198 posts categorized “Inside VOM”

April 17, 2014

VOM Team in Nigeria

Recently a VOM team visited with persecuted Christians in Nigeria, where they met with and ministered to persecuted Christians, including children and widows. Included in the team was a group of women specially trained to minister to and encourage widows.

Here are some highlights of their trip.

 

Please pray for Christians in Nigeria.


April 7, 2014

Blessing and Hope

This week is my first week back in the office after a 12-week maternity leave. Our beautiful daughter was born Dec. 29 and I enjoyed spending the first weeks of her life concentrating on her needs. We named her “Rajah,” a transliteration of the word for “hope” used in Arabic Bibles when it refers to future hope. Here on earth we expect tribulation, enduring patiently, but we also rejoice in our hope for the future (Romans 12:12).

Though I’ve been out of the office, my thoughts have never been far from our persecuted family members. In the last three months, my husband and I have hosted VOM workers from Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Israel in our home. Each time we introduced Rajah to our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters, every one of our friends immediately offered a blessing over our baby daughter.

It was beautiful to witness and so amazing to consider how God will use her life in the future. She will likely face tribulation for her faith, just as our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters experience today, but I pray that she will continue to rejoice in hope and remain constant in prayer as she goes through persecution.

When our friends blessed Rajah, they weren’t blessing her flippantly or as a trite means of congratulations. These are men and women whose lives are dedicated to serving hurting Christians and reaching people for Christ in overwhelmingly Muslim nations. They prayed for God’s favor for Rajah in expectation that she, too, will be used by the Lord to point people to his truth.

This path might not be easy. We see over and over how God doesn’t always protect his followers from every evil, but he does use every circumstance for his glory. Our friend from Turkey was nearly beaten to death for being a Christian, but today he’s involved in a ministry that is sharing the gospel with large numbers of Turkish Muslims.

Our friend from Syria gets phone calls nearly every day detailing how Christians in his country are being expelled and entire villages wiped out. There are threats against his church.

Just this week, colleagues of our Lebanese friend were beaten as they passed out Christian literature and relief supplies to refugees. And the church of our brother from Israel has been bombed and burned on a number of occasions.

So when our friends bless Rajah, do they bless to request God’s favor and protection on her? No, they bless her to dedicate her to God’s service, a position they know from experience is not always pain-free, but they also know that there is no better place to spend a life than to spend it dedicated to God’s service.

That is my prayer for my daughter, for myself and for all of us as we work together to fellowship with the persecuted. We may need to make difficult choices, endure difficult circumstances, but we do so in hope that we will someday enjoy an eternity worshipping the only One who is worthy of our efforts.

Dory P. has worked with VOM for seven years. She grew up in Ecuador, met her husband while working with another mission organization, and now lives in Oklahoma. Between Dory, her husband, three-year-old son and infant daughter, they share seven passports. Dory helps tell the stories of the persecuted through VOM's newsletter, and her husband serves with VOM's international department.


February 6, 2014

Kids of Courage: Ask A VOM Worker

VOM’s Kids of Courage resources help parents and educators teach children ages 5 to 13 about persecuted Christians around the world, and provide opportunities for children to serve and pray for them. From time to time, VOM workers share their thoughts with readers at www.kidsofcourage.com. Read responses from a recent interview with two VOM workers below. (Comments are edited and paraphrased for clarity and reading level.)

Question: What would you like kids in America to know about persecuted Christians?

Answers: In the American church, we can take our relationship with Christ for granted. But for some believers overseas, it’s not a simple belief. Christ is very present and active; He’s their best friend, their father, their comforter. Christ is someone people are willing to pay a high cost to follow. They are willing to give their lives to serve the same Jesus we serve. Kidsofcouragelogo

Persecuted Christians are like any of us, but they have been tested. They are normal people suffering, and they continue to praise the Lord. Their amazing perseverance and faith are an encouragement.

It is encouraging to see how actively God is working [among them]. We need to be seeking Him to work that way in us.

As for the question, “Are you willing to die for your faith?” — I know I only could if I was in daily communion with the Lord. It would be the work of the Spirit.

Question: What would you like kids to know about the countries you visit?

Answer: I’d like them to know that the countries are not always like you see on the news. On the news, it looks like there must be fires and angry crowds everywhere.

Nothing is as simple as it seems. Even in Muslim dominated areas, Muslims who are not extremists are warm and hospitable and struggling like everyone else. They are desperately lost. I want to combat a spirit of fear in [Christian] kids. “Perfect love casts out fear” [1 John 4:18].

Families that are lost really need Christ. God is moving powerfully. He is going to use young people in a powerful way to reach them.

Also, many parts of the world will be reached by Christians who used to be Muslims — Persian Christians and Arab Christians — perhaps reaching Westerners….In East Germany, there are many Persian believers in churches.

Question: What have you learned from persecuted Christians?

Answer: Their witness shakes me to the core. [The difference between the lives of persecuted Christians and many other Christians] is like the difference between reading a driver’s education manual and going on your first drive. They don’t just have head knowledge.

We have such a blessing — those of us who travel overseas. I hope we can convey that to our readers.

Now if something bad happened to me, it would shake me, but not as much as it used to.


January 31, 2014

NIGERIA: 60 Christians Helped, 80 More Waiting

While the assaults by radical Muslims in Nigeria have faded from the news, the attacks on Christians have continued to escalate.Prostheticclinic2014

What would you do? Go to church knowing you could be attacked? Avoid sharing your faith? Or even deny your faith to save your earthly body?

These are very hard questions and Christians in Nigeria (predominantly the north) face this dilemma almost daily.

In recent years, Boko Haram has become a predominant Muslim terrorist group. And their mission is to eradicate Christianity—and anything Western—from Nigeria. While burning churches and beheading Christians is common, another tactic is often used, that of severing a limb, usually a leg.

In response to these attacks, The Voice of the Martyrs continues to enlarge its prosthetics clinic in northern Nigeria. With the help of technicians donating their time along with quality materials shipped from the U.S., we are able to assist our persecuted brothers and sisters with new prosthetics.

“We have been able to provide 60 persecuted believers with custom-fitted prosthetics in the last 12 months. We have identified 80 more Christians who need one.”

– Cole Richards, Vice President, International Ministries

Tragically the victims have even been children, like Mary. She will now learn to walk again thanks to VOM’s prosthetics clinic.

When you donate to VOM’s Families of Martyrs Fund, you are also helping those who are living martyrs, even children like Mary who choose to follow Christ no matter the cost.

Please click on the link below and consider a donation to VOM’s Families of Martyrs Fund and help us meet the growing need of providing quality prosthetics to your persecuted family members in Nigeria.

Click here to partner with VOM in providing more prosthetics to our family members like Mary.


January 10, 2014

Most-Viewed Posts in 2013: #1

This week on the Persecution Blog we have been reposting the most-viewed posts of 2013, starting with #5 on Monday and counting down to today, when we share the most-viewed post of the entire year.

The top post in all of 2013 was the heart-rending story of Susan in Uganda, posted last July 18:

Tortured for Christ at 13 Years Old

Susan with her clutches

Susan was just 13 when an evangelist spoke at her school in Uganda and she turned to Christ for salvation. That year, 2009, marked the beginning of the troubles with her father.

At first, her father beat her because of her new faith. Then, in March 2010, he locked her in a room in their mud shanty. He kept her there for six months without feeding her, and she survived on roasted bananas that her brother slipped under the door when their father was gone. At one point, he threatened Susan and her brother with a knife, telling them he was ready to slaughter them.

Neighbors became concerned and told police, who rescued her from the home. While locked in the room, Susan suffered a bout of untreated malaria, and the long-term lack of calcium affected her growing bones. Joseph, a local pastor, visited her after her rescue and said she was bony, weak and unable to walk or talk. “Her hair had turned yellow, she had long fingernails and sunken eyes, and she looked very slim, less than 45 pounds,” he said.

After a prolonged hospital stay and two major operations on her left thigh bone, a local Christian woman volunteered to care for Susan. Joseph helped Susan and her caretaker, Dreda, find a small room to rent in a community far away from her father. Susan was happy to be safe, but her care has been a financial strain on Joseph and her caretaker.

VOM became involved in her case this year, and thanks to our readers, we have been able to help. Susan began a new school term at a brand-new boarding school this summer. The school is much better than the village school she previously attended. She has a special caretaker assigned to her at school to help her meet her needs, as she requires the assistance of crutches to get around and her school is not set up for handicap access.

Susan
Dreda and Susan with her box of new school supplies at the school.
Dreda and Susan with her box of new school supplies at the school.

In his report this month, our field worker told about accompanying Susan to get her settled at school. He gave her a large box full of supplies for the new school year, provided by VOM readers. He wrote, “[Susan] is really promising and full of joy. She is happy for this opportunity to have help from God’s people. She promised to work hard and excel.”

The VOM worker also said Dreda was grateful for VOM’s support for their living expenses. Pastor Joseph asked him to pass along his thanks as well. “Please thank them so much, for we have not even dreamed anything like this before. This is indeed the work of God!”

If you have contributed to VOM’s Families of Martyrs fund, you are one of the ones who made this possible for Susan. If not, you can make a difference in the lives of persecuted Christians through a gift to the Families of Martyrs fund here. You can even choose to make that donation monthly, and help meet the ongoing needs of these believers.

THANK YOU for being a part of the Persecution Blog during 2013. We look forward to sharing with you even more inspiring stories of courageous faith in 2014.


January 9, 2014

Most-Viewed Posts in 2013: #2

This week on the Persecution Blog we are reposting the most-viewed posts of 2013, starting with #5 on Monday and counting down to 2013's most-viewed post tomorrow.

The #2 most-viewed post was a good-news post sharing the news of a pastor's release from prison in Iran:

Iranian Pastor Released from Prison

There was good news from Iran last week as Pastor Robert Asseriyan, one of the leaders of the Assembly of God Church in Tehran, was released from prison. He had been arrested during a worship service at the church on May 21.

Roubert-Asserian-free
Image courtesy of Mohabat News.

The Farsi services at the church—one of the last “building churches” that remained open in Iran—have been forcibly closed down by the police, according to Mohabat News.

It seems one of the conditions for Pastor Asseriyan’s release was his silence, as authorities instructed him and his family not to be interviewed by the media or to make public statements about his arrest, his 43 days in prison or conditions for his release. It is unclear what the status of the charges against him is at this time.

Often in Iran Christians are released from jail after making substantial bail payments, but the charges against them are never dropped. In this way, police can pick them up at any time in the future and can use the unresolved case against them to pressure them to cease Christian activities.

Please continue to pray for Pastor Asseriyan and his family. Pray also for other Christians who remain imprisoned in Iran. You can write letters of encouragement to several of them through the Prisoner Alert web site.

Come back tomorrow to see the most-viewed post of last year.


January 8, 2014

Most-Viewed Posts in 2013: #3

This week on the Persecution Blog we will be reposting the most-viewed posts of 2013, with #3 today and counting down to last year's most-viewed post on Friday.

The #3 most-viewed post was an update on Asia Bibi, a wife and mother imprisoned in Pakistan for boldly witnessing to the truth that Jesus is alive to some of her Muslim coworkers. For doing so, she was accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death. We provided this update on her case on June 27:

Asia Bibi Update

Earlier this month Asia Bibi’s husband, Ashiq, was able to visit her in jail. At the time of his visit Asia was sick and receiving treatment from the jail doctor. She complained of a lot of pain in her legs, shoulders and arms.

Ashiq told Asia, “Take good care for your health and recover soon. The children are worried for you. They are daily praying for your good health and soon release.” Asia_Bibi

Asia said she is regularly praying in jail for her release and requested VOM readers to pray with her.

Several days after Ashiq’s visit to the prison, Asia was transferred from Sheikhupura jail to Multan jail. This change means that, in order for her family to visit her, they will have to travel around five hours instead of only one hour. The extra travel also raises security concerns for the family.

Asia’s daughters in particular were discouraged by the news of their mother’s transfer.

Please pray for Asia Bibi. Pray for healing on her body, encouragement to her spirit and for her release from prison. Pray also for Ashiq and their daughters.

You can write letters of encouragement to Asia through Prisoner Alert. The site has been updated with her new prison address. Invite your friends to sign a petition to the Pakistani government on her behalf at www.CallForMercy.com.

Come back to the Persecution Blog tomorrow in order to see the #2 most-viewed post of 2013. You may also want to view #4 and #5, posted earlier this week.


January 7, 2014

Most-Viewed Posts in 2013: #4

This week on the Persecution Blog we will be re-posting the most viewed posts of 2013, continuing with #4 today and counting down to last year's most viewed post on Friday.

The #4 most-viewed post was an update on the situation for Christians in Syria, one of the nations that was most in the news in 2013.

Syria: God is at Work

The war in Syria is one of the greatest crises seen in the Middle East in the last 20 years. It has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people, both Muslim and Christian. More than 2 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries. In the midst of this crisis, our persecuted family is boldly reaching out. And the reactions of Muslims have been astonishing.

“When you hear about one Muslim coming to Christ, it’s a great thing, and everybody rejoices,” said a VOM Syrian contact. “Today in Syria I’m not talking about one person. We’re talking about hundreds and even thousands of Muslims coming to know Christ.” image from http://aviary.blob.core.windows.net/k-mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp-14010620/707341a7-6be2-4426-beba-8a587d044044.png

Teams of believers are working in the refugee camps, providing Christ’s love while sharing material aid, such as medical supplies and Bibles, as well as spiritual aid. Christians, widely considered “infidels” in Syria, are now often and affectionately referred to as “the Bible People.”

“This war is like a knife in the heart of the church. No human can stand that suffering. But there is God’s presence. I can see Christ in the midst of darkness.” —  VOM National Contact

Please pray for Christians who face not only the horrific effects of war but also continued persecution. Please also pray for those who are bravely using this opportunity to advance the kingdom.

“God is doing miracles inside the country,” a Christian worker told VOM. “But even if he allows us to die, it will be an honor for us to die for his name, to glorify his name.”

The opportunities for ministry in Syria today exceed what we thought possible. Working with the Syrian church and local workers, VOM continues to distribute material aid, Bibles and Christian literature, and support for pastors and evangelistic teams. VOM will continually seek ways to increase our efforts.

Make a contribution for Syria today.

If you are a US resident and not currently receiving The Voice of the Martyrs’ monthly newsletter, please also request your copy of our November 2013 newsletter highlighting Syria.

During this time of crisis and opportunity, VOM invites you to make a special contribution to support this ministry in Syria.

Come back to the Persecution Blog tomorrow in order to see the #3 most-viewed post of 2013, or click here to see the #5 post.


January 6, 2014

Most-Viewed Posts in 2013: #5

This week on the Persecution Blog we will be re-posting the most viewed posts of 2013, starting with #5 today and counting down to last year's most viewed post on Friday.

The #5 most-viewed post was one of the "Moving Toward Muslims" posts written by Anna, who lives and works among Muslims in the Middle East. This post explained the Eid ul-Adha festival, or the Feast of Sacrifice, which was held October 15, the date of this post:

The Momentous Sacrifice

Today, the Muslim world shifts its eyes to one thing: The lamb.

Today is Eid ul-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice.

Marking the end of the haj, the pinnacle event of this feast is sacrificing a lamb — literally slitting its throat while reciting verses from the Quran. After reserving a portion of meat to give to the poor, Muslims will clean the meat and rub it with fennel seed, turmeric and other aromatic spices. Then they will braise or roast it until the tender meat falls off the bone. 

ISLAM_-_Haj-Pilgrimage
Last year Saudi Arabia reported more than 4 million pilgrims for the Haj. (Photo: AsiaNews)
Last year Saudi Arabia reported more than 4 million pilgrims for the Haj. (Photo: AsiaNews)

In almost every country, new clothes are a must for this special day. In the Middle Eastern country where I live, local men attend prayers early in the morning, and then receive guests as early as 6 a.m. Women with henna-decorated hands pass out chocolates and money to children who knock on their doors. But the lamb takes center stage, and some Muslims don’t even know why.

The event behind Eid ul-Adha is Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son. Muslims know that God stopped Abraham as he raised the knife and sent a ram from heaven so the son could go free. But the deeper significance of this story — and how it points to Jesus — most will never know.

Several years ago I had coffee with a South Asian woman near the celebration of this meaning-packed holiday.

A few simple questions led to a topic most Americans would avoid: sin. As a Muslim, Hanna explained to me how she views sin: Everyone sins, at least a little. But the payment for sin is good works.

It gave me the entrance to share about the seriousness of sin, its penalty of death and that no amount of good works are good enough for God. Ever.

The table was silent. Suspension had sufficiently been built. Hanna appeared deep in thought when she looked up from her drink and asked, “So how can anyone go to heaven?”

I was so glad she asked! “You know about Nabi Ibrahim?” I ventured, referring to the Eid ul-Adha story. “The ‘ram from heaven’ was given in place of Abraham’s son, and this sign points us to Jesus.” (As a note, some Muslims insist the son was Ishmael, not Isaac, so I used “son” in general to avoid confusion or an argument.)

After relating the story to Jesus the spotless Lamb of God who gave his life so we could go free, I asked Hanna, “Have you ever heard this before?”

“No. Never.” At the end of our coffee date, Hanna thanked me for explaining about Jesus. She said, “I have always wondered why he came.”

The Quran ends the story of Abraham and his son with this: “And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice” (as-Saffat 37:107, Yusuf Ali Translation). So, every year on the occasion of Eid ul-Adha, astute Muslims are left wondering, What is the “momentous sacrifice?” Surely it means more than a ram caught in the brambles.

God in his wisdom tucked this meaning-packed story in the Quran and made it the focal point of the biggest feast in Islam. Having woven this account into the fabric of Muslims’ lives, God has prepared these precious men and women to hear about His provision of the “momentous sacrifice,” Jesus, the Lamb of God.

This Eid, may they not be left wondering.

YOUR TURN: Have you ever taken part in an Eid ul-Adha celebration? Do you know any Muslims who are celebrating today?

"Anna" bloged throughout 2013 about friendship, culture, and Kingdom-living from her home in the Middle East. She loves Jesus and wants to see Him cherished by her neighbors and people everywhere. Anna is a pseudonym, and all names in her posts are changed for security reasons.

Come back to the Persecution Blog tomorrow in order to see the #4 most viewed post of 2013.


November 25, 2013

Syria Persecution Update

VOM's November newsletter was a special update on the situation for Christians in Syria, in the midst of a horrific civil war. In recent months our office hasSyria_2 put a special emphasis on how we can assist Syrian Christians both inside and outside Syria. Those plans are being implemented now. In order to keep our workers and Syrian Christians safe, we can’t describe the exact nature of how we’ll be helping, but when we are able, VOM will update our supporters on how we have been helping persecuted Syrian believers.

Here is a recent update from one of our VOM contact inside Syria.

Since the beginning of the conflict, two small towns in Syria have been a place of refuge for 4,500 families, who were forced to flee their homes in other areas of Syria. The villages are historically Christian and both communities have lived in peace with their Muslim neighbors for decades. Since the arrival of the displaced, Muslims and Christians continued to live in harmony.

On the morning of Oct. 21, 2013 the situation took a dramatic turn for the worse.

Read the rest of this important update on Persecution.com.