spotlight Story

Sharing the Gospel at the Winter Olympics


Athletes from more than 50 countries will visit Russia this month to take part in the 2014 Winter Olympics. They have been practicing and preparing for years for the opportunity to compete for medals in their sports.

Other groups have also been preparing for many months. Christian volunteers plan to go to Russia, too. They will let athletes and other visitors know the good news that Jesus died for their sins, making it possible for them to follow Him and have a relationship with God. Many of the athletes come from countries where it is not easy to find out the truth about Jesus.

During past Olympics, Christians were not the only ones sharing their faith. Muslim groups have encouraged people to follow the teachings of Muhammad, the founder of Islam.

As you hear about events at this year’s Olympics, remember to pray for Christians who are following God’s command to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). Pray that athletes and others will open their minds and hearts to God’s love for them.

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