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Is Suffering Good or Bad?

The following Chinese legend illustrates how events that seem “bad” or “good” might not turn out that way.

One day, a poor farmer’s horse got loose and ran into the hills near the farm. The farmer depended on the horse to do work. His family and neighbors said, “Oh, that’s so sad. What a terrible thing to happen!” The next week the horse came home, leading a herd of wild horses to the farm. Instead of one horse, the farmer now had many!

The farmer’s son began to train the wild horses to do farm work. But while he was taming them, he broke his leg. He could no longer help his father with the work. “What a terrible thing to happen!” everyone said.

A few days later, the army came and took away every healthy male youth to fight with them. The farmer’s son was not allowed to go because of his broken leg. He was able to help his father on the farm when he healed.

Read the story of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis. Can you think of a time when something that seemed bad or good turned out to be the opposite?

Cuba: House Church Stands Firm


Have you ever attended a lock-in with a church group? If so, did you play games, watch movies, and have devotions. Would you like your church to have a lock-in every night?

A church in Cuba had something like a lock-in for several days in a row. The church met in a garage that was donated to church members. They had been meeting in the building for eight years, but the government began pressuring them to close the church.

When the Christians continued meeting, government workers came to destroy the small building. But they stopped when they saw that church members were inside. Since the authorities wouldn’t tear down the building when people were there, church members decided to stay in the church day and night to prevent the destruction of their meeting place.

To Think About
What would you do if you and your friends at church had to stay in a small building for more than a week? How would you stay strong and not get discouraged?

Note: The church’s situation was resolved and the members continue to meet together. Praise God for the faithful Christians.

Ethiopia: After the Attack

In some parts of Ethiopia, Muslims hold their nose when a Christian passes by. Even a Muslim police officer in one town called Christianity a “stinky religion.”

But, praise God, Christianity is spreading in some Muslim towns in Ethiopia! In recent years, angry Muslims in these areas have attacked Christians to try to keep the good news of Jesus from reaching more people. More than 200 homes and churches, and a Christian school, have been attacked. The Christians’ possessions, crops, and animals were destroyed.

“The most amazing part of the story is what happened because of these attacks,” said a worker from The Voice of the Martyrs who visited one of the towns where Christians’ homes were ruined. “Church members gathered around every house that was being rebuilt and sang songs of praise to the Lord.”

The worker continued, “They purposely painted all the rebuilt houses bright pink. One church leader said they painted them pink so ‘we would serve as a light in the community and a testament to the power of the Lord.’”

Muslims who saw the attitude of the Christians began to approach the Christians to ask how they could become followers of Christ! Churches in the area grew. At one church, there is now standing room only on Sunday mornings, and many more people listen from outside the building. Before the attack, the church had about 300 members. Now it has 600.

“The Muslims thought we were weak,” said one Christian. “But now they see that we are strong and have a great God.”

“We see that God has done great things for us,” said another Christian. “Before, we might have been afraid to tell others about Jesus, but now we are not afraid to share. We run with the gospel.”

To Talk About
*How would you react if someone said you follow “a stinky religion?”

*Why did the Christians paint their houses bright pink?

*Why did some of the Muslims ask how they could become followers of Christ?

*Think of a situation where your response or attitude could lead someone to want to know more about following Jesus.

9/11 and Terrorists

On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked two locations in the United States. The 19 terrorists hijacked four planes full of passengers and crashed two of them into New York’s World Trade Center on purpose. (The NASA photo above shows the smoke plume rising from the attack on the World Trade Center.) Many died when the World Trade Center buildings collapsed.

The terrorists crashed a third plane into the Pentagon, which is the headquarters of the U.S. military in Washington, D.C. A fourth hijacked plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers tried to stop the hijackers.

The terrorists believed they were following the teachings of strict Islam. Find a chart that compares terrorists’ beliefs with Christian responses here.

Find another chart about terrorist beliefs here.

[Additional charts comparing Christian truths with other worldviews are in the Beliefs section of this site.]

To Think About: The terrorists believed they were following the teachings of strict Islam. Terrorists try to make changes in the world by using violence and threats. But Mark 8:36 says, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” What mistake are terrorists making when they use violence against innocent people to try to bring about change?

Note: Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs, said that having bad feelings about Muslims “is wrong and a danger to our souls.” He said when radical Muslims hurt Christians, “they will not succeed in making us hate them.” Their persecution will just make us want to do more to bring them the Christian message. If they understand what Jesus taught, they will no longer want to persecute others.

Do you agree with what Pastor Wurmbrand said about Christians’ attitudes toward Muslims?

Sudan: Pastor Morris

Pastor Morris

Recently, Todd Nettleton of interviewed Brad Phillips, a Christian worker in Sudan. Brad ministers among the people of the Nuba Mountains where Christians and others are often bombed and attacked by enemies. Many ministries have left the dangerous region, but The Voice of the Martyrs is still there, providing health care and encouragement to the people.

Brad told the following story about Pastor Morris, a Christian leader in the area.

Morris, as a Christian leader, has a lot of people who love him, and he has a lot of people who are jealous of him and hate him. He had a lot of problems with one of his neighbors, who is a Muslim.

Morris has seven children. One day he came home and found out that his 18-year-old daughter had been attacked by the neighbor’s son. She was bleeding and bruised.

The neighbor and his son were taken to court and found guilty of assault. Nobody has any money there, but the judge ordered the neighbor to pay a fine. The fine would be about $20 in U.S. money, but to those people, it might as well have been $20,000. If he didn’t pay, he would go to jail until somehow the fine was paid, which might be a long time.

Morris did not delight in the judgement against his neighbor. [See Proverbs 24:17.] Instead, he saw an opportunity to spread the gospel. He talked to his daughter and said, “We have this opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ. I can pay that fine if you will let me.” His daughter agreed, and they paid the fine.
(Source: Edited for length and clarity.)