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Vietnam: Finding Happiness in Prison

Prison cell in Asia

The following story is from the Kids of Courage archives.

Silas was in prison. His cell was about 66 feet long and about 16 feet wide. Fifty-six other men lived in the cell with Silas.

“We slept on cement platforms,” said Silas. “In the morning we ate nothing. At midday and in the evening we ate rice. This rice was cooked from moldy, rotten rice. The bowls were never full, and after a few mouthfuls it was gone.”

Silas was arrested because he took part in a protest to bring attention to the problems of some ethnic groups in Vietnam. In free countries, it is legal to protest in public. But Vietnam is a communist country. Government officials can have people arrested for protesting in public.

The ethnic groups want the freedom to worship the God of the Bible. Vietnamese leaders do not want Christianity to grow among the groups. They also do not want the people in the groups to be able to read the Bible in their own language.

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Egypt: Lana Finds Peace

Egypt

(From the Kids of Courage archives)

Lana hated Christians. She and her Muslim friends in Egypt were taught to stay away from Christians.

Lana’s school friend, Sahar, had a plan. She asked Lana to join her in carrying out her plan.

Sahar planned to listen to Christian programs on the radio. The girls would then choose the Christian radio host who seemed to be the weakest in his faith. They decided to write letters to the host and ask him questions that he could not answer.

Lana liked Sahar’s idea, and she agreed to help. She wrote a letter to one of the Christians and explained that she was a Muslim girl who would “never be shaken from her faith.” Her letter then asked the host, “Is Christ God, a messenger (prophet), or the Son of God?”

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Uganda: Dragule, Juliet, and Their Children

Children are very important to Dragule and Juliet. The couple has 11 of them, ages 18, 17, 15, 14, 9, 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. Their youngest is named Gift. The child’s name shows how Dragule and Juliet feel about children. (See the photo above of Dragule, Juliet, and Gift.)

Dragule as a Muslim
Dragule and his family used to be Muslims. He taught Muslim children the Arabic alphabet at their mosque in Uganda. (A mosque is a building where Muslims worship. Uganda’s main languages are English, Uganda, and Swahili. But Muslims believe that their holy book, the Quran, is best understood in Arabic.)

Dragule began to feel that something was missing in his life. “I started searching for some truths in the Quran,” he said. “I realized that children are not considered. I also found out that women were undermined….Then I wanted to know how [Christian] children are cared for.

“One day, I observed the way Christian women would take care of their children – walking into church. I saw something strange. They would show love to them as they walked and would speak to them with respect. It was evident that they were treated fairly.

“When I realized that the Christians were different, I desired to join…I finally surrendered fully to Christ and never looked back.”

Dragule as a Christian
Dragule knew that Christians in the area are persecuted. He talked to a pastor and said, “I know I am going to die after this decision, but who will take care of my children?” The pastor told Dragule that if he died, God would take care of his children.

“In the meantime,” said Dragule, “persecution arose.”

Muslims beat up Dragule, threatened his wife and children, threw stones at their house, and convinced witch doctors to put curses on him. “But the spells didn’t work,” said Dragule. (See 1 John 4:4.)

Dragule and Juliet want their children to get a good Christian education. But sadly, the oldest daughter was lured away from their family and married to a Muslim. The second oldest also now lives with Muslims.

There is no Christian school in their village, because only two Christian families live there. So Dragule rented a small hut in a town with a Christian school for four of his school-age children. His 14-year-old daughter, Shamila, does not go to school. Instead, she takes care of the hut, cooks, and does laundry for her four siblings, and ensures that the home is safe. (See Shamila’s photo below.)

The family requests prayer for safety, strong faith, a good education, daily needs, and growth of Christianity in their village.

(VOM Sources. Edited for length and clarity.)

To Think About
*Read 1 John 4:4. How might the verse encourage Dragule’s family?
*What do you think about Shamila sacrificing to take care of the children’s hut while they attend school?
*Dragule goes house to house sharing the gospel with others in his village. What obstacles do you think he might face? What do you think of his choice to live in a place where he is persecuted?
*Can you see what Bible reference is written on the house? Find the verse in a Bible and read it.


Egypt: Christine, a Christian

Girl in Egypt

The Voice of the Martyrs USA is part of a worldwide family of missions that were started through the influence of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. SDOK is VOM’s sister mission in the Netherlands. Stef is SDOK’s children’s magazine and website.

The following story about a girl in Egypt comes from Stef magazine.

I Wish I Could Fly
Hi, I’m Christine. I live in Egypt. In my family we have three boys and three girls. My brothers are called George, Mohammed, Mina, Anwar, Kirelos and Ahmed. My sisters are called Maryam, Souad, Marina and Yasmine. And then me. My name is Christine and Fatima.

It’s true that we have six children, but it looks like 12! Everybody has two names: an Islamic name and a Christian name.

Poverty
When I was born, my parents were Muslim. We lived in a small village and were very poor. My father is a baker. The money he earned was never enough for us. My father decided to follow Jesus, and then our lives became very different.

Baptized
After my father became a Christian, he became a better father. My mother and all of us became Christians, too, and then we were all baptized. If you are baptized, you leave your old life behind you and you get a new life with Jesus.

And with a new life, we take a new name. But we don’t use our new name. In Egypt, it is not allowed to change your faith. On my identity card, I am called Fatima, and it says I am a Muslim. Muslims are expected to go to the mosque, to learn verses from the Quran at school, and to wear a headscarf if you are a girl. [A mosque is a building where Muslims worship, and the Quran is the Muslim holy book.]

Christian?
No matter how careful we were, our neighbors noticed we were different “You have changed,” they said. “Are you Christians or something?”

That might seem like a compliment, but in our village, it is an insult. We never responded to their comments. Thankfully, other Christians invited my father to live in a big city. Nobody would know us there.

Or would they?

Recognized
It was wonderful to be in the big city and to go to church. I felt so close to God! I want to learn more about Him and to be more like Jesus.

But we lived there only a short time, then things went wrong. My brother was recognized by someone in the city from our village. The man was hostile. He said, “Now I am sure you are a Christian.” My brother ran anxiously through the city with the man chasing him. When he was sure he was no longer being chased, he came home.

Now we are moving to another part of the city. My brothers almost never go outside anymore.

Sometimes friends ask them to join them in going to the mosque. But they do not want to go, of course, and they say they are sick. I think that is true, because they do not really look good.

To Hide or Fly
I sometimes don’t know how we can go on. We cannot keep playing hide and seek. I just want to say what I am, and that is Christine. A Christian.

I wish I had wings and could fly away.

There are also people in the Bible who wanted to fly away. David wrote in a song that he wished he had wings like a dove, then he could flee to a safe place. And I want that too!

Bye, Christine

To Do
*Read Psalm 55:6-8. Pray for Christine and her family


Ching’s Dad

The Voice of the Martyrs USA is part of a worldwide family of missions that were started through the influence of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. SDOK is VOM’s sister mission in the Netherlands. Stef is SDOK’s children’s publication and website.

The following story comes from Stef magazine.

Close to the Border
Hi, I’m Ching. I have a brother, a father, and a mother. My father is half Chinese and half Korean. He studied to become a pastor. When he was finished with his studies, he was asked to be a pastor at a church in China near the North Korean border.

My father prayed about it, and then he knew, “Yes, that is my place.”

Hungry
My father was only there for a short time when a famine broke out in North Korea. It was really terrible. The people were very hungry. Many tried to cross the border into China. They were desperately looking for food, medicine, and clothing.

Building with a Cross
Our church has a big cross on it. North Koreans had learned that they could find help at a special building with a cross. When they came to our church, they saw love in the eyes of my father.

Many people came to faith in Christ at the church. My father trained them to go back to North Korea to tell their people about Jesus. They knew it would be dangerous work. But my father said, “It’s better to die with God than to live in a free land without Him.”

Warning
Chinese and South Korean officers warned my father, “Your life is in danger [from enemies in North Korea who don’t like Christians].” I heard my parents talk about it. They thought about quitting their work with North Koreans. But God let them know they had to continue. They sent my brother and me to a safer school.

The Word Continues
One day my father got a phone call. My mother didn’t know who was on the line, but it seemed to be someone my father knew. She heard him say, “I’m coming!”

By dinnertime, my father had not come home. Church members went on a search for him. They found his car on the border. He was in it. North Koreans had paid someone to attack him, and he died.

We are sad that my dear father is no longer here. In the beginning, my mother was really angry. I believe that she is not angry anymore. She prays a lot that the North Korean leader will come to know God.

We live in the same place, and we go to the same church. But things have changed. My mother does not dare to help the North Koreans anymore.

But do you know what I like? A lot of people who my father helped now believe in God, and they do the same work he did. So the work for God continues.

Pray
Please join Ching’s mother in praying that North Korea’s leader will come to know God, and pray for Ching’s family.

(Source: SDOK. Translated and edited. To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this website and some identifying details have been changed.)