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ROMANIA: Extreme Young Missionaries

ROMANIA: Extreme Young Missionaries

Though the Soviet invaders were terrorizing their country, the Romanian children walked steadily towards the Russian soldiers with warm, confident smiles on their faces.

The soldiers greeted them kindly, patting them on the head. Each soldier was thinking of his own children, whom they had been forced to leave behind in Russia.

“Have some candy,” said one of the officers, holding out a handful of chocolate to the youngsters, who eagerly grabbed the hard-to-find treats. “Thank you, sir,” the boys said. “We have gifts for you as well.” They dug into their pockets, pulling out gospel tracts and New Testaments in Russian. “What is this?” the soldiers asked. “It is a book of Good News,” the boys said through mouths full of chocolate. The soldiers thumbed through the tracts.

One officer recognized the booklets as being religious and knew the dangers. He looked down at the children with deep concern in his eyes. If adults had handed out the material, he would have to arrest them. But what harm could these children do? he thought.

What the officer didn’t know was that these children had passed out hundreds of tracts and New Testaments, helping many in the Russian army find God. These children were enlisted into another “army” with an eternal “battle.” Where adults could not safely minister, children walked through a wide-open door with the Gospel.

The difference between a pessimist and an optimist is the difference between “can’t” and “can.” Certainly, believers in both religiously restricted nations and countries with religious freedom encounter closed doors. In some countries, possessing a Bible means a jail sentence. In America, the “separation of church and state” is often taken to extremes. Sometimes our focus on what we are not supposed to do as Christians makes us miss God’s opportunities. We see the closed doors more readily than we see the open ones. For example, while missionaries cannot enter restricted nations as such, “professional” workers are recruited! We can also support national Christian workers who live there. The door is open. Walk through it.

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SUDAN: Extreme School Children

SUDAN: Extreme School Children

Seated on logs under the shade of a tree, the 230 Christian students were just beginning their English
lesson when they heard the terrifying sounds overhead. A plane roared across the sky above the school yard. Within minutes, the Islamic army had dropped five bombs from a large Russian-made bomber.

Terrified and screaming, the children immediately started running. Two of the bombs landed in dry trenches around the village, and another
failed to detonate.

Unfortunately, the other two nail-studded bombs landed squarely among the frightened students. The explosion was tremendous. The damage, unthinkable.

By 9:15 A.M. the bomber was gone, and the horrible reality began to set in. Students wandered dazed around the school yard, crying and bleeding. Twelve of their classmates ranging in age from nine to sixteen had not survived the blast. Their beloved young teacher, Roda Ismail, also lay dead among the rubble.

Another seven students lost their battle for survival in the days following the attack, and three had to have limbs amputated.

The very next day, children showed up for school as usual. The exhausted and despondent schoolmaster told them to go home. “I cannot
tell you when or if we will resume classes.” A ten-year-old boy approached him and said, “Please let us continue. We want to learn, and if it is God’s will, then today we won’t die.”

Life at the crossroads. We’ve all been there, wavering between giving up and going on. Like the schoolboy, the crowds who were following Jesus one day realized the path they were on was fraught with danger. Like the despondent schoolmaster, many in the crowd headed for home, not able to say if or when they would continue to follow Christ. Yet Peter and the other disciples remained. The schoolboy’s solemn request echoes Peter’s response, “Let us continue.” When we are tempted to give up, let us continue. When it seems like following Christ is too difficult, let us continue. Are you facing the crossroads of commitment? Ask God to give you the strength to go on instead of give up.

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It is scary, but I know Jesus is with me

It is scary, but I know Jesus is with me

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Joshua is a Bible college student in the Philippines, where Muslim extremist groups are trying to take over the land owned by Christians and claim it to be an Islamic state.

Watch as Joshua describes what it is like to live in this dangerous area and what it means to him to trust in the Lord.

Support students like Joshua
Christians Facing Islamic Extremists: ISIS

Christians Facing Islamic Extremists: ISIS

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Region: Iraq, Syria

“Convert, pay a tax, leave or die.”
The self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) became infamous when it invaded the city of Mosul, Iraq, in June 2014. Mosul, which is the ancient biblical city of Nineveh, has been home to Christians for almost 2,000 years.

Members of ISIS went door to door identifying homes of Christians and spray-painting a red Arabic “N” on their houses. The “N” stands for Nasara, a term used in the Koran to identify Christians – followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Christians in Mosul were given an ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay an exorbitant tax called the jizya, flee Mosul, leaving their homes and property behind, or be killed. While nearly all Christians chose to leave, some, such as those unable to travel, were killed.

The Islamic State is proud of its exploits. Beatings, beheadings, crucifixions and other forms of merciless execution of Christians and others are all conducted with cameras rolling. Children are taught to hate all that is not Islam and even carry out executions themselves.

While it would be easy for Christians facing this kind of terror to become fearful or to despair, many of those who were driven from their homes say it has caused them to grow stronger in their faith. After losing all their worldly possessions, many have discovered Christ in new ways – ways that bring them great joy amid persecution.

While the eyes of the world watch and judge from a temporal perspective, our Christian brothers and sisters view ISIS from the perspective of faith and eternity.

Plague of Destruction
This video shows the destruction left when ISIS moves into a town. Everything is destroyed and nothing is left.

Please Pray

  • Pray that more ISIS fighters, and even ISIS leaders, will have a divine encounter with Christ or one of His followers and come to a saving faith.
  • Pray for the tens of thousands of Christians who have been displaced from areas now controlled by ISIS. Pray that God will meet their physical needs, and pray that their relationship with Christ will grow through this trial.
  • Pray for VOM as we seek to meet both physical and spiritual needs in areas controlled or affected by ISIS. Pray for our wisdom and for God’s protection of our staff and co-workers in the region.
Prayer: The Life Blood of Persecuted Christians

Prayer: The Life Blood of Persecuted Christians

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In the hours leading up to Jesus’ arrest, He went to Gethsemane with His disciples, feeling “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38). Jesus, knowing what was about to come upon him, turned to prayer. Prayer was his connection with the Father, and we too can share in this intimacy. The Apostle Paul encouraged the Philippians to bring all requests to God (Philippians 4:6). Corrie ten Boom, who was imprisoned for helping Jews escape the Nazi regime, said, “When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy.” Prayer is a vital part of the Christian walk. Often, the persecuted Christians I meet and hear about have a deep and regular devotion to prayer that is an encouragement and inspiration to me.

The following powerful stories reflect the prayers of persecuted Christians. Let them be an encouragement to your commitment to God and deepen your own prayer life.

Early morning prayer
At 4:30am, Pastor David opens his church in the Philippines for their early morning prayer meeting. For six days a week, around 80 believers come to spend time on their knees in prayer. These prayer warriors are faithful to their commitment to God by interceding for their nation, their families, those who are sick, their evangelical campaigns and their special prayers for those who persecute them. Their church is growing by the grace of God as He hears their faithful petitions every day.

Prayer in the orphanage
The bell rings loudly at 5am at the children’s orphanage in Odisha, India and the young children eagerly go from their beds to join others in praise and worship to the Lord Jesus. Their songs of praise are sung with such conviction in their hearts and their prayers are deep and meaningful for their lives in the community affected by persecution. These young believers have no parents but have a loving Father in heaven that listens to the praise and their prayers every morning.

Jalena’s prayer
Jalena, a Filipino Christian in the restricted region of Mindanao, regularly enters a shop run by Muslim workers. This poses a great risk to her because Christians are often attacked by Muslim extremists. Jalena started to get to know Carmelita, one of the Muslim workers, and told her about Jesus, adding that she prayed for her every day. One day Carmelita asked, “Is it true that your God heals?” This led to Jalena praying for Carmelita’s mother, who was healed. Later Carmelita and her family turned to Jesus.

A prayer of forgiveness
Andre was only a child when his parents were brutally murdered by their Muslim neighbour for being Christians. In time, Andre was able to forgive his parents’ killer. He said, “I prayed to Lord for forgiveness and that he would heal my heart wounds. I wanted him to take my anger and revenge out from my heart. Our God has transformed my life.”

A father’s prayer
My dear son,

I love and miss you very much. How are you now? Do you miss me? I remember that when I was arrested and jailed in the re-education camp, you were only five years old. You went to visit me at the camp and after the visiting hours were over, I had to return to my detention room and you followed me. But when I went inside the gate, a gatekeeper didn’t allow you to follow me anymore and you stood there to watch me go to my room.

My dear son, since that time I cannot sleep well because I love and miss you very much, and now you and your sister are grown up. I believe the two of you have changed very much. How about your study? Is it good? I hope that you study hard. In the school, you have to obey your teacher, and at home you need to obey your mother, sister, grandfather, aunt and uncle. You must give a hand to help with housework and love your sister. You should study the Bible, go to the church, and also pray for me. God is always with us and listens to our prayers every day.

My dear son! Let’s trust God and study His Word as much as possible because His Word is the light for you and me forever.

Your Dad