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Spotlight Story

Following Jesus in Iraq

Syria

Christians in Iraq
1987: 1,400,000
Today: Less than 400,000

Church bombings, attacks on Christians, and kidnappings have forced large numbers of Christians out of the country. Continue reading to learn about some of the Christians who still live in Iraq.

Lina
Lina is a 17-year-old who lives in Baghdad, Iraq’s capital. “I don’t want to leave the country because I know God has a reason for putting me here,” said Lina. “Even if I die, because I am a Christian I will be happy because I am dying for Jesus….We need to share the love of Jesus to everyone. If there is a place without the love of Jesus, it will be a very dark place and no peace or hope will exist there.”

A Pastor
The pastor of a church in Iraq has lived through two bombings of his church. Many people from his congregation have fled the country.

The pastor is looking for new ways to fill his church. He hopes more Muslims will decide to follow Christ. “I believe all the chairs of the church will be filled by believers from Muslim backgrounds,” the pastor said. “They are the new generation of the church.”

Helpful Christians
Fighting in Syria has driven many Syrians to refugee camps in Iraq. Most Syrians are Muslims.

But many Muslims in Iraq have ignored the Syrians, who often lack warm shelter and daily provisions. The Voice of the Martyrs sent heaters, blankets, and mattresses to help the refugees through the winter. Christians in the area distributed the gifts and shared the gospel with the Syrians. “By caring for their physical needs, they’re now more [open] to hearing the Good News of Jesus,” said one of the Christians.

“Even when the Muslim neighbors refused to help their own brothers, it was Christian outsiders who met the needs of the refugees,” said one former Muslim. “When I witnessed the love of Christians, I saw what was missing in Islam and I decided to follow Christ.”

To Think About
Read Luke 10:29–42, which is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. How are the Christians who help Syrian refugees like the good Samaritan?

For the month of May, visit www.VOMBooks.com/May2014 to find out how to sponsor Outreach Packs for Syria.

Source: May 2014 The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter.


Feature Story

No Longer a Messenger of Hate

Colombia
Elmer before he was a Christian

Parents and Teachers: The May 2014 issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter features stories of front-line workers who serve God in the face of danger and persecution. To subscribe to the free monthly newsletter, visit our subscription signup page. As you read the newsletters, you may want to share similar stories from this site with your children. Then pray together for the people in the stories.

Elmer joined a group of guerrillas in Colombia when he was 13 years old. Guerrillas are people who carry out acts of war, even though they are not part of a regular army. The group that Elmer joined is called “FARC” (rhymes with “dark”).

FARC and other groups commit violent acts against each other as they try to get more power. They also have attacked Christians.

Elmer didn’t like Christians. He thought they were weak and powerless because they didn’t fight like the guerrillas. “I persecuted them, and I wouldn’t allow them to come together in their churches,” Elmer said.

Read the rest of this entry »


Spotlight Story

Kamea and Children in Laos

Laos
A girl in Laos
(image edited for clarity)

Kamea is a 12-year-old pastor’s daughter in Laos. Many Christians in Laos face trouble from the communist government. They also are persecuted by Buddhist family members and neighbors, and by spirit worshipers.

Kamea’s father has been in prison twice for sharing the gospel. Kamea cried as she watched the police take away her father, and she prayed every night for him to be released.

Kamea was not allowed to visit her father in prison. “God’s Word helped me learn to trust the Lord for my father’s safety and health in prison,” she said. She was encouraged when she heard that God was taking care of him, and that he wanted to know how she was growing in her faith.

One day, Kamea received a wonderful surprise. Her father came home! “I was so happy,” Kamea said. “God answered my prayer.”

Children in Laos
Many children in Laos are poor. “Children have little, … as most of the income for the family is spent on putting food on the table,” said a VOM contact. “Many children go to school without lunch. Some don’t even have a pencil. The parents often sacrifice much to help their children have an education. Many children have to work in the fields with their families at an early age.”

Source: VOM-Australia. Edited and paraphrased from the original source.

Pray: After reading the story above, what are some of the things you can ask God for children in Laos? What are some of the things you can thank Him for?


Activities Story

Encourage Kids to Participate

KOC

Kids all over the United States and the world are participating in projects to help persecuted Christians and to raise awareness about persecution. What can your kids do? Check the suggestions and resources on our special page.

Here are some example activities:

Go to the projects page to see the rest of the activities.


Spotlight Story

Remember Nigerian Families

Stephen Centre
Stephen Centre Kids

Last month, a group of armed men showed up at a school in Nigeria. They rounded up dozens of girls from the school and put them in the backs of trucks. Some of the girls jumped off the trucks and escaped, but most of them were driven away. Their families have not seen them since.

The men are part of Boko Haram, a violent, radical group of Muslims. Haram means “forbidden,” and Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden.” You can see a chart of haram and permitted behaviors under Muslim law here. Many radical Muslims would like children to learn only from Muslim teachings like the Quran, which is the Muslim holy book. They especially do not approve of girls going to school.

Boko Haram groups have attacked Muslims who do not agree with them as well as Christians. Most of the kidnapped girls are Christians, but some are Muslims.

Children from some Christian families who have suffered in Muslim attacks now attend the Stephen Center. The center is a boarding school supported and assisted by The Voice of the Martyrs. Several stories on this site have told stories of children at the center. Watch a clip of Stephen Center children singing praises to God here.

Ask God to protect the kidnapped children and their families from further harm. Pray that they will be returned to their families. Pray that Muslims who are tempted to join Boko Haram in evil activities will decide to follow Jesus instead.


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