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By Elise Wixtrom

An emperor in ancient Rome liked conquering very much, and he was fond of meddling in foreign wars. But he didn’t have enough soldiers to fight all these wars. The shortage of soldiers irritated him. So the emperor of that time outlawed marriage for people of a certain age range. He hoped to encourage young men to enter the military to pass the time before they could marry their sweethearts.

The emperor’s law caused a huge problem for Christian men and women of the time. The Christian men did not want to enter the Roman military. They wanted to be able to get married and have children, families, and lives. But no one would officiate at their weddings, because they didn’t want to break the harsh laws that governed Rome at the time.

Then Valentine, a young pastor, came into the scene. In violation of the law, Valentine began to join young Christian couples in marriage. Valentine eventually was martyred for breaking the laws of Rome, but he displayed great courage with his defiance.

Sources include Valentine: God’s Courageous Evangelist, one of the books in the Courageous Series, available at
Enter “Valentine” in the Search box to learn more about why we celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Ukraine in the Past and a Quiz

A church in Ukraine built in the 1700s

Before the U.S.S.R. split into smaller countries (see the previous post), many Ukrainians worshiped God secretly in hidden churches. The Christians knew they could be imprisoned for their faith.

Some of them left their homes and moved to countries that were safer for Christians. They had to learn to live in places with different cultures and different languages. One Christian who moved to the U.S. said the first words he learned to say in English were OK, no problem, Coca-Cola, hallelujah, and amen!

When U.S. officials asked the man why he wanted to leave his country, he told them he had faced persecution as a Christian. In such cases, officials in some countries quizzed people to find out if they were really Christians.

Questions they sometimes asked were:
*Who were the 12 disciples?
*What are the Ten Commandments.
*What are the first five books of the Bible?
*Who was the first king of Israel?
*Who wrote the Book of Acts?

The Christians could not look in a Bible for answers.

To Talk About
Do you think you could pass a quiz like the one above?
Do you think a quiz is a good way to decide if someone is a true follower of Jesus? Why or why not?

Tanzania: Kids of Courage Beaten

Four Christian teens in Tanzania recently decided to reject their traditional beliefs and to follow Christ. The boys — Murri, 16; Lilash, 19; Lekutina, 16; and Sairiamu, 17 — belong to the Maasai tribe.

According to Maasai customs, Maasai boys wear long hair at certain stages of their lives. As a symbol of their new Christian faith, the four boys cut their hair. Their behavior offended others in their community. Just days after the teens became Christians, about 20 Maasai warriors attacked them at a Sunday morning church service. The warriors beat the boys with clubs.

Pray for the teens’ strength, growth in Christ, and witness. Pray that the Maasai warriors will come to know Jesus.

(Photo of Maasai warrior credit: Operation Change)


Pray for Children of the Persecuted

The February 2019 issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter features stories about children who faithfully followed in the footsteps of their persecuted Christian parents.

Christians are encouraged to pray that the sons and daughters of persecuted Christians will:

*Place their faith in Jesus Christ at a young age

*Be inspired by their parents’ courageous faith to share the gospel with friends and classmates

*Not be pulled away by enticements of the world or other religions

*Actively participate in the Great Commission as they mature into adults

(Source: The February 2019 issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter)

To Talk About
*What is the Great Commission?
*What does “enticements” mean?
*Can you name five “enticements of the world” that might be tempting to children of persecuted Christians?

Vietnam: A Good Example

Emmanuel spent much of his free time lifting weights. He traveled from province to province in Vietnam competing in bodybuilding contests. (A province is like a state.)

Emmanuel’s father was a pastor, and Emmanuel grew up resenting his father’s time away from his family ministering to others. When Emmanuel was 11, his father went to prison for three years because of his Christian activities. Then Emmanuel was even more angry.

“Sometimes I didn’t even want to visit my father in prison,” he said.

Several years later, after his father was released, Emmanuel served as his dad’s bodyguard at ministry events in dangerous parts of Vietnam. Emmanuel’s training as a bodybuilder had made him strong and confident. Emmanuel began to see not only his dad at work in ministry, but also God at work.

“I did not realize the importance of ministry,” Emmanuel said. “I intended to go with my father to protect him and just do ordinary work. But later God showed me what I had been through was the way He was training me for my future in ministry.”

Today Emmanuel admires his father’s faithfulness in leading people to trust in Christ. “He left us a good name,” Emmanuel said. “He has been a good example to follow.”

Now Emmanuel visits villages and shares the gospel with tribal people who worship false gods. He often is away from his wife and daughter as he travels. And, like his father, he has been persecuted by the police. “My ministry is the same as my father’s was,” said Emmanuel. “I live more for God now.”

(Source: The February 2019 issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter. Photo: Emmanuel. His eyes are covered to protect his identity from those who might want to harm him.)

To Talk About
*Why was Emmanuel angry with his father?
*How do you think Emmanuel’s daughter feels about his being away from home so often? Will you pray for her?
*Who are the good examples in your life?