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Project: Christmas Care 2019

Project: Christmas Care 2019

Christmas Care 2019 brought much needed hope to children in Cameroon, Nigeria, Pakistan and Jordan.

More than 300 Christmas Care packs were distributed in Far North, North and Southwest regions of Cameroon. Eighty per cent of children who received the packs had been through the terrors of an attack by Boko Haram and 20% were orphaned as a result.

In Nigeria, over 725 children received Christmas Care packs. Our distribution partner specifically targeted orphaned or impoverished children and teens.

Many of the children were residents of a children’s crisis care home, while others were children of widows or those living in conflict areas.

Each child received a bag containing a Bible, as well as books, pens, pencils and a maths set for school.

Some of the funds also went to providing school fees for children, so they were able to start or return to school, and medical care for students at a local clinic.

Our distribution partner in Pakistan reports that Christmas Care pack distribution came at a good time for brick kiln workers in Lahore. Many were out of work as heavy smog in Lahore and surrounding areas meant that the government had ordered the brick kilns to shut down until further notice. As brick kiln workers are only paid for the number of bricks made in a day, they were not receiving an income.

The children received jumpers, dried fruit, biscuits, lollies, Christian story books, colouring pencils and colouring books. While their families also received a bag of flour, sugar, ghee/cooking oil, tea bags, noodles, rice, lentils and a Bible.

Families, especially the children, were overjoyed with receiving gifts and food for Christmas.

In Jordan, Christmas Care brought joy to children who escaped Iraq, with their families, due to persecution.

Our distribution partner reports that they were able to distribute more than 200 Christmas Care packs to Iraqi Christian refugee families in Jordan. Each pack contained a children’s Bible, school supplies and food items.

Our Christmas Care project will resume in October 2020, bringing joy to the most vulnerable victims of persecution.

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to:

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.

Christmas in Iran

Christmas in Iran

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, although the official religion is Shiite Muslim, many people celebrate Christmas.

Ethnic Armenian and Assyrian Christians, though closely monitored, are allowed to practise their own faith. In observing Christmas, they celebrate Jesus as the Son of God.

Many Muslim people also celebrate Christmas. They enjoy Christmas trees and other decorations; they may even attend Christmas celebrations or social occasions. Christmas for these people is not recognised as a celebration of the birth of the Son of God, but rather the birth of a prophet of Islam.

Dangers are faced by Muslim background believers (MBBs) who want to gather for worship on Christmas Day. Converting from Islam to Christianity is considered apostasy and punishable by law – anywhere from a few years in prison to the death penalty.

The authorities are ready and willing to arrest MBBs who openly recognise and celebrate the birth of Jesus, God Incarnate. For these believers, Christmas is celebrated quietly, in private and only with other trusted believers.

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to:

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.

Celebrating Christmas in Pakistan

Celebrating Christmas in Pakistan

In Christian communities in Pakistan, Christmas is a special time. In the local language, Christmas is known as Bada Din, meaning Big Day. Christians adorn their houses with fairy lights and decorations, including a star, a crib, a wreath and a Christmas tree. Santa hats and snowmen can also be seen.

If they can afford it, people buy new clothes to wear on Christmas day. Christmas cakes are bought or made to give away to family and friends. Christmas cards are sent to friends and relatives and gifts are exchanged with loved ones.

Carol services and nativity plays are held in churches, where money is collected for local charities. On Christmas Eve, churches are packed with people; many attend midnight services and people stay up all night. There are fireworks, music and dancing. On Christmas Day, church services continue, and people offer their praise to God and dedicate to Him prayers for the nation. People go on to celebrate, enjoying time with family and friends.

Along with the festivities and celebration, a harsh reality exists, especially for those who live in Muslim dominated areas, where Christmas celebrations must be subdued and private. Religious intolerance and violence against Christians have significantly increased in recent years and churches are regularly targeted. The government has failed to take action to protect Christians and their places of worship. Many churches have had to provide their own security arrangements.

In addition to targeted attacks on Christian worshippers, violence against Christian women and forced conversion to Islam has reached unprecedented levels. Because of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, Christians are also at risk of being falsely accused of blaspheming Islam, the Koran or Mohammed and harsh punishments are given as a result. Persecution is often combined with poverty as Christians suffer discrimination and lack of education opportunities.

Despite the danger and the oppression, Christians in Pakistan remain strong in their faith. Christians will celebrate Christmas this year with their usual fervour and spirit.

Please join with us in upholding our brothers and sisters in this restricted nation. Thank the Lord for their faithfulness and ask for their protection. Pray too that the reality of Christ’s humble sacrifice in coming to Earth, may bring great joy this Christmas.

Javed’s story
In Pakistan, Christians are frequently trapped in a cycle of poor education and poverty. Many are employed as indentured servants in brick kilns or tree nurseries, as street sweepers and as sewage workers.

Javed started working at a brick kiln in Punjab at the age of six. As a child, he was given just one small meal per day, he had little free time, and never received medical care or an education.

Javed was forced to work to pay off the debt of a family member whom he didn’t even know. He was never informed of the details of the loan, including the total amount borrowed. Each time Javed made a mistake with one of his tasks, he was fined, and the loan debt was raised. Once, his ‘employer’ beat him because he said his performance was too slow. Once when he was a little older, Javed tried to escape, only to be apprehended by the local police who returned him to the brick kiln.

He and his family were required to work on Sundays and were not able to go to church. At Christmas, they were permitted to go to church but only on the condition that they would not attend as a family – at least one member had to stay behind to guard against escape. This was distressing for Javed’s family as Christmas in Pakistan is very much a family event.

Thanks to a ministry partner in Pakistan, Javed, now an adult, has recently been freed from bonded labour, though he is still greatly struggling.

His wife died a few years ago from cancer as they could not afford medical treatment. He is now raising four children alone. He works long hours as a screen printer and is trying to provide a better life for his children.

This year, he is looking forward to celebrating Christmas with his family in a traditional Pakistani way. He intends to decorate his house with Christmas decorations, buy Christmas cake and new clothes for his children, and attend church on Christmas day where he can share the joy of the season with friends and loved ones.

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to:

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.

Christmas in Jordan

Christmas in Jordan

Christmas Day is an official public holiday in Jordan and, although Christians make up less than 10% of the population, the majority of homes and businesses are adorned with Christmas decorations.

Christians in Jordan celebrate the birth of Jesus as the Son of God, while the Muslim majority participates in the commercialism of Christmas – decorations, photos with Santa and gift giving.

Whilst the constitution allows for this apparent freedom of religion in Jordan, the state religion is Islam and some laws appear to contradict the constitution and place restrictions on Christians. Those born into Christian families are allowed to worship openly and are not required to wear Muslim clothing. However, evangelism and conversions are met with retaliation by Muslim neighbours, friends and family members. In some cases, the government secret police will become involved and typically side with the Muslims.

Christian converts from Islam face greater problems; they struggle to keep jobs and sometimes their children are taken away. Tribal authorities often discipline those considered guilty of religious infractions. Jordanian Christians are constantly aware that the government could be monitoring their activities through technology or informants. When Christians are imprisoned in Jordan for apostasy, it is rarely made known to the public.

In recent years, Christian ministry among Jordanian Christians has been largely focused on serving refugees. There is a significant number of Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria in Jordan, as it is one of the few Middle Eastern countries where it is relatively safe for Christians.

VOM works in partnership with a local mission responding to the needs of Christian refugees in Jordan. Our partner reports that refugees in the Middle East, including Jordan, are still living in less than ideal conditions. The coldest months are December and January and most of the refugees don’t have resources to buy blankets and appropriate heating systems to warm up their houses.

Christmas for a refugee in Jordan can be lonely and sometimes without much joy. Many can’t share the happiness of this time with their family because they are separated. Family members may be in other Middle Eastern regions as refugees or have received visas and immigrated to other countries.

Our mission partner provides encouragement to these families, through distributing food baskets and gifts for children. They host a Christmas event in the church where families come together in a big hall to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to enjoy fellowship and a communal meal.

Our Christmas Care project will ensure many of the refugee children in Jordan will receive a gift this Christmas, including a children’s Bible.

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to:

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.

ROME: Extreme Saint St Nicholas

ROME: Extreme Saint St Nicholas

“Don’t do it,” Nicholas yelled as he saw the executioner lift his sword to kill another prisoner. “He’s done nothing to deserve this.” The man was about to be executed for his faith in Jesus Christ. Nicholas bravely grabbed the executioner’s sword before it penetrated the prisoner’s flesh.

“Have it your way Nicholas . . . I have many others to kill today.” The executioner spat as he walked away and resumed his duties elsewhere. Nicholas boldly spoke up for Christ at a difficult time in history. In the year 303, Emperor Diocletian began one of the most brutal persecutions
of Christians. So many Christians were killed that the executioners were exhausted and took turns at their work.

Nicholas was branded with hot irons. He survived terrible beatings from the guards. And he endured other torture as well—simply for refusing to deny that Jesus is the Son of God. How could he deny the one who was so real to him? Nicholas remained resolute in the midst of great injustice.

After being released from prison, he spent the rest of his life establishing orphanages and protecting poor children. He was committed to advancing the gospel of Christ in creative ways. Once, he even threw money wrapped in a stocking through the window of a home of two very poor girls so they would not be sold to a house of prostitution.

Many years after his death, Nicholas was affectionately called St. Nicholas. For many children, the night before Christmas is the most magical night of the year as they await a visit from Santa Claus, a caricature of St. Nicholas. The real life story behind St. Nicholas is much more heroic and loving than most children could even dream. Think about your own life’s story. Do people know the truth about your faith in Jesus Christ? Or do they merely know you as an affectionate and unusually moral person? Although Santa Claus is not real, St. Nicholas was and you must be too. You may not feel like a saint, but the world needs real examples of resolute Christians. What will you do today to live your faith in a real way?

Taken from Voice of the Martyrs book Extreme Devotion: