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Iran Puzzle

December 21st is sometimes observed as the anniversary of the first crossword puzzle. On that date, a New York newspaper published a “word-cross” puzzle. The puzzle creator borrowed ideas from earlier forms of puzzles, including the word square.

In a word square puzzle, the words read the same vertically (up and down) and horizontally (across). Read the information below about Iran. Then use the clues and a Bible to help you complete the puzzle.

Iran
Iran is part of the continent of Asia. Tehran is its capital. The country is near Turkey, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Most of the people are Muslims, but many are coming to Christ. Muslims who become Christians are sometimes persecuted by friends, relatives, teachers, and officials.

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Across and Down Clues

  1. Tehran is the capital of _____.
  2. Jesus told his disciples that He would _____ from the dead (Mark 9:31).
  3. Iran is part of the continent of _____.
  4. Iran is _____ Turkey, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Word Square Answers

  1. Iran, rise, Asia, near.

Ten Things Persecuted Christians Are Thankful For

Give Thanks

Thanksgiving will be celebrated this week in the United States.

To Do and To Discuss

  • List 10 things for which you are thankful.
  • Read below the list of things persecuted Christians have said they are thankful for.
  • How many of the things on their list are available to you?
  • Are there any things on your list and the persecuted Christians’ list that are the same?
  • Can you provide persecuted Christians with anything on their list?

Persecuted Christians Are Thankful For:

The prayers of other Christians
“I knew there were people praying for me. It gave me the spiritual strength I needed to live as a Christian and to trust God.” — A pastor in prison in Asia
Friends who encourage them
“I am thankful that I have many friends here who help me when I’m discouraged.” — A boy who lost his parents in an attack by radical Muslims
Hope in Jesus
“I see people dying, crying, how Jesus gives them hope. This gives me courage. I am convinced there is no better job in the world than to serve God this way.” — Persecuted pastor in Nepal
Encouraging letters
“We have a family of faith that loves us and cares for us. We are not alone! — Maryam Rostampour talking about her feelings when she received letters while in prison in Iran. (Visit Prisoner Alert to learn how to write letters to persecuted Christians in prison.)
God’s Peace
“I started to pray, and I got the peace that is beyond understanding. I felt so close to God at that moment.” — Christian who was arrested in the Middle East
Bibles
“I have longed for this Bible, and now I am thankful.” — Christian in Uganda who received a Bible from The Voice of the Martyrs. VOM provides Bibles through the Bibles to Captive Nations project.
The conversion of persecutors
“Muslims want to hear the truth. They are just waiting on you and me to share the gospel with them.” — A Christian in Syria
God’s Power
“God is in control, not [the persecutors].” — A Christian in India
Joy in Christ
“I have Christ’s joy in my heart.” — A Chinese Christian prisoner answering another prisoner who said, “I have been watching you; your face is never sad.”
God’s gift of salvation through His Son Jesus
“They can burn down my house, but they can’t burn Jesus from my heart.” — A Christian in Pakistan

International Day of the Bible

The Bible tells about King Josiah, who re-discovered the words of God. He read the words to all the people of the land to turn their hearts back to God. (See 2 Kings 22-23.)

International Bible Week is celebrated during the week of Thanksgiving in the United States. This year, the International Day of the Bible will be observed on November 24. People will read passages of the Bible aloud in public.

Ask a mature Christian to help you discover a story or passage in the Bible that is new to you. Read the passage aloud.

As you learn more about the Bible, remember Christians in the following countries who could be persecuted if they read the Bible aloud in public. (The list is not a complete list.)

  • North Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Turkmenistan
  • Somalia
  • Eritrea
  • Afghanistan
  • Iran
  • Syria
  • Uzbekistan
  • Qatar

How to Build a Wall in 52 Days

A Skit from the Book of Nehemiah

Characters

  • Narrator
  • Nehemiah
  • Two or more Builders
  • Three enemies: Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem
  • Messenger

Suggested Props

  • Short wall made of cardboard building bricks/blocks or boxes, with enough additional blocks to complete the wall to the desired height
  • Cardboard cutout swords
  • Cardboard cutout trowels and other building tools
  • Trumpet
  • A “letter”

[Variation: Make stick puppets to depict the characters, and make a wall out of plastic interlocking building blocks. For younger children, the teacher may read all the parts while the children display the appropriate puppets as they appear in the skit.]

Narrator: Nehemiah was a servant of the king of Persia. He was a Jew and a follower of God.

One day visitors from Jerusalem told Nehemiah that their city was in ruins. Jerusalem was an important city to the Jews. Nehemiah knew that enemies would not respect the Jews or their God if the city was in terrible shape.

The king allowed Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem, and he gave Nehemiah supplies for the trip. The people in Jerusalem were happy to see Nehemiah. They agreed to help him build a wall around the city. Walls were important in those days because they kept out enemies and thieves.

Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem were three of the Jews’ enemies.

(Nehemiah and the Builders are standing by a short wall that is in disarray. The three enemies are off to the side, watching.)

Nehemiah: Let’s build our wall!

Builders: Yes, we want to help!

(Nehemiah and the Builders begin to straighten and add to the wall.)

Sanballat: You Jews are weak builders. If even a fox stood on your wall, it would fall down!

(Nehemiah and the Builders stop building briefly to pray.)

Nehemiah: (prays) Hear our prayer, O God. Our enemies hate us.

(Nehemiah and the Builders resume building the wall. Some pick up building tools.)

Tobiah: (to the other enemies) Let’s attack them!

Sanballat and Geshem: Good idea!

(The enemies pick up and prepare weapons.)

(As the narrator describes their silent actions, Nehemiah and the Builders pray, then pick up weapons in one hand while holding tools and working on the wall with their other hand. One Builder stands by Nehemiah with a trumpet. The enemies watch, then put down their weapons one by one as they see the Builders pick up theirs. Sanballat begins writing a letter.)

Narrator: Nehemiah and the Builders prayed, then they picked up weapons to hold while they worked. A trumpet player stood next to Nehemiah to call the workers together if they needed to fight the enemies.

(Messenger enters and approaches the enemies.)

Sanballat: (to Messenger) Take this letter to Nehemiah.

(Messenger takes the letter to Nehemiah.)

Messenger: (reads letter aloud to Nehemiah) Sanballat says, “Come to a meeting. We want to talk to you about your wall.”

Nehemiah: Please tell him that I am doing a great work and cannot come.

(Nehemiah returns to building and Messenger returns to the enemies and whispers to Sanballat.)

Sanballat: (to the enemies) Let’s think of some ways to frighten them! They will be too weak to work if they are scared!

(Nehemiah and the Builders stop to pray.)

Nehemiah: God, help us be strong.

Narrator: The people did not let fear, mocking, bullying, threats, or distractions stop them from doing the right thing. They worked so hard that they finished the wall in 52 days — a very short time to build a city wall.  Everyone knew that the wall could not have been built unless God was helping the builders. The wall was a testimony to God’s faithfulness to His people.

For Discussion

  • What were some of the ways Nehemiah’s enemies tried to stop him from building the wall around Jerusalem?
  • Hebrews 10:36 (NIV) says, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” What does it mean to “persevere?” How did Nehemiah and the Builders persevere?
  • What are some of the ways people try to stop Christians today from doing what is right?
  • How did people try to stop Jesus from doing the will of God?

Quiz: What Do You Know About Persecution?

Question Mark

The following questions cover Bible stories about persecution and information about current situations. See how many you can answer, then share them with your family, group, or class to see if they know the answers.

  1. Who will suffer persecution, according to the Bible? (See 1 Timothy 3:12.)
    1. The rich
    2. All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus
    3. Everyone who chooses not to follow Jesus
  2. Leaders in some countries try to stop people from celebrating Valentine’s Day, which they consider a Christian holiday. What are some of the countries?
    1. Mexico, Canada, the United States
    2. Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Iran
    3. Japan, Spain, South Korea
  3. Missionaries drop small parachutes carrying Christian books out of planes over guerrilla-controlled parts of Colombia. What kind of areas do the planes usually fly over?
    1. Oceans
    2. Desert
    3. Jungles
  4. In the Bible story of Nehemiah, how did Nehemiah’s enemies try to get him to stop doing the right thing?
    1. Laughed at him, lied about him, tried to get him to come to a meeting
    2. Got angry, made plans to attack him
    3. All of the answers in “a” and “b”
  5. People in North Korea can go to jail for which of the following?
    1. Bowing to statues of North Korean leaders
    2. Owning a Bible
    3. Talking against the United States
  6. Which of the following is true about persecution?
    1. The apostles in the Bible (Acts 5) rejoiced when they were persecuted.
    2. Almost all of the persecution of Christians happened long ago.
    3. If you do the right things, you are certain to avoid persecution for your belief in Jesus.
  7. According to Acts 14:22 (NIV), Paul and Barnabus said:
    1. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”
    2. “We must do many good deeds to be sure to enter the kingdom of God.”
    3. “We must follow the Ten Commandments to be sure that we will enter the kingdom of God.”
  8. How did Paul say we must overcome evil? (See Romans 12:21.)
    1. Overcome evil with force
    2. Overcome evil with strict rules
    3. Overcome evil with good
  9. What is an “underground church?”
    1. A church that meets in a subway
    2. A church that meets in a secret location
    3. A church that meets in a cave
  10. What is a “martyr?”
    1. Someone who complains about their circumstances
    2. A bully
    3. Someone who makes a big sacrifice or risks losing something important because of their beliefs

Visit this link to view the answers to the quiz.

Quiz Answers

  1. b. All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus
  2. b. Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Iran
  3. c. Jungles
  4. c. All of the answers in “a” and “b”
  5. b. Owning a Bible
  6. a. The apostles in the Bible (Acts 5)
  7. c. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”
  8. c. Overcome evil with good
  9. b. A church that meets in a secret location
  10. c. Someone who makes a big sacrifice or risks losing something important because of their beliefs