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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.

Spotlight Story

Stephen

 

This year, Christians around the world will take time on June 29 and throughout the weekend to honor the legacy of those who have sacrificed their lives for the advancement of the gospel. The Day of the Christian Martyr will help keep us aware of what God has done in the past through His faithful servants. (See the previous post about the Apostle Paul.) Stephen, whose story is told in Chapters 6 and 7 of the Book of Acts, is considered to be the first Christian martyr.

Elise Wixtrom writes reviews of VOM resources for readers of kidsofcourage.com. Read below her review of Stephen: God’s Courageous Witness, a book from The Voice of the Martyrs’ Courageous Series. The six books in the series are available at vombooks.com.

Stephen is the first recorded martyr of the early Christian church. As a young man, he heard about the gospel of Jesus Christ through the first disciples. He became a leader in the church, and he taught the words of Christ among the congregation and in the streets. He went about the city of Jerusalem, proclaiming the good news that he had heard.

However, not everyone appreciated his efforts to tell them the story of Christ. They were, in the end, hostile to his attempts. Stephen was brought in front of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court, and charged with blasphemy against the law of Moses. Stephen was then taken out of the court and stoned at the place now called Stephen’s Wall. Paul, then Saul, stood by and held the coats of Stephen’s executioners, unaware that he would one day be in a similar position. The account of Stephen’s argument with the Jewish leaders, as well as the events of his death, were recorded in the book of Acts.

What can we learn from this story? When asked to defend your faith, as Stephen was asked, don’t back down, even if you don’t have all the answers, or if you are scared. Sometimes being scared or uncertain is all right, because in that moment you can be brave. Stephen was brave in the face of the people who killed him. He did not back down. If you believe in God, there might be consequences, but God will give you strength to stand upright and speak what you know to be true.


Spotlight Story

Paul

Standing with today’s persecuted Christians is central to our mission. But it is also important for us to draw inspiration from those who have gone before us…We have established this date, [June 29] coinciding with the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Apostle Paul, as an annual day of remembrance called Day of the Christian Martyr. — Cole Richards, President of The Voice of the Martyrs

Elise Wixtrom writes reviews of VOM resources for readers of kidsofcourage.com. Enter “Elise” in the search box to read about Elise and to find more of her reviews. Read below her review of Paul: God’s Courageous Apostle, a book from The Voice of the Martyrs’ Courageous Series. The six books in the series are available at vombooks.com.

The apostle Paul was not always called Paul, nor did he begin his relationship with Christianity as an apostle. Paul, born Saul, was a Roman citizen by right of his Jewish parents, who were most likely granted citizenship by their former slave master. Paul became a Pharisee as his career. Jewish leaders at the time advised those under their jurisdiction to leave the Christians alone and to let them die out. But Paul pursued new converts to Christ with a furious, deadly energy.

Paul held an unmatched hate in his heart toward the Christian faith. But that all changed when he headed to Damascus to arrest Christians in their house churches and secret gatherings. Paul was nearing the city when a bright light flashed into his vision, and he fell to the ground.

He heard a voice ask, “Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” the voice replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Saul stood up, but when he opened his eyes, he couldn’t see anything. He had to cancel his mission to arrest Christians in the area and instead was guided to a house in Damascus.

Meanwhile, a man named Ananias who lived in Damascus was praying to God. Suddenly Jesus appeared to him and told him to visit the Pharisee called Saul and that through Ananias, this man would regain his sight. Ananias, with apprehension, obeyed God’s words and visited the house where Saul was staying.

Saul, after being visited by Ananias, regained his sight and immediately stopped persecuting the early Church. In fact, he became a strong Christian and began a mission that would continue until his death at the hands of the Roman government.

Before Paul’s death, he was shipwrecked, imprisoned, stoned, and chased out of cities and synagogues. All the while, he did not ever hesitate to tell those around him about the Gospel of Christ. The Apostle Paul also wrote many letters to the early Church that are now translated and make up much of the New Testament.

Paul’s story of redemption reminds us that no matter who we are, God can do great things if we give our lives to His purpose. It also reminds us that no matter what a person has done, they can always be redeemed through God’s grace.


Spotlight Story

Light from Heaven, Part 2

The previous post told about a Christian man who entered a mosque in Turkey hoping to find someone with whom he could share the love of Jesus. The man was from Yemen, and he longed to talk to a Muslim from his homeland. While he sat in the mosque, a Muslim man suddenly ran up to him.

Read the rest of the story below, as it was told by Dick Brogden to Todd Nettleton on VOM Radio.

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

Dr. Brodgen: The Muslim man greeted the Christian in Yemeni Arabic! “Will you come with me to the women’s section?” the Muslim man asked. “My wife and I want to ask you a question.” [Traditionally, men and women worship in separate sections in many mosques.]

After they greeted the wife, the Muslim man said to the Christian, “Some time ago, my wife and I both had the same vision. In the vision, we both saw you in this mosque and light was coming down from heaven. The light was shining into you, then out of you and into us.

“I have to work,” the Muslim man continued. “So I told my wife to come to the mosque every day and look for you. I told her to call me when you showed up.

“Today she came to the mosque just as you were standing up to leave. She prayed, ‘Oh God, don’t let that man leave.’ You fell back down to the carpet, and here you are. So please, tell us what these things mean.”

The Christian man went to the couple’s apartment and shared the gospel with them all night long. In the morning, the Yemeni Muslim man and his wife gave their hearts to Jesus.

To Talk About
In a mountain village in Romania, an elderly carpenter prayed that God would allow him to lead a Jewish person to Christ. He was not able to leave the mountain, so he prayed that God would send a Jew to him. Then a Jewish couple, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, arrived in the village so Richard could recover from tuberculosis.

God answered the carpenter’s prayer, and the Wurmbrands trusted Christ as their Savior. Later, after they suffered persecution for their new faith, they started The Voice of the Martyrs to help persecuted Christians.

They carpenter prayed that he would lead a Jewish person to Christ, and the Yemeni Christian prayed that he would be able to share the good news of Jesus with someone from his own country. Both prayed for a long time, and God answered their prayers.

Will you ask God to lead you to those He wants you to talk to about Jesus, and to prepare you to talk to them in a way that will help them understand God’s gift of salvation?


Spotlight Story

Light from Heaven

In the previous post, missionary Dick Brogden talked about bearing fruit by abiding in Jesus. During Dr. Brogdens’ visit to VOM Radio, he also told the story of a man at a mosque who was used by God to bear fruit for His kingdom. (A mosque is a building where Muslims worship.)

Read Dr. Brodgen’s story below.
(Source: VOM Radio. Edited for length and clarity.)

Dr. Brodgen: The destruction in Yemen is greater than in Syria. But it doesn’t get as much media attention. It is a country that is completely devastated. A young man and his wife fled the devastation and went to Sweden.

In Sweden, the couple came to know Jesus. They joined a radio ministry that broadcast gospel messages back into Yemen. Then they went to a conference in Turkey for a few days. After the conference, the man stayed behind in Turkey, hoping to meet other people from Yemen.

He walked through the streets of the city for three days, looking for someone from Yemen to share the gospel with. On the last day of his visit, he was discouraged. “I’ll just go into the mosque,” he thought. It wasn’t the usual time of Muslim prayer, but he took his Bible, walked into the mosque, and sat in the middle of the carpet. [People traditionally sit on the floor at mosques.]

He opened his Bible and began to read it. Nothing happened. So he closed his Bible, stood up, and prepared to leave. But something forced him back to the ground, and he got worried. He couldn’t move. Suddenly a Muslim man ran up to him.

Read the next post to find out what happened after that.


Spotlight Story

Abiding in Jesus

Todd Nettleton of VOM Radio recently talked with Dick Brogden, the leader of a Christian organization called Live Dead. Dr. Brogden talked about how missionaries start their work by abiding in Jesus.

Dick Brogden: Jesus said very simply, “If you will abide in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” [See John 15:1-8.] We rest on His promise that if we do that, He will bring in disciples. He will bring in that “fruit.”

Todd Nettleton: How would you advise an American Christian who says, “I want to do more about abiding”?

Dick Brogden:
[Spiritual Muscles]
Spiritual muscles are very similar to physical muscles. You don’t start bench pressing 400 pounds the first day. I think you set modest goals. You can do that for a while, and then you start to increase.

[Prayer and Bible Reading]
The heart of it needs to be reading the Bible and prayer time. Some people journal, some use coloring books, and some people like listening to music [during their devotion time]. But the heart of it would be read your Bible, pray, and expand that time.

[Starting Out]
So I would say, if you are starting out, read a chapter a day, and pray for five minutes a day. Then increase to two chapters a day and 10 minutes, then three chapters a day and 15 minutes, but avoid legalism. [“Legalism” means placing more importance on your own rules than trusting in God’s gift of salvation through faith in His Son Jesus.]

[Tithing]
Most American Christians would not have a problem with the concept of tithing their money. Well our time is a much more important resource than our money, and it is not renewable. Every moment belongs to Jesus, so as a goal, let’s tithe our time.

[Saying Yes and No]
If that’s going to work, something has to go. You can’t watch a lot of TV, or spend a lot of time with social media, or be lazy if you want to tithe your time to Jesus. Some of it is as much about what you say “no” to  as it is what you say “yes” to — what time you go to bed, what time you get up, and what you cut out of your life so you can give that to the Lord.

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

To Think About
What are some steps you can take to abide in Christ?