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Bold Believers in Syria

Bold Believers in Syria includes stories, history and culture facts, activities, and recipes that help children understand the daily lives of people in a country where civil war has driven more than 750,000 Christians from the country. The 48-page book is available free from the Downloads section of this site.

Spotlight Story

Youth Volunteer: Michaela

Christians around the world share their personal testimonies of God’s faithfulness at VOM Advance conferences in the U.S. (Learn more here.) Last fall, Jordan and Michaela T. assisted at a conference in their home state of Oregon. After the conference, they shared how learning about persecuted Christians has affected their lives. Read below what Michaela said.

Michaela: I am 15 years old and in 9th grade. It has been really impactful for me to read stories and watch videos about the lives of my brothers and sisters in other countries. [A few months ago], I got to volunteer at my first VOM conference. This was extremely eye-opening.

At times, hearing the stories of my persecuted family can be really difficult. I used to lay awake at night frightened, thinking about the things I had heard. But I soon realized this was a good reminder to pray for the persecuted church and remember them as though suffering with them. [See Hebrews 13:3.]

A really great way to learn more about persecuted Christians is the VOM Global Prayer Guide. It is easy to understand, and it shows what it means to be a Christian in each of the countries VOM works with.

[Edited for length.]

(Read Jordan’s comments in the next post.)

Spotlight Story

The Story of YouVersion

(Source: VOM Radio. Edited for length and clarity)

YouVersion is an app that allows people all over the world to read the Bible or other Christian materials in their own language. Recently, Todd Nettleton of VOM Radio interviewed Brian Russell, the director of YouVersion. The app is a ministry of Life.Church. Read part of their conversation below.

Todd: Talk a little bit about how YouVersion got started.

Brian Russell: We actually had launched a website first in 2007. We often describe that as a “failed project.” In fact, in 2008, we were considering shutting down the project because something that we adhere to is pouring fuel on fires that are already blazing. Before shutting down the project we had heard that Apple was opening up an app store and allowing third-party developers to develop apps.

So as almost as an afterthought, we asked one of the team members on the team at that time, who happened to be a 19-year-old, “Hey, would you be interested in building an iPhone application?” In the first few days we saw 83,000 installs of the app. and knew this is something we need to pour fuel on.

Todd: Brian, at some point you decided, okay, we have this app. It is great for grown-ups; how do we make it better for kids or how do we do something for children? Talk a little bit about the process that got you to the Bible app for kids.

Brian: So we spent a lot of time building something that actually benefitted us, ourselves. Many of us on the team had kids who were not quite ready for the Bible app yet. One of our great partners, One Hope, had a vision and burden to see kids have a similar experience that adults have with the Bible app, on mobile phones as well as tablets. That was how our Bible app for kids started.

Todd: How is it specifically structured for younger readers?

Brian: So the Bible app for kids is very different from the Bible app. The whole experience is for children. It is designed to appeal to kids, especially between the ages of 3 to 6, although we have 2-year-olds who will navigate around it. We have 7-to 8-year-olds who also benefit from it.

But unlike the Bible app, the Bible app for kids is very visual and includes fun activities around Bible stories. Kids can touch the screen and have the animations come to life. Kids who can’t read yet can listen to every story audibly as well as to the questions and trivia that come in the app.

Todd: What is your favorite passage of Scripture?

Brian: There are so many, but one that stands out to me right now is Galatians 6:9, “Do not grow weary in doing good; for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.”

Spotlight Story

Algeria: Jesus Is Proud of You

Officials in Algeria have shut down some churches by sealing the doors shut so Christians can’t enter. (See the photo.) Most of the people in Algeria are Muslims.

Muslims noticed what was happening to Christians and how the Christians responded. One day a young Muslim man left a note at the door of one of the closed churches.

The note said:

“To close a church is something unacceptable. It is for this reason that I stand with you in your noble and just fight. I applaud each Christian for being committed to their religion, since being a Christian in our society requires sacrifices. You are Christians even though society scorns you, even though sometimes your family does too. I am sure that Jesus is proud of you because at times you must lay aside the things that are important to you to follow his path. All my respect for all of you.”

To Talk About
*What do you think the Christians in Algeria did to earn the Muslim man’s respect?
*The Muslim man mentioned some of the sacrifices that Algerian Christians make. What were they?
*What are some things you can do to earn the respect of non-believers who know you are a Christian?

Learn more in Bold Believers in Algeria and Tunisia, available in the Downloads section.

Spotlight Story

Foxe: Voices of the Martyrs

Several hundred years ago, in the 16th century, English pastor John Foxe wrote the first Foxe’s Book of Martyrs to inform readers about those who had suffered for their faith in Christ. Foxe: Voices of the Martyrs, AD 33-Today features stories of John Foxe’s heroes as well as stories of persecuted Christians who came after him.

The newly-revised edition (2019) includes testimonies from:

*The Reformation,
*The Industrial Revolution,
*The 20th century,
*And recent martyrs who have courageously faced ISIS, the Taliban, dictators, and government crackdowns.

The testimonies inspire readers to boldness and remind Christians that the same Spirit of Christ that strengthened Stephen, Peter, and Paul is at work in us today.

Spotlight Story

The Voice of the Martyrs in 2020

Martyrs’ memorial at VOM headquarters

(The following is a recent interview by VOM Radio host Todd Nettleton. It has been edited and condensed.)

Todd: Are there times when you feel overwhelmed with bad news around the world? Jonathan Ekman leads VOM’s International Ministry work around the globe. He has a much more encouraging outlook.

Jonathan: I think I would start by saying the Lord has allowed us to expand our response to persecution. Also, the distribution of about 1.2 million Bibles last year. So it was a great year!

Todd: What is the number of international ministry staff?

Jonathan: I have the privilege of leading a team of about 60 individuals — 25 nationalities based in 24 countries around the world, and we are active in more than 70 countries.

Todd: How do you think about the security of your team in a place like China that has locked up not only Chinese Christians, but also foreigners? You were here when our staff member Petr Jasek was in prison in Sudan.

Jonathan: We have worked very hard to prepare our staff. They counted the cost before they came. We were able to take care of Petr’s family while he was in prison. Seven times in 15 months, I made a trip to Prague to meet with Petr’s family.

Todd: What kinds of people are you recruiting and asking to join our team?

Jonathan: We are looking for experienced field missionaries who have lived on the field, working cross-culturally. Go and get some experience.

A great first step even before that is to take the “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” course. They give that all over the country.

But really, everyone could join our staff as far as praying — getting our prayer guides and beginning to make it a ministry that you pray for our brothers and sisters.

Todd: What is your favorite part of your job?

Jonathan: I love the fact that God has given me a front row seat to what He is doing in the earth. These are, without question, the most exciting days to be alive in the history of the church. There has never been a time like right now. I am confident that was true in 2019, and I know it will be true in 2020. What a blessing. It also makes me encourage people that if you find yourself afraid these days, you should turn off your television and pick up your Bible and a VOM newsletter, and see what God is doing.