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Spotlight Story

Interview: Gracia Burnham

The Philippines

Gracia and Martin Burnham were missionaries in the Philippines. They were kidnapped by a gang of radical Muslims who took them into the jungle. The Burnhams lived with the kidnappers in harsh conditions for about a year.

Read a story about their ordeal here.

Listen to VOM volunteer reporter Wesley P. interview Gracia.

Spotlight Story

A Calling to Preach

Gilbert Hovsepian
Gilbert Hovsepian

Note: Gilbert Hovsepian was badly injured in a motorcycle accident in December. Please pray for his complete recovery.

Gilbert Hovsepian is a Christian from Iran. His father started a church among Muslims in their country.

At first the church was very unpopular. The Christians left the windows of the church open during the services to get some fresh air. People in the community threw trash in through the windows! Sometimes they threw rocks and broke windows in the church and in the cars at the church.

The church started with only three people attending. “One day there were only two people, and my father preached like 1,000 people were there,” said Gilbert. “The two people left, maybe to go to the restroom, and he kept on preaching. My mother said, ‘There is no one here!’

“My father answered, ‘I’m not preaching because of people; I’m preaching because of my calling to preach.’”

To Think About

  • What do you think God is calling you to do? Can you follow Him even if it makes you feel alone and unpopular?
  • Gilbert’s church grew, but it became even more unpopular with non-Christians. When Gilbert was a teenager, his father was killed because of his Christian work. Luke 12:4 says, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that there is no more that they can do.” How might the verse be a comfort to Gilbert and his family?

Spotlight Story

VBS in Vietnam


Hmong [pronounced “mong”] people are a tribal group in Southeast Asia. Many are Christians. Others are seeking Jesus, but they have no one to tell them about the Savior. Government leaders in some areas do not want tribal members to become Christians.

Hmong Christians in Vietnam recently held a two-day Bible school for children ages 6 to 12 to teach them about Jesus. (See the photo.) The photo shows the children during a lunch break. They are eating on banana leaf mats, and their rice bowls are made of banana leaves, too. Other bowls contain instant noodle soup to put on the rice.

“Hmong people are very poor in most of the remote areas,” said a Christian worker. “That is the kind of food they can afford.”

What else can you tell about their lives and the area where they live from the photo?

To Do

  • Enter “Hmong” in the Search box to find more stories about Hmong Christians, or download Bold Believers of the Hmong People from the Downloads section. The book contains stories, coloring pages, activities, and culture facts.
  • Can you serve your family, class, or group rice and instant soup and share what you have learned about Hmong Christians? If desired, use “banana leaf” tablecloths that you make from a green paper roll.

Kids of Courage VBS
Visit to find out about VOM’s Kids of Courage VBS curriculum for large and small churches.

Spotlight Story

Empty Tables at the Wedding Reception

Khan at his wedding
Khan at his wedding

Khan and Asiya wanted to get married. They followed all the marriage customs of Tajikistan, the country where they live.

First Khan asked his parents to meet Asiya’s parents. The four parents met, and Khan proposed to Asiya officially. Their parents announced the wedding date and made all the wedding plans.

Then, a few weeks before the wedding, Khan’s Muslim parents realized that Asiya and her family were Christians. “Our son will NEVER marry a Christian!” they said. They were surprised to find out that Khan had a Bible. He, too, was a Christian! He had been baptized a few months earlier.

Khan’s parents said he could no longer be a member of their family unless he did the following.

  1. Break up with his girlfriend and cancel the wedding.
  2. Stop being a Christian.
  3. Read a Muslim prayer in front of everyone, and become a Muslim again.
  4. Marry a Muslim girl.

In their country, newlyweds live in the groom’s parents’ home until the couple gets a home. Khan said no to his family’s conditions. They kicked him out of their family. So right before he married Asiya, he had no relatives, no money, and no house to live in. At the wedding, the chairs reserved for his parents remained empty.

Asiya’s parents are asking for prayer for Khan. They would like Christians to pray:

  • Khan can find a job and a place to live with Asiya.
  • God will help him through the shock of losing his family.

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.

Beliefs Story

Comparing North Korea’s Juche and Christianity

Juche (JOO-chay) is a way of life in North Korea. Juche falsely teaches that humans are the master of everything.

People in North Korea have very few rights and freedoms compared to people in most other countries. But the North Korean government tries to make their people believe they are very blessed and free.

Recently North Korea published a “human rights report” to tell the world about all the “rights” enjoyed by North Korean citizens. The report said:

“In [North Korea] everybody is fully provided with the rights to choose and follow their own religion and thought according to their own free will.”

But the report also says, “Every citizen has chosen to follow the Juche idea.”

North Korea has more than 24 million people. It is unlikely that all of them truly believe in Juche teachings. In truth, the government expects the people to follow Juche and to honor their leaders as gods. People who participate in Christian activities or associate with Christians are threatened or punished. Many Christians are in prison.

The chart below compares Juche teachings with biblical Christianity.

To find out more about North Korea and North Korean Christians:

Juche (JOO-chay)
Founder Kim Il Sung, the past leader of North Korea Jesus Christ. Christians follow Jesus as the Son of God.
Followers It is estimated that more than 20 million people are followers of Juche. Almost all of them live in North Korea, where citizens are forced to honor Juche. About 2 billion of the world’s people are Christians.
Calendars The Juche calendar starts with 1912, the birth year of Kim Il Sung, calling it the year 1. The year 2014 is the year 103 on the Juche calendar. The Gregorian calendar, used around the world today, continues a system that marked the years before (B.C.) and after (A.D.) the earthly life of Christ.
Worship North Koreans are required to give all honor and glory to Kim Il Sung and to his son Kim Jong Il (who are now dead), and to the current leader, Kim Jong Un. Citizens bow and offer gifts to statues of the men. Christians believe, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Matthew 4:10). They do not serve or bow to images or idols (Exodus 20:4).
Who is the Master? Juche teaches that human beings are the masters of the world and of their own destiny. Jesus said, “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well, for so I am” (John 13:13, KJV). Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).
Eternal life Most Juche teachings are only about what happens in this life. However, Juche followers believe they can have a kind of “immortal life” by being a useful part of their “immortal” country. The Bible says, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life” (John 3:36). Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

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