Many of our Christian brothers and sisters from Iraq and Syria have lived as refugees for more than two years. Can you survive one night?
The Voice of the Martyrs invites you to host an “I Am N” Exile Night on your college campus to experience – and help others experience – a taste of life as a refugee. This life-changing event, being held on campuses nationwide, helps students identify with believers who have been displaced by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS), Boko Haram and other extremist groups. It also helps students understand how to pray for persecuted Christians.
Students will identify with displaced Christians around the world by sleeping how they sleep, eating how they eat and connecting with their inspiring and courageous stories. Our persecuted brothers and sisters choose Christ over safety, homes and jobs. For one night, students can share their experience and be inspired by their choice.
“Last night we got the opportunity to join alongside persecuted Christians. We ate foods that they would eat, we played soccer, and slept outside. It was cold, uncomfortable (did I mention cold?). We were given the opportunity to lift them up to Jesus through prayer and worship, and create medical packs so that they could have basic necessities and to write them letters of encouragement. I am so inspired by these people, these family members, who are choosing Jesus every single day, though it is literally costing them everything.” -Brianna
"Bob" and "Kasey" were living the "American Dream." Bob retired from a good job, but in retirement he began to experience what he calls a "Holy discontent." He felt God calling him to lay everything on the altar.
Bob and Kasey began to pray, committing themselves to do whatever God asked of them. Today they are ministering in Central Asia, training believers to dig deep into the Scripture and to reach more people for Christ.
Yes, there have been sacrifices. But they say Jesus is worth every sacrifice they've made as they share the joy and excitement they are finding in serving Him and serving people in His name in Central Asia. Bob and Kasey challenge us to think about what God may be asking of us, and remind us that we're never too old to make an impact for Christ's Kingdom.
Listen also to learn more about this year's International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church and how you can get a free video to share with your church body to encourage them to pray for persecuted Christians around the world.
By now you know of VOM’s 2017 IDOP video called Hannelie and have read the October newsletter with her story.
A couple of weeks ago, Andrea H. wrote to us after she read the story in the newsletter:
Hello. I am stunned by this month's cover story of Hannelie and am particularly interested if there are others who are utterly in shock that these two people would endanger their children. I believe what they did is unconscionable; if they were in the United States, they would have had their children removed from their custody. How dare these people put those vulnerable kids in harm’s way. I'm absolutely blown away by this irresponsible act, as well as your tacit approval of all of it.
What did you think? Did you feel the same way Andrea did? Did Hannelie and her husband make an irresponsible choice regarding their children?
On the other hand, Bob S. wrote us this note:
When my wife and I watched the DVD Hannelie, I got depressed. I realized that in my quiet time or during a good sermon or rousing Christian song, I was like Peter and ready to “risk my life for Jesus,” but when faced with a situation like distributing Bibles as a Gideon in Chicago–the murder capital of America for over two years–I was chicken at the thought of what might happen.
Well, yesterday, I went into Chicago with other Gideons in a pretty safe neighborhood and all I suffered was indifference at the offer of a free Bible–plus many were open to accepting the Lord. Pray that Friday I will be a credit to His name and be willing to endure whatever may come when we venture into a place a lot less threatening than the people you support.
Sincerely in His service,
P.S. Keep sending out testimonies like Hannelie.
Bob had a completely opposite response to Hannelie’s story. Her story inspired him to take more risks in sharing the gospel, even in a dangerous part of America. Is it foolish of Bob to take that risk? Please join us in praying for Bob as he shares Christ through the Chicago area, and that his work will result in much fruit.
I’ve written before about trying to bring my young children up by praying for our persecuted family and with the knowledge that persecution could come to us. And if the Lord calls us to Afghanistan, to Saudi Arabia, to North Korea, I would take them with me. Jesus promised us persecution. He said that his message would divide families, and he said that no sacrifice was too great for him.
What about you? Are there some sacrifices that are too great?
Dory P. grew up the daughter of missionaries in Ecuador, met her husband while working with another mission organization, and now lives in Oklahoma. Their family of four shares seven passports. Dory helps tell the stories of the persecuted through VOM's newsletter, and her husband serves with VOM's international department.
VOM's Todd Nettleton was interviewed this week by Mission Network News' Lyndsey Koh for a story about the battle for Mosul, and especially what the freeing of that city will mean for Christians in the region. Here is an excerpt from the resulting story:
Iraq (MNN) — On Monday, Iraqi forces and their allies launched a new offensive on the city of Mosul in an attempt to reclaim it from ISIS.
Mosul is ISIS’ largest stronghold in Iraq. The major city has been under ISIS control for the past two years. Currently, the BBC estimates around 5,000 ISIS fighters are still fortified in the city.
Sirwan Barzani, a Peshmerga military commander, said the process to reclaim Mosul could take as long as two months. At the offset of the attack this week, Iraqi forces were met with heavy gunfire and a smattering of suicide car bombers.
Todd Nettleton with The Voice of the Martyrs -- USA says Mosul has been a symbol of power and status for ISIS in Iraq.
“[When] they took over the city, it was a part of their so-called caliphate. The fact that they controlled physical territory, including a major city like Mosul, was a big part of their appeal in their recruiting process, [saying], ‘Look, we’re a state! We’re a country! We have territory! We have cities!… If you’re a good Sunni Muslim, you need to get here. There is now a caliphate in existence, we control territory, we’re led by a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.’”
If Mosul is reclaimed, Nettleton explains the loss would weaken ISIS’ reputation and strength.
“The less territory they control, the less economic heft they have, the harder it becomes for them to spread that message and say [they’re] a functioning state. As they lose territory, that becomes a tougher sell.”
However, if Mosul is indeed freed from the clutches of ISIS, there would be a lot more question marks for the future. The most obvious ones would be: Now what? Who will be in charge?
“The population of Mosul is predominantly Sunni. The government of Iraq is predominantly Shia. So will the Sunni population of Mosul be willing to come under control of the Shia government of Iraq? What role will the Kurds play?… It’s a lot of upheaval that’s going on.”
Read the rest of the story on the Mission Network News web site.
|The testimonies of persecuted Christians heard weekly on VOM Radio are inspiring people around the world. Each 30-minute episode shares an interview with a persecuted Christian, a Christian worker in a hostile area or a VOM staff member who travels into restricted nations to stand with believers there. VOM Radio has gained rapid popularity among believers in the United States and elsewhere.
|Here’s what listeners are saying about VOM Radio:
“I thank God for VOM and VOM Radio! I just listened to the interview with Pat Klein. Amazing. And it encourages me to stay in the battle! Please keep doing your programs! Thank you for what you do!”
–BOB B., HAZLEHURST, MS
“VOM Radio brings a perspective that shatters my own perception of suffering to lead me out of feeling sorry for myself to prayer for our ‘family members’ throughout the world.”
–GRANT B., GRETNA, NE
“I have been greatly blessed by your recent radio programs regarding work with Muslim people. We are working with Middle Eastern people in Germany.”
–ERICA M., GERMANY
“I am listening regularly, sometimes in tears and oftentimes under such conviction as I hear testimonies coming from such genuine-hearted people. I find myself so convicted by the love of God they communicate. I want to be more like them.”
–MARCUS R., DEARBORN, MI
“The Lord has used your broadcast to deepen my faith and love for others, and I have begun praying for even persecutors and terrorists to turn to Christ.”
–LIZZIE K., WACO, TX
“Thank you for your recent broadcast interviewing “Amber,” who served in Tibet. It was an inspiration!”
–VINCE P., BUFFALO, NY
Recently, a few of us from The Voice of the Martyrs had the pleasure of visiting a long-time VOM supporter. 100-year-old Edna Bealle has been supporting VOM for 25 years.
Edna had eyes that twinkled and a charming, crooked grin and a confidence that can only come from knowing you are well-acquainted with the King.
We wanted to honor Edna with our visit and hoped it would not affect her health, but she surprised us with her spry mental health and a heartfelt trust in the Lord. She truly lives out the words to the song, “Wherever He leads, I’ll go.”
We honored Edna that day with a signed print of a painting by Ron DiCianni called Safely Home. The image shows a tired traveler on his knees resting his weary, bruised body against the Savior while an angel stands to the side ready to give the white robe of welcome to the pilgrim.
As we unwrapped the gift, Edna’s eyes focused on the painting, and she faintly said, “That is beautiful!” She was visibly pleased.
Then she told us her story: she said that listening to the Lord’s voice always leads us home — in this life as well as to our eternal home. Though she’d gone to church all her life, it wasn’t until Edna was 59 years old that the message of the gospel became real to her. From then on, Edna determined to live her life fully for the Lord.
About 30 years, ago, she and her husband were living in Maryland. When her husband began having some health issues, they began to wonder if an assisted living facility might be the best option for them. She told her husband, “We have to sell the house. I can’t take care of you by myself anymore. The Word says, ‘The steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord,’ so let’s pray about this.”
A brochure arrived in the mail one day, from a facility in Oklahoma. In Edna’s mind, that was too far away. However, her husband kept coming back to the brochure. One day, he decided they would go for a visit. They agreed ahead of time that they would not make a decision during the visit. However, after a few days in Oklahoma, Edna’s husband surprised her when he asked the president of the facility, “Where do we sign?” The couple returned to Maryland to pack up their belongings and put their house up for sale.
One day the impact of the move hit Edna as she stood in front of the refrigerator. She prayed, “Lord, I don’t want to move to Oklahoma! I will miss my children!”
But she felt him say, “Go. You’ll see more of them if you go than if you stay.”
They obeyed, and just a few years later, one of their sons and his wife ended up moving to Oklahoma.
At one point, Edna received a VOM newsletter and was touched by the stories. The Lord spoke to her again and said, “I want you to give to this ministry.” She’s been faithfully giving ever since.
I asked Edna was made her so committed to sticking with VOM after so many years. She told me, “God is pleased with this ministry. I want to please Him and I want to be a part of whatever pleases Him!” She spoke with a twinkle in her eyes, I think, knowing that just like the painting, when Edna arrives at heaven’s gates, she will receive her eternal reward for her faithfulness.
It was such a blessing to visit with Edna, and such a privilege to be in the presence of one of God’s faithful servants. As she’s passed through life, she kept her eyes on the prize: her eternal reward, the “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” we all hope to hear when we get home. May it be so with every one of us.
Sign up here for a free subscription to VOM’s monthly newsletter.
TM is a VOM staff member. She lived for many years in Malaysia and Indonesia before joining the staff at VOM.
God is at work in Iran! Nazanin works in a call center for Mohabat TV, one of our VOM partners broadcasting the gospel into Iran and surrounding nations via satellite TV and internet. Each day Nazanin and her team take calls from inside Iran. Many are from Muslims who want to know more about Jesus and even commit their lives to following Him. Other callers are Muslims who want to argue against the Christian message or convert the call center workers back to Islam. Some are even threatening and angry.
Listen as Nazanin shares the story of a policeman who picked up the phone in the home of a Christian he'd come to arrest--and how God used that phone call to plant the seeds of the gospel in his life!
Nazanin will give American Christians advice on how to reach Muslims in our country, and specific ways that we can pray for God's work in Iran. You'll be inspired by what God is doing in Iran, this week on VOM Radio.
Most of us are aware – and concerned – of the refugee crisis surging against Europe’s shores, though media attention has moved on by now. Greek Coast guard members continue to pull desperate people out of the ocean almost daily, and huge refugee camps in Greece and elsewhere are home to tens of thousands of refugees, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
I recently read Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis by several World Relief staff. I knew I’d be educated about the current refugee situation, but I never expected their words to have so much to do with our persecuted brothers and sisters.
While presidential candidates, politicians and pundits speculate about the imagined results of resettling refugees into our country, Seeking Refuge provides a different perspective. Namely, that serving the alien, aka the refugee, is a Biblical mandate that all Christ followers are called to pursue. The authors explain this mandate using various Scripture passages.
Most enlightening though, is how serving refugees in America can be a way to serve our persecuted brothers and sisters. According to a World Relief study, “about 340,000 professing Christians of one tradition or another have been admitted into the United States as refugees between 2003 and 2015, more than any other religious tradition [emphasis mine]. Many of those individuals and families were persecuted particularly because of their Christian faith. Of approximately 125,000 Iraqi refugees admitted since 2007, for example, more than 35 percent have been Christians – many times more than the Christian share of the Iraqi population – because Christians have been uniquely persecuted.” [pg 25]
Perhaps that new Iraqi family I see walking their children to school every morning are believers. And perhaps they’re feeling lonely and alienated in a new culture and climate. One of World Relief’s major endeavors is partnering incoming refugees with a welcoming church family who will help them bridge the gap as they settle into a foreign new place.
As the authors say, “If we were forced to flee our country, we would hope that a Christian brother or sister in the country to which we fled would be there to welcome us, to help us adjust, and to lament with us what we had lost. We have the opportunity to stand with the persecuted church as many come into our country each year.” [pg 25] At The Voice of the Martyrs, we encourage our readers to engage with and stand with the persecuted. What if our persecuted brothers and sisters aren’t oceans away but instead are moving into apartments just down the street?
If we fear incoming immigrants, we’re operating under false assumptions. According to missiologist Timothy Tennent, the “percentage of immigrants in North America who either arrive as or become Christians is significantly higher than the Christian share of the native population.”[pg 32] If we act in fear, “We risk ignoring a divine mandate if our sole priorities are safety, comfort and convenience.” The authors exhort us to begin thinking biblically –“not merely politically or economically” – about immigrants. [pg 32] “Safety is fine, but it is not – cannot – be our ultimate value if we follow Jesus.”[page 68]
So how do we think biblically about immigrants? These new arrivals present a huge mission field, people and religions we might never have encountered otherwise, brought right to our doorsteps. As we support and encourage persecuted believers who are reaching their enemies for Christ, how can we not reach out to our “enemies” in love?
The authors acknowledge that serving people is hard. It’s messy and complicated. Many of the new arrivals bring with them deep trauma. Their languages and customs are different. But again, as followers of Jesus, our obligation is not to neat, safe, ordered lives. Instead it is to engage – to serve the persecuted and to reach the lost.
And somewhat surprisingly, we can do that right here in America by welcoming an immigrant.
Dory P has been on staff with The Voice of the Martyrs for nearly 10 years. As a freshman at Wheaton College, she interned at World Relief DuPage, giving her brand new eyes for immigrants. At that time, most of the arriving immigrants were from the Sudan and the Balkans.
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The scheduled Supreme Court hearing in the case against Pakistani Christian wife and mother Asia Bibi was postponed today when one of the judges scheduled to hear the case recused himself. No new hearing date was announced.
Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman stepped down from hearing the case, saying that he had also been a judge in a related case. "I was a part of the bench that was hearing the case of Salmaan Taseer, and this case is related to that," he told the court. Taseer was a provincial governor who spoke out on behalf of Asia Bibi and was subsequently assassinated in 2011. His killer, Mumtaz Qadri, was executed earlier this year, which led to great unrest in Pakistan.
VOM contacts in Pakistan say thousands of extra policemen had been deployed in Islamabad ahead of the hearing in an effort to maintain law and order.
VOM's Todd Nettleton was asked to comment on the situation for this story from WORLD Magazine.
You can write a letter to Asia Bibi, as well as a letter to Pakistani government officials, at www.PrisonerAlert.com. Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.