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Coronavirus Concerns in Africa

[Photo: African girl reading a children’s Bible]

Brother Jeremy is The Voice of the Martyrs’ deputy regional director for Africa. VOM’s Todd Nettleton recently interviewed Jeremy on VOM Radio. Jeremy talked about Christian work in Africa during coronavirus concerns. Read part of their interview below.

Todd: Right now, the overwhelming concern seems like in the whole world is coronavirus….How is that affecting the ability to really get out and see the people we work for around the world?

Jeremy: Well, for Africa right now most of the borders are closed, so it is difficult at this time. One of the things which is really core to who VOM is as a ministry, which is an encouragement to me, is they will say don’t take any unnecessary risks, but take every necessary risk. Meaning that despite the inconveniences, despite even potential sacrifices of getting to these places, if our brothers and sisters in Christ are being persecuted, to serve the local church we will take those risks to be there with them. We will get back as soon as we possibly can.

Todd: I got a picture this week of one of our local staff in Nigeria with a mask on to protect against the virus, but still out delivering aid to Christians who had just been the victims of an attack and encouraging them, praying with them, delivering help to them with a mask on in the midst of the virus. So as you say, our work certainly goes on.

Jeremy: There has been a countrywide lockdown which has resulted in roads between states being closed. People are being required to stay in their homes most days of the week. But yet, that hasn’t stopped the militants from continuing to attack villages, predominately Christian villages throughout the North. You could say the virus has made the people more vulnerable in the sense they have had to stay indoors. In many ways they are sitting ducks. The militants come in, often times late at night….attacking homes, burning down homes, and targeting churches…

Todd: How can our listeners pray?

Jeremy: One thing we can be in prayer for are our teams in Nigeria. With COVID, of course, there are unique challenges in how to respond to the situations that are taking place. But their commitment is incredible. It is incredible for the communities they are serving in. They are still distributing relief. They are taking every opportunity they possibly can to serve the church, to minister to those in need….

But our teams are not only providing for their physical well-being but their spiritual care, their emotional care. So our teams continue to see them and to encourage them. Pray that our teammates would have wisdom in how to speak into their lives and to encourage them in the Word and support them.

(Source: VOM Radio. Edited for length, clarity, and age-appropriateness.)

Who Works at VOM?

Martyrs’ wall at VOM headquarters

The Voice of the Martyrs’ workers visit Christians in other countries to empower, equip, and encourage them, bringing Christ’s hope through Bibles, medicine, shelter, training, and aid.

The following is part of an interview by Todd Nettleton of  with Jonathan Ekman, The Voice of the Martyrs’ Vice-President of International Ministries. (Edited for length and clarity.)

Todd: One of the questions I get asked sometimes is, “How can I come and work for The Voice of the Martyrs?” How would you advise someone who wants to work for VOM?

Jonathan: Our staff is about 65 people — 25 nationalities based in 24 countries. I often say we are never your first job in missions; we are usually your last. Our workers have 10 to 20 years’ experience in the field.

I would say if you’re a young person and you think God is calling you to this, go to YWAM or Operation Mobilization, or your denomination’s mission sending agency. Pour out your life on the field for the sake of the kingdom to see people come to Christ from every nation, tribe, and tongue.

Todd: I think we hired somebody this year who speaks five languages. Am I right about that?

Jonathan: Four. We told him to work on the fifth. A lot of our workers are responsible for multiple countries. They may not speak the language of every country, but they are certainly cross-cultural communicators. They are definitely people who are prepared for that.

It’s a very challenging job, but for the right people, it’s a dream job to be able to go and sit at a table with a “rock star” of the kingdom and to be able to impact their work.

Todd: They make some pretty significant sacrifices to do that work.

Jonathan: Sure, it’s a sacrifice. Our workers will spend 80 to 100 days a year in the field, and these are not easy places to travel. But at the same time, it’s also a tremendous joy. So we don’t talk much about sacrifice, especially because of the people we work with. Compared to the people we meet, we are not sacrificing anything.

To read more thoughts from VOM workers, go to the “Ask a VOM Worker” section of the archives.

Ask a VOM Worker: The Most Valuable Thing

Question: What is your most valuable possession?
A worker from The Voice of the Martyrs’ International Ministries department shares his thoughts below.

Bibles are the most valuable thing on the planet. I don’t know if you know this, but if you look at your possessions around your home, your most valuable possession is your Bible. A lot of times we get confused and think, “It’s my car,” or “It’s my house” — those kinds of things.

No, it is the very Word of God that He has given to us. It is a prized possession. There are millions of people around our world, millions of Christians, who would give anything to have one of them.

The Voice of the Martyrs distributes more than 1 million Bibles a year — all in hostile or restricted-access countries. This includes buying them and shipping them, printing them secretly, or smuggling them from one country to another.

It’s kind of fun. It’s exciting to see people receive the Word of God for the first time.

These are the most exciting days to be alive in the history of the church. What we are seeing around the world is a gospel wildfire. We are seeing the gospel go forward like never before in the history of the church.

There is nothing that says you have to live in Africa, or China, or the Middle East to experience the gospel wildfire. I really believe the Lord would love to send the gospel wildfire to Oklahoma or South Carolina or wherever you happen to be from.

To Talk About
•    Why does the VOM worker say these are the most exciting days to be alive in the history of the church?
•    What do you think he means by a “gospel wildfire?”
•    In what ways might you participate in a gospel wildfire in your community?

Ask a VOM Worker: The Church in America

Question: What do you think about the church in America today?

VOM Worker: I’m excited about what is happening in the church in America right now.

The whole time that I have been alive, the church has been like the world in many ways. If the world has movies, we have Christian movies. If the world has rock music, we have rock music. If the world has yoga, we have Christian yoga, or whatever the latest thing is. The church is just another option, just a cleaner option of the world.

There is a big change coming to America, and Christianity is no longer just, “We are nicer than they are.” There is going to be a big difference between the church and we can proclaim it with boldness.

The church is becoming different from the world. God is spreading the Word, and the gospel is expanding through persecution. The places in the world where the church is growing fastest are the places where there is some of the worst persecution.

So if persecution comes to America, praise the King! Because that means the church is going to grow, right?

How do we get involved? We make prayer a priority. We become people of prayer. And we decide now to take our stand on the gospel, no matter what the world says to us.

(Source: Edited from the original for clarity and length.)

To Talk About
•    What are some Christian beliefs that are not accepted by non-Christians? (Find some ideas in the Beliefs section of this site.)
•    Where does the VOM worker say the church grows the fastest?
•    In what ways does he say Christians should become involved?

Ask a VOM Worker: Working at VOM


JoAnn has traveled overseas for The Voice of the Martyrs to encourage persecuted Christians. She also serves God through her work at VOM headquarters.

Read what JoAnn said about her life and work.

Question: What are some of the tasks you have done for VOM?

JoAnn: I was the assistant to the executive director, and I was the travel coordinator, making travel arrangements for our international travelers. I coordinate regional conferences and equip and train volunteers who are getting the voice of persecuted Christians to our nation.

Question: As you were growing up, how did God prepare you to serve Him as an adult?

JoAnn: I was kind of sheltered as a child. But I was raised in a Christian family and learned some basics of the faith. I was not prepared until I was an adult.

Question: What have you learned from persecuted Christians?

JoAnn: That my life is not so bad! It gives me some real perspective when I get whiny. I look at what’s going on overseas, and I think I’m a spoiled brat.

Then the question comes, “Would I be able to do that [to suffer as Christians do in some places]?” I hope so. But I don’t think that’s a question you can answer until you’re in it.

Question: What’s the best part of working at VOM?

JoAnn: Knowing and feeling that you’re part of working in God’s kingdom and that what you do every day makes a difference for people.