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Diwali 2013

A Hindu temple
A Hindu temple

Diwali is a Hindu festival that began on November 3rd this year. The celebration lasts for several days. Read more information below from the Kids of Courage archives.

An important Hindu festival is Diwali, the Festival of Lights (also spelled “Divali” or “Devali”). More than 900 million people in the world are Hindus. India has the largest number of Hindus.

Diwali is celebrated in many countries where Hindus live. In India and some other places, people of other religions also celebrate Diwali.

During the days of Diwali, people light lamps, set off fireworks, eat desserts, give gifts, and recall legends about gods and goddesses honored in Hinduism.

Hinduism
God has made us with a longing in our hearts to be close to him. (See Acts 17:26–27 and Ecclesiastes 3:11.) Many Hindus feel that longing, too. But they do not believe, or have not been told, that the way to be close to God is through his Son, Jesus. So they try to fill that longing with other gods, rituals, and works.

Some Hindus add Jesus to the list of gods they honor, but do not forsake other gods. The Bible tells us we must have no other gods.

Pray that Hindus will meet Christians who can tell them about Jesus, the light of the world, and that they will open their hearts to him. Pray especially for radical Hindus who oppose Christianity in India and other places.

Note: Main locations where Hindus live include India, Nepal, Malaysia, Guyana, Suriname, and Sri Lanka. More than 1 million Hindus live in the U.S. (Source: The World Almanac and Book of Facts) Do some research and find out if there is a Hindu temple in your state or region.

Photo credit: Shivakant Tripathi, Wikipedia


Update: Priscilla and Naomi

Malaysia
Priscilla and Naomi

A post on this site in 2011 told the story of Priscilla and Naomi, Malaysian sisters who had to live in another country with their mother, Rose. They could not live with their father, Felipe, in Malaysia because Felipe was born into a Muslim family. He became a Christian when he was a boy, and later married, Rose, who is a Christian.

But Malaysian laws consider anyone born into a Muslim family to be a Muslim, and they do not allow Muslims to marry Christians. So Rose, Felipe, Priscilla, and Naomi could not live as a family in Malaysia.

Update
The Voice of the Martyrs has learned that the family has been reunited! Their lives are still not always easy. Felipe said, “I am thankful for my children, who live close to the Lord. They are very brave, and that comforts me.”

Please continue to pray for the 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.)


Flags of Turkey and Similar Flags

Flags

The flags of many Muslim countries display the crescent moon and a star. Before Islam began, pagans who worshipped many gods used the crescent moon as a symbol. (Islam is the religion of Muslims.) Muslim Turks who conquered Constantinople also used the moon as their symbol. (Constantinople in now called Istanbul. Istanbul is the capital of Turkey.)

People began to associate the crescent moon with the religion of Islam. Some Muslims today say the moon is not a symbol of Islam. However, the moon and star appear on the flags of many Muslim countries.

Print and color the page of flags here. The background of the flag of Turkey is red and the moon and stars are white. Find the colors of the other flags in the Countries section of this website, in the online CIA Factbook, or in other sources.

Enter the names of the countries in the search box of this site or the tags for this post to find stories that can guide you about how to pray for the country.


Valentine’s Day Rules

Valentine

Leaders in some Muslim countries do not like their citizens to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Officials in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Iran try to discourage people from following Valentine’s Day customs.

Here are some of the reasons given by strict Muslim leaders for not allowing the customs.

  • Muslims say that Valentine’s Day is an invented celebration, not found in Muslim law.
  • Christians celebrate Valentine’s Day, so Muslims should not.
  • Some Muslim officials say that Valentine’s Day causes youth to keep their minds on foolish things.
  • ”It promotes love,” complain some Muslim leaders.

But many youth in Muslim countries celebrate Valentine’s Day anyway. Very strict Muslims often have many rules that are difficult to follow. They believe that following the rules might help them earn their way to heaven.

“At age 16, I no longer wanted to be a Muslim,” said a youth in Malaysia. “There were too many rules.”

Some Muslims who are weary of all the rules are seeking truth outside of Islam. (Islam is the religion of Muslims.) Pray they will find Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life. (See John 14:6.)

The story behind Valentine’s Day is told in The Story of St. Valentine: More than Cards and Candied Hearts available from The Voice of the Martyrs.

Read the post Learn About Valentine to learn more about the history and legends that inspired Valentine’s Day.


Strength from Daniel

Mosque

Pastor Rana leads a church in Nepal. He and his wife have three children, ages 10, 7, and 5.

The family lives in a village of about 2,000 people. Their church has 70 baptized members, plus children.

Pastor Rana wanted to help the Sunday school teachers. So he invited three trainers to come teach the teachers for two days. The three teachers came from India, Singapore, and Malaysia.

While the trainers were at the church, someone called the pastor to tell him that a member of his church was sick. Pastor Rana left the church to go pray for the sick person.

While he was gone, seven angry Hindus came to the church. The Hindus were angry because Pastor Rana had been teaching Hindus about Jesus. They did not want any Hindus to become Christians.

The angry men damaged the church building, destroyed a motorbike, and hit one of the trainers. When Pastor Rana returned, he was shocked to find that his guests had been attacked and his family was scared.

Prayer Request
Pastor Rana is also sometimes fearful that the attackers might come back. He gets strength from the Bible book of Daniel.

“When Daniel was given the opportunity, he never bowed down his head to idols,” said Pastor Rana. And they [Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego] were ready to go through fire. When I read this, I don’t feel that the persecution I’m going through is huge compared to those guys in the book of Daniel.”

Pastor Rana asks for prayer for his family to be safe and for his congregation to be strong when persecution comes.

Photo credit: Briton Rivière, Wikipedia.org