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Myriam: An Update

A previous post told the story of Myriam, a 9-year-old Iraqi girl whose family was driven from their home in Qaraqosh, Iraq, by ISIS fighters. She left behind her school, church, and friends. Myriam was uncertain of her future, but certain that God is good and would always care for her.

A video of her interview with a Christian TV network went viral, and people all over the world heard about her willingness to forgive her enemies. You can watch the video here.

The December 2019 The Voice of the Martyrs magazine tells what is happening with Myriam now. Read an excerpt from the story below. (Edited for length and clarity.)

When Myriam was 9 years old and living in a refugee camp, she left a reporter speechless by saying she forgave the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) for displacing her family from their home in Qaraqosh, Iraq. The video of the interview went viral. Myriam, now 14, and her family returned to Qaraqosh earlier this year.

Though looted and scarred by a few bullet holes, their home was one of the few still intact. Myriam and her family were dismayed by the damage but thankful their home was still standing when so many others had been destroyed. They were also thankful to see that their family Bible had survived over the years. On Easter Sunday 2019, Iraqi Christians, including Myriam and her family, gathered in churches across Qaraqosh to worship and celebrate their hope in Christ.

Today, Myriam and her sister, Zomorod, are back in school in their hometown. When asked if she still forgives ISIS, Myriam said, “Of course I forgive them. I love Qaraqosh. It’s where I was born and studied during my childhood. But the more important thing is that I love to see people believing in God.”

(Photos courtesy of SAT-7 TV.)


This Month

Parents and Teachers
The December 2019 issue of The Voice of the Martyrs magazine tells stories of Christians who became fugitives for the sake of Christ. As VOM president Cole Richards says:

“Part of our ministry at VOM is providing safe houses as temporary shelter for believers while they are on the run from persecutors. Another part of our work is providing sanctuary — places of relative safety within incredibly difficult and dangerous mission fields — where believers can be restored and/or equipped for future service. In all cases, the provision of a safe house or sanctuary is intended to help advance the gospel. It is neither surrender nor defeat, but rather a wise choice to temporarily withdraw from the front lines as part of a lifelong commitment of obedience to Christ.”

The issue also features stories and updates from China, Uganda, Nepal, Iraq, Pakistan, and Nigeria. You can share stories of Christians in these countries from the magazine and this site with your children, then pray together for the people in the stories.

Related Resources
* To subscribe to the free monthly The Voice of the Martyrs magazine, visit the subscription signup page.
*The Voice of the Martyrs’ Global Prayer Guide includes information about Christians in the featured countries.
*Download Bold Believers activity books for kids that highlight several of the countries here.
*Find a lesson plan for China here.
*Watch video clips about Christians from several of the countries in the Video section of this site.


Lessons from the Jungle

Young woman in Burma

(Source: VOM Radio. Edited and paraphrased from the interview)

Ron Morse is a gospel worker in Southeast Asia. Recently Todd Nettleton of VOM Radio interviewed Ron about his experiences growing up on the mission field.

Ron’s parents and grandparents were missionaries in Asia, and Ron lived with his parents in Burma (Myanmar). When he was 13, his family needed to leave Burma because of new government policies. But it was almost seven years before they got permission to leave. During those years, they lived with the Lisu tribal people in the jungle.

“I believe there was a reason for all that,” Ron told Todd. “My generation had to grow up. We grew up to really face the facts of life in the jungle.”

Life in the Jungle
“Salt and blankets, shoes, socks, changes of clothes, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste. All of that did not exist after the first few months,” Ron continued. “We had to clear fields and farm, surviving with the worst food you can imagine. We had jungle cakes made of rotten trees.

“We learned from parents and grandparents not to complain. Instead, ask, ‘Lord, what do you want me to learn from this?’

“We started a school for the kids. We made blackboards using battery black and egg whites, and we made chalk sticks that worked. Airplanes that had crashed in World War II were scattered all over. Melted-down aluminum from the planes became pots and pans.

“I taught Sunday school in the Lisu language for three years. We went through the whole Bible three times. Some of the students were as old as I was. To this day, a lot of the people who were in those classes are in ministry.”

Getting Through it Together
“I think God allowed those seven years in the jungle for us to come to terms with what is involved in serving God,” Ron said. “It’s not just glamour. It’s the actual nitty gritty daily work of survival.

“We learned that life can be tough, but everything will pass. It just may not pass as quickly as you want it to…. But you know what? When you are in it together and you have a sense of humor, you can get through anything.”

To Talk About
*Instead of complaining, what did Ron say we should do when we face difficult situations?
*What do you think would be the hardest part of living in the jungle?
*What have you learned from challenging situations in your life?

Enter “Burma” in the Search box to find stories of Christians in Burma or download “Bold Believers in Burma” from the Downloads section.


Sports and Games: What Do You Think?

(Source: The Torchlighters Ultimate Activity Book.)

We know that when John Bunyan was a young man, he enjoyed playing a game called “tipcat” and engaging in other pastimes, but sometimes he felt guilty for doing so. Is it OK for Christians to play games? What do you think?

Most Christians today believe they can play games that encourage good behavior and build character. Some Christians use sports and games as an opportunity to witness about their faith to non-Christian players. What do you think?

How Much Is Too Much?
When is watching or playing games a distraction from more important activities? An American pastor said, “Anyone who spends more time playing video games than seeking God in prayer has no right to call Jesus Lord.” What do you think of the pastor’s statement? (Read some Bible verses about prayer in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Matthew 6:7, and Matthew 6:9–13.)

In the 1500s, King Henry VIII of England banned a number of games because he believed they would distract his soldiers from their duties. Do you think it would be wise for government leaders to tell people how much time they could spend on sports and games? Is it effective for parents and teachers to make rules about playing games at home or in class? What do you think?

What games do you like to play or watch others play? Do any of those games ever take time away from your Bible reading, prayer, homework, household chores, commitments, or opportunities to serve others?

Make a Rule
What do you think would be a good rule for time allowed to spend on games? (For example, “I can play games for 30 minutes after my homework is done, if it’s not time for bed yet.”)


John Bunyan’s Birthday

John Bunyan was born on November 28, 1628. His 391st birthday is this week. Read below what Elise Wixtrom, the Kids of Courage student reviewer, wrote about his life.

John Bunyan lived in the mid-1600s, during the time of the most violent conflict on English soil, the English Civil War. At that time, there was a group of people called the Puritans. The Puritans followed strict religious rules. They believed in the Bible wholeheartedly, though at one point they became very legalistic and forced their authority on others. Early on, though, the Puritans were bastions of Christian kindness and purity. John Bunyan was one of their most faithful members. A writer, theologian, and preacher, he stood steadfastly by his faith even though his country was in turmoil.

The story of John Bunyan’s life has many ups and downs. At one point he even got thrown into prison. For many years he stayed there among criminals and debtors, all because he defied the Anglican church by preaching outside of it. During the civil war, he and other Puritans were allowed to teach freely, but with the return of the English monarchy came the return of persecution for other theologies. Bunyan, along with his fellow church officials, was imprisoned for his beliefs. While behind bars, Bunyan had a lot of time to reflect, think, write – do what he loved best. He even taught the prisoners in Puritan theology, and eventually they thanked him for it.

Though in great emotional pain from being ripped away from the life he had built for himself, Bunyan never lost hope in Christ’s love. Instead, he wrote. At one point, Bunyan had a strange and vivid dream. In this dream, he embarked on a religious journey, called a “pilgrimage”, to find the meaning of life. Along the way, he met characters that represented different aspects of the world, God’s nature, the human heart, and sin. At the end of the journey, Bunyan arrived at the gates of heaven. Upon awakening, Bunyan was struck with the images of the dream and he decided to write it all down. He turned that dream into a novel called The Pilgrim’s Progress.

When he died in 1688, Bunyan left behind a legacy of many works of literature, including The Pilgrim’s Progress and books of written sermons. Their messages ring loud and clear – stay on the path that leads to Christ Jesus, and God will walk beside you all the way to His own doorstep, just as Bunyan found in his dream.

Bunyan found God’s voice in his prison cell. If you have been reading or watching the Torchlighters stories, you will know – that is where you hear God’s voice best. In the darkest moments of your life. In your pain. In the prison cell that you have, whether real or in your mind. In the times where you think there is no more cause for hope, that is precisely the moment where you should look upwards, and there God will be, with the solution for your healing.

Learn more about Bunyan and watch the trailer from the Torchlighters DVD The John Bunyan Story here. Find out more about Torchlighters DVDs here.