37 posts categorized “Kids of Courage”

April 15, 2014

Things We Don’t Tell Children

Leah’s Daughter

Leah stood among the congregation in the church in South Sudan, singing beautiful praises to God. Christian workers visiting the church noticed her right away. They saw that Leah was blind and sickly, and she wore old clothing.

“Leah is a strong Christian,” the pastor later told the visiting workers.

“Why don’t you help her more?” one worker asked some of the Christians in the congregation. “She’s blind and sick, and she needs clothes!”

“How can we?” asked the local Christians. “There are so many others like her, and we are poor ourselves!” Leah photo

But God has not left Leah alone. He has given her a very special helper. Leah has a 5-year-old daughter. Leah’s daughter has learned to lead her mother around. She is her mother’s guide.

The visitors saw Leah’s daughter standing faithfully by Leah’s side. The girl held onto her mother with one hand, and she clutched a Bible in her other hand. Close to her mother, she is learning to sing praises to God even in the most difficult circumstances. That can be a hard lesson for any Christian to learn, but God has given Leah’s daughter a very good teacher.

What We Don’t Tell Children

VOM’s Kids of Courage resources have told the story of Leah and her daughter. From the story, children learn that people don’t have to live in comfortable circumstances to joyfully sing praises to the Lord. They learn that God cares for us (1 Peter 5:7), often through others, even children.

When children have already learned about bold believers who suffer, they may not be any less grieved by harsher stories of persecution when they are adults. But they may be less likely to blame God and to have their faith shaken when they encounter the persecution.

After they get older, they can learn more about how Leah’s village was attacked by Muslims from the North about six years before the visiting Christians arrived.

Koc_logoMost of the people in the village fled, but Leah couldn’t see where to run. Her daughterher guide, her blessingwas the result of the Muslims’ attack on her that day. “Love your enemies” and “Pray for those who persecute you” surely take on new dimensions when you’re forced to bear your enemy’s child. KOC_Logo

We don’t tell children that part of the story. But we can help prepare them to hear it later when they can again be reminded that people don’t have to wait until they are in comfortable situations to praise the Lord, and that God cares for us in our struggles.

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. Learn more at www.kidsofcourage.com.


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.


November 26, 2013

Returning to Help in Nigeria

Nicodemus

Nicodemus Ado was a student at the Stephen Center in Nigeria, a home and boarding school supported by The Voice of the Martyrs. The center houses and educates Christian children whose parents have been killed in attacks by radical Muslims.

“My father was a pastor at the Baptist Church in Kaduna,” Nicodemus said when he was a 14-year-old Stephen Center student. “He was burnt to death by the rioters during the Kaduna riot.

“I have seen God’s power at work in my life by provision and salvation. When I feel scared, I immediately and normally take my Holy Bible and read and pray. That is the way I find peace."

Ten Years Later

“Ten years ago, we heard about Christians in Nigeria being attacked every other year. Then there were two or three a year. Now we sometimes hear of attacks every other week.”

— The Voice of the Martyrs field worker 

Weng was 3 years old when radical Muslims attacked the Christians in his Nigerian village. As VOM previously reported, all nine people in Weng’s family died, and their house was set on fire. Weng was rescued from the fire, but his feet were burned.

Christian victims of attacks have at times been denied medical treatment at facilities in parts of Nigeria. The care received by those who need prostheses has been inadequate and of insufficient quality to serve the victims in the long term.

VOM started a program to provide help for people like Weng who need prostheses. VOMedical workers have set up a prosthetics clinic with the goal of training Nigerian Christians to staff it. Through the clinic, God is providing hope and a healthier future to amputees. 

Nicodemus, Prosthetics Team Trainee

“After the conclusion of my secondary education, I left the Stephen Center in August 2010…to proceed with my university education,” Nicodemus said recently.

“In December 2012, the director asked me to join the prosthetics training team. I had never heard of prosthetics before; I wondered what it was.

“I concluded my training in June 2013. The training brought many things to our knowledge, and we were exposed to more advanced technology in the field of prosthetics….I enjoyed every stage of the training process…I would love to embark on further training in the field.”

More than 300 children now live at the Stephen Center. Their time at the center provides them with biblical and academic preparation that will allow them to be a light to their troubled nation and to help other Christians as they have been helped.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

(Quotes edited from the original for clarity.)

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. www.kidsofcourage.com


August 26, 2013

Growing Up with VOM

The following account comes from VOM’s Be-a-Voice Network member, Jessi S. For information about how you can be a part of the Be-a-Voice Network, visit http://www.be-a-voice.net.

I first learned about Voice of the Martyrs when I was at a homeschool conference at the end of my 4th grade year, nine years ago. They were passing out newsletters and information about the persecuted Christians around the world. My mom and I picked up several past issues of Kids of Courage and The Voice of the Martyrs. I read every issue as soon as I got home. 

Iraq Pray 2 copy
Then I signed up to receive the newsletter every month. When I would get each issue in the mail, I would highlight each persecuted Christian’s name and write their name in a prayer journal as a way to remind myself to pray for them. I then started explaining about the persecuted church to my church.

When I first started, many people did not think that they needed to pray for people outside of the United States, and some even doubted that there was persecution going on. A few people were very discouraging about it. Thankfully, through much prayer, God not only showed my church, but He also showed me just how desperately we needed to continue to pray and support our brothers and sisters who were suffering.

I then started teaching from the Bold Believers in Chiapas [available from the Downloads section of www.kidsofcourage.com] book for my Sunday school class. We had 5 children ages 5-12, learning and studying about persecuted Christians. One of the children’s favorite activities was when we taped off the size of a typical prison cell. I then had the children get in the area to see how small it was and then we tried it with adults. They were amazed!  They thought it was small for one person. I then explained that there would be at least 2 or 3 adults in each cell. 

I have been a Be A Voice member since July of 2009. God has worked in my life and blessed me tremendously. I have a greater appreciation for Jesus Christ as I see the persecution these Christians face and how it doesn’t compare to what Jesus did for me. I am blessed to live in a country where we don’t face persecution to the point of death. Teaching young children, hearing them share the stories with their parents, and knowing that they also have a heart for the persecuted church has blessed me. 

I thought that my prayers would be helping them and they do, but at the same time praying for the persecuted church has strengthened my walk with Christ. Now that I am in my sophomore year of college, I am seeing just how blessed I am and so thankful that I can worship Christ freely. I do not fear that I will die while worshipping my Lord and Savior!

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.


August 8, 2013

Egypt: Demyana

The following true story comes from Stef, the children’s ministry of Stichting De Ondergrondse Kerk (SDOK), VOM’s sister mission in the Netherlands. The story took place before the current unrest in Egypt, but it gives a glimpse of what life is like there for Muslim converts to Christ and children of families who are in danger.

Demyana is an ordinary ten-year-old who loves nice colors and all the other things that girls of her age like. Something less ordinary about her is that Demyana is always at home. Youʼll never have any problem finding Demyana at home if you want to go to her place and play, because sheʼs never outside. Or at least, you’d never find her away from home if you knew where to visit her — and not many do, because where she lives has to be kept secret.

Demyana lives in a small apartment somewhere in Egypt with her mom, two little sisters and a little brother. As long as nobody knew that her dad had become a Christian, they had no trouble — but that changed a couple of years ago.

CU Girl Nile wash
A young girl in Egypt.

Demyana’s father
Brought up as a Muslim, Demyanaʼs dad studied the national language, Arabic, at a university. He got to know the Quran very well and was eager to prove that it was a much better holy book than the Bible. So he asked the neighbor’s daughter for a Bible. He began to read at Matthew, and he was so deeply impressed that he wanted to start following the Lord Jesus. From that time on, he went to work in a foreign country. He was baptized abroad and later came back to Egypt to live. And he married an Egyptian Christian girl. He told absolutely nobody in his family that he had become a Christian.

Betrayed
But somehow or other, someone must have found him out, because one day Demyanaʼs dad got an invitation to go and have dinner with his relatives. Suddenly, his relatives stood all around him and started yelling, ‘Youʼre an apostate!’ (meaning one who has ‘fallen away’ from Islam). They beat him up and locked him in a room for four days to try to get him to deny Jesus Christ. When that failed to work, they dragged him to a car. Demyanaʼs dad thought, “This is the end for me.”

Miraculous
At a police checkpoint along the way, the relatives pointed a knife at him and hissed that he had to keep his mouth shut. But Demyanaʼs dad told the police officer that he was being abducted. The policeman ordered him out of the car, slapped handcuffs on his wrists and assured the relatives that he would make sure this apostate would be suitably punished. He led Demyanaʼs dad away with him. But once they had rounded a corner, the policeman took the cuffs off, handed him money for a bus fare and said, “Flee!”

Moved away
One night, Demyana overheard her parents talking about the danger they were in. Sheʼs often been afraid since that night. Now, she understands why they keep moving from one apartment to another and why her father acts so nervously. Eventually, her dad managed to escape the country — leaving Demyana, her mother, and the three younger siblings behind in a sparse, cramped apartment.

Always at home
Demyana misses her dad terribly. Happily, he is able to call them on the phone often. But in every call, he tells her mom, ‘Never step outside; itʼs far too risky!’ So Mom and the children keep indoors. They often read the Bible, pray and play with each other. Mom is trying to teach them some English. They make drawings to put on the walls to make it not so gray — but the drawings are not happy ones. They draw sad dolls and planes flying away that tell the story of four children who want nothing more than to get out of that situation. If Mom is feeling brave, they might go to church at Christmas. But however boring her life might be, Demyana is quite sure that sheʼs safe in Godʼs care and that He will never ever abandon them!

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. www.kidsofcourage.com


July 29, 2013

Heroes for Kids

“The Church…as the bearer of the gospel…is at variance with…all human cultures without exception.” —Lesslie Newbigin

  • What if an American Christian football star refused to play in the Super Bowl because the game was on Sunday? Eric Liddell of Scotland did something similar.
  • Samuel Morris, an African teenager, came to America to learn to be a missionary. He died at age 20 before he could return to Africa to minister to his people, but he led many in America to Christ before his death.  
  • Amy Carmichael rescued many of India’s “temple children” from dreary, abusive lives serving false gods and their followers. 
  • Gladys Aylward led dozens of children in China on a 100-mile trip over mountains to escape attackers.  
  • Richard Wurmbrand, in prison in Romania for spreading the gospel, witnessed to prisoners in other cells using Morse code. 

VDS26If we believe that all human cultures are at variance with the Church (see the quote above), isn’t it our responsibility to teach our children that others will not always be pleased with their choice to follow Jesus? 

The stories of the heroes listed above, along with Perpetua, John Bunyan, Jim Elliot, William Tyndale and William Booth are told on VOM’s Torchlighters DVDs. They provide positive examples of Christians who lived at variance with the culture around them.

The DVDs include 30-minute animated features for kids, longer documentaries that are interesting and informative for adults as well as children, and English and Spanish audio and subtitles.

VOM is currently offering a10-DVD-set of the Torchlighters stories at a special price. Free supplementary materials are available on the DVDs or at www.kidsofcourage.com.  

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. 


June 25, 2013

How Can Kids Help the Persecuted Church?

“How can us kids help?” — recent commenter on VOM’s Kids of Courage blog

“Dear VOM, I have felt a growing burden for the persecuted church. I read all your newsletters and … I even have a VOM Prayer Calendar. But I want to do more. I want to help...” — 13-year-old Hannah F. Kidsofcouragelogo

  1. Make bookmarks for friends that remind them to pray for suffering Christians.
  2. Design a church bulletin insert about persecution.
  3. Use time waiting in checkout lines to pray for persecuted Christians.
  4. Laminate VOM newsletter pages to use as placemats.
  5. Put VOM publications in your doctor’s waiting room.
  6. Recycle cans to raise funds for persecuted Christians.

The ideas above, and 94 more, are on the free downloadable poster, “100 Ways Kids Can Help the Persecuted Church,” at www.kidsofcourage.com. Many of the ideas on the poster came from kids who created and tried the ideas, or from parents and teachers who found ways to include children in remembering the persecuted. Some of the suggestions have been used in Sunday school classes, during a missions conference, or to help kids make meaningful gifts.

To find the poster, go to the Downloads section of the Kids of Courage site and download the One
Hundred Ways Poster
.  

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.  www.kidsofcourage.com


March 15, 2013

VOM’s Kids of Courage VBS Curriculum

VOM’s Kids of Courage resources help parents and educators teach children ages 5 to 13 about persecuted Christians around the world. The resources also provide opportunities for the children to serve and pray for suffering believers. 

After some minor editing changes, the Kids of Courage VBS curriculum is again available.

The curriculum includes true stories of children from 5 countries: Egypt, China, North Korea, India, and Nigeria.  Curriculum

Kids learn that Kids of Courage: Trust God, Get Prepared (by learning about how Christians in other countries and in the Bible faced difficulties), Forgive Others, Witness Boldly, and Remember Persecuted Christians. They learn that they, too, can be Kids of Courage.

Learning about persecution does not have to include graphic details. Kids can understand from a young age that we can trust God when we are afraid or having problems, and that we can praise Him even in adverse circumstances. Kids can be introduced to the concept that some people have false ideas, and that non-Christians may get angry with people who tell the truth and do the right thing. 

Children can discover that persecuted Christians may experience joy and victory in times of struggle, and they can learn about obedience to God and perseverance in tough situations. They can also learn about forgiving and praying for enemies.

The VBS is being used in small and large churches, and is quite affordable for all groups. Some children’s workers are finding that the curriculum includes so much information, they can also use it in Sunday school and other settings after their VBS is over. Several groups have said they plan to use it for two years. 

The curriculum includes opportunities to share and explain the gospel to children who have not yet trusted in Christ as their Savior. Directors who have used the curriculum report that children have come to Christ during the VBS.

Each kit includes:

  • 5 teachers’ guides, one for each country
  • Director’s guide
  • Skits and plays book
  • Games, snacks, and activities book
  • Craft and classroom activities book
  • Photo CD; Music CD
  • Resource and project guide
  • VOM prayer map

www.kidsofcouragevbs.com has more information, samples of the curriculum, and feedback from VBS directors. www.kidsofcourage.com provides additional resources, including free downloads of material similar to what is in the VBS.


March 4, 2013

Kids grateful for Bibles

Bibles Unbound  is a VOM project that provides Bibles to people in countries where access to Bibles is limited. Most of the recipients are adults, but VOM receives delightful thank-you letters from grateful children who have been given their first Bibles through the program. These children may be the future Christian leaders in their countries.

The following are a few of the translated letters received recently from Chinese children to VOM supporters who provide the Bibles:

*Thank you for giving us the word of God to read it. When I was in trouble, it was you who helped me obey God.

I am not a model student. I still remember in Grade Eight, I didn’t study in class, and made trouble such as sleeping, making faces. I ignored what my teachers said. Later, my mother believed in the Lord. In the beginning, I didn’t believe. But after reading the Bible, I came to believe in Him. Sometimes I went to church to listen to the sermons. I felt meaningful. After believing in the Lord, I was changed. I was no longer a trouble maker. I stopped sleeping and began listening to my teachers carefully.

Lord, thank you for letting me know You. I will follow You forever.

*Respectful aunts and uncles,

Greetings! I am Wang, 12 years old. I am in Grade Six. From my childhood I went to church with my mother and she often reads the Bible for me. Several days ago, my mother gave me the Bible and told me it was your contribution in love. I am glad. God bless you.

Every day, I read two chapters and share them with my mother. The words of God are good. Once I played with friends. Two of them argued with each other, and they didn’t speak to one another. I had no idea [what to do]. Suddenly, one verse in Matthew came into my mind: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God… so I did work with them and they both agreed to make their peace. I had the blessing of God. Thank the Lord!

I will read the Bible carefully, and use it to help more people. I want to become the one who loves the Lord like you. May the Lord bless us! Amen! Love you.

*Aunts and uncles, greetings!

The teacher of our church has given me the Bible from you. I am a student in Grade Five. I attend Sunday school. I believed in the Lord last year. I didn’t have the Bible. When my teacher asked me to recite verses, I borrowed from my classmate and copied. I asked my teacher for the Bible. She said when she had the Bible she would give it to me. I prayed to God: please give me the Bible. You see, [everyone had a] Bible except me. This year, when I went to Sunday school last time, the Sunday school teacher gave me one new bible. I was so glad to have it. After I got home, I told my parents I had the Bible at last. They didn’t believe and laughed. So I told them how I got the Bible. They were excited hearing it. They told me it was because of the grace of God.

I give thanks to God. I also thank you for your contribution in love. I appreciate your help to house churches. May everyone have the Bible to read.

God remember you. Bless you, revive your church and add believers to your church. Amen.

*Spiritual fathers, peace from the Lord!

I am a student. I have been in Sunday school from my childhood. I often tell my classmates the story of Jesus and they listen to me carefully. I thought how wonderful it would be if there was the Bible for them. I have prayed to God for it over one year. The day before yesterday, when I came back home, my mother told me brothers from a distant place had supported our church with the Bible. I was overjoyed enough to jump high. Glory be to the Lord. May God bless you with good health, abundant life.Kidsofcouragelogo

*I am Liu, 11years old. I am in Grade Five in the primary school. Two years ago, I believed in Jesus with my mother. By the Bible and biblical books I know about the Lord. So I know I will trust in the Lord. I also thank uncles and aunts far away from us for giving us the Bible. I am willing to tell Jesus to my schoolmates.

(Edited from original sources for clarity)

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.  www.kidsofcourage.com


February 19, 2013

Parenting lessons from the persecuted

Persecuted_Child
With a gaggle of kids among us, ranging from infants to 3-years-olds, my friends and I have been tossing around ideas about how to educate our kids.

The issue of how to educate their children is a big one for persecuted Christians as well. Two Christian Egyptian families have had to go into hiding in the last five years after they tried to have their official religion changed from "Muslim" to "Christian" on their national ID cards. The parents wanted the change in part so that their children would have the option of attending Christian schools. Unfortunately for them, the Egyptian judicial system denied their requests, and Muslim extremists began sending death threats.

I met one of these men, Mohammed Hegazy, in 2010. He's my age, with two young children. His oldest, Miriam, would be ready for kindergarten this year. His son, Joseph, is about 3. He told me, "When my wife was pregnant with our first child, I had that in my heart that I don't want my child to suffer like all the children of converts in Egypt. You know, the children of converts are having a dual identity – they have to be a Christian at home, Muslims at school and with their friends. And this is really complicated for the psychology of a child to understand or to bear."

I've wept with Egyptian Christian parents who agonize over sending their kids to schools that train them to be Muslims and teach them to hate Christians. These Egyptian parents wonder whether they should wait to introduce their children to Christ until they're older and more able to handle the attacks, taunts and degrading they'll certainly face if their classmates learn they are Christians. Or do they tell them about Christ and force them to live double lives, participating in Muslim worship and prayers at school as required and celebrating Christ's love at home?

Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani got into trouble when he learned in 2009 that a change in Iranian education policy would require his two boys to take a course in studying the Quran. Nadarkhani would go on to spend three years in prison before he was acquitted of apostasy.

Sometimes it's not the parents who suffer the consequences of being Christians in a Muslim majority nation. One 12-year-old Christian boy, Amin, painted a picture of Jesus in art class. When his teacher saw the painting, she questioned the boy about his faith in front of the class, openly ridiculing him for his outdated and superstitious beliefs. On the way home from school that day, three of Amin's classmates attacked and beat him, damaging his face. When he got home and told his parents, first they prayed with him, then they took him to the hospital.

When Amin returned to school, he stood up in front of the class and told the three bullies, "God has forgiven me. I forgive you and want to be your friend." The three bullies became some of Amin's closest friends.

WEIGH IN: Can children be lights for Christ? How much responsibility should we as parents give them, and how much should we try to protect them? What would you do if you were trying to raise your child as a Christian in a Muslim society?

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