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Make a Parol

Enter “Philippines” in the Search box to learn about bold Christians in the Philippines and to find ways you can pray for them.

Then learn how to make a Christmas decoration from the Philippines using the instructions below.

A “parol” (pah-rohl) is a star lantern. Families in the Philippines use star lanterns as Christmas ornaments. They hang the lanterns in windows and even decorate their yards with them. Filipino children learn to make star lanterns in school. Some families make their own lanterns; others buy them.

Traditional star lanterns are made by constructing two star-shaped frames out of bamboo sticks, then fastening the frames together. The frames are covered with colorful paper and decorated with tassels hung from one or more points. Candles were placed inside the lanterns in past times, just as candles were used to light Christmas trees in the past. Today electric lights usually light the lanterns.

You can make a star ornament by cutting a 4- or 5-pointed star from colored poster board. Make the star any size you want. Use ribbon, tinsel, crepe paper, or yarn to make short tassels. Glue the tassels to the points of the star, or attach them with thread to holes punched in the points. You may want to draw pictures or glue decorations on the front and back of the star, and hang your star in a window.


Laos: Sonxi

Sonxi

One day, Sonxi was walking through the jungle near her home in Laos. She saw a small booklet lying on the ground, and she picked it up and began to read. “Jesus will come back,” the booklet said. The words filled her with hope.

Only eight Christian families lived in her village. She visited their leader, and he told her more about Jesus. Sonxi placed her faith in Christ and became a Christian.

Laos villagers and authorities are not always friendly toward Christians. So at first, Sonxi kept her faith a secret. When she finally told her family, they said, “We can’t believe in this religion, because we are afraid of the police. If there weren’t any police, we would believe in Jesus.”

They tried to stop Sonxi from going to church, but she continued to attend her village’s house church. “You are a very bad girl because you don’t listen to your parents!” her parents told her.

After her family began to abuse her, Sonxi escaped to a Christian friend. The Voice of the Martyrs helped her learn a trade to support herself and attend a Bible school. Today Sonxi is a full-time Christian worker in Laos.

(Source: The Voice of the Martyrs magazine)

To Think About
Someone had provided the tract that Sonxi found on the ground, but it must have been thrown away. Whoever gave away the tract probably never knew that it helped bring someone to Christ. Can you leave some Christian tracts or Scripture portions in a place where someone will find them? Can you trust that God’s word will succeed in bringing about His will? (Read Isaiah 55:11.)


Iraq: Escape from ISIS

Market in Erbil

Hani and his wife were expecting a baby. They and their families lived in Qaraqosh, a city in Iraq.

[Watch a video about a girl from Qaraqosh here.]

ISIS Muslim fighters invaded Qaraqosh and took over Hani’s poultry farm three miles outside the city. They held Hani and six other people as captives for 26 days. One day when the fighters were eating an evening meal, the captives fled before they were discovered. They ran the three miles to Qaraqosh as fast as they could run, but the city wasn’t safe either. Hani and his wife and relatives escaped to the city of Erbil, leaving behind their homes and their farm, which was worth $1 million.

Hani felt discouraged and heartbroken. After a time, he found a church where he was led closer to the Lord. His wife was happy when Jesus helped him change from an angry person to a loving follower of Jesus, and she also became a dedicated Christian.

Hani spends his days passing out Bibles in the Erbil area. He hopes to return to Qaraqosh to start a church. He now has peace inside. “I hated Muslims before,” he said. “Now I see them as victims, because if they knew Jesus, they would not do these works.”

(Source: The Voice of the Martyrs magazine)

To Talk About
*What is a victim? In Hani’s story, who are the victims? Who does Hani say are the victims? Why does he think they are victims?
*Hani and his family lost their home, their farm, and their business. Why was his wife happy, and why did Hani have peace?


St. Nicholas

As the Christmas season begins, we will hear a lot about Santa Claus. The character of Santa Claus was based on a real man named Nicholas. But Nicholas did not wear a red suit and fly with reindeer.

Nicholas lived in a place that is now part of Turkey. He was born in the town of Myra about 200 years after the birth of Jesus. At that time, Myra was part of the Roman Empire.

Nicholas grew up as an orphan after his parents died. As an adult, he became a Christian leader.

Persecution
An evil Roman leader named Diocletian decided that Christians were bad people. Since Nicholas was a leader in the church, Roman officials sent him to jail. Other Christians also suffered in prison under Diocletian’s rule.

Later, an emperor named Constantine came to power, and he liked Christians. He freed Nicholas and other Christians from prison. Nicholas continued to help orphans and others in need.

During the Christmas season, remember Christians who are still persecuted for their beliefs around the world today.

Read another story about Nicholas here.

Learn more about Nicholas in Nicholas: God’s Courageous Gift-Giver, a book in The Voice of the Martyrs’ Courageous Series for kids, available at vombooks.com.

 


Laos: Teaching the Persecutors

Laos children praying

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. — Luke 6:27-28, NIV

Earlier this year, seven families in a village in Laos gave their lives to Christ. They began traveling to a nearby village every Sunday to worship and fellowship with other Christians.

When leaders in their own village found out about the new Christians’ weekly trips to church, they scolded them. “Christianity is a foreign religion!” the village leaders told the Christians. “It goes against our traditions.”

The Christians could have gotten angry with the leaders and argued with them. They could have quit going to church in the other village and worshiped secretly at home. Or maybe they could have left their village and moved somewhere else.

But this is what they decided to do: They began peacefully meeting with the village leaders to explain the teachings of Christ and the practices of the Christian faith. Now the leaders allow the Christian families to go to church without scolding them.

“Pray that all the village leaders will hear and believe the gospel,” said a VOM worker. “And pray that other village families will join the seven new Christian families in worship.”

To Talk About
Do you think the Christians made a wise choice about how to deal with the village leaders? If so, what are some of the reasons it was a good choice? If not, what would have been a better choice?