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Iran: “Persecution Keeps You Clean”

Sharing the gospel in Iran

Todd Nettleton at VOM Radio recently talked with Ali, a Christian who spreads the gospel in Iran. Ali is at risk of persecution every day, because it is against the law for Muslims in Iran to become Christians.

Todd asked Ali, “What do you think about the risk of persecution? How do you think about it on a day-to-day basis and as you make plans for what you’re going to do next week and next year?”

Ali answered, “First, persecution keeps you clean. You are not going to sin for a long time if you are being persecuted, because you want the hand of God upon you. You don’t want His hand to be lifted from you.

“It’s not that He loves me less or that I have to be holy for Him to love me — no. It’s about discipline. The enemy is looking for a door. He is like a roaring lion circling around us looking for ways to attack. [See 1 Peter 5:8.] We don’t want to open doors for him. So persecution keeps you clean.

The second thing — persecution has forced me to learn the power of prayer and fasting and sticking to the Word. Because if I’m not in a relationship with God, if I’m not talking to God, and I’m not hearing from God, I could make a risky mistake.”

(Source: vomradio.net. Edited for length, clarity, and age-appropriateness.)

To Talk About
*How does Ali say persecution keeps him clean?
*If Ali could move to the United States and spread the gospel without risking so much, should he do so?


Emre Wants to Go to Camp

Emre

(The story below comes from Stef, the children’s publication of SDOK, a ministry that is part of The Voice of the Martyrs’ family of missions. SDOK is in the Netherlands, where the people speak Dutch.)

Emre from Turkey has already been to a Christian summer camp twice. He thought it was super fun. The kids at camp learn Bible stories, sing songs, and play cool games. Emre is a Christian and nobody else at his school is Christian. He finds that quite difficult. That’s why he wants to go to the summer camp again. There he can meet his Christian friends and learn a lot from the Bible.

The summer camp leaders make lots of preparations, but sometimes there is bad news. It is not always easy to find a nice and safe place to have the camp. Do you want to pray that a good spot is found next time? Then Emre can go to camp again!

Watch an SDOK video of Christian kids at a camp in Turkey here.


Erika and Gracia

Erika and Gracia

The Voice of the Martyrs Advance conferences share personal testimonies of God’s faithfulness in the midst of persecution. Gracia Burnham is a speaker at some of the conferences. Gracia and her husband, Martin, were missionaries in the Philippines. They were kidnapped by a gang of radical Muslims who took them into the jungle. The Burnhams lived with the kidnappers in harsh conditions for about a year.

Erika, a girl who attended a VOM conference and met Gracia, has been telling others what she learned. Read what Erika said below.

My name is Erika and I am 8 years old. I am also in the 2nd grade. On Saturday we went to Georgia and went to the VOM conference. There was a lot of people there. They sang a lot of songs and had a lot of speakers. The last speaker was Ms. Gracia. She was a very good speaker.

She went in the jungle and they laid on rice sacks, and one morning when she woke up there was a snake crawling out of her rice sack. She also found some old boots for her hurt feet, and she found anything she could find to put on her feet because the boots was not comfortable. She got shot in the leg when fighting was going on, and her husband got shot in the chest and died. She and her husband were both missionaries. I learned it is important to pray for those who are missionaries and all people all over the world. I also learned to pray for the persecuted.

(Edited for length and clarity.)

Learn more about VOM Advance conferences here.
Read a story about Gracia here, or in Bold Believers in the Philippines, available in the Downloads section.


Thankful in Prison, Part 2

Hassan (second from left) in prison

Pastor Hassan was arrested in 2015 for his Christian work in Sudan. You can read his story here.

Recently, Todd Nettleton of vomradio.net interviewed Pastor Hassan about his time in prison. Most prisoners would have nothing good to say about prison. And the pastor did say it was very hard to be away from his family for so long.

But Pastor Hassan says he is thankful to God for many things that happened to him! In fact, he said, “I considered this as one of the best times in my life…. I truly prayed and came closer to God and experienced the presence of the Lord in a different way.”

Read below some of the prison blessings the pastor remembers.

*He and other Christians in prison encouraged one another.

*Visitors brought joy to his day.

*The government of Sudan had claimed that there were no Christians in their country. Visitors who sang Christian songs outside the courthouse proved the government wrong.

*Pastor Hassan and a Christian prisoner in another cell called memorized Bible verses back and forth to each other.

*After a time, Pastor Hassan was able to get a Bible in the prison.

*Pastor Hassan shared truths from his Bible with other prisoners. He was joyful that God opened a door for him to do prison ministry — from the inside! “There is hunger in the prison,” he said. “The people really want Christ.”

*Pastor Hassan was thankful for the stories in the Bible about God rescuing people from prison. (See Acts 12, Acts 5:17-20, Acts 16:25-28, and Daniel 3.)

Even in prison, Pastor Hassan experienced at least seven blessings. This Thanksgiving, can you name seven blessings for which you are thankful?

(Sources include: vomradio.net and prisoneralert.com.)


Thankful in Prison

Children in Myanmar

Pastor John Cao did not spend Thanksgiving last year with his wife and two sons in North Carolina. Instead, he spent the holiday in a Chinese prison.

“John committed the crime of doing good,” said a Christian friend of the pastor. Pastor John helped build 16 schools in Myanmar (Burma). The schools provide an education for 2,000 children in poverty. The students study the Bible in their classes, and many have come to Christ.

Pastor John’s wife and sons are American citizens, but he was born in China. He has kept his Chinese citizenship to make it easier for him to minister in Asia. In recent times, the Chinese government has increased control over Christian activities. Christians believe Pastor John may have been imprisoned because of stricter government rules.

Pastor John has been sentenced to seven years in prison. He is allowed to write only one letter a month. He misses his wife, children, mother, and siblings. He has several physical ailments.

But this is what Pastor John said in a letter to a family member: “Rejoice with me because I count this as kind of a privilege to suffer with my Lord. I am serious. I am not joking. This is a privilege.”

Pastor Cao hopes to be back at home with his family soon. But like the apostles in Acts 5, Pastor John is thankful for the opportunity to endure hard times for the name of Jesus.

This Thanksgiving, remember Christians who are in prison (Hebrew 13:3), and thank God for their faithful example to us and to those in prison with them.

(Sources include: vomradio.net and prisoneralert.com.)