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Wedding Day in Jail

[Photo: Ramish and Summandi]

One day, Ramish, a young man in India, attended a wedding party where he met a young woman named Summandi. The two became good friends, and Ramish wanted to marry Summandi.

Like the majority of people in India, Summandi’s father was a Hindu.  But Summandi, her mother, and her siblings were Christians, and Summandi did not want to marry a man who did not follow Jesus.

Summandi tried to explain her faith to Ramish, but often they just ended up arguing. Then Ramish became ill with malaria. After he experienced healing through prayer, he trusted in Christ as his Savior, and Summandi agreed to marry him.

Summandi’s father and village leaders did not approve of their plans to have a Christian wedding. Villagers began to plot an attack on the couple. So Ramish and Summandi went to the police station to ask for help. But the police arrested them and put them in jail on false charges! They spent May 30, 2018, the day they had planned to get married, in jail. Their pastor and a woman from their church went to the police station to get Ramish and Summandi released, and the police arrested them, too.

Six weeks later, the four Christians were freed. Ramish and Summandi had a small, quiet wedding ceremony. Since then, they have moved to a new city and started a house church. They are thankful that they have each other, and they know that God will always be with them.

(Source: The September The Voice of the Martyrs magazine. Edited for length, clarity, and age-appropriateness.)

Thankful for Prayer
The woman from Ramish and Summandi’s church wept when she learned about a post on a VOM website about their situation. She was moved to learn about the prayers Christians in the United States had offered when she and the other Christians were in prison.

Can you choose a Christian on this website or on to pray for today?

Eritrea: Sesuna’s Time in Prison

[Photo: Sesuna]

High school seniors in Eritrea are required to live in harsh conditions at a military training camp. The time of training is especially hard for some Christian students.

The government approves only four religious groups: Islam (the religion of Muslims), Catholic, Lutheran, and Orthodox Christian. Members of other groups are persecuted.

Sesuna is an evangelical Christian who decided to trust and follow Jesus after reading the Bible when she was 14 years old. When the time came for her to serve at the training camp, she noticed other students there who also attended evangelical churches.

Then the camp instructor asked, “Are any of you evangelical Christians?” Sesuna started to stand up, but the girls around her tried to pull her back down. They knew what would happen if Sesuna proclaimed her faith.

Sesuna’s Confession
But Sesuna got the instructor’s attention and declared, “I have a Bible, and I am a born-again Christian.” As a result of her confession, officials locked her in a women’s prison. The prison was made of tin buildings that were freezing at night and blazing hot during the day. The food was terrible, and the women and girls were allowed to go to the bathroom only once a day.

“I knew all I had to do was deny Jesus, and I would have been set free,” said Sesuna.

Escape and a New Life
Soon Sesuna became very ill due to the horrid conditions. Prison officials took her to a hospital, making it clear that she would return to the prison when she recovered.

Like many Eritrean youth, Sesuna was able to escape Eritrea and go to a refugee camp in Ethiopia. She began to attend church and to teach Sunday school at the refugee camp. A church leader helped Sesuna enroll in a VOM-supported Bible school nearby. She is growing in her relationship with God and preparing for future work for Him.

“I know the world will pass away one day,” she said. “But if we have the Lord, we have everything.”

(Source: The September 2020 The Voice of the Martyrs magazine. Edited for length, clarity, and age-appropriateness.)

To Talk and Think About
*Read Matthew 10:32. How did Sesuna follow that verse? What does the verse say will happen as a result of her obedience?

*Sesuna said, “I know the world will pass away one day, but if we have the Lord, we have everything.” What did she mean by that? How would you say it in your own words?

*Why do you think Sesuna refused to deny Jesus so she could be free from prison?

Learning Verses in Secret

[Photo: Iranian Christians praying]

Many Christians gather in secret in Iran. Most people in the country are Muslims, and the government does not want them to leave their religion to follow Jesus. It’s not unusual for Christians to be put in prison.

It’s against the law to print Bibles in Iran. Some Christians learn Scriptures using websites, mobile phone cards, and smartphone apps. They listen to Christian programs on satellite TV.

The Voice of the Martyrs recently received a list of 125 Bible verses that house church members and their leaders in Iran are memorizing. “They are recalling these verses when they are in jail or other places and are unable to access a Bible,” a VOM worker said.

You can see 10 of the verses below. Can you memorize one of the verses today? Why might each verse be inspiring to Iranian Christians today?

1. Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
2. Who brought me out from my enemies; you exalted me above those who rose against me; you delivered me from men of violence. (2 Samuel 22:49)
3. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
4. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5–6)
5. But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. (Luke 6:27–28)
6. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
7. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
8. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:14)
9. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (Matthew 5:11)
10. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)

Nigeria: Kidnapper Put in Prison

[Photo: Ese]
(Sources include: VOM Australia)

Radical Muslims have attacked churches and homes in Nigeria, and they have persecuted Christian families. Attackers are not always caught or punished. But recently, a court sentenced a Muslim kidnapper to 26 years in prison.

The man, Yunusa Dahiru, kidnapped a 13-year-old girl from a Christian family. He took the girl, Ese, to his home, forced her to marry him, and changed her name to Aisha. Several months later, the police rescued Ese. She was five months pregnant with her daughter. “I thank God that truth has prevailed,” Ese’s father said after Yunusa was convicted of his crime.

VOM Australia suggests the following ways to pray about the situation.
*Thank the Lord for the outcome and answered prayers for the family. Ask the Lord to intervene on behalf of the many captives in Nigeria.

*Pray for Ese’s future life and that of her daughter. May they grow in faith and knowledge of the Lord and find their confidence in Him.

*Pray for the perpetrators of such crimes in Nigeria. Ask the Holy Spirit to be at work in bringing conviction, repentance, and transformed lives.

Homeschooling Forbidden

(Source: ChinaAid Association)

A court in China has forbidden a Christian mother to homeschool her children.

In China, it is illegal for parents or teachers to teach religion to children under the age of 18. Fan Ruzhen began homeschooling her children several years ago. She hoped to provide them with a Christian education. Last September, authorities sued her, saying that she must send her children to public schools for an atheistic education. (Read about atheism here.)

A district court ruled in favor of the officials and ordered Fan to send her children to public school. Fan fought the ruling, bringing it to an intermediate court. The court ruled that there is no disagreement between faith and the public education system. It also emphasized that children who follow a religion must be educated in the atheistic system.

Please pray for Fan’s family and for other Christian families in China who have to send their children to schools that teach false beliefs. Pray that the children will have God’s truth in their hearts and follow that truth.

(Photo: Chinese girl reading a Bible)