[Photo: Turkish boy]
(The story below comes from Stef, the children’s publication of SDOK, a ministry in the Netherlands that is part of The Voice of the Martyrs’ family of missions. The story, told by a boy in Turkey named Yeshua, has been translated from Dutch, the language of the Netherlands.)
Has your teacher ever scolded you?
Yeshua’s teacher called Christians “dirty people.” By that he also meant Yeshua. His friends at school had known since kindergarten that Yeshua was a Christian. But some of Yeshua’s classmates teased him.
Read his story below.
I live in Turkey where most people are Muslims. But my family is Christian. My friends in school knew that I was from a Christian family, and that was never a problem. We played together, and we went to school together. Until I was in sixth grade.
We had two religion class a week. The lessons were, of course, Islamic lessons because most of Turkey is Islamic. [Islam is the religion of Muslims.] Because I’m a Christian, I didn’t have to join the class. But the school I’m going to is small. There was nowhere else for me to sit, so I sat quietly in the religion class so I would not to be a burden to others. But during those lessons, trouble started. And the worst thing was that the teacher also joined in!
The teacher said that Christians worship the wrong gods, and that I would go to hell. I wanted to explain something about my faith, but the teacher became angry and called Christians “dirty people.” The children from my class laughed at me and teased me on the playground. They tried to hit me, too. I often cried at home, and I told my mom what happened at school. My mother also became sad and cried along with me.
My mother decided to go to the school and talk to the teacher. A few days later, when the religion class had just started, I saw my mother come into the classroom. She asked if she could briefly address the class.
My teacher looked surprised, and it seemed to me that he felt a little ashamed. I sat nervously in my chair. What would my mother say? And what would the other children do? My mother stood in front of the class and asked, “Can you name something about you that you didn’t choose?”
Everyone called out different answers: “The color of my eyes, my parents, the place where I was born,” some of the kids answered.
Then my mother asked: “There are also things you can choose. What are they?” The kids answered: “The shoes I wear, my favorite football team, my job.”
After they answered, my mother continued. “Did you know that we also choose our faith? My husband and I chose to be Christian. We told Yeshua about our faith since the day he was born. But we have not forced him to believe. He has chosen it for himself.”
Then she looked at the teacher and said, “You know that the Turkish constitution gives us freedom to select our own faith. It is not necessary to tease others because they have chosen a different faith.” I looked at the teacher. He was standing to the side, and he looked at the ground.
From that day, he no longer teased or made fun of me. Also the children in my class stopped doing that. And if they asked why I chose to be a Christian, then I happily told them about it!
*Thank God that Yeshua likes to talk about his faith and that he is no longer bullied.
*Pray for Christian children in Turkey. They often feel lonely at school, because they are usually the only Christian in the class and don’t have friends. Often they are bullied. Pray that they will know that God is close to them.
*Even in some churches there are few children. Pray that the kids will grow in faith and not give up.