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Have you wondered how you can introduce the topic of persecution to children in age-appropriate ways without overwhelming them? Are there ways to teach them about the joys and victories of abiding in Christ under all circumstances?

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*Activities to reinforce kids’ knowledge of Christians around the world.
*Prayer points and guidance.
*Links to related VOM stories and information.
*Facts about the religion, geography, and culture of countries where Christians are persecuted.
*Examples of how other readers are using VOM resources with kids.

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“It’s Not Over Until It’s Over”

(Source: VOM Radio. Condensed and edited.)

The previous post told about Gracia and Martin Burnham who were kidnapped and held captive by Muslim radicals in the jungles of the Philippines. The jungle had no beds, bathrooms, stores, or air conditioning.

The captors made fun of the Burnhams, didn’t provide them with enough food, and often made their lives miserable. Sadly, after about a year, Martin died in a gun battle between soldiers from the Philippine military and the kidnappers.

Gracia could have been angry with the kidnappers. She did have trouble forgiving them during her captivity. Over time, God helped her become more forgiving.

But she has done more than forgiving the kidnappers. Some of them are still in prison for their crimes. Read below what Gracia told VOM Radio’s host, Todd Nettleton, about trying to reach the kidnappers with the Good News of Jesus.

“Through a series of events, I found out there was an American couple working in a maximum security prison in Manila with some of the very men who held us captive,” Gracia said on VOM Radio. “So I started asking them who is there, maybe I know them.

“Probably about 23 of them are in maximum security and this couple works with them and with other people, of course, in the prison. Every other summer we get together and we plan projects that we can do for these men in the prison, and ways to show the love of Christ to them. Some of them are going to Bible studies and asking for the Scriptures in their own dialect.

“Word is that so far four of them have come to know the Lord Jesus as their Savior. You know, it is not over until it is over. We just keep praying and I don’t know, if the listening audience thinks about me every once in a while, pray for those guys in prison.

“Their day of grace isn’t over. They have today, and that is what Martin used to tell me when I would say,’Why is this going on for so long? Why are we still here in the presence of our enemies?’ Martin would say, ‘You know, I think God is giving these guys one more day of grace. One more day to do it right, to turn to Him. To hear the gospel and maybe that is what our job is right here. Their day of grace isn’t over and I just have to hope and think that I am going to see some of them in heaven one day and it is not going to matter what happens here on earth. God is going to get the victory and I am just praying they are with me in heaven.’”

To Talk About
What is Gracia’s prayer request for the kidnappers in prison? Will you pray for them today?


“I Don’t Think God Loves Me”

(Source: VOM Radio. Condensed and edited.)

Almost 20 years ago, missionary pilot Martin Burnham died in a gun battle. The battle was between men who had kidnapped him, and soldiers who were trying to rescue him and his wife, Gracia, and other hostages.

Before Martin died, the kidnappers had forced Gracia and Martin to live with them in harsh conditions in the jungles of the Philippines. Friends and relatives in the United States took care of their children Mindy, Zach, and Jeff. Gracia struggled to forgive their captors, but it was very difficult. Read about her struggle here.

During their captivity, Gracia also worried that God might not love her anymore. In a recent interview on VOM Radio, she told host Todd Nettleton how God, the Bible, and Martin helped her understand God’s love.

“There were days when I thought God had forgotten us,” Gracia told Todd. “There was one day about 10 weeks into our captivity, I decided God didn’t love me anymore. Because if God loved me I wouldn’t still be here, because we had been begging Him to get us out of there. That led to depression and being hard to get along with and crying all the time.

“I was sitting by the river one day, and Martin came and sat down and said, ‘Gracia, it is so sad to see you giving up your faith.’ I said, ‘Oh, I’m not giving up my faith. I still believe that God made everything and Jesus died for our sins. I just don’t think God loves me.’ Martin very gently, as always, said, ‘Oh it seems to me that you believe it all, or you don’t believe it all. You need to decide what you believe.’

“I sat there and thought, okay, Scripture tells me that God loves me, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; with lovingkindness I have drawn you to myself’ [Jeremiah 31:3]. I started thinking all those verses about love, and I thought, okay, maybe I am not feeling it right now, it is not working for me, but God’s Word says that He loves me. I am going to take God’s Word for what it is, and I am going to believe it. I am going to hang on to it with everything I’ve got, because I am in a bad place and I can’t help myself. I may as well let God do it, right? I looked up and sought the Lord and came to know Him in a whole new way.”

To Do
Memorize three Bible verses (or parts of the verses) about God’s love. Here are some suggestions.

*Jeremiah 31:3
*1 John 4:8
*Psalm 36:7
*John 3:16
*Romans 5:8
*Psalm 86:15


Guarding Our Spiritual Health

(Source: Cole Richards, the president of The Voice of the Martyrs, in the March 2021 The Voice of the Martyrs magazine. Edited for length and age-appropriateness. Photo: Sharing the gospel. The Christian’s face is covered to protect his identity.)

Mr. Richards’ Comments
Muslim violence against Christians in Nigeria continues, and is increasing in many other African countries.

The Bible teaches that there is righteous anger. But sinful anger makes our souls sick. When we are angry about the wickedness of those who attack Christians, we must work to guard our spiritual health.

For almost 20 years, since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, I have spent nearly every day responding to the violence of Muslim attackers. I have done so in the service of our country as a military officer, and in the service of the Lord and persecuted Christians with VOM.

All glory belongs to God alone, and it is a sin for anyone to try to steal it. (See Acts 12:23.) In the same way, God reserves vengeance for Himself. [Vengeance is punishment for harming or offending someone.] God says, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay” (Hebrews 10:30). It is a matter of our faith — our trust and confidence in God — that we rest in His promise.

We must never allow anger to turn to hatred. We must love our enemies and work to see them reached with the gospel’s truth (Matthew 5:44).

In VOM stories, you can meet persecuted Christians who have suffered from attacks by terrorists. Yet they have found that God’s grace gives them power to forgive their enemies and reach out to them with God’s love. I pray that each of us will be able to do likewise, inspired by their examples.


Learning to Be Disciples

Every morning at 4:45, Daniel and his wife, Victoria, wake up in Nigeria and prepare for another day of training new disciples. Their students are Christian youth who grew up as Muslims. Daniel and Victoria help them become strong disciples for Christ, ready to share the gospel with others. (See two of the students in the photo.)

Read below how the students spend their days.

*Every day starts with group worship and Bible study.

*In morning classes, they learn about health, good character, worldview, and lifestyle. They learn “how a disciple of Jesus Christ should live and behave, react with others, and relate,” said Daniel.

*Afternoon classes focus on literacy and memorizing Bible verses and passages. (“Literacy” is the ability to read or write.) Some of the students never learned to read. As Muslims, they learned only how to memorize the Quran, the Muslim holy book, without reading it.

*The day ends with prayer and devotions at 7:00, except on Fridays, when classes end at 11 a.m. During the rest of the day on Fridays, the students fast together to prepare for an all-night prayer meeting. Friday is the Muslim holy day. The students pray that the Holy Spirit will touch the heart of someone praying in a mosque that day. (Mosques are buildings where Muslims worship.)

(Source: The March 2021 The Voice of the Martyrs magazine.)

To Talk About
*What are some of the activities the students do to help them grow as Christians?
*What do you do to help you become a mature believer?