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God’s Pilgrim: The Real Story of John Bunyan

As a boy, John Bunyan was a troublemaker, and he did not get along with his father. Then when he was 16, he left home and joined the army in England where he lived.

Three times John had close calls with death, and three times God spared him. He began to feel that God wanted him alive for a reason, and he wanted to find out what God wanted him to do.

Filled with Joy
John returned home, got married, had children, and tried hard to be a good person. He became a tinsmith, repairing pots, pans, and kettles. But he did not always succeed at being good, and he was unhappy.

One day, John met three ladies and a pastor who were full of joy because of Jesus’ love for them. “Your own works cannot save you!” the pastor told him. “It is only through Christ’s goodness that we are saved. It is a gift that we simply receive from God.”

John began to understand that he could not save himself from his sins and he gave his life to Jesus. He, too, was filled with joy!

A Book of “Little Worth”
John talked about what he had learned with others. But he was arrested, because it was against the law to preach the gospel without permission from the government.

John went to jail for 12 years. During that time, he wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress, a book about someone named Christian who encountered many obstacles on the way to the Heavenly City.

“I have a book of little worth,” John said when he gave the book to a printer to be printed. Many people disagreed that his book was not worth much. Since that time, millions have read the book, and it has encouraged them in their faith.

(Source: Torchlighters The Story of John BunyanFind out more about Torchlighters DVDs here.)

 


Help! I Don’t Have the Courage! Part 2

Tulips in the Netherlands

Read the previous post, “Help! I Don’t Have the Courage!” Then read what happened next below.

A Few Days Later
The day of the game, my mom asked if she should wash my outfit. I shrugged. “I don’t really care,” I said.

My mom said, “For a few days it has seemed like you don’t want to go to the game. Is that right? Did something happen? Are you being bullied?”

“No, no yet,” I said. “But I don’t feel like eating with those guys. Do you really think I could pray in front of them?”

My mom didn’t say anything at first. She went to my closet, looked for my sports bag, and asked, “Why do you want to pray before a meal?”

“Because I have to, of course,” I answered.

“You’re wrong,” mom said. “We don’t pray because we have to, but because we can. You get everything from the hand of God. For that you can thank him. The Lord Jesus already earned everything for us. So we can get everything from the Father’s hand. Isn’t that nice?

“If you are happy with someone, you think it is good to talk to others about this person, don’t you? The Lord Jesus said you don’t have to worry about what to say when you’re in a difficult moment in your life. The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say. That’s what he promises.”

Then I felt relieved that I had told my mom, and I know that she prays for me.

McDonald’s
It was a good game, and we got to McDonald’s hungry. Just before the boxes of food were put on the table, I muttered that I had to go to the bathroom. There I prayed something like, “Thank you for the food. I’m scared. Please help me.” Then I went back to the table.

“Are you warm?” asked Bjorn, who sat across from me.

“Yes, I’m very hot,” I said, and immediately I unzipped my jacket. I saw him look at the cross on my neck, but he didn’t say anything. Then I heard myself saying, “I got it from my aunt, who knows I am a Christian. I really like it.”

“Cool!” said Bjorn, with a mouthful of food.

I took a big bite from my sandwich and felt very light and happy inside.

To Talk About

  • More than 40 percent of the people in the Netherlands follow no religion, 30 percent are Catholic, 20 percent are Protestant, and about six percent are Muslims. In the U.S., about 50 percent are Protestant, 24 percent are Catholic, about 12 percent do not belong to a formal religious group, about 4 percent follow no religion, and about 0.6 percent are Muslim. (Source: CIA Factbook) In which country do you think it would be easier to be a Christian?
  • Why was the boy scared to show others that he was a Christian?
  • Do you think the boy should have talked more to Bjorn about Jesus, or did he make a good start?
  • Have you ever been scared to let someone know that you follow Jesus?

Help! I Don’t Have the Courage!

Tulips in the Netherlands

The following story is based on a real event that happened in the Netherlands, where McDonald’s is sometimes called “the Mac,” and korfball is a popular game. (Korfball is somewhat similar to basketball.) The story is told from the point of view of a boy in the Netherlands.

(Source: VOM’s sister mission in the Netherlands, SDOK)

Last week my aunt came to visit. She always brings something nice to me and my sister. This time it was a black leather necklace with a cross on it. I thought it was cool and immediately started wearing it. All my friends are Christian and they thought it was really cool, too.

To the Mac
Last week I got a letter from my korfball coach. It said we would have two games on Saturday. Between the games, the whole team would eat at the Mac.

I think korfball is great, and I really like to play. The guys I play with are all right. But sometimes they say things I’m not used to — not just bad words, but things I find scary.

Recently I got an email from Mohammed, a Muslim boy on the team. His email address starts with “Mohammed4jihad.” “Jihad” means holy war. I don’t like war, and certainly not holy war. Where does he get his ideas? “Ask him,” my dad told me.

I thought, “Yeah, right. I’m way too scared to do that.”

Praying at the Mac
At home I always pray before meals; also at school. How do I solve it at the Mac? I can already imagine the grins on the guys’ faces.

For the cross I found a solution. I don’t take it off. I zip my training jacket all the way up. A great solution, I think.

I have an idea. After the Happy Meals arrive, I will quickly go to the restroom and no one will find anything suspicious about that. Then I can pray.

Help!
I guess I’m weak. Actually I’m really not looking forward to this game day. Maybe I shouldn’t go. Maybe I’ll just feel sick that day or something.

Read what happened next in the upcoming post, “Help! I Don’t Have the Courage! Part 2”


A Chief Gets Baptized

The chief being baptized
The chief being baptized

“God has done more than what we ever could think or imagine!” said an African Christian in a recent report to The Voice of the Martyrs. (See Ephesians 3:20.)

VOM has sent bicycles, motor bikes, megaphones, and Bibles to the area to help Christians reach others with the good news of Jesus.

“We have seen hundreds of persecutors of the faith coming to Christ!” said one of the Christians.

A few months ago, Muslim chiefs from four different villages decided to follow Christ. They and other Christians in the area faced some difficult struggles:

  • In one place where they went to be baptized, snakes attacked them.
  • Muslims in one village said they would no longer obey their chief because he had become a Christian.
  • A group of people blocked the way for 40 people who were going to be baptized and would not let them pass.

But many new Christians were baptized. “We join heaven to rejoice for these many converts,” said one Christian.

See the photo above of the baptism of a village chief.

“The chief is ready to die for Christ rather than deny him for any reason,” said a Christian visitor.

To Think About
In what ways are baptisms where you live different from baptisms in the places described in the story above and in the photo? In what ways are baptisms the same in both places?


Illegal Gathering

Laos

The Voice of the Martyrs recently received the following report from Laos.

About five years ago, a wife and husband listened to a Christian program on their radio. They understood what they heard and gave their lives to Jesus!

People in their village watched how the new Christian couple lived and heard about their faith in Jesus. Then 11 more people trusted in Christ as their Savior.

The Christians called a pastor in another location and asked if he would come visit them. The pastor and four other Christians came to the village. Two of the visitors were teenagers and two were 20 years old. The pastor baptized eight of the new Christians in the village.

The next month, the Christian visitors returned to the village to hold a worship service. Police officers in the village heard their joyful singing. “Who is making the loud noise?” they asked the leader of the village. The leader said Christians were making the noise, and that more and more people were becoming Christians.

The police went to the house where the Christians were worshiping and said it was an illegal gathering. The five Christian visitors said, “If it is an illegal gathering, we will leave and go back to our home village.”

“You cannot go back,” said the police. A truck came and took the five Christians to a different village where they were detained to be questioned later by the police. The new Christians brought them food.

The Christians asked for prayer for their situation.

Update: The Christians have been released! The police made them pay a fine to cover the cost of the gasoline for the truck that took them to the jail. “Praise God that it was not serious and that the Christians will be strong in faith from this incident!” said a Christian in the area.