After the age of 10, every child in Turkey must attend Islamic education classes. However, Beren’s family are Christian and so they were able to obtain permission for an exemption. During religion classes Beren was permitted to sit in another room and do other schoolwork. Beren would also not need to attend the religious exams.
This seemed like a good solution, until her Muslim school friends came to realise why she was not attending the classes. She was a Christian! At first, some of her friends alienated her; they no longer wanted to be associated with ‘such’ a person. However, it didn’t stop there. Some decided that this situation needed to change. One day they physically assaulted her, grabbed her around the throat and shouted, “You need to be a Muslim!”
Beren was terrified. She became physically and emotionally ill and did not want to go to school any more. Her family tried to resolve the situation, meeting with the teachers and students. They were able to persuade the students to apologise to Beren, leading her to become more comfortable with attending school again. However, this event has taken its toll. Beren is now afraid of openly telling her friends that she is a Christian. Beren is still a faithful believer but has decided to attend the religious education classes to avoid being such an easy target in the future.
There are so few Christians in Turkey that many young people find they are the only believers at their school. Pray that the young people of this land who face bullying will receive comfort and encouragement from God, and that He would provide Christian friends.
Voice of the Martyrs is supporting a youth ministry in Turkey to help and encourage Christian teenagers. The ministry runs Christian camps and events, and publishes high quality discipleship training material which helps their Christian growth and knowledge.
If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to: vom.com.au/donate
Voice of the Martyrs Australia is an endorsed deductible gift recipient (DGR) by the Australian government. This means you can claim tax deductions for all donations over $2 to Voice of the Martyrs Australia on your tax return.
Due to poverty and lack of education, Christians in Pakistan often borrow money from brick kiln owners. They are then required to work, making bricks, to repay the loan. The size of the loan tends to be small, but the terms are designed to keep it growing indefinitely.
The family, including children as young as five, are forced to work at the brick kiln to pay the debt. These children spend 10 hours a day making bricks, instead of going to school.
A VOM worker recently visited families in a number of brick kilns and reported: “A family’s daily quota is 1,000 bricks per day, and they are not paid for bricks destroyed by the weather. An inspector is employed to check the bricks, taking 20% of the family’s income.
“These children, considered lower class, are open to all forms of abuse, including kidnapping and sex trafficking. I interviewed a number of parents whose daughters have been kidnapped, forced to marry Muslim men and convert to Islam. If they are not compliant, they can be sold into sex slavery.”
Voice of the Martyrs is committed to help break the intergenerational cycle of bonded labour and abuse and is supporting Mrs Y, the facilitator of education classes at seven brick kilns. The kilns are located in seven districts of Pakistan and Mrs Y is currently teaching 379 children.
Many of these children will be the first literate members of their families.
Thank God for Mrs Y’s commitment to help Christian children in Pakistan and also for her strength, in the light of her own family’s experience with persecution.
In 2015, her husband was working for Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan, a ministry that aids persecuted Christians. He and his brother boldly accused the government of failing to protect Christian minorities. Shortly afterwards both men, along with Mr Y’s eldest son, were wrongly accused of murder.
Their names appeared on wanted posters and were broadcast on the television news. The three men fled to Thailand in fear of their lives.
Mrs Y and the couple’s other four children have not seen the three men since they fled. In Pakistan, the family is monitored by the authorities.
Mrs Y has taken three abandoned children into her home, giving her seven children to support.
Please pray for the continued protection of Mrs Y’s children and for the reunion of this family.
Halima is just six years old. Her father, Adod, recently left Islam for Christianity and his wife and daughter joined him in embracing this new faith in Christ. Adod’s family were outraged. They forced Adod’s wife to leave him, marry a Muslim and reconvert.
Halima was forced to accompany her mother to the home of her new stepfather. Halima’s life in her new home was not a happy one and was potentially dangerous for her. Labelled as a kafir or heretic, she was extremely vulnerable to abuse of every kind.
Adod feared for Halima’s welfare and so, at great risk, he took her from her stepfather’s house. Legally Adod was entitled to take custody of Halima, but his family were very unhappy about it.
At first Adod arranged for Halima to stay at the home of a pastor. However, the pastor’s life was threatened for sheltering her. Needing to find her a place, Adod brought her to one of our ministry partners, Christian Faith Ministries (CFM). At CFM’s Children’s Crisis Care home, Halima is receiving care in a nurturing Christian environment, as well as an education. She also sees much of her father who is studying at CFM’s Bible school.
Voice of the Martyrs partners with CFM to provide care for vulnerable children including those displaced by violence. This year, we hope to bless children like Halima with a Christmas Care pack.
If you would like to support our Christmas Care project go to vom.com.au/christmascare
North Korean underground Christians do not reveal their Christian identity even to their own children until the children reach the age of fifteen. That is because North Korean school teachers are tasked with the responsibility of getting children to inadvertently reveal that their families are Christian. They ask questions like, “Do your parents have a special book they hide in your home? Do they sing different songs to the ones we sing in school? Do they ever bow their heads or close their eyes and mumble?” In this way more than a few children have been the cause of their own families (including themselves) ending up in concentration camps.
The story that best illustrates this situation was told by a woman who came from an underground Christian family in North Korea. When she was about seven years old, she found a Bible in her home. Without hesitation, she knew she needed to inform the police. Her parents, underground Christian leaders, tied her up in a chair in order to prevent her from going out. They shared the Gospel with her, and she became a Christian (and later a church leader) rather than a government informer.
In North Korea, if discovered, Christians are sent to concentration camps, where they are starved, overworked and tortured. North Koreans have a saying: Whenever two or three people are gathered together, one of them is a spy. This is true even in family settings, as children are taught to spy on their parents from a young age. Therefore, North Korean Christians must be extremely careful in what they say, what they do and how they pray; all must be done in secret. When a Christian is discovered, the government punishes the entire family. Despite the threat of persecution and heavy social pressure, Christians in North Korea hold firmly to their faith.
International Day of Prayer 2019 is on 3 November.
Each year VOM produces a FREE IDOP Resource Kit which includes marketing materials, prayer points and a video. This year’s video focuses on North Korea.
In 2018, Christmas Care packs were distributed to children of the persecuted church in China.
One of our distribution partners reports:
Since greater religious regulations were introduced in February 2018, the church in China has been especially persecuted. These gifts from outsiders prove to the believers that they are not alone, they have not been forgotten by the outside world. We all know that the easiest way to bring joy to parents is to bless their children. Once again, the Christmas Care outreach has brought encouragement and hope to the suffering church of China.
Eleven hundred children in seven provinces in mainland China received Christmas Care packs. All of the beneficiaries are believers, all reside in persecuted regions and all are in low-income areas. We were able to minister to the following provinces: Anhui, Henan, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Yunnan, Liaoning and Beijing.
From the field:
“Thank the Lord! And thank you, brothers and sisters, for your offering! Our kids are very happy and grateful for receiving these backpacks and the stationery. We feel God’s love. We are very thankful.
“Every day our kids carry their backpacks to go to school; they are going to school with your blessing and love. They love God more and more. They go to school with their ability to be positive to influence others and to love others. It all started with your love and selfless offering.
“Thank you very much! May our Lord remember and bless you all.”
“Thank God! All of the children and their parents are very grateful when they received those backpacks and saw so many items inside. They received not only those backpacks and so many items, but also the love from our Lord, Jesus Christ.
“One parent says that her daughter loves this backpack very much; wherever she goes, she carries it. They are
“Thank you, our brothers and sisters, for your offering! May our Lord remember you all! God bless you!”
If you would like to support our Christmas Care project go to vom.com.au/christmascare