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Leaving Everything Behind: Anthony

Iraqi refugee child

Many Christians have been driven from their homes and cities in Iraq by fighters who belong to ISIS, a group of radical Muslims. Christian families have to leave behind most of their belongings and everything that is familiar to them.

Workers from The Voice of the Martyrs visit Christians who have moved to Jordan to escape the fighting. VOM helps the children go to a Christian school.

Five-year-old Anthony told a Christian adult what his life was like in Iraq and Jordan.

“In Iraq, I lived with my parents and brothers and sisters,” Anthony began. “I remember the toys, the football [soccer], and my swing. I didn’t go to school there. I was only 3.

“The enemy came to Iraq — they came to our door one time. They wanted to kill my dad because they knew he was a Christian. After that my family went to another house. We stayed inside for nine days in one room. My sister kept me covered with a blanket and gave me food. My mother told her to make sure I wasn’t scared.

“Then my dad decided we would come to Jordan. We all left together and came by plane. I brought toys.

“I feel very good here in Jordan. I like school and I never want to be absent. I like reading stories.

“I have Iraqi kids as friends — no Jordanian friends. My family doesn’t trust the Muslims in Iraq or Jordan.”

(To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this website and some identifying details have been changed. Some of the quotes and stories have been edited and paraphrased from the original sources for clarity.)

To Talk About
In your opinion, what is the hardest thing Anthony has had to deal with? Can you pray today for children who are going through the same struggles that Anthony told about?

“God Uses Everything”

Mission Aviation Fellowship helps missionaries share the love of Jesus in hard-to-reach areas. MAF pilots transport people into and out of faraway places. They bring them groceries and supplies. Sometimes they take sick people to doctors.

Do you think the pilots ever wonder if running errands for missionaries truly helps to spread the good news of Jesus? Recently a pilot from MAF visited The Voice of the Martyrs headquarters. He told about taking soap to missionaries, and about how God used the soap to teach tribal people in Indonesia about Jesus.

The tribal people covered themselves in pig fat to stay warm on cold days and nights. They kept a fire going in their homes. Soot from the fires stuck to their bodies. Without soap, they could never get completely clean.

A missionary asked MAF to bring him soap, which he used to pay the tribal people who had helped him build an airstrip where planes could land. The people bathed in the river with the soap. “We’ve never been so clean!” they exclaimed.

The missionary answered, “Tonight we can talk about how to be clean on the inside.” And he taught them how Jesus cleanses people from sin like the soap cleaned the pig fat and soot from their skin.

The soap helped the tribal people understand God’s love, and they spread the news to other groups in the area.

“We think some things are not important,” the MAF pilot told VOM workers. “But God uses everything!”

To Try
Soak a cotton ball in cooking oil. Cover your thumb or fingers with oil from the cotton ball. Run water over your thumb or fingers. Did the oil come off? Now try using soap. Did that work better?

A Verse to Learn
1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Changing Hearts Through Humble Service

Afghan girl with a children’s Bible

John Weaver, an American Christian who has worked in Afghanistan, recently talked with Todd Nettleton at about his time serving in Afghanistan. “Afghanistan is a big country,” John said. “It is the size of Texas, and there is no Christian church there at all…zero, absolutely zero….But there are people there that are hungry [for the truth].”

Some Afghans are turning to Christ, but there is often a price to pay for becoming a Christian in Afghanistan. Sometimes new believers are imprisoned for their faith.

John told the story of two Afghan Christian brothers who were put in prison because of their faith. Members of the Taliban were in the same prison.

[The Taliban is a group of radical Muslims in Afghanistan. Taliban means “students” in Arabic. Members of the group think that women should not go to school, and men should grow beards. They do not like TV, music, games, or some sports. Taliban radicals believe in harsh punishment for Muslims who become Christians.]

The Christian brothers began sharing their faith with the people in the prison. John said, “One of the Taliban soldiers had his legs blown off from the war. [One of the Christians] would pick him up and take him every day to use the little latrine, which was not a nice place. The Christian told us, ‘God was with us every day. It began to soften the hearts of these ruthless Taliban guys. They saw we were in prison but we had done nothing wrong — we were followers of Jesus. And here we were serving the ones who would love to kill us.’”

To Talk About
The Taliban soldiers’ hearts began to change after someone humbly served them. Read Luke 22:26-27. What did Jesus say about serving others?

You may not be able to show kindness to someone in Afghanistan, but you can practice serving others humbly at home or at school. What act of service can you do today?

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

Sunday School Around the World: The Khmu

The Khmu are a tribe of people who live mostly in Southeast Asia. Many Khmu are animists, or spirit worshipers. They do not love the spirits they worship; instead, they fear them. Spirit worshipers try to do things to please the spirits so they won’t have “bad luck.”

Read in the update below about how one Khmu family came to Christ.

A previous post told about Hmong families who were kicked out of their village for their faith in Christ. A report from VOM’s tells what happened next.

Four Hmong Christian families in Laos who were driven from their village because of their faith continued to share Jesus even while camping in a rice field. In early February, village authorities confronted the Christians, insisting that they renounce their Christian faith. When the families refused, they were expelled from the village.

The group of about 28 men, women and children ended up camping in a rice field, where they were soon visited by a curious Khmu family from a neighboring village. The Hmong Christians eagerly told the Khmu family about the great creator God who is all-powerful over the spirits and who sent his Son for them. The Khmu family came to faith in Christ, even inviting a VOM partner to visit their village and share more about Jesus. Recently, government officials visited the Hmong families and later told local authorities that the families have a right to believe whatever they wish. Pray that these believers will be allowed back into their village.

More Khmu are hearing about Jesus’ love for them and they are coming to Christ, too! The photo above shows Khmu Sunday school children learning more about God. The teacher’s face is hidden to protect her identity from people who do not want tribal groups in Asia to become Christians.

The Cranky Neighbor and the Chief of Police

In some countries where followers of Jesus are persecuted, Christians often worship in house churches. They gather to pray, sing, and learn in the home of a member or a pastor instead of in a church building.

Neighbors who are not Christians sometimes try to give house-church Christians a hard time. They may interrupt or disturb their worship services. In one town in a country where The Voice of the Martyrs works, a neighbor complained to the police that the house-church Christians were singing too loud.

The chief of police called the pastor of the house church and told him to come to the police station for questioning. “We have had a complaint that your meetings are too loud,” the officer told the pastor at the station.

“Maybe the complaint is not true,” the pastor said. “Why don’t you visit us and find out?”

The policeman agreed, and he came to a house church service. He heard the singing and praying, and he listened to the teaching. And he became a Christian, too!

The chief of police was so happy to be a follower of Jesus that he wanted to share his faith with others. So he went to the pastor’s neighbor’s house and invited him to church. The neighbor visited the house church, decided to follow Jesus, and repented before the church for his complaints to the police.

(Source: Vision Beyond Borders)

To Talk About
What do you think of the pastor’s decision to invite the chief of police to church? What if the chief had been angry instead of visiting the church? He could have caused many problems for the Christians. Should the pastor have risked his safety to witness to him?

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