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Spotlight Story

Philippines: Pastor’s Family Stays — For Now

A pastor in the Philippines works among Christians in an area where radical Muslims are threatening Christians. He told the following story to workers from The Voice of the Martyrs.

I am a pastor. I am married, and I have three daughters.

One morning I told my second daughter to take a bath for school. I was surprised when she just looked at me and didn’t move.

I told her again to take a bath. But she said, “Papa, our teacher told us yesterday that Christians can be absent because we might be kidnapped.”

I admit I had mixed feelings. What should a father do? Five months ago one of the active youth in our church was kidnapped. He is still in the hands of his kidnappers. We don’t have any news about him.

“We Only Are Left Behind”
One Sunday after church my eldest daughter came to me crying. “Papa, all my Sunday school friends’ families are moving away,” she said. “We only are left behind. Let’s move away, too. It is no longer safe here.”

I said to her, “Darling, we should not do that unless the Lord would tell us to leave. If it is His will to stay, we must stay; we must obey Him.” But deep inside me I am affected because the reality is that not a week passes without our hearing news of a kidnapping and bad activities that have occurred.

For now the church is concentrating on prayer and fasting. Those who are left behind continue with their cell groups and discipleship. They are training children to be members of the praise and worship team.

Tempted to Blame
Sometimes I am tempted to blame the government and the authorities [for not protecting us]. But thank God for His Word. It corrects me of my feelings. We should pray and fast for the people in authority and for the people in my community.

I thank God also for The Voice of the Martyrs. They help me know that I am not alone in doing my ministry.

(Source: VOM contacts. Edited and paraphrased from the original for clarity, length, and reading level.)

What Would You Do?

  • What would you do if you were the pastor’s second daughter? Would you want to go to school?
  • What would you do if you were the eldest daughter?
  • What would you do if you were the pastor?
  • How would you want Christians in other countries to pray for you if you were in this family’s situation?

Spotlight Story

A 20th Century Saul, Part 2

Saul to Paul

The previous post told about Gheorghita Stratulat, a policeman in Romania who persecuted Christians. He began to seek God after his daughter was born deaf, mute, and paralyzed. A Christian woman came to his office and told him that God can heal.

Later at home he asked his wife, Elena, “What do you know about God?” He began talking to Christians and asking if God could heal his daughter. “I don’t know if you exist, God,” he prayed. “But please, if You do, show me by healing my child.”

Finally Stratulat visited a pastor he had arrested many times. “I am looking for God,” he told the pastor. The pastor was fearful of Stratulat, but he counseled him and guided him.

Stratulat prayed for several months. And one morning, his daughter spoke, “Ta-Ta,” she said, using the Romanian word for “Daddy.” Then she began to walk.

Stratulat was overjoyed. He had become a loving husband, and soon Elena joined him in following Christ.

Arrests and Freedom
But not everyone was happy about their new beliefs. One of Stratulat’s older children complained to school officials that his parents wanted him to become a Christian. The police arrested his parents.

After several more arrests, the police sent his whole family, which now included seven children, to a secret prison camp in the mountains.

In 1989 a revolution removed the communist leaders of Romania from power. Stratulat and his family were free. He became an evangelist, sharing the love of Jesus with many former communists.

To Discuss
Read the post “Saul in Damascus

  • How was Stratulat like Paul?
  • How was the church pastor like Ananias?
  • Is there anyone with whom you would be afraid to share the gospel?

Spotlight Story

A 20th Century Saul

Saul to Paul

Read the two previous posts about persecutors becoming Christians. Then read the story below about a 20th century “Saul.”

Gheorghita Stratulat was a policeman in Romania. Like many people in Romania at that time, he had been taught that there is no God.

The communist leaders of the land allowed some Christian activities, but the government was mostly hostile toward Christians and Christianity.

As part of his job, Stratulat spied on Christians who met secretly for worship, arrested them, and put them in prison. At home, he drank a lot of alcohol and spoke harshly to his wife, Elena.

Then something happened that made Stratulat very sad. His fifth child, Ana-Mihaela, was born deaf, mute, and paralyzed. For several years Stratulat told everyone about Ana-Mihaela to try to find someone who could help her. He told doctors, other policemen at work, and his neighbors. But Ana-Mihaela did not improve.

God Can Help
One day a woman came to Stratulat’s police station and said, “I know a doctor who can help your daughter….He is my God.”

Stratulat was angry. He raised his police baton to hit the woman, but then, surprisingly, he passed out. The Christian woman threw water in his face to wake him up. He kicked her out of his office.
Read the next post to find out how Stratulat changed from being a persecutor to a follower of Christ.

(Source: Saul to Paul, available at VOMBooks.com. Please preview the book before sharing with children.)


Spotlight Story

Praying for More Sauls in Damascus

Syria
A child in Syria

Recently a worker from The Voice of the Martyrs visited with Syrian pastors and church leaders at a meeting in the Middle East. Some of the church leaders live in Damascus, the capital of Syria. The group began to talk about the story of Ananias from the Book of Acts. (See the previous post about Saul and Ananias in Damascus.)

In the Bible story, Ananias was scared of Saul because he knew that Saul had persecuted and arrested Christians. But Ananias obeyed God. He met and encouraged Saul, who had become a Christian believer.

Needed: More Sauls
The Syrian pastors and leaders at the meeting talked about what they would do if a known persecutor of Christians called their church today and asked to meet with a pastor. What if the caller was a member of a radical Muslim group that has attacked Christians?

“I would be very afraid,” one of the church leaders said.

“What if it was a trap?” said another.

After some discussion, the Syrian Christians said they would be faithful to God. They would meet with the caller and witness for Jesus.

“Our prayer is that as they pray, God will take many more Sauls in Syria and turn them into Pauls who will carry His message to their nation,” said a VOM worker. “Will you join in that prayer?”

(Source: Persecution Blog)


Spotlight Story

Saul in Damascus

Paul

The story below is from the book God’s Apostle: The Adventures of Paul available at VOM Books. It is the biblical story of Saul that tells how he came to know Jesus. Damascus, a city in the story, still exists in Syria today, as does the street where Judas lived. (He is a different Judas than the one who betrayed Jesus.)

Saul patted the pouch on his hip as his horse galloped along the stone road. He glanced back at the men riding with him to the city of Damascus.

Hmph! he thought smugly. We’ll finally get rid of those followers of Christ for good!

Saul and his men hunted down Christians all over Jerusalem, hauling them to prison. Like a wild man, Saul burst into homes dragging Christians away. As word spread of the arrests, followers of Christ fled to Damascus.

Saul looked at the pouch that held the papers to arrest the Christ followers in Damascus. They won’t be safe for long, he thought. No, they won’t be safe for long.

Saul and his men were tired from the week-long journey. Beads of sweat slid down their faces. “It won’t be long now men!” announced Saul when the city came into view.

Just then, the horses began to whinny and snort. “Easy, now!” Saul said, patting his horse. Suddenly a blinding light shone from heaven.

“Saul,” said a voice from the light. “Why are you persecuting me?” Saul fell to the ground. He squinted his eyes as he looked up into the light.

“Who — who are you, Lord?” Saul stammered. Saul’s men were surprised and confused. It wasn’t like Saul to be at a loss for words.

Read the rest of this entry »


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