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Secret Christmas

What are some of your favorite things to do during the Christmas season? Do you like to:

Visit others’ houses to sing Christmas carols?
Get out of school for Christmas vacation?
Join with other Christians for a Christmas worship service?
Put lights and decorations outside your house?
Buy Christmas cards to send to friends?
Visit nativity scenes displayed in your town?

You would be breaking the law if you did those things in some Muslim countries.

Schools in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to make Christmas a school vacation day.
The Sultan of Brunei banned all public observances of Christmas.
It is illegal to sell Christmas cards in Maldives outside of areas where tourists visit.
A Muslim leader in Saudi Arabia even ruled that building a snowman is against Muslim rules. “It is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun,” he said.

Some people in strict Muslim countries celebrate Christmas secretly and post photos of their secret celebrations on social media. But they are careful not to include any photos that would allow government officials to find them.

This Christmas season, thank God for your freedom to honor His Son. Pray for those who don’t enjoy the same freedom.


Clock Prayer Activity

Daylight Saving Time (DST) will begin this year on March 8. Not all countries observe DST. (See the map.) Read the information below about time differences between the United States and some countries where Christians are persecuted.

Nigeria: Nigeria does not observe DST. During DST at 6 a.m. U.S. Central Time, it is 12:00 noon in Abuja, Nigeria.

Iraq: Iraq does not observe DST. During DST 6 a.m. U.S. Central Time, it is 2:00 p.m. in Iraq.

Syria: Syria observes DST, but it starts and ends on different days than in the U.S. During most days at 6 a.m. U.S. Central Time, it is 1:00 p.m. in Syria.

North Korea: North Korea does not observe DST. During DST at 6 a.m. U.S. Central Time, it is 8:00 p.m. in North Korea.

Maldives: Maldives does not observe DST. During DST at 6 a.m. U.S. Central Time, it is 4:00 p.m. in Maldives.

Activity

  1. Draw six clocks on paper or cardboard. What time is it where you are now? Draw hands on one clock to show the time to the nearest hour.
  2. Using the information above about time differences, figure out what time it is now in Nigeria, Iraq, Syria, North Korea, and Maldives. Label the clocks to show what countries they represent, and draw hands on the clocks to show what time it is in each country.
  3. What might children in those countries be doing now? Eating a meal? Sleeping? Getting home from school?
  4. Pray for children in the five countries. If you need more information about the countries, enter their names in the search box to locate facts and stories.

Example
Dear Heavenly Father, please watch over children in North Korea who may be going to bed cold and hungry. Please meet their daily needs. Let them learn that Jesus loves them and that he can help people get through hard times. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Ask a VOM Worker: What I Have Learned

VOM

A worker from The Voice of the Martyrs who has traveled to more than 25 countries shared the following remarks with Kids of Courage.

Question: What would you like kids in America to know about persecuted Christians?

VOM Worker: Persecuted Christians around the world are just like us; they have hopes and dreams, and enjoy having fun. They happen to live in difficult circumstances, but they worship the same God we do, and they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Some day you may be able to visit these countries, but until then, you can most certainly pray for them! The one request I receive most often from persecuted believers in my region is for prayer. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked, “Brother, will you pray for me? Can you ask believers in the West to pray for me and my church?” This is the number one need of our persecuted brothers and sisters.

Q: What have you learned from persecuted Christians?

A: I have learned that our God is awesome! In the midst of the most difficult circumstances, God shows up in powerful ways, promising to walk with us through every circumstance we may encounter. Persecuted believers have taught me the importance of daily prayer and the need to surrender our lives to Him on a daily basis.

Q: What is the best part of your job and what is the hardest part?

A: The best part of my job is that I have the opportunity to travel to the various countries in my region and meet with persecuted/underground believers and to hear all that the Lord is teaching them. It is a very humbling thing to sit in a room on the other side of the world with our brothers and sisters in Christ who have often been through very difficult situations and hear all that the Lord is teaching them. The most difficult part of my job is leaving my wife and children behind as I travel.

Q: What countries would you like Christians in America to especially pray for?

A: I would ask you to pray for the Maldives and Bhutan.

Note: Visit the Persecution.com Restricted Nations page and the Kids of Courage country page to learn more about Bhutan and Maldives.


Flags of Turkey and Similar Flags

Flags

The flags of many Muslim countries display the crescent moon and a star. Before Islam began, pagans who worshipped many gods used the crescent moon as a symbol. (Islam is the religion of Muslims.) Muslim Turks who conquered Constantinople also used the moon as their symbol. (Constantinople in now called Istanbul. Istanbul is the capital of Turkey.)

People began to associate the crescent moon with the religion of Islam. Some Muslims today say the moon is not a symbol of Islam. However, the moon and star appear on the flags of many Muslim countries.

Print and color the page of flags here. The background of the flag of Turkey is red and the moon and stars are white. Find the colors of the other flags in the Countries section of this website, in the online CIA Factbook, or in other sources.

Enter the names of the countries in the search box of this site or the tags for this post to find stories that can guide you about how to pray for the country.


Maldives

Maldives

Maldives

RESTRICTED

Capital
Malé

Size
About 1.7 times the size of Washington, DC.

Main Languages
Dhivehi

Time
At 6:00 a.m. U.S. Central Standard Time, it is 4:00 p.m. in Maldives.

History
Islam came to the Maldives in the 12th century. The Maldives became independent from Britain in 1965. Today many of its citizens are poor. A big tsunami in 2004 destroyed many homes. People in the Maldives fear that sea levels will rise and their country will disappear.

Religion
Muslim.

Persecution
Islam is the official religion. No citizen may practice any other religion. Parents must raise their children as Muslims. Visitors from other countries may practice their religion, but only in private. There are no non-Muslim buildings of worship. No one may encourage another person to follow a religion other than Islam.