(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.
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.
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.
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.