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Three Leaders’ Birthdays

Poster
Raúl Castro

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.1 Timothy 2:1–4 (NKJV)

The presidents of Turkmenistan, Cuba, and China have birthdays this month. The three men rule over countries where Christians are not always treated fairly. They need your prayers, so consider praying for them on their birthdays. You can remember to pray for them by putting their birthdays on your calendar.

Turkmenistan
President: Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow
Born: 6/29/1957
Only certain religious groups are allowed in Turkmenistan. Other groups are sometimes raided and treated harshly. Officials have warned Christian parents that their children will be closely watched at school.

Cuba
President: Raúl Castro
Born: 6/3/1931
Christians have had more freedom in recent years, but the government still mistreats some Christians. Christian children are sometimes not treated fairly in public schools.

China
President: Xi Jinping
Born: 6/15/1953
The Communist Party has strict control over China’s citizens. In some parts of China, police raid churches and arrest Christians. In one region, officials have said that children must go to school for nine years before they can receive any religious education outside of school. (Source: U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report)

Photo credit: Government.ru / Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0)


Kids of Courage Trust God

VBS

VOM’s Kids of Courage VBS curriculum includes true stories of children from 5 countries: Egypt, China, North Korea, India, and Nigeria.

Kids learn that Kids of Courage: Trust God, Get Prepared (by learning about how Christians in other countries and in the Bible faced difficulties), Forgive Others, Witness Boldly, and Remember Persecuted Christians. They learn that they, too, can be Kids of Courage.

Read below what the curriculum says about trusting God.

If you trust someone, you know what they say is true. How can we find out what God says? We can read the Bible! In the Bible, God says that those who follow his Son Jesus will have trouble sometimes. But he promises to always be with us, in good times and bad. Kids of Courage believe what God says in the Bible and trust him to be there when they need him and when others need him.

Kids of Courage trust God even when they don’t always understand why God allows certain things to happen in their lives or in the lives of others. The Bible says, “Lean not on your own understanding,” which means we can’t always trust our own understanding of situations, though we can trust God.

To Think About: If we are sick, hurt, or having problems, does that mean we can’t trust God to help us? If everything is going right, does that mean we don’t need to trust God because we can handle things ourselves?

(The official VBS website has more information, samples of the curriculum, and feedback from VBS directors.)


Action Pack Blessing

Sudan
Sudanese children

A previous post told the story of a woman in Sudan who received an Action Pack sponsored by readers of this website and The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter.

The testimony below is from another Sudanese Christian who was blessed by one of the Action Packs.

“I am a Christian woman, age 31. I am a single mother with three daughters, and I take care of four of my brother’s children. He died during attacks on our village in 2011.

“I am partly paralyzed and deaf. I cannot hear well unless the person talking is near me. But I still go to church because I believe in God.

“The reason I am in a refugee camp now is because the daily bombings in our area were causing hunger, sickness, and fear. I decided to leave and seek refuge.

“We found a person with a car who helped us get to the camp. As new refugees, we faced a lot of challenges. We had no home to stay in. We were given food, plastic sheeting, and land by the authorities in the camp. We made a small shelter where I settled with my kids.

“I am glad because I received an Action Pack from the church. It had sandals, towels, bed sheets, notebooks, pens, and clothes. When I saw all the things, I cried — not because I was annoyed, but because I did not know that there are people praying and remembering us. I thought we were rejected by the whole world.

“In the pack were things that my children are now using to cover themselves from the cold. They are using the notebooks and pens in school.

“I don’t know how to express my happiness to the people in the U.S. for the gift that has changed the life of my family in many ways.

“I pray for our friends in the U.S. and the entire world that God may be with you, bless you, and guide you with whatever you do. Also remember us and pray for peace so that we can go back to our homes.”

Visit the post Sudan Action Packs, Part 2 to watch a video about two children who received an Action Pack.

(Some of the quotes and stories on this website have been edited and paraphrased from the original sources for clarity.)


“I Never Heard Anything Like This”

South Sudan
This family, along with thousands of others, lives among the rocks of the Nuba Mountains to escape daily bombings by the military.

After years of fighting in Sudan, the southern part of the country became a new nation in 2011. The new country was called South Sudan, and it was independent from Sudan.

But the fighting has not stopped.

Christians are driven from their homes in the Nuba Mountain region. They flee with little more than the clothes on their backs. Many families walk for days to reach refugee camps in South Sudan.

Readers of the website and The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter have sponsored Action Packs to help the Christians. VOM received a message from one of the women who received a pack. You can read her message below.

“I am 27 years old, a widow with five children: three boys and two girls. The oldest is 10 years old, and the youngest is 18 months old. I am a Christian believer.

“When bombing started in our area, I had a newborn baby who was 7 days old. I was sitting in our house with my kids and my mother. I came out of the house. I wanted to run and hide, but I was shot in my leg and fell down.

“After the bombing stopped, I was taken to the hospital where I spent more than two months. I lost my leg because it was badly injured.

“When I went home, I found my mother and children suffering from hunger and daily bombings. They could not do farming like we used to do when there was peace. We decided to go to a refugee camp.

“[My family found help at the camp]. Then a Christian gave us a home in the camp. But life became difficult to me. I was not the same as when I had two legs. I couldn’t walk to my neighbor’s or do any activities like other people.

“With all that has happened, I still trust God. Last month I was sitting in my house, and someone brought me an Action Pack from the church. He said, “It is a gift from our Christian brothers and sisters in the U.S. who are praying for us.

“This really touched my heart. I never heard anything like this in my life. In the pack I found shoes, clothes for the kids, towels, soap, a bed sheet, and many other items. I used the towels and the sheet to cover my children because they had nothing. I gave one slipper to my mother and the other one to myself. Although I have one leg, I am using it.

“I thank God for the gift that He provided us through VOM. I pray that God be with you and provide to you more abundantly as you continue the good work of supporting the needy in the camp.”


Painted Prayer Map

USAThe VOM prayer map painted on cloth for the VBS

The VOM Prayer Map is part of The Voice of the Martyrs Special Issue newsletter. The map labels “restricted,” “hostile,” and “monitored” nations in different colors to indicate the level of the persecution of Christians in the countries.

A previous post told about a VBS held in Pennsylvania. A volunteer, Marianne, painted a very large VOM Prayer Map on cloth to help the children understand more about countries where Christians are persecuted.

Marianne described how she and her 14-year-old daughter made the map for others who may also want to make one. Read her description below.

“It was one of those projects that God had His hand in because I am not that crafty!

“I traced the map provided by VOM onto transparency plastic.

“Using an overhead projector, I projected it onto the large paint canvas. This was done in two halves because the canvas was large. It was difficult to line up the two halves so my daughter prayed at that point!

“Now having a bunch of lines on the canvas and being not so geographically gifted, my daughter prayed again!

“Using markers, I started outlining and labeling.

“I started with markers and crayon. Then using a map key for color coding as in [the VOM] map (for restricted areas, etc.), I added color with acrylic paint.

“For the surrounding bodies of water, I used a sponge and watercolor paint dabbing it onto the canvas.

“My daughter and I looked at each other knowing that God is good and we can do all things if it’s for His glory!”

For information about VOM’s Kids of Courage VBS curriculum, visit www.kidsofcouragevbs.com.