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Stephen: God’s Witness

Stephen Book

When Jesus returned to heaven, he left behind his followers. But they were not alone or without help. As promised, Jesus sent his Holy Spirit. He knew the Holy Spirit would give his followers the strength and courage they needed to do his work.

One of these followers was Stephen. With the Holy Spirit’s help, Stephen courageously told others about Jesus and performed miracles. He was so good at convincing others to follow Jesus that in the end Jewish leaders tried to stop him….

The mob led Stephen into a courtroom. “This man must be punished!” shouted one of the men. As each charge was hurled at Stephen, the men in the courtroom looked at him. What they saw was not a face twisted in fear or guilt. His face shone like and angel’s….They had made up their minds. Like Jesus, Stephen had to die.

The excerpts above are from God’s Witness: The Courage of Stephen by The Voice of the Martyrs with Cheryl Odden, available from VOMBooks.com.


Family Faces Villagers’ Anger

Bangladesh
Children in Bangladesh reading a children’s Bible

A worker from VOM’s family of missions told the following story about a Christian family:

We had to fly for 11 hours, drive for 7 hours, take a boat for a half hour, and ride on a motorbike taxi to reach the family we wanted to visit.

Akash is a quiet 12-year-old boy. His sister, Rupa, is 8. They live with their family in between two rice fields. After the harvest, the rainy season comes. Puddles and lakes fill up quickly. During this season, the farmers become fishermen.

Akash and Rupa’s family used to be Muslims. All the other people in their village are Muslims. Not long ago, their lives changed. One day, a young man visited the village. He talked with the people and told Bible stories. Akash and Rupa like that very much. Their parents were also impressed, and they let the young man come back to visit them.

The man was an evangelist who spread the gospel. He told the family that the Lord Jesus Christ wants to forgive our sins. In Islam, the religion of Muslims, there is no one who can take away sins. The whole family trusted Jesus and felt the love of God in the hearts.

Soon the news traveled through the village. The whole village turned against the family because they had become Christians. The family was no longer allowed to get water from the village water pump.

Many kids at school treat Akash and Rupa badly. They are teased and hit. “I don’t fight back,” said Akash. “I don’t dare to. Even my dad was beaten up. He still has a scar on his head.”

The family does not even think about leaving the Lord Jesus. Happily, more villagers have come to faith in Jesus. So they don’t feel so alone anymore.

Please pray that peace will come to the village and more villagers will come to Jesus.


Happy in My Heart

The Voice of the Martyrs is part of a group of missions around the world that serve the persecuted church. A worker from another mission in VOM’s family shared the following story after a trip to Bangladesh.

The worker said:

Nine-year-old Abraham lives with his Christian family in a small village in Bangladesh. On Friday afternoon, they join with other Christians and have a church service on a porch. They have to talk quietly during the service in case the neighbors are listening.

The neighbors are Muslims. They are not happy that Abraham’s family is Christian. When Abraham passes by their house, they look at him angrily.

“Since my parents and I believed in Jesus, other people treat us badly,” said Abraham. “Friends won’t play with me anymore, and some kids hit me.

“The teacher says I have to go to a different school. It makes me sad that no one in the village like us. But still, I am happy in my heart because we know and love Jesus.

“I like it when the pastor talks about Noah. I like the story a lot. Noah stayed faithful to God even though many people did not want to listen to him.”

The worker from the VOM mission also said, “If you live in Bangladesh and start following Jesus, a lot of people don’t like it. Some Christians are not allowed to drink from the village water wells or borrow things from neighbors. Sometimes children are picked on at school, just like Abraham.

“Pray that the Christians will be faithful to Jesus, that they will not be teased, and that they can have church services freely.”

Watch a video from Bangladesh here.

Source: SDOK, translated from the original and edited


Volunteers Share What They Have Learned

Ashley helping at VOM
Ashley helping at VOM

Sisters Felicity and Lydia, and their friend Ashley, recently traveled to The Voice of the Martyrs’ headquarters to volunteer in the Operations Center. It was Felicity’s fifth trip to VOM, Lydia’s fourth, and Ashley’s first. During their visits, the girls have packed Action Packs, stuffed envelopes, sorted mail, and shrink wrapped packages. Like other VOM volunteers, they are an important part of VOM’s ministry to the persecuted church.

The girls were homeschooled, and they have been aware of VOM and persecuted Christians for most of their lives. At home, they have participated in VOM projects such as Bibles Unbound and Prisoner Alert. They regularly share the gospel and information about the persecuted church with others.

Ashley said that learning about persecuted Christians has helped her realize that church is different in other places. “We complain all the time,” she said. “We’re not as on fire for Christ. they pray for us!”

Felicity said, “If we meet [Christians who were persecuted] in heaven, are they going to say, ‘You had the opportunity and free speech to witness, but you didn’t!’ You have to deny yourself and go witness.”

Felicity, Lydia, and Ashley are open to God’s leading in their lives. They have some ideas to share with younger kids.

“We took notebooks to church and took notes,” said Lydia. “Pay attention in church, and review what the pastor said.”

“Your life is never on hold,” said Felicity. “You’re not in a waiting period. There is something God wants you to do right now.”

Ashley added, “If following God is scary, not following him is even scarier.”

Learn more about volunteering at The Voice of the Martyrs at www.vomvolunteer.com.


Christian Woman Helps Her Husband During Attack

Kyrgyzstan

The Voice of the Martyrs has received a report about radical Muslims attacking a group of five Christians in Kyrgyzstan earlier this year. The Christians were distributing gifts to children in a village. The gifts were provided by Samaritan’s Purse, a ministry in the United States.

A mullah and about 20 men grabbed two of the Christians and hit them. (A mullah is a Muslim leader.) Some of the Muslims threw rocks.

Narsbek, one of the Christians, was hit in the back of the head and pinned to the ground. Some of the Muslim gang held Narsbek’s arms, and one began choking him.

Narsbek was ready to go to heaven and meet Jesus. But suddenly the attacker’s hands loosened. Narsbek’s wife, Gulnaz, had pushed her way through the gang and grabbed the attacker’s hands. The Muslims were surprised as she struggled to save the life of her husband.

The Christians got in their car and drove away, and the Muslims threw rocks at their vehicles. Some of the gang burned the gifts for the children.

Narsbek is still recovering from his injuries. Praise God for giving Gulnaz the strength and boldness to help her husband.

Note: Kyrgyzstan is a country slightly smaller than South Dakota. It is located west of China and not far from Afghanistan. Most of the people in Kyrgyzstan are Muslims, but many are not serious about their faith. However, most do not want their friends and family members to leave Islam and become Christians. (Islam is the religion of Muslims.) They consider Islam a part of their culture. Pray for Christians in Kyrgyzstan.