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Quran Competition

Iran
Iranian man reading a Quran

Muslim children around the world are encouraged to memorize the Quran, the Muslim holy book. Many Muslims believe they will go to heaven when they die if they memorize the entire book. The Quran contains about 6,200 verses.

Quran reciting contests are held in many countries. In most years Muslims from more than 80 countries meet in the United Arab Emirates for a big competition. Onstage contestants are shown on large screens so the audience can see them better. Some spectators take cell phone videos of the reciters. (Last year, the contest was held virtually.) Top reciters are highlighted on YouTube.

Judges recite a verse from anywhere in the Quran. Contestants then recite the following verse and several after it from memory. Reciters are judged not only for how well they have memorized the verses, but if they recite it in the right tone of voice and with proper pronunciation. All the verses are recited in Arabic, even by contestants who come from countries where Arabic is not the main language.

The winner of the contest wins more than $60,000 in U.S. money.

In the following (fictional) skit, a Christian boy is challenged to learn more about his own faith and God’s Word after meeting some Muslim children.

Read a chart comparing the Quran and the Bible.

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Iranian Teacher Comes to Christ

Iran
Iranians reading a Bible

A school teacher in Iran was a strong Muslim. One of the teacher’s 15-year-old Christian students was praying for her salvation.

The teacher found herself thinking about God. She prayed, “God, I want to be closer to you. What do I need to do?” Then she had a dream. She dreamed she saw a big rock. A voice in her dream said, “Go there to pray.”

The teacher’s Christian student had an idea. He wrapped up a Bible and a Christian DVD, and gave it to the teacher as a gift. She read the Bible, and decided to follow Christ!

When Muslims in Iran become Christians, their families sometimes treat them harshly. What would she tell her husband?

To her surprise, when her husband found out she was a Christian, he said, “I have always loved Christ. But since you were so religious, I did not dare talk about my feelings.”

“Now she teaches Christian values in her classes,” said the Christian student. “She teaches how we need to do good to those who do us harm, and how to love those who hate us. She shares Christ with students who are ready to hear.”

To Discuss

In what ways did the student help the teacher come to the truth about Christ? In what ways can you help people come to Christ? Christian workers in Muslim lands say that many Muslims are coming to Christ after having dreams. What do you think the rock in the teacher’s dreams meant to her? (Read Psalm 18:2.)


The Six-Year-Old Evangelist

Iran

(Source: Kids of Courage archives)

In Tehran, Iran, a 6-year-old boy watched a Christian television program about Jesus. The Muslim government does not allow Christian TV programs to be produced in Iran. But they cannot control what is broadcast into Iran from other countries by satellite.

As the boy listened to the followers of Jesus on his TV, he sang along with them and prayed when they prayed. One morning before school, he said to his mother, “I want to tell my teacher about Jesus. What can I do?”

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Novruz and Azerbaijan

Novruz plate

Novruz, the “Persian New Year,” is celebrated in late March in Azerbaijan, Iran, and other locations. In Azerbaijan it is “the most important holiday,” said a Christian in Azerbaijan.

Katrina, a 10-year-old girl in Azerbaijan, described Novruz in the following way.

“During the last week before Novruz, kids go door to door, putting their hats on the ground before each door, knocking, and then running to hide. The people who live inside the house open the door, take the hat, and put candy and small treats inside. They close the door, and the kids come rushing back to see what was inside the hat!

“During Novruz, people like to decorate boiled eggs to set on the table. A game that everyone likes to play during Novruz is ‘Yumurta Doyusmek’ or ‘Egg Fighting.’ During this game, two people each take a boiled egg and knock the ends together. Whichever egg did not crack wins the fight.

“Another thing people do for Novruz is grow a plateful of green grass (wheat grass) which they set in the center of a tray surrounded by candies and Novruz treats. My favorite Novruz treat is qogal [go-GHAL], a salty round bread that is very crumbly, and is sort of made in layers.” [See the photo. Click to enlarge. The round, yellow pastries are qogal.]

Azerbaijan
Most of the people in Azerbaijan are Muslims. But the government does not want radical Muslims to cause trouble. So, officials try to strictly control religious activity. In recent years, laws have made Christian activities and spreading the gospel more difficult.

In many places in the world, there are fewer people who follow Jesus than there are people who do not follow Jesus. A Christian in those places may be the only Christian in their family or town. They are in the minority. But they are not alone! They trust God to be with them when they boldly serve him.


Life in a Solitary Cell

(Source: VOM Radio. Edited for length and clarity. Photo: A church in Iran. The pastor’s face is covered to protect his identity.)

Robert Aserian was a pastor in Iran, where most people are Muslims. The government in Iran does not want anyone to teach Muslims about Jesus. But Pastor Aserian wanted to tell everyone about his Savior — including Muslims. That’s how he ended up in prison.

The pastor told Todd Nettleton of VOM Radio what going to prison in Iran is like. “It was very difficult because they came to our home early in the morning, and I was arrested before the eyes of my two boys. For me it was difficult that my small boys observed what happened.

“I was placed in a solitary cell, a difficult experience. The cell was a small room, maybe 2 meters by 2 meters [about 6 ½ feet square]. Nothing is there. No bed, no newspaper, no book, no TV, nothing. You are sleeping on the ground. For five or six hours, I was under interrogation. [“Interrogation” is questioning by the police.]

“I started to pray and worship, then I started to preach. I imagined that I stood before a congregation, and I preached to that imaginary congregation.

“There was some exercise in that small room — just walking in the small space hundreds of times. I tried to remember the words of the Bible, books that I read, and childhood memories. [I remembered that] in Colossians 1:24, Paul rejoiced in his suffering.

“Twice in the prison, the Lord spoke with me directly. That was a big comfort for me. I found out that I’m not alone. God is with me, and I am in God’s plan. God told me, “If you are here, it is My plan.’ From that point, my fear was gone.”

Pastor Aserian was released from prison and has left Iran to live in a safer place. Please pray for him and for all the Christians still in prison in Iran.

To Talk About
*How did Pastor Aserian keep busy in his solitary cell?
*Measure an empty space 6 ½ feet by 6 ½ feet. Talk about how you would spend one day in the space.
*Using the pastor’s story as a guide, what can you pray for Iranian Christians in prison today?
*Should Pastor Aserian have stopped telling people about Jesus so he could stay out of prison?