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The Names of God

Iranian Christians, dancing together while chanting the many names of God. The faces have been pixelated to conceal the identity of the Christians involved, as Christians in Iran are in continual risk of persecution by government authorities.


“Joy to the World” Illegal

A few years ago, officials at a town near Hanoi, Vietnam warned members of a house church that it was against the law to display a “Joy to the World” banner at Christmastime. The officials also said the church could not have a Christmas celebration with neighbors and friends. A few months later, the owner of the house was fined for the group’s Christian activities.

Officials in Vietnam still give tribal Christians a hard time, but the Christians still sing of their joy in Christ.


New Birth in Bethlehem

Bethlehem ChurchChristians attending church in Bethlehem.

Today many Christians have fled Bethlehem because it is often not safe for followers of the Savior who was born there long ago. Fewer than five percent of the citizens of Bethlehem are Christians. Radical Muslims in the city have attacked Christians and churches.

During Christmastime in a recent year, some of the Christians in the city held a Christmas party and invited their neighbors to attend. A Muslim couple and their three children arrived early at the party. The pastor realized that the family was at the wrong event. The tickets in their hands were for another party. But the pastor invited the family to stay for a while.

The family stayed for a meal, singing, testimonies of Christians who had been persecuted, and a sermon. The Christians at the party showed them love and kindness. By the time the family left the party, their hearts were open to learning more about Jesus. They began to meet regularly with Christians to hear about the one who had been born in their city 2000 years ago.

Pray for the citizens of Bethlehem.


Happy Believer in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan

The Voice of the Martyrs recently heard the following story from a contact in Kyrgyzstan.

John was a 15-year-old boy in Kyrgyzstan, where most people are Muslims and it can be difficult to learn about Jesus. John was sad because he did not have any hope for his future. The only thing he was really looking forward to was getting a passport on his 16th birthday so he would be considered an adult.

Just before his birthday, John had to be admitted to a hospital. He shared a room with two people, one of them a Christian. John and the other non-Christian tried to irritate the Christian. But after 4 days, even that grew boring. The Christian had a children’s Bible with him, and John read it from cover to cover. The Christian shared his faith gently with John.

After John was discharged from the hospital, he saw an advertisement for a music concert. He had never heard live music before, and he decided to go to the concert. The concert was in a church and the music group played worship songs. John sat on the back row between two ladies, and as he listened to the beautiful music, he began to cry. “I was so ashamed,” he said. What would the women next to me think of me?

When the concert was over he got up to leave. But before he could sneak out in embarrassment, one of the women hugged him and said, “God loves you very much.” Then she left. Later John told his friends about what had happened. “You can’t go there!” they said. “Those people worship a foreign God!”

But John was drawn back to the church week after week, and he is now a happy believer.


Talking to Zhang Rongliang

Zhang RongliangPastor Zhang while he was still in prison.

Zhang Rongliang is a Chinese Christian who was recently released after spending more than seven years prison in China. While he was in prison, Christians around the world prayed for him and wrote letters to Chinese officials on his behalf.

But they failed to get Zhang released early. Zhang recently talked to a VOM contact, and he had some surprising thoughts about Christians’ attempts to free him.

“I am happy that you and others tried to arrange for my release, but in one way, I am happy that you failed,” Zhang said to the contact. “You almost made a big mistake. If you had been successful, there would be no church in that prison today.”

Chinese Christians are not allowed to visit prisons to do prison ministry, so many prisoners do not have the opportunity to hear about Jesus. More than 5,000 men were in Zhang’s prison, and many of them were able to hear the good news of Jesus Christ while he was there. Fewer would have heard the good news if Zhang had spent less time in prison.

“Missionaries leave their homes to go to a new environment,” said Zhang. They preach the gospel in the area where they are called to preach. I consider myself and I treat myself as one who is a missionary. The difference is that God called me to preach to the prisoners.”

The VOM contact then went on to ask Zhang how his two sons reacted to his being away from them for so long while he was imprisoned, and what advice he had for fathers who might be facing time away from their family.

“First, try your best to spend time with them, as much as you can,” said Zhang. This is important and it is your responsibility. Then during those times you must be away, you must pray for them. You must put them completely in the hands of God. Remember, he will take better care of them than you can. Finally, always remember that the Word of God promises us that the children of the righteous will become like the oak tree in the hands of the Lord.

“I have spent a lot of time in prison, but the children know why their father is being kept in prison. We have taught our children that this lifestyle is our duty. When we teach, we put more focus, more emphasis on the will of God and on the position that he has given to us. God wants us to do a bigger thing for him. All who are called to ministry are different people. We are not like other people. The world does not understand us. But our lives and our calling are a precious thing in the eyes of God.

“God is number one. God and his will must always be first in our lives. After that, he will take care of all other things.”