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What Can You Do?

Wat moet je doen als iemand gevangen zit?
[What should you do if someone is imprisoned?]

In 2015, Petr Jasek was arrested in Sudan because of his work for The Voice of the Martyrs with persecuted Christians. You can read stories about Petr here and here.

Stef, the children’s publication of SDOK, interviewed Petr. (SDOK, located in the Netherlands, is part of The Voice of the Martyrs family of missions.) You can find the interview here.

The interviewer is speaking in Dutch, the language of the Netherlands. Petr tells his story in English. The story reminds us to pray for Christians who are in prison for their faith. You can find prisoners to pray for at prisoneralert.com.


Pakistan: Punished for Following Jesus

Pakistan

In many public schools in Pakistan, most of the students are Muslim. Christians in these schools are often forced to eat at separate tables. At one school, a Muslim teacher forced a Christian girl to stand in the hot sun until she fainted. The girl was being punished for wearing a cross necklace to school.

Christian parents can send their children to private Christian schools if they want to. But Christians who are poor are not able to pay for private schools.

Sobia, a teenager in Pakistan, told the following story to friends from The Voice of the Martyrs.

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Ebrahim: Wise Words from Exile

(Source: VOM Radio. Edited and condensed for length and clarity)

Photo: Interviewing Ebrahim

Internal Exile: Being forced to move from one’s home or community to another place, usually far away from main centers of population.

Ebrahim Firouzi spent seven years in prison in Iran. Most people in Iran are Muslims, but Ebrahim became a follower of Christ after he heard the Good News of Jesus on the Internet.

“What I did was a crime under Islamic law, and you have to pay,” said Ebrahim. “But let me tell you what I actually did, which was basically my involvement with Christian groups, Christian activity, and fellowship.” (Islam is the religion of Muslims.) After Ebrahim got out of prison, the government sent him into internal exile in Iran. Christians who have been through struggles often have words of wisdom that can help others grow in their faith. Read below some of his inspiring words.

A Choice
Ebrahim had a choice about going to prison. “At one of my court appearances, the judge told me they would free me if I would renounce my faith and convince other [Christians] to renounce their faith,” Ebrahim said. “I never responded to these offers, never argued or compromised in any way. By God’s grace, I endured a few years in prison in exchange for eternity with Him.”

“We can never have anything bigger or more valuable than God Himself and His wonderful presence with us at all times,” Ebrahim continued. “In that sense, I have to say it was absolutely worth it.”

Open to the Truth
“If [the government’s] intention for imprisoning us was to discourage us from sharing the message of the gospel with others, it worked quite the opposite,” said Ebrahim. “Once you are in prison, you realize the value of freedom from bondage even more. Everyone is more open to receive the Good News. I always showed love and grace to others, never projecting any superiority. That is why I never had any bad experiences and was never abused by anyone.”

Living in Exile
Ebrahim described his daily life in exile. “Most days I have to report to local police here. Then I start my day afterwards with resting, preparing meals and most importantly, catching up with reading many new Christian books, seeking God and spending as much time as I can pursuing Him.”

While in exile, Ebrahim now lives very close to the border of a neighboring country. It would not be difficult for him to cross the border and escape his captivity. But he doesn’t do that.

“I was not looking to escape the will of God for my life,” Ebrahim said. “I always believed I must stay and bring change through the gospel and sharing the Good News with my people. God chooses everyone according to His will and has a unique plan and purpose for each one.’

Grace and Strength
“I would like to emphasize that I don’t want people to get discouraged by hearing stories of people like myself being in prison,” said Ebrahim. “But instead, I want them to emphasize on the fact that God is with the church in Iran and gives grace and strength to believers to endure difficult times.”

To Talk About
*What did Ebrahim mean when he said, “By God’s grace, I endured a few years in prison in exchange for eternity with Him”?

*Why do you think people in prison may be more open to hearing the gospel?

*Why does Ebrahim not sneak out of Iran?


Mauritania: Not Easy for Christians to Get Married

Mauritania

Ethan and Kalila loved each other and wanted to get married, have children, and teach their children about Jesus. But their parents did not want them to marry each other. Their families went to extremes to keep them apart.

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Tea Parties in Mauritania

[Photo: A Christian in the desert in Mauritania]

A small group of men sit on a mat outside. Someone heats ingredients for mint tea on a small burner. The tea is poured into small glasses from high above the glasses, but nothing is spilled. Pouring the tea in that way makes it foamy and frothy. According to Mauritanian custom, the tea is poured from glass to glass before it is served in three rounds. The glasses are washed after each round. Preparing and drinking the tea can take an hour or longer.

Mauritanians drink tea every day. No one thinks it is strange to see a group of men or women having tea together. But this group is unusual. Someone listening closely might notice that they are not talking about the weather or their jobs. They are praying and talking softly about Jesus.

Pastor Adam has tea with his Christian friends as often as three times a week. Their “tea parties” are secret Christian meetings. Anyone passing by thinks they are just drinking tea. Other Christians hike across miles of hot sand to worship in secret in the Mauritanian desert

Pastor Adam and his friends sometimes notice people following them. They know that Muslims and government officials are watching what they do. In Mauritania it is against the law to bring a Muslim to Christ. Christians are not allowed to publish or hand out Bibles. Muslims and government officials want to make sure Christians are not spreading the gospel. But Pastor Adam and other Christians in Mauritania want to make sure they are following the Bible’s commands to make disciples for Jesus. (See Matthew 28:19)

From the Kids of Courage archives.

Find more information about Mauritania here and in VOM’s Global Prayer Guide.