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Bold Believers in Syria

Bold Believers in Syria includes stories, history and culture facts, activities, crafts, and recipes that help children understand the daily lives of their Christian brothers and sisters who face Islamic extremism. The 48-page book is available free from the Downloads section of this site.

Bold Believers in Syria provides age-appropriate companion material for VOM’s I Am N information and resources. (See i-am-n.com.)

Countries Story

Turkey

Turkey

Turkey

HOSTILE

Capital
Ankara

Size
Turkey’s population is growing. About 44 million people lived in Turkey in 1980. Today more than 75 million live there.

Main Languages
Turkish, Kurdish

Time
At 6:00 a.m. U.S. Central Standard Time, it is 2:00 p.m. in Turkey.

Interesting Fact
Some people in Istanbul go shopping by lowering a basket on a rope from their window. They put money in the basket to pay for food, and food sellers on the street below put food in the basket. When the sale is complete, the customer pulls the basket back up.

History
Some of the most important events in the Bible happened in the area that is now Turkey. Noah’s family settled there after the Flood. Abraham and Jacob lived there. Two-thirds of the New Testament was written to or from places in Turkey, and the Apostle Paul started many churches there. The cities of the seven churches in the Book of Revelation are in Turkey.

Many centuries ago, Muslims took control of Turkey and the country has been mostly Muslim since then. Since 1923, Turkey has had a secular government. “Secular” means “not concerned with religion.” The government is concerned about Muslim terrorists, and is suspicious of anyone who seems very serious about their faith.

Religion
More than 97 percent of the people in Turkey are Muslim. Only about 1 percent are Christian.

Persecution
Turkey’s laws allow “freedom of religion.” But sometimes police give Christians a hard time if they share their faith outside the church. Some Christians receive threatening voice mail messages or letters from radical Muslims. Muslims who become Christians are often persecuted by families, friends, and bosses.

Some Muslims would like to take over the government and make Islam the official religion. Many officials, police, and radical Muslims are hostile toward Christians. Police sometimes stop people from handing out Christian books and materials. Christian missionaries have been attacked. Citizens carry ID cards that show their religion. Those whose cards show that they are not Muslims are sometimes treated unfairly.


Countries Story

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan

RESTRICTED

Capital
Ashgabat (Ashkhabad)

Size
Slightly larger than California.

Main Languages
Turkmen, Russian, Uzbek

Time
At 6:00 a.m. U.S. Central Standard Time, it is 4:00 p.m. in Turkmenistan.

History
Turkmenistan was considered part of Persia before the 18th century. A great trade route called the “Silk Road” ran through Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan became part of the U.S.S.R. (often called “The Soviet Union”) in 1924. The Soviet Union was the largest communist country in the world. In the early 1990s, the Soviet Union broke up into many smaller countries. Turkmenistan was one of those countries. Recent leaders of the country have not been interested in giving the citizens freedom to worship as they want.

Religion
Mostly Muslim.

Persecution
Church services have been raided, pastors have been questioned by police, and officials have taken away Bibles and other Christian materials. It is against the law to print Bibles in Turkmenistan.


Countries Story

United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

RESTRICTED

Capital
Abu Dhabi

Size
Slightly smaller than Maine.

Main Languages
Arabic

Time
At 6:00 a.m. U.S. Central Standard Time, it is 3:00 p.m. in United Arab Emirates.

History
An emirate is an Arab land ruled by an emir or sheik. In 1971, seven emirates joined together to form The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E). After oil was discovered in the U.A.E, the citizens had to learn to adapt their old ways to a land made rich by oil.

Religion
Mostly Muslim.

Persecution
Most of the Christians in the U.A.E. are workers who come from other countries to earn money in the country. They are free to worship on land donated by the rulers. Christian workers are allowed to share God’s love by helping the sick.

However, no one may try to lead a Muslim to Christ or pass out Bibles and other Christian literature. Few believers have the opportunity to share their faith because they might be arrested. Internet sites that tell stories of Muslims who decided to follow Christ have been blocked.


Countries Story

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

RESTRICTED

Capital
Tashkent

Size
In area, Uzbekistan is a little larger than California.

Main Languages
Uzbek, Russian

Time
At 6 a.m. U.S. Central Standard Time, it is 5 p.m. in Uzbekistan.

Interesting Fact
Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country. A country is landlocked if it is not next to a sea or ocean. Doubly landlocked countries are landlocked countries surrounded by other landlocked countries. (The Caspian and Aral Seas in the region are actually big lakes.)

History
Alexander the Great conquered the land of Uzbekistan in one of the greatest conquests of history. In recent times, the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.) ruled Uzbekistan. The Soviet Union broke up in the early 1990s, forming 15 different countries. Uzbekistan was one of those countries.

The Soviet Union was a communist country. The communists taught that God does not exist. They made strict rules against religious activities. After the Soviet Union fell apart, many people returned to Islam, the religion they followed before communism came.

Religion
Most of the people in Uzbekistan are Muslims. Many do not take their religion seriously, but most believe “to be Uzbek is to be Muslim.”

Persecution
The government fears Muslim terrorists, and they are suspicious of anyone who takes their faith seriously. It is against the law for a Christian to lead an Uzbek person to Christ.

The government says that Christian groups must register in order to be legal. But officials make it very difficult for new groups to register. Many Christians meet in secret. If they are caught, the consequences can be serious. Christians have been jailed and kicked out of the country.


Countries Story

Vietnam

Vietnam

Vietnam

RESTRICTED

Capital
Hanoi

Size
In area, Vietnam is slightly larger than the U.S. state of New Mexico.

Main Languages
Vietnamese

Time
At 6 a.m. U.S. Central Standard Time, it is 7 p.m. in Vietnam.

Interesting Fact
Children in Vietnam go to school six days a week.

History
The Vietnamese people have a long history of struggle. Many times they have fought for independence from others who wanted to rule them. In 1945, North Vietnam was declared a communist country. There were wars in the region from 1941 to 1985. Soldiers from the United States were part of the fighting during the Vietnam War in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Communist North Vietnam took over South Vietnam in 1975. Many Christians fled because they knew that belief in God is forbidden or discouraged under communist governments. The Communist Party still controls the government. Vietnam’s constitution promises freedom of religion, but the government still controls religious activities.

Religion
Many people in Vietnam are Buddhists, many are spirit worshipers, some follow a Vietnamese religion called Cao Dai, and some follow no religion at all. Read the chart Comparing Vietnam’s Cao Dai Religion and Christianity to learn more about Cao Dai.

Persecution
The Communist Party still controls the government. Vietnam’s constitution promises freedom of religion, but the government still controls religious activities. Bibles are not printed in the languages of some Vietnamese tribal groups. Christians from other countries smuggle Bibles into the country for the Christians to read.

Tribal Christians and Christians who belong to churches that do not register with the government face the worst persecution. Arrests and fines for these Christians are common. Sometimes Christians hide their Bibles and read them in secret. They also worship and are baptized secretly.


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