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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

Remembering Mothers

On Mother’s Day this year, remember mothers you know, or mothers around the world, who have sacrificed to bring up their children in the Christian faith. Some mothers who live in countries where Christians are persecuted have lost homes, families, and friends after deciding to follow Christ. Others have lost their lives, leaving children who honor their memory.

You can make a reminder to pray for mothers and children.

Needed
Embroidery hoop
White, all-purpose glue
Scrapbook paper or other decorative paper
Buttons, ribbon, and other items for decorating
Photo of mothers and children from The Voice of the Martyrs’ publications or websites, or other sources

Instructions
1. Trace around the outside of the inner hoop on decorative paper.
2. Cut out the traced circle and glue it onto the top ring of the inner hoop. Let it dry.
3. Glue on a photo, ribbon, buttons or other items to decorate the reminder.
4. Display the hoop on a wall or bulletin board.

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife, or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:29).


Spotlight Story

India: Living as Christians

Ritesh and his family

The three previous posts told about Ritesh, a father in India who came to Christ after months of seeking truth and peace. But in India, it’s not always easy to be a Christian. His family’s story continues below.

Kimaya, Ritesh’s oldest daughter, is known in her family as “the prayerful person.” But the whole family has a time of prayer together from 5 to 8 every morning. They pray, worship, and read their precious Bible before school.

At school, the children’s favorite subjects are languages and math. Ranbir likes to play volleyball, and the girls play a team tag game called kho kho, and another game like hopscotch.

But the children have to deal with more than games and classes at school. Students are expected to take part in Hindu rituals, and Ritesh’s children have refused to participate. Others at their school do not approve of their decision.

Their grandmother, who is not a Christian, tried to bribe them with money to stop going to church. “There is no Jesus,” she told them.

The family was kicked out of their house, and on two occasions, gangs of men dragged them to a Hindu temple and tried to convince them to deny Jesus. Gang members took Ritesh’s cell phone and called all his contacts, hoping they would tell the gang about any criminal activities Ritesh had committed. But everyone said, “He is doing good things.”

When villagers began to persecute the family for their new faith, Ritesh and his wife added another prayer time to their day at 11 p.m. after the children were in bed. Then they woke up at 5 to pray with the children. The family takes comfort in reading Psalm 91. (Read Psalm 91. Why do you think it comforts them?)

Once during a time of intense persecution, Ritesh prayed, “I am surrendering my life to You, Lord. If I die, I will die for You. If I live, I will live. It’s up to You.”

Ritesh told a VOM worker that he and his family have the following prayer requests.

“Our prayer is that we will grow more in the Lord and share Christ with other people so they will also come to know Christ. We want my whole family — brothers and sisters, siblings, and in-laws — to come to know Christ. We want all our family members to accept Christ and all the people of the village to know Christ.”

To Think About
*If someone persecuted you, what would you pray for them? What would you pray for yourself?
*For months, Ritesh searched for peace and truth. Read Matthew 7:7-9. What is God’s promise for those who search for Him?

(To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this website and some identifying details have been changed. Some of the quotes and stories have been edited and paraphrased from the original sources for clarity, length, and age appropriateness.)


Spotlight Story

India: Finding the Truth

The two previous posts told the story of Ritesh, a man in India who could not find peace in Hindu rituals. His search for truth eventually led him to buy a Bible. His story continues below.

“Before I got a Bible,” said Ritesh, “I used to eat and sleep after work. Then for four or five months, I sat in the house and read the Bible instead. But I continued worshiping the idols and there was no change, no peace.

“Pascal invited me to church. I heard that God came into the world and gave His life. That was interesting. So I starting going to church regularly.”

The church was a two-hour walk from Ritesh’s house. Ritesh didn’t want his neighbors to know that he was going to church because he knew his family would be persecuted if they found out. So he took his wife and Kimaya, Ranbir, and Mayra with him, but only one at a time. Each Sunday he took a different family member. He hoped the neighbors would think he was going to the market. “We don’t take the whole family to market,” he said.

The other fishermen noticed that Ritesh no longer fished on Sundays. Little by little, word spread that Ritesh might be leaving Hinduism to become a Christian. Even kids at school found out that Ritesh’s children were attending a Christian church.

“The first time when I went to church, I liked to sing,” said Kimaya. “I had peace in my heart. I used to get angry very much. I had a short temper, and it all went away.”

“I had red marks surrounding my right eye,” said Ranbir. “I asked God, and it was healed.”

During this time, the family was encouraged by Psalm 115. (Read Psalm 115. Why do you think it was helpful to them?)

After a while, Ritesh got rid of his idols, and his family began to worship only Jesus. “Now we are good,” said Ritesh. “I stopped beating my children. I have changed.”

Read the next post to find out how others in their village reacted to Ritesh’s family’s new faith.

(To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this website and some identifying details have been changed. Some of the quotes and stories have been edited and paraphrased from the original sources for clarity, length, and age appropriateness.)


Spotlight Story

India: Still Searching for God

The previous post told about Ritesh, a father in India who worshiped idols and could not find peace through Hindu rituals. He kept his family life in an uproar and upset his kids, Kimaya, Ranbir, and Mayra. One day in 2016, he went to an electronics shop to buy speakers so he could hear his Hindu music more clearly. His story continues below.

Word Search
The shopkeeper at the electronics shop, Pascal, happened to be a Christian. Ritesh told Pascal about his desire to know more about God. The shopkeeper advised Ritesh to find out the meaning of “Genesis.” Ritesh wrote “Genesis” on a piece of paper and began a long search.

Ritesh and his family speak an Indian language, but his 13-year-old daughter, Kimaya, had studied a little bit of English at school. So first, Ritesh asked her to help. A friend suggested that Kimaya look in a dictionary. “We didn’t know the word ‘dictionary,’” Ritesh said. “We asked a college boy in the neighborhood, but he didn’t have a dictionary.”

The friend suggested that they look on the Internet. “We didn’t know the Internet,” Ritesh said.

Finally Ritesh found a dictionary at a shop and bought it. But it was difficult for him and Kimaya to find a word in an English dictionary. (Imagine looking for a word in a Chinese dictionary if you don’t know Chinese characters well.) “The whole night we were searching for the word ‘Genesis,’” Ritesh said.

For 15 days, Kimaya searched for the word while Ritesh was at his job as a fisherman. After work, he went to bookstores and libraries to try to find the meaning of Genesis. Finally he again searched the dictionary himself and found that Genesis means “the origin of creation.”

More Searching
Ritesh returned to the shopkeeper and told him he found the meaning of Genesis. “Now find the book called Genesis, and read it,” Pascal told him.

Ritesh asked many people where he could find the Book of Genesis — people at bookstores, the driver of the public bus, and others he encountered. Someone told him he could find the book in Bangalore, a city eight or nine hours away by car or bus. Ritesh traveled all night long to get to Bangalore. But he didn’t find Genesis, even though he asked people at several locations to help.

Ritesh returned to Pascal and admitted his search had failed. Pascal sold Ritesh a Bible in his own language for 100 rupees. (One U.S. dollar equals about 70 Indian rupees.) “If he gave it to me free, I would not think it had much value,” Ritesh said. “He wanted me to know the value of the Bible.”

Read more about Ritesh and his search in the next post.

To Talk About
*Ritesh wanted to find out more about God. What obstacles did he face in his search?
*Why was it so hard for Ritesh to find a Bible? Why do you think Pascal made the task more difficult?

(To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this website and some identifying details have been changed. Some of the quotes and stories have been edited and paraphrased from the original sources for clarity, length, and age appropriateness.)


Spotlight Story

India: Searching for God

Hindu ritual items

Kimaya, Ranbir, and Mayra did not have an easy, peaceful life. Their father, Ritesh, often made their home an unpleasant place to live. He quarreled, argued, and sometimes he even hit the children.

Like the majority of the people in India, Ritesh and his family were Hindus. For 35 years, Ritesh worshiped idols. But he had no peace. When peace did not come to him, he worked harder to search for it. “I used to worship idols for nearly an hour and a half, morning and evening,” he said. He visited the Hindu temple, burned incense, and brought offerings to false Hindu gods.

His rituals included washing, and after he washed, his wife was not allowed to touch him. If she needed to hand him something, she held it high and dropped it into his hands. And the rituals did not help Ritesh treat his children better.

Still searching for peace, Ritesh listened to Hindu songs. But the music was not clear or loud enough to suit him. So Ritesh went to an electronics shop to buy speakers.

Read more about Ritesh’s search for peace and truth in the next post.

To Talk About
*How did Ritesh try to find peace?
*What are rituals?

(To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this website and some identifying details have been changed. Some of the quotes and stories have been edited and paraphrased from the original sources for clarity, length, and age appropriateness.)