‘Albert’ is a 3rd year student at the Bible college in Mindanao, Philippines. He will dedicate his life for three years when he will graduate with a Bachelor of Theology. After graduating, Albert may be given a church to pastor or be a member of a team that will go to a church to support the work of the resident pastor. He may also decide – like one of the Bible school’s previous students, to become a future teacher at the Bible school.
Part of his training over the three years includes ministry and this is usually done (in teams) on Saturday and Sunday afternoon [after church].
Currently Albert is involved in ministry … going out, spreading the Gospel in his immediate vicinity.
He is also involved in prison ministry … bringing food and the Gospel. Through this ministry, together with his team, they have brought many to faith in Christ.
In 2002 when Rebekha Bibi first accepted Christ, her family tried to kill her. VOM helped her through this trying time and supported her desire to reach Hindus and Muslims in Pakistan. Rebekha’s love for God grew and soon she could attend a VOM-sponsored Bible college for two years.
Today, Rebekha travels from village to village sharing the Gospel. She is one of only a few females doing this kind of evangelistic work in Pakistan’s Muslim-dominated culture. Her Muslim background helps her speak more freely with Muslims and also validates the power of the Gospel.
Rebekha distributes VOM life packs, and VOM provides her with Bibles and Christian literature for her evangelism and training work.
“I have no fear from any fanatic,” she once told a VOM worker. “I am strong in faith. If God wants me in this area, nobody can stop me.”
Burma (Myanmar) is ranked at number 23 according to the World Watch Monitor’s list of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted. It is recognised as having very high levels of persecution.
The Burmese government claims to support freedom of religion, but it has since banned all independent house church activities from 2010. Religious groups face surveillance, imprisonment, discrimination, violence, destruction of property and censorship of religious materials. To read more about Burma, click here
There are many obstacles being a Christian in Burma, so there is a strong need for future generations of pastors to lead the church to remain faithful despite persecution. Thirteen Three sponsors Bible college students in Burma in order to see the Gospel spread in this difficult country and to help train future generations of pastors and leaders.
Meet 13:3’s sponsored Student: Elizabeth
Elizabeth is a fourth year Bible college student. She is one of the next generation of leaders being trained to serve in Burma. We asked Elizabeth a few questions about her student life.
How did you become a Christian?
I became a Christian through the teaching of my mother. I believe on His finished work for me, and accepted Him as my Saviour. As John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
What would you like to do after college?
I want to serve the Lord in children’s, women’s and youth ministries after college. I am not sure exactly what the Lord would have me do. I am praying for His direction.
Have you had any recent outreach opportunities?
I had opportunity to go on a short mission trip in December with two college girls. We gave out Gospel tracts on streets and shared the Gospel with children and adults. We were able to reach more than 90 people with the Gospel. Among them, one person clearly professed faith in Christ. It was such a blessing to be there and serve God.
How can we pray for you?
Pray for wisdom in making the right decisions.
Thank you so much for supporting me, and I want to say, “May God bless Voice of the Martyrs’ ministry and all the staff!”
The next generation of pastors and leaders in Burma are willing to serve God in areas where they could be mocked, ridiculed, beaten, arrested and even martyred. Often what is hindering them is the need for financial assistance for their training. Will you partner with them in the spread of the Gospel in restricted areas by investing in the next generation of pastors and leaders like Elizabeth?
Matthew works closely with VOM to oversee projects and a Bible college in the Philippines. In this interview you’ll discover his response to persecution and just how we can support the ministry in prayer.
How did your involvement with Voice of the Martyrs start?
In 2006 I was asked to be a VOM contact. I asked, “Why me?” I didn’t have training; I didn’t have much experience. But they said to me, “You are acquainted with persecution.” Muslims had burned our house, and then they burned our church three times. Once I also had to evacuate at 1 o’clock in the morning because Muslims were coming against us. So I said, “If the Lord told you, who am I to refuse? I want to obey the Lord.”
Are you ever afraid or worried because you are an active Christian living in a restricted country?
I grew up in a Muslim community; I played with Muslims, I learned how to speak with Muslims. I learned how to live with Muslims. So I think I’m less worried about that. But then when we are hearing bombing and then shooting, it bothers me.
But we just trust the Lord about it. One time when my youngest daughter was about seven or eight years old, we heard shooting, shooting and bombing early in the morning. Sometimes it shook the roofing of our house. My small daughter said, “Papa, what’s happening, is that shooting?” I said, “Oh, yes, maybe they’re just testing their guns.” But then it continued for more than an hour, and I think maybe they’re fighting. But I don’t worry; the Lord is with us. That’s the assurance. He gives assurance and protection even when that is happening close to us.
We have experienced the protection of the Lord. My wife and daughter were in the market buying some vegetables, and right afterwards, only one or two minutes away from where they had been, a bomb exploded. If they had stayed longer, probably they were part of that. But the Lord’s protection was on us. So we acknowledge the goodness of the Lord.
How have you grown as a Christian as a result of your ministry?
I learn to live by faith. In the Bible college, we live totally by faith. We can start without any support, just live by faith. I always teach people we live by faith and we live by feet. I have experienced travelling without money and the Lord just provided the money on the way. Stepping by faith, we trust the Lord. It is good that we can be part of this, ministering to these people who are under persecution. So praise the Lord for that.
What encouragement do you give to a Christian who is being persecuted?
How I encourage them is that we focus on God. Our life is limited on this earth. What is important is that we have to be committed. Death is not the end of our hope; after death, we still have hope. We do not know how much longer our life will be on this earth. So that’s why I encourage them, if our hope in Jesus is only on this earth, we are the most miserable people, but God has something for us. So I always encourage them that persecution and hard things in this world are only temporary. The glory is ahead.
I also encourage people that they are not the only one who is suffering. We lost three of our children because they were born prematurely but we could not afford hospital care. In the Philippines, if you do not have cash, they will not admit the patient. Sometimes you do not understand at first. We prayed for their healing, but they were not healed. One of the hardest things is when God is silent. And in that situation, I just go to the verse, “All things work together for good.” God has a plan. Later on, we understood that the plan is to become a part of this kind of ministry. And when others are suffering, we know how to give some advice because we have been in that situation, and I can use verses like Joshua 1:8 and Romans 8:28 to encourage people.
How can we pray for persecuted Christians?
Pray for the protection of the Lord. We travel a lot, sometimes even at night, and we need His protection. Also for people who are suffering and are in need. When we distributed Bibles Plus packs to some of them, they did not have food for that day, then we gave them the rice and they were so encouraged. Later on, that church was filled with people coming every Sunday because of that.
We need to pray for how we can be effective in the ministry.
Another thing is to pray that the Bangsamoro law will not be passed. If it is passed, there will be a big problem, because many of the members of our churches, their property will be taken by the Muslims. Every time at harvest, they will take the crop. So pray that they’ll be protected and that they’ll be provided for. Their land is being taken by the Muslims, their crops are being taken, and they are being pressured. Almost every week there are some killings of the Christians. So those are needs that we have to pray for.
How does knowing that Christians in other countries care, support and pray for them make a difference for persecuted Christians?
There is a great impact, especially in the continuance of the Gospel through the Bible college. We are being empowered and prepared because of help from VOM. We are so thankful for the partnership. They know that someone is behind them, praying and giving. We see that it is God’s blessing and looking after us through this.
Another of the great encouragements is to have the Bibles through Bibles Plus. It shows that there is somebody who cares – the body of Christ – so that is a great encouragement.