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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

Nepal: Grishma Finds Peace

(Source: icommittopray.com. Photo: Grishma. Her eyes are covered to protect her identity.)

Grishma had a hard life. She never knew who her father was, and her stepfather treated her harshly.

When she was 16, some of Grishma’s Christian friends invited her to church where she found peace in Christ. Most people in Nepal follow Hinduism, Buddhism, or animism, or sometimes a mixture of religions. Families and communities often persecute people who become Christians.

When Grishma’s stepfather found out she went to church, he punished her and threatened to stop paying her school fees. But Grishma kept going to church, and he kicked her out of the house. She needed money to support herself, so she took a job with poor conditions where she was abused. She quit going to church.

After three years, Grishma began to think about the peace she had found in Jesus, and she returned to church. When her employer found out, he fired her.

Grishma is happy to be back in church. “She wants to follow Jesus throughout her whole life,” said one of her pastors. “She wants to work for a ministry and serve Him.”

Grishma is now studying at a Christian discipleship training school. Christians are asking God to guide her next steps in life.


Spotlight Story

A Tanzanian Christian Family

Easter, John, Lucy, and Nestor live in Tanzania with their mom and dad. Easter is 11, John is 8, Lucy is 6, and Nestor is 4. They are Christians, but many of their neighbors are Muslims.

Daily Life
The family lives in a house made of tree poles with a roof of coconut leaves. Banana trees and cassava plants surround the house. The family cooks and washes clothes outside. The inside has three bedrooms, and it’s dark because the windows are very small and the house has no electricity. The walls and floors are made of dried mud.

John and Nestor gather firewood for their family, and they help their father grow crops. When they have free time, they like to play soccer. Easter and Lucy do not have time to play. Their mom needs them to help her cook, fetch water, and clean the house.

Read below what the family said about their lives.

Mom and Dad talk about school
Easter, John, and Lucy go to school. Their fellow [Muslim] students mock them just because they are Christians. They are forced to learn about Islam, and if they don’t, their grades are affected. [Islam is the religion of Muslims.]

We have tried to talk about this with school officials and even the government. But no action has been taken except they promise, “We will make things right.” Some parents who can afford to pay the school fees send their children to private schools.

The students and teachers have tried to convert them to Islam. Sometimes they come home with lots of questions like, “Why do we call Jesus the Son of God?” But God has been so faithful to them. Despite all the mocking and problems, still they are doing very well in their studies.

John and Easter talk about school
John: It is very hard to be a Christian because it feels like everybody at school looks at us as strange.
Easter: Every day at school, I have to answer questions about why I am a Christian and not a Muslim.

Learning and Praying
Mom and Dad: When we pray at home, people hear us, and they throw stones on our roof. We teach the children Bible stories like the story of David and Joseph. We teach them about Joseph so they will know that what they are going through will pass. We teach them the love of God, which was shown through Christ. We explain why we say that Jesus is the Son of God. We tell them that the God we serve is so great and powerful, and that He is able to protect and take care of them.

Learning and Praying
Easter: I like the story of David and Goliath.
John: I do, too.
Lucy: I like the story of short Zacchaeus who climbed the tree so he could see Jesus.
Easter: One day, Lucy was sick and Mama prayed for her, and she was completely healed.
Lucy: I can’t go to bed without Easter. We pray together and then feel safe to sleep.

Hope for the Future
Easter would like to be a doctor when she grows up. John wants to be a lawyer, and Lucy hopes to be a teacher. The children would like kids in the United States to pray for them.

Their dad shared what he prays for his children. “We pray that God will help the children finish their studies. And we pray that they may continue to know God Jehovah, the father of our Lord Jesus, who is the true God, creator of heaven and earth and everything.”

(Source: the Kids of Courage archives. Edited from the original interviews for length and clarity. Photo: Tanzanian kids.)

To Talk About
• Tell or read the story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis. What were some of the troubles Joseph faced? How might the story help the Tanzanian children face their struggles?
• Why do you think Easter and John like the story of David and Goliath?
• What would you answer if someone asked why you are a Christian?


Spotlight Story

The Shortest War

[Photo: Boy in Tanzania reading a Christian book]

Most church services, movies, and birthday parties last longer than an 1896 war between Great Britain and Zanzibar. At that time, the sultan was the most important official in Zanzibar. (A sultan is the leader of a Muslim country.) But Great Britain controlled Zanzibar. A new sultan came to power, and Great Britain did not approve of him.

The new sultan and Great Britain gathered their weapons and forces to attack each other. The fighting started at about 9 a.m. on August 27th and ended about 40 minutes later. Great Britain was the winner. The war is said to have been the shortest in history.

Britain gave up control of Zanzibar in 1963. In 1964, Zanzibar joined Tanganyika to form Tanzania.

Growing Conflict
Today in Tanzania, some radical Muslims give Christians a hard time. Radical Islam is spreading from northern Africa into Tanzania. (Islam is the religion of Muslims.)

On the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, where most of the people are Muslims, Christians have faced persecution for a long time. People who leave Islam to follow Jesus sometimes have to flee their homes when family members kick them out.

But in recent times, Christians on the mainland of Tanzania are having the same kinds of problems. Riots have broken out in some places, and churches have been burned.


Spotlight Story

Myanmar: Aye’s Big Family

[Photo: Some of Aye’s family.]

(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. It has been translated, edited, and condensed for clarity.)

God Takes Care of Us
Have you ever seen a family with thirty children? That is a whole bus full! Aye from Myanmar (Burma) comes from such a special family. Her mother and father are the birth parents of five of the thirty children. The others were added later. Aye’s parents take care of them so they cannot be kidnapped. That happens with many children in Myanmar. Some kidnapped children are forced to become child soldiers. Girls can be sold to men as wives. It’s very special to learn that Aye’s father and mother want to take care of them.

Read Aye’s story below.
Hi! My name is Aye, 10 years old, and I live in Myanmar, a neighbor of China. I am a Christian and have lovely parents. And I come from a family of thirty children!

Do you want to know why we live in a house with so many? That’s a difficult question. I live in a quiet place now, but other parts of the country are almost a war zone. If you are a Christian there, you will have a hard time. Especially for children it is dangerous.

An Important Question
One day my father’s good friend, Huan, came to eat with us. He said to my father, “I want to ask you something important. Would you and your wife like to take care of two boys? Their parents have only recently become Christians. They want very much to tell people about God, but they are afraid that their children will be kidnapped to become child soldiers.”

It became very quiet at the table. My father and mother did not answer. That was good, because I thought it was a stupid question. Two more children? We already live with five children in this small house, and there is not even enough to eat. After a minute or so, my father only said, “We will pray for wisdom.” To me, that sounded like “no.” I was reassured because God knows that our pantry is empty.

Two New Brothers
Three days later we were sitting at the table when the door suddenly opened. Do you know who came in the house? Huan, with those two boys! Huan said to my father, “Here are the boys.” You should have seen my father’s face! “Are their parents okay?” my father asked in surprise. Huan pointed to the taller boy and replied, “His parents are well.”

Then he pointed to the younger boy and said, “He only has one parent; his father has died.” I saw the tears in my father’s eyes. “I know what it’s like not to have a father,” he said in a trembling voice. “I really want to take care of them and be like a father to them.”

Welcome
My father got up and said to the boys, “Welcome to our family. From now on, this is your house and our food is your food. The food does not come from me, but from God. He will make sure that there is enough. I hope our house is a place where you learn a lot about God.”

After a while I also got new sisters.

Grateful
It’s really special to grow up in such a large family. We do a lot together. We make music, study the Bible, play soccer, and share everything together. My “brothers and sisters” are also happy that they live with us. My 12-year-old brother, Peter, recently said: “If I had grown up where I lived before, I might have been a child soldier. And now I am in school, I lead a group in Sunday school, and I can even play the guitar.”

My parents have never regretted taking care of more children. My father often says, “My heavenly Father takes very good care of me. Therefore, as long as I live, I will be a good father to all my children.”

I have a great dad, right?

Read another story about Aye’s family here:

To learn more about Christians in Myanmar (Burma), download Bold Believers in Burma here.


Activities Story

A Challenge from Stef

(The story and activity below come from Stef, the children’s publication of SDOK, a ministry that is part of The Voice of the Martyrs’ family of missions. The fictional story is told from the point of view of a boy named Stef in the Netherlands, where SDOK is located. It has been translated, edited, and condensed for clarity.)

Alarm
On a rainy Sunday morning, I walked home from the church with my parents and sister. “What person let his cell phone alarm go off this morning during the prayer?” I asked my father. My father laughed. “I think I know. My friend Henk’s alarm goes off every day at 10:02 a.m. He prays at two minutes past 10 for helpers in the Kingdom of God. It says in the Bible in Luke 10:2 that we must pray for this. So Henk does that. Every day.”

Hmm, I think it’s beautiful. But I think he should turn it off when we are praying in church. “Oh well … we all forget things sometimes,” my father said. In the meantime we were standing at the front door and my father was looking nervously in his pockets – and he has quite a few pockets. “You forgot your key again!” my sister and I called at the same time. We stood there in the pouring rain in front of a closed door. My mother also had no key with her, and the neighbors were not at home. Eventually we got a ladder, and I squeezed myself in through the bathroom window.

Then I got an idea. “May I look up a Bible text on your phone?” I asked my dad. My father was not hard to convince. Maybe he felt a bit guilty for the forgotten key. I searched the Bible and then set my father’s alarm. The next morning my father was fixing my breakfast.

“Did you set my alarm clock at 3:25 am, Stef?” he asked. “What a ridiculous time! How does that make sense?”

I answered, “Because in Judges 3:25, the word key is written. I thought it was a handy tip from Henk.” My mother laughed, and my father walked out the front door frowning. Then he came in the back door. He had forgotten his key!

Challenge
Luke 10:2: And he [Jesus] said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

You can participate in the Luke 10:2 challenge! People all over the world stop doing what they are doing at two minutes past 10 in the morning. At school children stop calculating, people stop typing at the office, others put away the newspaper, and the crane is stopped for a moment on the construction site. Not everyone of course, just Christians. They long for more workers in God’s Kingdom.

There are so many people who have not yet heard about God. We need people to tell them that salvation is possible through the Lord Jesus! Wouldn’t it be cool if more people heard about God’s love? Maybe you want to pray, too!

(Source: Stef, the children’s publication of SDOK)