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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

Liang and Xun: Fifteen Winters Without a Dad

Uygur children

(The story below comes from Stef, the children’s publication of SDOK, a ministry that is part of The Voice of the Martyrs’ family of missions. SDOK is in the Netherlands. The story has been translated from Dutch, then edited for length and clarity.)

Liang and Xun are brothers who live in a super large country. The Netherlands would fit inside their country 240 times. Do you know what country it is? It’s China.

Control
Many people in China follow traditional religions, or no religion at all. The government does not think this is a problem. But the Chinese government dislikes foreign religions. People who believe in one God are watched closely. Did you know that there are government cameras on the streets in China? And at churches and mosques? (A mosque is a building where Muslims worship.) You might not have thought so, but many Muslims live in China. Liang and Xun could tell you all about that. They live in the northwest part of China where many Muslims live. The Muslims are part of a people group called Uygurs.

The story of Liang and Xun
Liang and Xun’s parents were Muslim like others around them. Then Liang’s father started reading the Bible and became a Christian. You can understand that caused problems — they lived in a country where the government does not like religion and some Muslims do not like Christians. That is a double problem. That’s what Liang and Xun’s father noticed.

Heavy punishment
Ten years ago the police were very strict and keeping a close eye on the Christians. The boys’ father, Alimjan, was arrested and put in prison. “You talked about your faith with other people and that is against the law. And you have also spoken to foreigners and that is treason,” they told Alimjan. “There is a very high penalty for that. You get 15 years in prison.”

FIFTEEN YEARS! That is really a long time! Just figure out how old you will be in 15 years!

It takes so long
In the beginning, Liang hoped that his father would come home sooner. He prayed and prayed, and one night he asked his mother, “Mama, if two or three people who believe in the Lord Jesus are together, then God is there. Christians around the world ask God if Dad can go home quickly. Why is he not coming home? We’ve been without dad for two winters. I do not want to go another winter without a dad.” [See Matthew 18:20.]

Ten years later
But his father was not home that winter. And not the next winter either. Ten winters have passed, and the boys still have five winters to go. They can call their father once a month. And that is a celebration for the whole family.

Comfort
The boys’ mother, Gulner, says that you can learn a lot in difficult times. Through difficulties you learn to keep going, you get a strong spirit, and you learn to trust God more and more. Gulner learned this from the Bible, in Romans 5. She also feels that many Christians are praying for her family. Do you want to pray too?

Pray that Alimjan does not have to be in jail for another five years. Ask God to help the family members to not lose heart. Pray that they will continue to trust in God, even if it still takes five winters.

(To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this website and some identifying details have been changed.)

Read more about courageous Uygur believers in Bold Believers Among China’s Uygurs, available in the Downloads section of this site.


Activities Story

Make and Play a Board Game

(Source: Release International, a ministry that is part of The Voice of the Martyrs’ family of missions in the United Kingdom.)

Make a large game board on thick paper or poster board like the one shown above.

Now make 10 “Blessings” cards like the example shown. On each card, write one way that God has blessed Christians in countries where they are persecuted. If you need ideas, read stories on this site.

Make 10 “Woes” cards that tell obstacles the Christians might face when they try to attend church.

Make 10 “Prayer” cards, each including a prayer need of a different country. If you need help, look in the Countries section or find prayer points in stories on this site.

Cut a small game piece out of poster board for each player. Make sure each piece is different.

How to Play
• Put the game pieces near the bus at the start.
• The first player rolls a dice or number cube and moves their game piece the number of spaces shown.
• When a player lands on a “P” space, they pick up a “Prayer” card and read it aloud. Players talk about the prayer request, then pray for the country described.
• When a player lands on a “B” space, they draw a “Blessing” card and read it aloud, then move their game piece another space forward.
• When a player lands on a “W” space, they pick up a “Woes” card, read it aloud, then move one space backward.
• Players take turns moving their game pieces. The first player to reach the church wins.

Reminder: The International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Church will be observed on November 4th.


Activities Story

Learning to Play

Pakistani girl playing cricket

The previous post told about Aaron, a Pakistani Christian who stayed in Pakistan to help kids learn about Jesus.

Many Christian families in Pakistan have to work at brick kilns because better jobs often go to Muslim workers. Aaron visited a brick kiln to minister to the people. He saw children as young as 4 years old making bricks to earn money for their poor families.

Aaron planned to play games with the children, then teach them more about Jesus. “Come and play!” he said to some children. Like other children around the world, most kids in Pakistan like to play games. (See the photo above of a girl playing cricket, a popular sport in Pakistan.) But the brick kiln kids looked at Aaron blankly. They didn’t know how to play. They made bricks all day long and did not go to school.

Aaron tried to make some bricks. “I could only make two or three,” he said. “But little kids do it all day long.”

With the help and support of The Voice of the Martyrs, Aaron has been able to provide picture Bibles to brick kiln children, to bring them hope, and to play games with them!

You can watch a video of a girl making bricks at a brick kiln here.

To make a brick mix 2 cups of straw (or dried grass), 4 quarts of dirt, and 6 cups of water. Line a shoebox with a trash bag. Tape the bag to the outside of the box to secure it. Pour some of the dirt mixture into the box. Let it dry in the sun for about two days. Take it out of the box and turn it over so the bottom can dry.


Spotlight Story

Needed at Home

Girls in Pakistan reading about Jesus

Aaron gave his life to Christ at a Bible camp in Pakistan when he was 13 years old. He studied the Bible and shared his faith with others. But as time went on, Aaron was not content with his life. He wished he could leave his home in Pakistan and move to another country. Like many other youth in his country, he imagined that life would be better and more exciting somewhere else.

One day Aaron attended a Christian event, and he noticed younger children who had come with their parents. He began to talk to the children and ask them questions.

“Why do we celebrate Christmas?” Aaron asked the children.

“Because that’s when Jesus rose from the dead!” a child answered.

“Why do we celebrate Easter?” asked Aaron.

“That’s when Jesus was born!” replied a child.

Aaron realized that the children were like “sheep without a shepherd.” (See Matthew 9:36.) Christian adults in the area were not trained to present Bible truths to children. Aaron realized he needed to stay in Pakistan to help the children. Since then, he has introduced many kids to Bible stories, Christian truths, and the Good News of Jesus. He is thankful that God called him to minister to children, and thankful that he answered God’s call.

To Think About
What would you like to do when you become an adult? Are you willing to change your plans if God calls you to do something else?

Learn more about Pakistani Christians in Bold Believers in Pakistan, available in the Downloads section of this site.


Spotlight Story

Everything Costs a Price

Helen Berhane and her daughter Ava

A previous post told how God guided Helen Berhane as she matured in her faith. Helen’s years of preparation helped her when she was imprisoned in Eritrea after she boldly proclaimed her faith in Christ.

Read below what Helen said about following Jesus.

“I decided to stand by faith; it doesn’t matter what the cost. Because everything costs a price. When you buy bread, it costs a price. When you buy car, it costs a price. Also, when you follow Jesus, it costs a price. Everything costs a price.”

(Source: vomradio.net. Edited for length and clarity)

To Talk About
*Name someone in the Bible who paid a price for obeying God.
*Tell a story from this website about someone who paid a price for following Jesus.
*Can you think of a way you might have to sacrifice something important to you in the future because you follow Jesus?