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Ali: In Love with the Gospel

(Source: VOM Radio. Edited for length and clarity.)

“My family was very religious in Islam,” said Ali, who grew up in Iran. “However, my father was an alcoholic. When I got to be 11 or 12, I started drinking alcohol also. Then I started using drugs. That changed me into a very angry person. I didn’t have many friends.”

Note: Ali and his family were Shiite [SHEE-ite] Muslims. Imams are very important leaders among Shiites. Many Shiites believe that the 12th imam, who disappeared in the 800s A.D., did not die. They believe he will return as “the Mahdi” at the end of the world. Learn more about Shiites here.

Ali did not have peace. He searched for truth and peace through Muslim rituals. “Every day I read from the prayer book,” he said. “I was really interested in the Mahdi, the 12th imam.” Every Tuesday for five years, Ali visited a well where Iranians believe the 12th imam will appear at the end of time.

But nothing happened and Ali still had no peace.

Finding the Light
After a Christian relative witnessed about their faith to Ali’s parents, his parents became Christians, and Ali’s father quit drinking! “I wrestled with it for six months,” said Ali. “From the bottom of my heart, I prayed that the Mahdi would show himself to me.”

But still nothing happened. Finally, Ali prayed, “Jesus, Messiah, I don’t know You. But if You really died for me, show me something that shows You are real.”

That night, Ali dreamed of a bright light streaming into his room. Later he heard a voice saying, “Go to Tehran.” When he obeyed the voice and went to the capital of Iran, he visited a church in the city. “I fell in love with the gospel and became a believer there. Then I got on my knees, and I repented,” said Ali.

Persecution and Spreading the Word
Muslim relatives did not approve of Ali and his parents’ new faith. The relatives took all of their photos out of family photo albums. “My grandfather kicked us all out,” said Ali. “He got all our money, and he kept it.”

Even though they are persecuted, Ali’s family tells others about Jesus when they get the opportunity. “My goal, my desire, is to really share the gospel with Muslims who are under the control of Islam,” Ali said.

Learn more about Christians in Iran in Bold Believers in Iran, available in the Downloads section.


Iranian Date Snack

Cut open lengthwise about ½ pound of dates. Break walnut halves in half lengthwise and insert one walnut piece in each date and close the date. Arrange the dates on a shallow serving dish. Melt a stick of margarine and stir in a half cup of flour over low heat until smooth. Pour the mixture over the dates and let it set before serving.

Learn more about Christians in Iran in Bold Believers in Iran, available in the Downloads section.

 


Pray with Kids in the United Kingdom

Release International, located in the United Kingdom, is a member of The Voice of the Martyrs’ family of missions. (Read more about VOM’s family of missions around the world here.) Release International encourages kids to pray for Christians in countries where followers of Christ are persecuted. Read some of their recent prayer suggestions below, and choose one to pray for today.

Algerian children

Prayer request: Some children in Algeria can no longer see their dad. After he became a Christian, their mom’s family made her leave him and take the children with her.
Prayer: Dear Father God, please be very close to the children in Algeria who cannot see their dad anymore. Please bless their hearts as they miss their dad very much and he misses them. Help their dad trust You. Give him Your hope, strength and great love. Please help the children and their mom believe in Jesus and see their Dad again. Help their mom’s family believe in Jesus too. Thank you. Amen.

Iranian parents and child

Prayer request: A child’s parents were taken from their home by the police because the parents love and follow Jesus. The dad’s name is Amir Taleipour and the mom is Mahnaz Harati.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, please help this child not be scared but to trust You and know Your love more than ever before. Set the mom and dad free from prison so they can all be together again. Help the mom and dad trust You to look after their child, as they must be so worried. Keep them all safe. Fill their hearts with Your love. Help the police believe in You too. Amen.

Girl in Uzbekistan

Prayer request: Pray for youth in Uzbekistan who are forced by police to sign papers that tell lies about their pastor. The police also tried to force a woman named Lolakhon Umarova to say bad things about her pastor. She said “No,” so the police made her family throw her and her son out of their home.
Prayer: Dear God, please help the boy and his mother to find somewhere safe and nice to live. Please fill the Christian youth in Uzbekistan with Your power, love and truth. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Find more about Christians in Iran, Uzbekistan, and Algeria in Bold Believers in Iran, Bold Believers in Uzbekistan, and Bold Believers in Algeria and Tunisia, available in the Downloads section.

 


Iran: God’s Help in a Dream

Dr. Mehrdad is a Christian leader from Iran, where most of the people are Muslims. He recently talked with VOM Radio about how fast the church in Iran is growing. With the growth of the church comes persecution. But God is faithful to encourage His people who suffer.

Dr. Mehrdad told the following story about an Iranian Christian who was taken to the police station several times and interrogated harshly. (To interrogate is ask someone many questions, sometimes using threats or violence.)

One night, the Christian started praying for his interrogator. Then God showed him in a dream an elderly lady who was very sick. In the dream, God asked the Christian to pray for this sick, elderly lady and said, “This is the mother of your interrogator, so pray for her.”

The Christian started praying for the woman every day. The next time he was taken for questioning, his interrogator was treating him very badly. The Christian felt something inside him saying, “Tell him, tell him.” If he was wrong and the interrogator didn’t have a sick mother, it would be very embarrassing. So he had to trust the voice inside him.

The Christian asked the interrogator, “How is your mom? How is your mother doing?”

The man said, “What business do you have with my mom? Why are you asking about my mother?”

The Christian answered, “God has shown your mother to me a few nights ago. She is very sick, and He asked me to pray for her. I have been praying for her.”

The interrogator was shocked and said, “Yes, my mom is really very sick. Please continue to pray for her.” As a result, the interrogator began to like the Christian, left him alone, and didn’t bother him anymore.

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

To Talk About
Why do you think the Christian began praying for the interrogator? (Read Matthew 5:43-48.) Have you ever prayed for someone who treated you badly?


10 Quotes from 2018

Strengthening the next generation

The following quotes were shared with or by workers from The Voice of the Martyrs during 2018. Most of the quotes were shared by Christians from countries where believers are persecuted.

1. “Never once in my heart did I feel the Holy Spirit leading me to keep silent about Jesus.” — former Muslim woman who now follows Jesus.

2. “Persecutors know if they get the next generation, they win.” — VOM worker

3. “There is peace and contentment in being where God wants you, even in the shadow of death.” — VOM worker, inspired by the faith of a Christian in the Central Africa Republic

4. “Persecution has never stopped, and neither will I.” — African Christian who was hospitalized after enemies attacked him

5. “Prayer has to be a custom for you before a crisis comes.” — Iranian Christian

6. “The kingdom advances when God’s people take small steps of obedience.” — VOM worker

7. “I know I’m going to die for Christ, but before that, I’m going to share the gospel with as many people as I can.” — persecuted Christian in a Muslim country

8. “Everyone coming to Jesus is the only ‘peace process’.” — persecuted Christian in a war-torn country

9. “Every 40 hours, another Christian is attacked [in India].” — Christian worker in India

10. “We serve the persecuted to reach the persecutors.” — VOM worker

(Source: VOM workers and contacts. Edited for length, clarity, reading level, and security.)

To Do
Choose five of the quotes above and say them in your own words. How many of the quotes do you agree with?