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Bold Believers in Syria

Bold Believers in Syria includes stories, history and culture facts, activities, and recipes that help children understand the daily lives of people in a country where civil war has driven more than 750,000 Christians from the country. The 48-page book is available free from the Downloads section of this site.

Activities Story

Make an Advent Prayer Train

Needed
30 mini raisin boxes, or other small boxes
Red and green acrylic paint
Glue (or tape)
Fine tip marker
Small photos of children from countries where Christians are persecuted from VOM publications or websites. (Or print and cut out the photos here.)

Instructions
*Cut off the tops and flaps of 24 of the mini boxes.
*Paint 12 of the boxes red and 12 of them green.
*Paint three of the remaining whole boxes red and three green.
*Let dry, and repeat if necessary.
*Glue sides of the boxes together to make a train, alternating red and green boxes. (See the photo above.) Number the odd numbered boxes with the marker.
*Make a train engine, arranging the remaining boxes as shown in the photo, and number one of the engine boxes with a 25.


*Glue or tape photos of children on the front of the boxes that are not numbered. Write the name of a country where Christians are persecuted inside each box with a photo on it, or make small labels and attach them to the inside of the boxes. (See the photo.)


*Add candy canes or mini candy bars to the boxes if desired.

Pray
Starting on December 1st, pray every day until Christmas for children around the world, especially children in countries featured on the train boxes. You can find prayer suggestions here or in downloadable Bold Believers books here. You can also enter the name of a country in the Search box on this site to find stories and prayer needs for that country.

Share the treat in each box with someone, and encourage them to pray also.


Activities Story

Thankfulness Bag

You can make a bag to help you remember the blessings God has provided for His children.

Needed
*Brown or white paper lunch bag
*White glue
*Brown, yellow, red, and orange craft foam
*Twine
*Hole puncher
*5 mm wiggle eyes
*A Bible verse about thankfulness printed or written on thick paper or cardstock
*10 or more 3-by-5 index cards or small cards cut from thick paper or cardstock
*Pen or marker

Instructions
1. Fold down 1¼ inches of the top of the bag to the inside of the bag. Optional: Glue or tape in place.
2. Punch two holes on the front and back of the bag about an inch from the top and an inch to each side of the center of the bag.
3. Form a loop with two lengths of twine. Thread the ends from the outside to the inside of the bag through the holes. Knot and glue the ends on the inside to form handles.
4. Cut the following shapes from the craft foam: 5 teardrop shapes (feathers) approximately 2¼ inches long from 2 or more colors, 1 brown circle about 2½ inches in diameter, 1 brown piece about 1½ inches wide and 1¼ inches tall in the shape of a rounded three leaf clover, 2 feet about an inch wide, a rounded yellow triangle about ¾ inch across at the top and ½ inches tall, and a turkey wattle about ¾ inch long.
5. Glue the ends of the feathers to the back of the larger brown circle. Assemble and glue the remaining pieces and the eyes together as shown in the photo. Glue the Bible verse to the bag.
6. Write one thing you are thankful for on each card. Consider including some of the following.
*I am thankful that nothing can separate us or persecuted Christians from the love of Christ.
*We are thankful for Christians who share the gospel in difficult places.
*Thank God that He never leaves or forsakes those who are suffering.
*Praise God for the “cloud of witnesses” described in the Book of Hebrews.
7. During Thanksgiving week, draw cards out of the bag during mealtimes or devotions
and thank God for the blessings listed on the cards.


Activities Story

National Bible Week

The week of Thanksgiving is National Bible Week in the United States.

Suggested Group Activities for National Bible Week

In a country where Bibles are hard for some Christians to get, a broadcaster reads parts of the Bible on a radio program. He reads very slowly so listeners can copy the verses by hand. The listeners use the written verses as their “Bible.”

Have someone read Matthew 19:29 out loud very slowly while others in the group write the verse on paper or type it on a computer.

Crossing the Border Game
Guards in some countries also try to keep people from sneaking into their country, especially if they are carrying Bibles. The governments of some countries do not want their citizens to learn about Jesus. Christians in one place found a way to take Bibles into those countries in the winter. Guards near the border looked for footprints in the snow. They sent attack dogs in the direction of the footprints. So the Christians walked backwards in the snow at night to take Bibles into the countries that did not allow Bibles. When border guards looked down at the footprints from their towers in the morning, they sent their search dogs in the wrong direction!

How to Play
Divide into two teams with an equal number of players. Give each team a bag of three or four books. Make a starting line and a finish line several yards apart. Line up the teams behind the starting line. When a leader says, “Go,” the first player on each team walks/runs backwards to the finish line, carrying the bag of books. The player drops the books behind him beyond the finish line. The second player walks/runs backwards to the books, picks them up without turning around, then runs back to the starting line. Play continues until all the players on one team have finished the task. That team wins.

To Discuss
Smuggling Bibles into a country where Christians are persecuted can be risky. Smugglers can be arrested or attacked. They are willing to sacrifice their safety and take the risk. Did anyone have to sacrifice so that you would be able to read the Bible in your language?


Spotlight Story

Central Asia: Pastor’s Son Bullied

Many people in the countries of Central Asia are Muslims. Some don’t take their faith seriously, but they still get angry when others in their country choose to follow Christ. They believe that Islam, the religion of Muslims, is part of their culture.

A VOM contact asked pastors in Central Asia about how their congregations get along with local Muslims. Some said they face serious persecution; others said they had not been persecuted — yet.

One pastor told the following story.

“Often I see that children here are left useless, unsupervised, without care and love, which makes them angry. In the beginning, when we moved to this city, my son was not well received by the local children, because they knew he was a Christian. They began to bother him, tried to hurt him in any way, threw stones, and called him names. One day the children surrounded him and tried to set him on fire, saying, ‘You are a Christian, so you will go to hell.’

“When we heard about it, we invited them to visit us. We saw that they were just abandoned and unwanted children in need of love. We just started to care for them and love them, and that changed their attitude toward our son. Now most of these children are friends of my son. Please pray for believers in Central Asia – they need wisdom from above.”

To Think About
*Why were the bullies angry?
*What do you think of the pastor’s decision to invite the bullies to his house?
*Read about Muslims’ beliefs about heaven here.  What are the differences between their beliefs and biblical Christian beliefs?

Learn more about Christians in one Central Asian country in Bold Believers in Uzbekistan, available in the free Downloads section. The photo above is from that book.


Spotlight Story

India: Christian Visitors and a Sick Terrorist

Each year The Voice of the Martyrs works through its global network of staff and partners to reach the children of persecuted Christians in restricted nations and hostile areas with a special Christmas Care Pack. The contents are tailored to the needs of children in each region. (See the photo above of a boy in India with his Christmas Care Pack.) Sometimes Christians share the packs with non-Christian neighbors.

One of the people in India whose village received clothes, candy, and other items from Christmas Care Packs sent VOM the following message.

At Christmastime, a group of Christians arrived in our village. They sang Christmas songs, distributed clothes, and passed out candy to everyone. It was strange thing for me because I was a non-Christian. “These are not our people, but they love us!” I thought. “What must be the reason?”

I went to a church and asked the pastor. He told me about Jesus and gave me a Bible to read.

Expelled and Threatened
We didn’t have peace in my family. We prayed to our gods to solve the problems, but our problems were increasing. “Why should I not pray to Jesus?” I asked myself. I started praying to Jesus about our problems. All our problems solved one by one.

My parents thought that all our problems got solved by themselves. So I had to tell them that I was praying to Jesus about our problems. In just a few days, they too accepted Jesus. Then the pastor baptized us in the church.

Our tribal leaders found out about our decision to follow Christ, and they became furious. They kicked us out of our tribe. We lost all our privileges. People stopped talking to us. Later terrorists came to our church and ordered us not to have a gospel meeting.

A week after that, one of the terrorists came to me and said, “On the same evening that we warned you not to have a gospel meeting, our leader got sick. We gave him medicine, we prayed to our gods, but he is not getting healed. We believe that this sickness has come because we threatened you to stop Jesus’ work. Please pray for our leader.”

What do you think the Christian did? Do you think he was afraid of what might happen if the terrorist leader was not healed? Read more below.

“Jesus, you are all powerful,” I said in my heart, and then I prayed for that leader. In a few hours he got healed completely. “Go ahead, conduct the meeting for Jesus,” the terrorists said.

All the believers in our church rejoiced in the Lord. There was no one to stop the gospel meeting, because the Lord had brought the terrorists to our side. By this miracle of Jesus, many came to know Him.”

(Source: VOM contacts. Edited for length and clarity.)

Check The Voice of the Martyrs magazine or visit christmascare.com for information about how to participate in this year’s Christmas Care project.