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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.

Activities Story

Prisoner Released!

(Sources: icommittopray.com and prisoneralert.com)

The family of imprisoned pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov were looking forward to his scheduled April 2020 release. In a wonderful Christmas gift for his family, Pastor Bakhrom was freed from prison in December, a little more than three months earlier than his original release date. Praise God, and pray for the family as they reunite.

Two years ago, in April 2017, the pastor was arrested after officials raided his church in Tajikistan. The officers beat members of the congregation and took away Christian books and the pastor’s computer.

[Photo: Bakhrom and his wife before his arrest.]

When the officials examined the computer, they found a collection of Christian songs. They claimed that the songs and the pastor’s books were “extremist.” The government said “experts” decided that the songs were calling people to overthrow the government. Pastor Bakhrom was in prison on the false charges for almost three years.

The pastor and his wife, Gulnora, have three children. Gulnora had health problems after her husband was arrested, and their daughter cared for her. Their two sons live in Russia.

Gulnora received letters of encouragement from Christians around the world while Pastor Bakhrom was in prison. You can read more about them here.

Thank you to all who prayed for the family and sent them letters of encouragement. If you would like to encourage another Christian in prison for their faith, visit prisoneralert.com to find out how.

 


Spotlight Story

Canadian Students Illustrate a Prayer Calendar

Each year, The Voice of the Martyrs in Canada holds an art contest for students 13 to 18 and adults. The winning artwork is used to illustrate VOM-Canada’s Prayer Calendar. Three of the artists chosen to illustrate the 2020 calendar are students. Read below what they said about their artwork.

Hannah Hoekstra describes her picture that appears on the May page: “A girl on a beach remembers that there are Christians who do not share the freedoms she has and recognizes they need prayer.” (See her picture below.)

Grace Waldner, whose picture is on the June page, wrote: “The praying prisoner represents the truth that persecuted Christians in captivity are not hopeless nor helpless; they are warriors. Prayer warriors. There is no weapon sharper than prayer. The angel standing over the prisoner represents Hebrews 13:6 (TLB): “That is why we can say without any doubt or fear, ‘The Lord is my Helper, and I am not afraid of anything that mere man can do to me.’” The Lord will never leave nor forsake His people. The cross represents the suffering Jesus endured and the reason Christians are able to stand up to their persecutors (Matthew 5:10).

The September illustration, titled “Hope in the Darkness,” is by Sophie Riley. “The artist was deeply moved by an article in VOMC’s publication about Christians in African countries, such as Eritrea, being kept in shipping containers because of their faith in Jesus,” Sophie wrote. “She wanted to communicate to them that they haven’t been forgotten; and that Jesus will always be their guiding light, no matter how dark the world looks.”

To Try
*Can you draw or paint a picture that illustrates a story about a persecuted Christian?

[Note: The VOM-Canada contest only accepts entries from Canadian citizens.]


Spotlight Story

Eyub: A Kurdish Christian

(The story and information below come from Stef, the children’s publication of SDOK, a ministry that is part of The Voice of the Martyrs’ family of missions. SDOK is in the Netherlands.)

[Photo: Eyub]

Hi! My name is Eyub and I am 10 years old. I was born in Turkey. I am also a Kurd and I live in the Netherlands. You understand that I have a lot to tell you!

Together with my parents and brother I lived in Istanbul. That is the largest city in Turkey. Many Kurds also live in Turkey. If you put five Turkish people in a row, then one of them is Kurd. Turks hate Kurds. You understand that I never told other children in Turkey that I am Kurdish. If you are also a Christian, well then it is really not going well. Far too dangerous!

Fled
A few years ago my parents couldn’t take it anymore. They fled to the Netherlands. Fleeing is not nice. But it is exciting and you do not know where you will end up. Now I live in an Asylum Seekers Center; you just call it AZC. All the people who live here have fled their own country.

Sometimes people come to visit the AZC. Soon my mother had a friend. Her friend said: “I am a Christian and go to church on Sunday. Are you coming?” My mother thought that was fun. I thought it was fun, too! I got to know many children there. In the church we learned a lot about the Lord Jesus. My parents were baptized. I’d really like that, too, because I really love the Lord Jesus. But it is also good if I learn more about Him first.

School
If you live in the AZC, you must of course go to school. Muslim children from my class started participating in Ramadan and they were really angry when I brought food to school. “You are Muslim, why do you eat?” they said. I did not dare to say that we have become Christians. So I didn’t eat anything at school. Fortunately I am now in a Christian school. And I think that’s great! The teacher reads from the Bible and we pray together. Do you know my name is in the Bible? My name is Eyub and that is the Arabic name for Job. Now that I love the Lord Jesus, I really don’t want to do wrong things anymore and always listen carefully to my parents. Do you feel that way, too?

Kurds
The Kurds have their own language, culture, and even their own flag, but no place of their own. Forty million people without their own country. Many Kurds have fled due to wars and violence. They live throughout many countries.

Most Kurds are Muslims. Of the 40 million Kurds, only 5,000 are Christians. Many of them have fled because of ISIS attacks. Christians come together in secret. If they are unable to go to a secret church service, they listen to a service in their own language on the internet. Many Kurds have never heard the gospel in their own language.


Spotlight Story

Merdan: Believing is Good

(The story and information below come from Stef, the children’s publication of SDOK, a ministry that is part of The Voice of the Martyrs’ family of missions. SDOK is in the Netherlands.)

Hi! I am Merdan and I am 7 years old. My father is a Kurd from Iraq. He fled to the Netherlands where he got to know the Lord Jesus and my mother. I have two brothers and one sister.

We have visited my relatives in Kurdish Iraq. My relatives live in a very beautiful part of Iraq with high mountains and beautiful rivers. Kurdish food is also very tasty: chicken and a lot of rice!

I liked many things but some things I did not like. Few people there believe in Jesus. One of my relatives believes now, but he doesn’t dare talk to anyone about it. Otherwise, he may not come home anymore. People always say that he must become a Muslim again.

The Kurdish children really don’t have a nice life. Some children are paralyzed and have to beg for money. Many children also work, for example as a street vendor. In Iraq we could also go to church, but it was a super long drive. Christians find a church service in the city way too dangerous, so they look for a quiet place in nature.

My father tells everyone he encounters about Jesus, and many people have come to believe in Him. I believe in the Lord Jesus; that is the most beautiful thing in my life. I sometimes dream about God. He says softly, “Merdan, Merdan!” And puts His hand on my head. I really like that. I want to be close to Him. Children in the Netherlands are blessed. We don’t have to flee because there is war in our country or because we believe in Jesus.

More About the Kurds
Many Kurds do not live in the Middle East, but in other countries.
Germany: 530,000
France: 84,000
The Netherlands: 75,000
America: 52,000
No country: The Kurds are the largest people in the world that have no country of their own.

Kurds in the Middle East: There are 35 million Kurds living in northern Iraq and Syria, eastern Turkey and western Iran.
Religion: Most Kurds are Muslim, around 95%.

[Photo above: Merdan. Can you tell what game he is playing?]

To Do
Hospitality is very important to the Kurds and in the Bible. At Merdan’s house, people eat with them every day. His parents tell their guests about the gospel.

Can you invite someone to dinner this month? Maybe you can tell that person about God’s love.


Spotlight Story

Iran in the News

Parents and Teachers

Government leaders and the news media have focused much attention on the nation of Iran in recent days. But what do the increasing tensions and violent exchange mean for the church in Iran — our Christian brothers and sisters serving Christ amid the upheaval?

The Voice of the Martyrs has written a special report on the church in Iran, explaining how government oppression and internal tensions within the country are affecting our Christian brothers and sisters. The report also offers specific ways to pray for Iranian Christians during these tumultuous days.

Request a free copy here. After you preview the report, you can share any age-appropriate information with your kids and students, and pray with them for Iran.