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The Voice of the Martyrs in 2020

Martyrs’ memorial at VOM headquarters

(The following is a recent interview by VOM Radio host Todd Nettleton. It has been edited and condensed.)

Todd: Are there times when you feel overwhelmed with bad news around the world? Jonathan Ekman leads VOM’s International Ministry work around the globe. He has a much more encouraging outlook.

Jonathan: I think I would start by saying the Lord has allowed us to expand our response to persecution. Also, the distribution of about 1.2 million Bibles last year. So it was a great year!

Todd: What is the number of international ministry staff?

Jonathan: I have the privilege of leading a team of about 60 individuals — 25 nationalities based in 24 countries around the world, and we are active in more than 70 countries.

Todd: How do you think about the security of your team in a place like China that has locked up not only Chinese Christians, but also foreigners? You were here when our staff member Petr Jasek was in prison in Sudan.

Jonathan: We have worked very hard to prepare our staff. They counted the cost before they came. We were able to take care of Petr’s family while he was in prison. Seven times in 15 months, I made a trip to Prague to meet with Petr’s family.

Todd: What kinds of people are you recruiting and asking to join our team?

Jonathan: We are looking for experienced field missionaries who have lived on the field, working cross-culturally. Go and get some experience.

A great first step even before that is to take the “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” course. They give that all over the country.

But really, everyone could join our staff as far as praying — getting our prayer guides and beginning to make it a ministry that you pray for our brothers and sisters.

Todd: What is your favorite part of your job?

Jonathan: I love the fact that God has given me a front row seat to what He is doing in the earth. These are, without question, the most exciting days to be alive in the history of the church. There has never been a time like right now. I am confident that was true in 2019, and I know it will be true in 2020. What a blessing. It also makes me encourage people that if you find yourself afraid these days, you should turn off your television and pick up your Bible and a VOM newsletter, and see what God is doing.


Standing Up for Jesus in Afghanistan

(Source: VOM Radio. Edited for length and clarity. Photo: Afghan girl with a children’s Bible)

“I will share my own story of when I accepted Jesus,” said Javed, a Christian from Afghanistan. [Read about Christians in Afghanistan here.]

“We were in a neighboring country where we accepted the Lord. Then we went back to Afghanistan with our children.

“The children were small. We went to my parents’ house, and my father asked my son to say [the Muslim creed].”

(Note: Muslims are required to perform five duties called “The Five Pillars.” The first pillar is reciting the Muslim creed, which says, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.”)

Javed continued, “But instead of saying what the Muslims say, my son said, ‘There is no God but God, and Jesus is the Spirit of God.’

“My brother and my dad, they were so upset. They started fighting with me and they broke my ribs. They kicked us out of their house. Anyway, this is what I experienced.

“But as a follower of Jesus, we never give up. We never stop loving them. Although I thought I had forgiven my father, there was still pain. Slowly I started praying for him again. The next time when I went to Afghanistan [20 years after I had accepted Jesus], everybody was happy to see me. My dad said, ‘My son, I have missed you so much.’ He hugged and kissed me.

“As a follower of Jesus, you have to continue praying for and loving them, even when they reject you. I can’t prepare somebody for persecution, but I can tell them that Jesus wants us to love and forgive.

“Jesus has victory. He is risen. Let’s remember that.”

(Learn more in the books Learning About Islam and Bold Believers in Afghanistan, available in the Downloads section.)


You Can Help Front-Line Workers

The following message is from Jonathan Ekman, The Voice of the Martyrs’ Vice President of International Ministries.

While traveling in northern Nigeria, I had the privilege of meeting a pastor who lives in a very hostile area where he is under constant threat from Boko Haram. He had already sent his family someplace safer, but he chose to stay and minister to the small local group of believers. Though many warned him of the danger, his burden to preach the gospel and shepherd the church encouraged him to stay.

When I asked him what VOM could do for him in this situation, his response humbled me: “Please pray for me and the church I lead,” he said. Amid this great trial, his first desire was for the prayers of God’s people.

Your family, class or group can play an important role in this work by committing to pray for front-line workers in the coming year. When you make a commitment to pray, VOM will send you a photo of a Christian worker who is boldly and faithfully serving in evangelism, discipleship, and church planting efforts in a difficult and dangerous area.

When you join in prayer with friends and family for our brothers and sisters in hostile and restricted areas, you are helping advance the kingdom of God around the world, for His glory and His alone.

For more information about making a commitment to pray, see the February 2020 The Voice of the Martyrs magazine or visit persecution.com/FLW.


Double Country Word Find

Print the puzzle below. Hidden in the puzzle are the names of seven countries where Christian activities are limited in some way. Each country’s name is hidden TWICE. Look for the following countries running vertically (up and down), horizontally (across), or diagonally (slanted): Iraq, China, Nigeria, North Korea, India, Vietnam, Algeria.

N O R T H K O R E A
V I E T N A M A Z Y
N I B C C I N D I A
I I E W H T G S H A
G C G T I I W I C L
E X D E N R N R H G
R E V F R A A A I E
I N D I A I M Q N R
A L G E R I A U A I
N O R T H K O R E A

Stick with Jesus

Elevator

(Source: From the Lips of Children by Richard Wurmbrand. Paraphrased and edited for clarity.)

Students at a school in England were asked to name the person they would most like to be stuck with in a broken elevator. A girl answered, “An elevator expert.”

In one sense, we are all “stuck” — not in an elevator, but in a world with many problems. Sometimes all the problems can seem too much to bear.

But Jesus is an expert in human struggles. When he was on earth, he was poor, attacked, and crucified. He offers the only solution to the world’s problems: the power of his resurrection.

Let us choose our expert over anybody else!

(Elevator photo courtesy of Sam Howzit / Flickr.com.)