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Readers Talk to Us Story

“Demonstrate Bold Faith”

Keri Aeschliman
Keri Aeschliman

“I’m a child of the living God, saved through the Blood and Righteousness of Jesus Christ. The Lord has given me, as He has given every believer, a story to tell to the world; and that story is called the Gospel. It’s the reason why I sing, why I write, and why I live.” — Keri Aeschliman

Keri Aeschliman was about 13 years old when she learned that Christians in many countries are persecuted for their faith. “It humbles me,” said Keri. “It gives me a bigger version of what the church is. It changes the way I think about church. I realize my experience of church is not what everyone else’s is. It comes at such a high cost for some to worship.”

Keri is now 19. She lives with her family on a farm in Ohio where she helps with harvesting, planting, and keeping the books. Keri enjoys singing; playing the piano, harp, and mountain dulcimer; and attending a Bible study. Recently Keri and her two younger brothers spent several days doing volunteer work at VOM headquarters in Oklahoma.

When Keri was 15, she started a fiction story for a school assignment. The story’s main characters were four friends from a church in America. “I started to get more ideas, and the story just got longer and longer,” Keri said.

The story turned into a book called “In Paths of Righteousness” which will be published this fall. “It is set in the late 1880s and follows the life of a teenage boy and his search for God,” said Keri.

Some of the book’s characters experience persecution when they stand firm in their biblical faith. “I personally think the church is always persecuted to a degree,” said Keri. “Satan is always active….There is always going to be opposition to the truth, and when this opposition rises, do we stand back, pretend we’re not looking, and let it happen? Or do we hold firmly to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and speak out? We have the opportunity to demonstrate bold faith. Let’s pray for the strength and courage to do just that.”

During her visit to VOM, Keri offered the following advice for Christian youth. “Keep your focus on Christ. Be willing to lay aside your desire for His will….It’s easy to get caught up in the distractions this world has to offer. Get rid of idle time and spend more time with the Lord in prayer and reading Scripture.”

Sources: Personal interview and Keri Aeschliman’s blog

Spotlight Story

Shamil: Beaten with His School Book

Central Asia
VOM workers pray with the family

Shamil was in trouble at school. The teacher of his class in Central Asia wanted him to memorize verses from the Quran, which is the Muslim holy book.

But Shamil and his family are Christians, even though most of the people in their country are Muslims. They became Christians after his mother, Laila, found a crumpled piece of paper under a bench. She unfolded it and saw that it was a newsletter that told stories of Christians.

In her search for more stories like the ones in the newsletter, she first discovered a relative who was secretly interested in Christianity. Then she visited a church where she heard and accepted the good news of Jesus. Soon the rest of Shamil’s family also trusted in Christ.

At School
Shamil’s school used a textbook called Introduction to Islam. (Islam is the religion of Muslims.) When Shamil did not recite Quran verses well, his teacher hit him on the head with the book!

Shamil did not tell his family about the incident for a while, but the beatings at school grew more serious. In addition, other children in the village pointed at Shamil and his brothers and yelled, “Christian! Christian!” as an insult. The youngest brother had scars on his head after Muslim children threw rocks at him.

Laila talked to the parents of the children who threw the rocks. But the parents said it was fine for their children to bully Laila’s kids, because Laila’s family worshiped “another God.”

“Christ is worth it!” Laila said of her family’s hardships. “Blessings follow suffering. After we suffer, we receive new blessings from Christ. We follow Christ’s example. He suffered, and so we will also suffer.”

To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this website and some identifying details have been changed. Some of the quotes and stories have been edited and paraphrased from the original sources for clarity. Some faces are covered to protect the identity of Christians at risk.

Spotlight Story

Trouble in Chhattisgarh

Chhattisgarh is a state in India. The main religion in India is Hinduism. Different villages in Chhattisgarh have different laws, but more and more villages are passing laws against Christians. The following are laws in some Chhattisgarh villages:

  • Non-Hindu prayers are not allowed.
  • Hindus must get permission from the government before they can become Christians.
  • Christians may not get water from village water sources.
  • Christians cannot hold meetings together.
  • Teachings of non-Hindu religions are illegal.

The chart below explains how Hindu beliefs are different from Christian beliefs.

Comparing Hinduism and Christianity

Hindu Teachings Christian Truths
Hindus believe in one main god, called Brahman. Some Hindus pick one god to be their own special god. But Hindu teachings tell of many gods. Hindus are said to have millions of gods. There is one God. “The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
Relationship Hindus do not believe that their gods are like fathers to those who worship them. Our Father, God, loves us as His children. “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18).
Holy book Hindus respect many Hindu writings. The Vedas are a collection of sacred writings. The Bhagavad-Gita is a respected book of stories. The Bible is the Word of God. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Life after death Hindus believe in reincarnation—the belief that after people die, they can come back to life again as other people or animals. Karma is the belief that the way someone behaved in a former life determines what they will be in the next life. After a person’s life on earth ends, there is a judgment. “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Believers enjoy unbroken fellowship with God for eternity. (See Psalm 16:11.)
Salvation Salvation for Hindus means freedom from being reborn again and again. They believe they become part of their main god when their cycle of birth and death ends. Some of the ways Hindus try to get closer to this “salvation” include rituals, good works, meditation, yoga, and the worship of gods. The only way to eternal life is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Spotlight Story

Mali in the News


A Nation of Muslims
“Mali is a nation where more than 90 percent of the people are Muslim,” said a VOM contact in Africa. “This is not because all the people love the Muslim religion. But it is because the religion was imposed on them by their parents. It is their ancestors’ religion.”

In recent times, different groups have been fighting for control of parts of Mali. Radical Muslims and Tuareg people have fought against the government.

The war caused some people in Mali to look for truth outside of Islam, the religion of Muslims. “With the war, they have seen the ravages of Islam,” said the VOM contact.

“A Good Time to Help”
The Bible says, “But before people can trust in the Lord for help, they must believe in Him. And before they can believe in the Lord, they must hear about Him. And for them to hear about the Lord, someone must tell them” (Romans 10:14, ICB).

“It is a very good time to help the people in Mali know the truth about Christianity so they can make their own choice,” said the VOM contact. VOM provides Christian materials for people in Mali. Bad roads and fighting have often made it difficult for Christian workers to pass out Bibles among the people.

Note: Mali celebrates their Independence Day on September 22. The country became independent from France in 1960.

Pray that everyone in Mali will have the opportunity to learn about true freedom and salvation by God’s grace through His Son Jesus.

Comments from reports edited for clarity. Photo credit: CIA World Factbook

Spotlight Story

Miriam and Basit

Central Asia
Miriam, Basit, and their daughter

Miriam’s family wanted her to get married. They suggested several men who could be her husband. But she refused them all, because they were all Muslims.

Miriam had become a follower of Jesus, which was unusual in her Central Asian country. “I prayed for a Christian husband which seemed impossible because there are almost no Christians here,” she said.

As a Christian Miriam knew it would be wrong for her to marry someone who did not also follow Christ. She continued to serve God and witness to Muslims even after her brother beat her and her mother kicked her out of the house.

As Miriam obediently followed Christ, she met Basit, the Christian man who would become her husband. He also came from a Muslim family.

Mirian’s family offered to help her start a business, rent her an apartment, and get her a car if she would give up her faith in Christ and not marry Basit. She told them she wouldn’t leave Jesus for a million dollars.

Miriam and Basit got married, and they now hold illegal house church meetings in their home. The work is dangerous, because radical Muslims in the region are a danger to Christians. “We pray at night that Jesus will give us another day tomorrow, because we do not know what will happen tomorrow,” said Basit.

Now Miriam and Basit aren’t the only bold believers in their home. They have two children who are not treated nicely by Muslim children in the area. It’s not easy for Miriam and Basit to watch their children being mistreated, but they place their hope and trust for the future in Christ.

To Discuss
Why did Miriam refuse to marry a Muslim? What problems might a married couple face if both of them were not Christians?

To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this website and some identifying details have been changed. Some faces are covered to protect the identity of Christians at risk.

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