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Activity: Underground Sunday School

“Secret cave” at a Missouri VBS

The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is on November 5th this year. IDOP reminds us to pray for Christians around the world who are persecuted for following Christ. Many of those Christians have to meet together in secret to avoid being caught by authorities.

Can you help your teacher prepare an “underground” (secret) Sunday school meeting for your class for IDOP Sunday?

Locate a well-hidden area outside or an unused room inside. If desired, place a play tunnel outside the meeting place to enter through. Christians in some places have to crawl through small spaces to meet in hidden caves. Add “jungle” decorations, and rocks or planks to sit on.

Ask someone to play the part of a police officer. The officer will wait outside the meeting until time to enter. Provide a birthday cake and a few decorations to use as a “cover,” so your meeting can become a “birthday party” if it is discovered. Use flashlights or electric candles for lighting. Before going to the meeting place, discuss who most recently had a birthday so that person’s birthday can be celebrated if necessary. If children in the class are young enough that they might be scared or not understand that they are not really in danger, discuss the situation with them in advance.

Meeting Day
Large groups raise suspicion in countries where Christianity is restricted, so have students enter the meeting place in pairs rather than all at once. Ask everyone to whisper.

Christians in some countries do not have Bibles. They have only the verses that they carry in their hearts. Ask everyone to take turns sharing any verses they know. Sing songs softly, and pray quietly for Christians in persecuted countries.

As everyone prepares to leave, let the “police officer” enter and ask suspiciously, “What’s going on here?” Bring out the cake and decorations and ask the officer to stay for the birthday party. The officer can warn the others that he has heard about Christians meeting illegally and he himself has arrested some Christians. After he has a piece of cake, he may leave—or he might stay and allow the Christians to share the truth about Jesus with him.

Have students leave the meeting in pairs.

Discussion Questions
1. What did you think about meeting “secretly”? Was it hard to remember to talk and sing quietly?
2. What would be the hardest part of having to gather secretly for worship?
3. What are some reasons why it is important to memorize Bible verses? (See Psalm 119:11,105.)
4. If you had to meet secretly for worship, what would you want Christians in other countries to pray for you?

Praise the Lord

Boy in Pakistan

Practice saying “praise the Lord” in one or more of the languages shown below. Sing the song “Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah” or another song that includes the words “praise (ye) the Lord” in it. Substitute one or more of the phrases for the English words.

Iran. Farsi: KHOH-dah-rah SHOH-kr

Pakistan. Punjabi: RAHB-dee tah-REEF HO-vay

China. Chinese: tzahn-may joo

Colombia. Spanish: GLOH-ree-uh ah dee-ohs

Russia, Kazakhstan. Russian: SLAH-vuh BOH-goo

Many Muslim Countries. Arabic: MAHG-duh lah rahp

Eritrea. Tigrinya: gway-tah yeh mess ghen

Malaysia, Brunei. Malay: Poo-jee TOO-hahn

Nepal. Nepali: jay muh-SEE

Bangladesh. Bangla: ee-shohr-air goor-ohb hohk

Jesus Loves Me


Eritrean children

Practice saying, “Jesus loves me” in one or more of the languages shown below. Sing the song “Jesus Loves Me,” substituting the words from another language wherever the phrase occurs in the song.

Note: English is an official language in Nigeria and South Sudan. Hausa and Dinka are additional languages spoken in those countries.

China. Chinese: Yeh-soo ai woh

Eritrea. Tigrinya: Yehf kee rehn nee yoo

Nigeria. Hausa: YAY-soo YEHN-ah KOW-nah-tah

Dinka. South Sudan: YAY-choo ahn YAHR-ehn

Colombia. Spanish: KREES-toh may AH-mah

A Prison Code

Pastor Wurmbrand’s prison

“Jail is no hindrance to a useful Christian life” — Pastor Richard Wurmbrand

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was arrested in the mid-20th century in Romania for his Christian witness and activities. The story below tells about something that happened when he was in prison. Read the story, then tell how your name would be tapped in the improved code used by the prisoners. (For example, if your name is John, the first letter of your name would be signaled by 2 taps, then 5 taps.)

The Code
Tap. Tap. Tap. One day Pastor Wurmbrand heard a faint tapping on the damp concrete wall of his solitary cell. “What could it mean?” he wondered.

Tap. Tap. Tap. The noise continued. Pastor Wurmbrand tapped back. Suddenly a burst of taps erupted by his bed. He realized that the prisoner in the next cell was trying to teach him a code.

A = 1 tap
B = 2 taps
C = 3 taps
And so on.

“Who are you?” was the first message Pastor Wurmbrand’s neighbor sent him. “A pastor,” Pastor Wurmbrand replied.

It took a long time to send a message. The prisoners improved the code so it wouldn’t take so long. In the new code, one tap stood for the first five letters of the alphabet, two taps for the second group of five, and so on. Another tap told whether the letter was the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth letter in its group. So “B” was a single tap, followed by a pause, then two more taps.

The Improved Code
A = 1 tap, pause, 1 tap
B = 1 tap, pause, 2 taps
C = 1 tap, pause, 3 taps
D = 1 tap, pause, 4 taps
E = 1 tap, pause, 5 taps
F = 2 taps, pause, 1 tap
G = 2 taps, pause, 2 taps
And so on.

Morse Code
Then his neighbor, who had been a radio engineer, used this code to teach Pastor Wurmbrand Morse code. After that, they used Morse code to tell jokes, spread news, and even share chess moves. (Pastor Wurmbrand sometimes played chess with himself using tiny bits of bread as chess pieces.) Pastor Wurmbrand also taught prisoners Bible verses and shared the gospel with unbelievers using the code.


Food was scarce in Romania during Richard Wurmbrand’s time in prison. “Our staple diet was maize meal, of which we made a kind of porridge called ‘mamaliga,’” said a friend of the Wurmbrands. “So we had mamaliga for breakfast, dinner, and supper, if we were lucky enough to have three meals a day.”

Try this mamaliga recipe.
(Photo from The Torchlighters The Richard Wurmbrand Story Leaders Guide)

1. Boil 2 cups of water in a small saucepan.
2. Gradually pour in ½ cup of yellow corn meal and ¼ tsp. salt, stirring constantly with a wire whisk.
3. Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring for about 3 to 5 minutes until thick.
4. Pour into a bowl or rectangular dish about 6 by 9 inches.
5. Cool. Cut into strips or squares.