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Learning Verses in Secret

[Photo: Iranian Christians praying]

Many Christians gather in secret in Iran. Most people in the country are Muslims, and the government does not want them to leave their religion to follow Jesus. It’s not unusual for Christians to be put in prison.

It’s against the law to print Bibles in Iran. Some Christians learn Scriptures using websites, mobile phone cards, and smartphone apps. They listen to Christian programs on satellite TV.

The Voice of the Martyrs recently received a list of 125 Bible verses that house church members and their leaders in Iran are memorizing. “They are recalling these verses when they are in jail or other places and are unable to access a Bible,” a VOM worker said.

You can see 10 of the verses below. Can you memorize one of the verses today? Why might each verse be inspiring to Iranian Christians today?

1. Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
2. Who brought me out from my enemies; you exalted me above those who rose against me; you delivered me from men of violence. (2 Samuel 22:49)
3. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
4. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5–6)
5. But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. (Luke 6:27–28)
6. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
7. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
8. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:14)
9. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (Matthew 5:11)
10. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)


Secret Rules

China
American girl eating in China

Missionaries to other countries may have trouble learning all the customs and unwritten rules of the people around them. For example, in some countries, it is not polite to eat with the left hand, and in some places, it is insulting to show others the bottom of one’s shoe.

Divide into two teams. Have teams meet separately where they can’t hear each other while discussing their strategy. Ask each team to make up a very simple imaginary secret rule about eating a snack. Examples: Use only your right hand to eat. Or everyone must sit with their right foot crossed over their left. Or every spoken sentence must end with “please” or “thank you.” Or girls must look down at their food and never raise their eyes.

Then let the teams interact while a simple snack is served. Try to discover the other team’s secret rule within a certain time limit. (If you do not want to serve a snack, teams can think of a rule to follow while listening to a story.)

To Think About

  • What are some “unwritten” rules or customs of your country that others might have trouble understanding?
  • With an adult, attend a church that follows customs with which you are not familiar. Talk about how it felt to be in a place with different “rules.”
  • How can you welcome and help new people who come to your church and might not understand how things are done at your church?

Nigeria: Kidnapper Put in Prison

[Photo: Ese]
(Sources include: VOM Australia)

Radical Muslims have attacked churches and homes in Nigeria, and they have persecuted Christian families. Attackers are not always caught or punished. But recently, a court sentenced a Muslim kidnapper to 26 years in prison.

The man, Yunusa Dahiru, kidnapped a 13-year-old girl from a Christian family. He took the girl, Ese, to his home, forced her to marry him, and changed her name to Aisha. Several months later, the police rescued Ese. She was five months pregnant with her daughter. “I thank God that truth has prevailed,” Ese’s father said after Yunusa was convicted of his crime.

VOM Australia suggests the following ways to pray about the situation.
*Thank the Lord for the outcome and answered prayers for the family. Ask the Lord to intervene on behalf of the many captives in Nigeria.

*Pray for Ese’s future life and that of her daughter. May they grow in faith and knowledge of the Lord and find their confidence in Him.

*Pray for the perpetrators of such crimes in Nigeria. Ask the Holy Spirit to be at work in bringing conviction, repentance, and transformed lives.


Homeschooling Forbidden

(Source: ChinaAid Association)

A court in China has forbidden a Christian mother to homeschool her children.

In China, it is illegal for parents or teachers to teach religion to children under the age of 18. Fan Ruzhen began homeschooling her children several years ago. She hoped to provide them with a Christian education. Last September, authorities sued her, saying that she must send her children to public schools for an atheistic education. (Read about atheism here.)

A district court ruled in favor of the officials and ordered Fan to send her children to public school. Fan fought the ruling, bringing it to an intermediate court. The court ruled that there is no disagreement between faith and the public education system. It also emphasized that children who follow a religion must be educated in the atheistic system.

Please pray for Fan’s family and for other Christian families in China who have to send their children to schools that teach false beliefs. Pray that the children will have God’s truth in their hearts and follow that truth.

(Photo: Chinese girl reading a Bible)


Hundreds of Crosses Disappear

One day last month, more than 100 security officials showed up at two churches in China. They brought large cranes with them, which they used to take the crosses off the tops of the churches.

The officials broke the locks on the church doors and destroyed some church property. They attacked church members who tried to stop the destruction. They even pushed a man in his 80s to the ground.

The two churches were not the only victims of the government’s crackdown. During the first four months of 2020, crosses were removed from at least 250 churches. The government of China is also making many other rules to limit Christian activities.

Below are some ways you can pray about the situation.
*Ask God to give church leaders wisdom as they try to continue serving their congregations.
*Ask God to help Chinese children and adults who want to learn more about Jesus but don’t know how to find people to help them.
*Pray that God will encourage Christians in their faith when they can’t gather with other believers.