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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.


What If Christianity Were Illegal?

Perpetua

The Voice of the Martyrs’ representatives visited an Arabic church in the United States. Members of the church are from Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq. The representatives showed the children at the church a DVD about Perpetua. [Learn more about Perpetua here.]

“At first, the children were sad that Perpetua and her friends died, but then they wanted to see it again,” said one of the VOM representatives. “They were truly inspired by her courage and faith.

“We asked the kids what they would do if they woke up one day and it was illegal to be a Christian. Their responses were interesting and honest.”

Read below what some of the children answered. As you read their answers, think about what your answer would be. [Read this post about a girl who was not sure if she would be strong enough to face persecution.]

First child’s answer: I would give my life for him [Jesus] because if I die and I believe in Jesus, then once I die, the next second I’ll be living [with Jesus].

Second child’s answer: I would stay a Christian.

Third child’s answer: If we hadn’t watched Perpetua…then I would have said “No, I’m not a Christian.” I would lie. But when I saw them standing up for what they believe in, that made me stronger inside.

Fourth child’s answer: I would say, “Okay, fine, I’m not a Christian anymore.” I’ll just lie, but I really am a Christian. Or I’ll just be a Christian and not tell anybody if I’m a Christian or not a Christian.

Fifth child’s answer: I would say that I am a Christian just because I know that if I die for Jesus, I would go to heaven and have a really happy life.

Sixth child’s answer: I would die for Jesus because if I die for him, my body will still stay here, and my soul will be up there. But it’s okay, because I would be with Jesus and I’d be in the best place in the world.


Where Do You Draw the Line?

There are Christians on my mom’s side of the family. I’ve got cousins who are Christians. It’s really cool; we exchange thoughts and opinions of our religions. We exchange facts and points. We get to see the other side of religions….They’ve never been to the mosque with me….I’ve been to the church with the Girl Scouts. — Fatima K. American Muslim

Previous posts tell about ways to make friends with Muslims and how to talk to them about your faith. Where should you draw the line in your friendship with Muslims?

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Double Country Word Find

Print the puzzle below. Hidden in the puzzle are the names of seven countries where Christian activities are limited in some way. Each country’s name is hidden TWICE. Look for the following countries running vertically (up and down), horizontally (across), or diagonally (slanted): Iraq, China, Nigeria, North Korea, India, Vietnam, Algeria.

N O R T H K O R E A
V I E T N A M A Z Y
N I B C C I N D I A
I I E W H T G S H A
G C G T I I W I C L
E X D E N R N R H G
R E V F R A A A I E
I N D I A I M Q N R
A L G E R I A U A I
N O R T H K O R E A

Refusing to Bow (A Skit for Younger Children)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

For younger children, the teacher may read all the parts, and the children can act out the parts as they are read.

Characters
5 narrators
Nebuchadnezzar
Shadrach
Meshach
Abednego

Narrator #1: Nebuchadnezzar was a king who set up a huge statue. When music played, all the citizens were supposed to bow down and worship the statue. Anyone who refused to bow would be thrown into a blazing hot furnace.

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