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“Love My Enemies? No thanks!”

The previous post told about Dan Baumann, a Christian worker who was imprisoned in Iran for nine weeks. He experienced the love and presence of Jesus helping him endure the harsh treatment.

But Jesus taught Dan another important lesson. “One day, I felt God spoke to my heart,” Dan said. “[God said] ‘Dan, I want to teach you to love your enemies.’ I remember thinking, ‘No, not now, thank you.’”

Every day, one of Dan’s captors hit him, Dan was not interested in loving the man. But he felt God saying to him, “Dan, ask me what I think of him.” Dan realized that God loved his attacker. So every day, he prayed, “God, change my heart.” Little by little, Dan’s heart began to change, and he began to care for his captor.

One day, Dan said to the man, “Sir, why don’t we become friends?” The man answered, “You are crazy! We will never be friends.” Dan asked his twice more, and said, “Let’s start by exchanging names.” And he reached out his hand to shake the man’s hand.

“It was then that he froze,” Dan said. “Then he starts looking around, and then he took his hand out of his pocket and shook my hand. He said, ‘I would love to be your friend.'” The two men told each other their names.

Then the man asked, “Is there anything you want in the prison?” Dan had been living in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell. He asked his new friend if he could have a bigger cell.

“I never saw that man again in my life,” Dan said. “But later the night guards came to my cell and said, ‘We have orders to move you to a bigger cell.’ I knew that God had changed the man’s heart.”

(Source: Edited for length, clarity, and age-appropriateness.)

To Think About
At first, Dan was not willing for God to teach him to love his enemies, but he became willing to be made willing. He asked God to change his heart, and in turn, his obedience helped change his captor’s heart.

Is there anything that you know God wants you to do that you have been unwilling to do? Will you ask God to help you become willing?

Jesus in Prison

A teacher at a Christian school in Virginia recently wrote The Voice of the Martyrs and told what happened when she shared stories of persecuted Christians with her eighth grade class. “They were stunned, shocked, horrified, and moved,” the teacher said. Many openly cried as we read. One child said, ‘I don’t think I have that kind of faith.’

Do you ever think you might not have enough faith to withstand persecution?

Dan Baumann, a gospel worker with Youth with a Mission, recently talked with VOM staff about his time in prison in Iran. He was taken to prison after he talked about Jesus with Muslims. Every day, the prison guards treated him harshly, often beating him. Dan thought he could not put up with the bad treatment anymore. He wanted to give up.

He told what happened as he lay on the floor with no more strength to endure.

“In my broken state, I felt something and the room starts to shake. As it starts to shake I lifted my head from the floor. I had the normal lighting from the light bulb, but there was something very different. The room was a glorious white light, is how I can describe it.

“Then I had a vision, I have had a few visions in my life and this one was really clear. It was Jesus standing in front of me, like we might have seen in movies or in books. It was the same picture of Jesus standing in front of me, but what I saw was His face, which was filled with love, kindness, and caring. And then I felt His hands come underneath me, and I felt like God spoke right to my heart with loving words, ‘Dan, I love you and I promise I will carry you through this time.’

“In the midst of my brokenness, in the midst of me having nothing, God was still good and He met me and He gave me hope. I fixed my heart and mind on that, and with that came a growing reality that God was not only good, He was really, really, really good — like He was actually better than I thought.”

Dan was released after nine weeks in prison. He had lost 55 pounds during his imprisonment. Today he continues to serve God and to teach others about Jesus.

(Source: Edited for length, clarity, and age-appropriateness.)

God’s Unconditional Love and Mercy

Kaylin M., a youth pastor in the U.S., recently sent a message to Kids of Courage. “I am a youth pastor, and my kids are very affected by all the shooting happening in the schools,” Kaylin wrote. “I’d like to show them how God can turn something like that into a powerful testimony.”

Kaylin asked for stories to share with her students. One of The Voice of the Martyrs’ five main purposes is: “To encourage and empower Christians to fulfill the Great Commission in areas of the world where they are persecuted for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.” So VOM workers hear many stories about how God has used persecuted Christians to demonstrate His love to persecutors.

Two of the stories are told in videos about Amin and Miriam, kids from Iran and Iraq. Kaylin plans to show the videos to her youth. “I want to show them that God loves the shooter or the attacker just as much as he loves them,” she said. “I think it will really help them see how huge and unconditional is God’s love and mercy.”

Iran: The Scribe in the Mud Hut

Most of the people in Iran are Muslims, but many are coming to Christ after having dreams and visions that lead them to the Savior. Ali, a Christian from Iran, told Todd Nettleton of the following story about a man he met in his country.

Ali’s Story
I have seen amazing things.

One day I was in a village and a man said to me, “We need to go outside the village.” About 20 miles outside the village on a dirt road, there was no electricity, no power, no running water — nothing but a mud hut.

We walked into the hut and the man who lived there said, “I have a story. Maybe you can you help me understand what is happening to me.”

I said, “Sure, let me hear your story.”

He told me, “A man with long hair wearing all white would come to my house every night and ask me to write these things down. I couldn’t look at His face because it was so bright.

I asked the man, “When you write it down, what happens?”

He answered, “As I am writing, I get tired because He tells me so much I fall asleep. He disappears. Then the next night He comes again.”

I said, “How long has this man been coming to your house?”

He said, “About 30 days, about a month.”

I said, “Can I see your notebook? Can I see what you have been writing down?”

He said, “Yes.”

On the first page of his notebook, it said, “In the beginning was the Word….” He had the whole book of John word for word in his notebook. I have a picture of it. Jesus came and saw this man every day and he was writing down the Book of John. The powerful thing for me was that the man didn’t know who Jesus was. That showed me, my brothers and sisters, that Jesus will do His part, but we still need to do ours [to help people understand who He is]. We need to move the gospel forward in these dark, dark places of the world.

(Source: Edited for length, clarity, and reading level.)

Witnessing in Difficult Places

A Farsi Bible

Do you ever wonder how you can tell others about Jesus and His love for them? VOM workers learned about a woman who did not know how she could possibly serve the Lord and spread the gospel.

The woman was very old.
She could not read or write.
She could not drive herself to places to meet new people.
And she live in Iran, where most of the people are Muslims.

But God helped her find a way to share her faith.

She asked a friend to highlight parts of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) in the Bible. Then she took the Bible with her on a public bus. She knew that younger people in Iran respect older people. She said to a young woman on the bus, “My friend has given me this book. Will you please read it for me? As the younger woman began to read aloud, the older woman said, “I’m hard of hearing; can you please read louder?” The younger woman read louder, and everyone on the bus heard the Word of God.

When people on the bus showed interest in the verses from Matthew, the older woman gave them her phone number so she could talk to them more about Jesus later on the phone.

As the new year approaches, will you ask God to help you find ways to share His Word with others during the next year?