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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.


Changes in China

Sunday school class in China

(Sources: China Aid and VOMRadio.net. Quotes edited for clarity and length.)

Churches in part of China were recently warned by authorities who want greater control over religion in their country.

The churches were told:
*You must remove the crosses at your building and replace them with a picture of the president of China or a Chinese flag.

*You must keep all children away from your church.

New government rules also say that churches must be willing to install surveillance cameras in their meeting places.

“Many pastors have gone into hiding because they know they are on the list to be the first to be arrested,” said a Christian worker in China. “Pastors are being arrested, some have been imprisoned, and churches have been closed…. In January [a church] was dynamited — the government blew it up.

“It is illegal to teach children Christianity. In one case, there was a grandmother who had been taking her grandson to church with her. The government told this family that the grandmother, who was on kidney dialysis, would no longer be allowed to continue the dialysis treatments if she continued to bring her grandson to church. So, what a choice!” (Dialysis is a procedure that keeps people alive whose kidneys have failed.)

“Christians are worried,” said a VOM worker. “We have no good answer except prayer.”

What Can You Pray?
*What can you pray for churches and pastors?
*What can you pray for Chinese government officials?
*What can you pray for the grandmother?
*What can you pray for her grandson and other children in China?


Rules for Schools

Chinese girl with her Bible

Suppose you went to school one day, and your teacher gave the class the following instructions:

1. You must not ever enter a church.
2. You should not have any Christian beliefs or beliefs of any other religion.
3. You must not share any religious beliefs with others.

Teachers in one part of China received online notices telling them to warn students not to disobey the instructions.

What will happen if the students do not obey the orders? The school will be punished. The teachers will have to make sure the students obey so the teachers won’t get in trouble.

Christian parents in part of China also received warnings. Their bosses were told to reduce the pay of Christians to discourage them from attending church.


China: Bibles Before Food

A Chinese Bible

In one mountainous area of northern China, most of the land will not produce crops. The farmers and their families are very poor. Each family earns only about $255 a year, so they can’t afford things they need.

But the farmers’ faith in God is strong. They quoted a verse from Matthew 6:26 to VOM contacts who visited them: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

The Christian farmers knew that VOM was willing to help them with their needs. They had one main request. “Our spiritual food is much more important than bread,” they said. “Please help us with the Word of God. If you come with bread but no Bibles, we will be disappointed.”

To Talk About
What did the Chinese farmers want more than food?
If the farmers are hungry, why do you think they wanted something more than food?

(Source: VOM Australia)


Pastor Released!

Mu’en, Xiangen, and their mother

Mu’en and Xiangen were 14 and 5 when their father, Yang Hua, was in prison.

Yang Hua is a pastor in China. His church, The Living Stone Church, started with about 20 members in 2009. By 2015, more than 700 people attended the church.

Government workers have given the church a hard time since it opened. Once they even cut off the church’s water and electricity during Christmas services.

Later they arrested Yang Hua and put him in prison. Mu’en, Xiangen, and their mother prayed for Him while he was gone. The Voice of the Martyrs told Yang Hua’s story on the prisoneralert.com website, and Christians in the United States wrote him encouraging letters and prayed for him, too.

Last month, praise God, Yang Hua was released! What do you think he did when he first left the prison? He began singing loud songs of praise to God.

You can learn more about Yang Hua and other released prisoners, and Christians still in prison, at prisoneralert.com. Can you choose one prisoner on the site who has not yet been released and join Christians around the world in praying for them?