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Iran: “Love My Enemies? No thanks!”

Dan Baumann

Dan Baumann is a Christian worker who was imprisoned in Iran for nine weeks. He experienced the love and presence of Jesus helping him endure the harsh treatment.

But Jesus taught Dan another important lesson. Dan said, “One day, I felt that God spoke to my heart. [God said] ‘Dan, I want to teach you to love your enemies.’ I remember thinking, ‘No, not now, thank you.’”

Every day, one of Dan’s captors hit him. Dan was not interested in loving the man. But he felt God saying to him, “Dan, ask Me what I think of him.” Dan realized that God loved his attacker. So every day, he prayed, “God, change my heart.” Little by little, Dan’s heart began to change, and he began to care for his captor.

One day, Dan said to the man, “Sir, why don’t we become friends?” The man answered, “You are crazy! We will never be friends.” Dan asked him twice more, and said, “Let’s start by exchanging names.” And he reached out his hand to shake the man’s hand.

“It was then that he froze,” Dan said. “Then he starts looking around, and then he took his hand out of his pocket and shook my hand. He said, ‘I would love to be your friend.’” The two men told each other their names.

Then the man asked, “Is there anything you want in the prison?” Dan had been living in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell. He asked his new friend if he could have a bigger cell.

“I never saw that man again in my life,” Dan said. “But later the night guards came to my cell and said, ‘We have orders to move you to a bigger cell.’ I knew that God had changed the man’s heart.”

(Source: Kids of Courage archives and VOMRadio.net. Edited for length, clarity, and age-appropriateness.)

To Think About
At first, Dan was not willing for God to teach him to love his enemies, but he became willing to be made willing. He asked God to change his heart, and in turn, his obedience helped change his captor’s heart.
Is there anything that you know God wants you to do that you have been unwilling to do? Will you ask God to help you become willing?


Family Members Around the World

The previous post’s activity was from Release International, a member of The Voice of the Martyrs’ family of missions. Click here to find more about VOM offices around the world, and links to their websites. Can you identify the languages above from the logos on their websites?


Madeha

Children in Algeria

Madeha was a 13-year-old girl in Algeria. Her older brother, Naser, was a bully. He often kicked Madeha, slapped her face, and spoke rudely to her for no reason. Madeha had never known anyone so mean.

One day, Naser seemed to be playing a new trick on his sister. He came to Madeha and said, “I have accepted Jesus, whom the Christians believe. He has changed my heart and my ways. I’m sorry for everything I’ve done to you. Will you forgive me?”

Madeha did not trust Naser. For one thing, she and her family were Muslims. It is rare, and often dangerous, for an Algerian Muslim to become a Christian. Also, Madeha didn’t believe that anyone as mean as her brother could really change.

After many days, Naser had still not hurt or insulted Madeha. She realized that her brother had really changed. Madeha then began to seek the God who had given her brother a new heart. Naser shared the Good News of Jesus with Madeha, and she trusted Christ as her Lord and Savior.

Trusting God
Madeha knew her Muslim father would never allow her to meet with other Algerian Christians. So she listened to Christian radio programs and sometimes wrote letters to the stations that broadcast the programs. She was able to get a Bible, and she read it whenever she had the opportunity. She continued to follow Jesus, trusting that He knew her circumstances and would help her through them.

Pray for Madeha and other Algerian Christians who love Jesus. Pray that their families will also seek and find the truth.

(Source: Kids of Courage archives. Learn more about Christians in northern Africa in Bold Believers in Algeria and Tunisia, available in the free Downloads section of this site.)


Talking Too Much

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was imprisoned for a total of 14 years in Romania. After he was released, he and his wife, Sabina, started The Voice of the Martyrs.

Pastor Wurmbrand wrote many books. In the books, he told readers what he learned from God during his time as a Christian in a non-Christian country.

Read below what he said about talking too much.

Pastor Wurmbrand said:

In the underground church, we had to learn to be silent. [The underground church refers to Christians who meet secretly in places where their worship services are illegal.] You have to learn to be silent from the moment you become a Christian. A Christian thinks before he speaks about whether his words can cause harm.

Useless talking in some countries means prison for another Christian. Every unnecessary word you speak can put someone in prison. A visitor [at a church service] could be a spy for the secret police.

A friend of mine, who wrote great Christian songs sung by the underground church, went to prison because Christians had a habit of saying, “How beautiful is this song composed by Brother [the composer’s name].” They praised him, the authorities found out about his work, and for this the composer got 15 years of prison.

(Source: Preparing for the Underground Church, by Richard Wurmbrand. Edited for length, clarity, and reading level.)

To Talk About
*Why did Richard’s friend go to prison?
*Can you think ways that unnecessary talking can cause problems for someone?
*What are some examples of “useless talking?”


Changes in China

Sunday school class in China

(Sources: China Aid and VOMRadio.net. Quotes edited for clarity and length.)

Churches in part of China were recently warned by authorities who want greater control over religion in their country.

The churches were told:
*You must remove the crosses at your building and replace them with a picture of the president of China or a Chinese flag.

*You must keep all children away from your church.

New government rules also say that churches must be willing to install surveillance cameras in their meeting places.

“Many pastors have gone into hiding because they know they are on the list to be the first to be arrested,” said a Christian worker in China. “Pastors are being arrested, some have been imprisoned, and churches have been closed…. In January [a church] was dynamited — the government blew it up.

“It is illegal to teach children Christianity. In one case, there was a grandmother who had been taking her grandson to church with her. The government told this family that the grandmother, who was on kidney dialysis, would no longer be allowed to continue the dialysis treatments if she continued to bring her grandson to church. So, what a choice!” (Dialysis is a procedure that keeps people alive whose kidneys have failed.)

“Christians are worried,” said a VOM worker. “We have no good answer except prayer.”

What Can You Pray?
*What can you pray for churches and pastors?
*What can you pray for Chinese government officials?
*What can you pray for the grandmother?
*What can you pray for her grandson and other children in China?