Last week VOM's Todd Nettleton was the featured guest with Kenneth Mitchell on Missions Radio. You can listen to the interview by clicking play in the player below.
Last week VOM's Todd Nettleton was the featured guest with Kenneth Mitchell on Missions Radio. You can listen to the interview by clicking play in the player below.
While most US churches will “Remember those in bonds” (Heb. 13:3) during the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) in November, First Wesleyan Church in Bartlesville, Oklahoma chose October 20 for their commemoration. The church’s pastor invited VOM’s Todd Nettleton—a member of the church—to bring the message in the morning services.
The church offers video streaming of their services, and we hope Persecution Blog readers will be blessed by the video.
VOM offers several resources to help your church commemorate IDOP Sunday. Visit VOM’s IDOP web page for more information. You can also learn more about VOM speakers coming to your area, or request a speaker at your church, at www.VOMMeetings.com.
A few weeks ago I attended my first VOM Conference in Amarillo, TX. A friend invited me along, so I agreed because she spoke so highly of the conferences. I thought it sounded like a fun little road trip mixed with some volunteer work. Since I have worked at VOM for almost six years now, I expected it to be like an extended chapel service, with stories I had read in the newsletter.
The people who attended the conference amazed me as well. As I helped people register, some would share about themselves and their motivation to come to the conference. Many rose before dawn to drive in from a neighboring state. It was incredible to talk face-to-face with the people who support VOM and partner with us to help the persecuted church. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and the atmosphere of the church was intense, yet joyful. The attendees were amazed by what they heard from the speakers, and they were hungry to learn more by talking to the speakers and coming to the resource table to get books and resources.
Amy Shreve’s music set the tone for the conference. Her passion to help the persecuted church revealed itself in her song lyrics, and she led the conference attendees in genuine worship. As I listened to the speakers, including Eric Foley, Matt Rose, and Gracia Burnham, I felt reenergized and inspired hearing about the courage and faithfulness of our brothers and sisters in chains. I heard the stories as if for the first time, and I had a renewed sense of purpose about my own work at VOM.
The next day, Sunday morning, Matt Rose spoke at the church service. During Sunday School, I was given the opportunity to share about VOM with the Teen Sunday School class. I don’t normally do any public speaking, but after the things I had learned from the conference, I knew I couldn’t turn down a chance to talk about it. The teens listened earnestly as I shared about North Korea, and they took the newsletters we gave them.
Looking back, my expectation for the conference was misguided. I went to the conference prepared to serve and teach; I was the one who received and learned. I would encourage everyone to go to a VOM regional conference.
Naomi J. works in VOM's Partner Account Services department.
Register online to attend upcoming VOM conferences:
Check www.VOMMeetings.com for other scheduled conferences later in 2013 and into 2014.
A member of the Voice Volunteer Network recently shared her experience showing the International Day of Prayer video featuring an imprisoned pastor in Southeast Asia. She shared the video at two churches on IDOP Sunday: her home church and All Nations Church, a Thai/Lao church she and her husband have attended.
Although All Nations Church is not Angela Thompson and her husband’s home church, the congregation welcomed the opportunity to see the IDOP video. Angela was ecstatic. As refugees from Laos and its surrounding countries, members at All Nations Church personally know that Laos, one of the few remaining Communist countries in the world, is hostile — even volatile — towards Christians.
Angela sat in awe as Pastor A. Phang translated the IDOP video for his congregation. And although a refugee from Laos, Pastor Phang stayed quiet after the video and asked Angela to talk. As she stood in front of All Nations Church, she saw tears in the eyes of the members.
“All I could think was, ‘These people know persecution first hand, and for some, their families are still facing it.’ Always before and after showing a VOM video clip, I see the crowd moved. Today was different.”
This crowd didn’t need to be asked, “Do you know about the Christian persecution in Laos?” The church’s members are refugees from Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. One woman is from the same area as the Christian featured in the video. Suddenly, Angela realized that the stories of persecution she talks about are happening here, directly affecting members of her own church.
Pastor Phang’s wife was crying. She told the congregation that only three months ago, her father visited them in the United States and became a Christian. When he returned home, his family was irate with his decision and harassed him. He is not allowed to attend church. He has to read his Bible in hiding. In their understanding of persecution, the church agreed — Pastor Phang must send the IDOP video to all Laotian churches in the United States.
Moving on to Whitesburg Baptist Church, the Thompson’s home church, Angela showed the video once more. With more than 1,500 in attendance, many hearts were touched by “Boun’s” testimony. It was a great sermon. The pastor asked those who brought their Bibles to raise them high in the air. With hundreds of Bibles lifted, he challenged them “What would you do to get your hands on a Bible?” Many eyes were opened to the reality of Christian persecution.
Still, throughout the day, the phrase “Small but mighty,” echoed in Angela’s heart. Only 26 attended All Nations Church, but their appreciation reached a new level —one of action and prayer. Join them in prayer for persecuted Christians.
Last Sunday, November 14, was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. VOM's Todd Nettleton was asked by his pastor to share for five minutes in his church's morning services about a recent trip he took to meet with persecuted Christians in India. Here’s what he shared:
Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, a day when we celebrate the unity of the Body of Christ by praying for our brothers and sisters who face abuse, attacks and even death simply because they follow Jesus Christ.
It is my honor to work on behalf of these brothers and sisters at The Voice of the Martyrs.
The best part of my job at VOM is when I get to go and meet with these amazing, courageous Christians and hear their stories so that I can come back to the US and help VOM be a voice for them.
Two weeks ago I was in Bangalore, India, which is a large city in the southern part of India. Bangalore is what they call the silicon valley of India, because it’s where all the tech companies like Microsoft and Google have their Indian office complexes.
India bills itself as the world’s largest functioning democracy, but it is also a country where Christians are persecuted, especially Christians who reach out with the hope of the gospel into the hopelessness of Hinduism and Islam.
Two weeks ago this morning I met one of those brave brothers in Christ, a young pastor whose name is Peter Paul. What is remarkable about my Sunday-morning meeting with Peter Paul is that he had been released from jail on Saturday night. So we literally met with him 12 hours after he got out of jail.
Peter Paul works as a teacher to support his ministry, and he lives and works in a slum area that is home to many Muslim people. Peter Paul began an after-school tutoring program to reach out to the young people in the area, and in addition to helping them academically he also helped them learn about Christ. Several weeks ago he gave many of his students a copy of the Jesus film which they went home and showed to their whole families. Then the week before we were there he gave about 20 of the young people a New Testament.
These Muslim kids were so proud of their new books that they took them with them to the Madrassah, which is their Muslim school. When the leaders of the Madrassah saw these Muslim kids carrying around New Testaments, they were not happy. They demanded to know where they had gotten the books, and the children told them about Peter Paul.
The angry Muslims gathered a mob of about 150 people from three different mosques and came to Peter Paul’s house. He had just finished his morning prayer time and was getting ready to take a bath when they arrived and dragged him outside, slapping and kicking him as they went and shouting that they wanted to kill him.
Peter Paul’s wife, Nirmala, came out of the house, begging the mob to leave her husband alone and telling them that they would move away from there.
Peter Paul looked at his wife and told her not to worry. “I said to my wife, ‘Whatever is the Lord’s will will happen in my life. Don’t worry.”
His wife had a hard time with that advice. She was worried.
But Peter Paul had an amazing sense of peace. I asked if he had been afraid. Keep in mind, he’s in the midst of a mob of 150 angry Muslims. This is what he said:
“No, I did not feel afraid. I know that God can redeem me from them.” There’s only one explanation for peace like that in a situation like he was in: only God.
Some of the mob went in to Peter Paul’s house and destroyed everything inside. Then the mob dragged him to the school where he taught and called the media and called police. When police arrived, instead of arresting the mob who was beating and kicking this lone Christian man, they arrested HIM. They took him to the police station on a charge of “disturbing communal harmony” by giving Christian books to Muslim young people.
He was in the police station 24 hours, where the police roughed him up some more, then he was taken to the prison where there were more than 5000 inmates housed.
Peter Paul told me that he was praying and I asked if he was praying to be released. His prayer wasn’t that, though. “Whatever is your will, Lord, do it in my life.”
Whatever is your will; that is a brave prayer for a man locked in prison.
He did say he was thinking of Bible stories like the story of Paul and Silas at the jail, and the story of Peter having an angel come and lead him out of the jail. But his prayer was, “Your will be done.”
Peter Paul got permission to speak and then shared his testimony and preached the gospel to the 70 other men in his cell. He said that his sermon was about giving glory to God. “Wherever we are, we should give glory to God. When we are in the trials and temptations, when we are having all the good things also, all the time we should give glory unto God.”
Several of the other prisoners were moved by the message and prayed with him afterwards. An evangelist in prison is still an evangelist!
When we met with him, Peter Paul had been bailed out of the prison 12 hours earlier. The charges against him are still pending, so he knew he’d have to go to court and could end up back in jail. His earthly possessions had been destroyed by the mob, and his landlord had been threatened and told not to rent to Peter Paul any longer. So as we were there with them in the little guest room where they had stayed the night before, he was just out of jail; he had no home to go back to, and his things were destroyed. It was basically the four of them with the clothes on their back and nowhere to go and no idea what was next.
If ever a man had excuse to be at least a little discouraged, Peter Paul was that man. And yet he was NOT discouraged. He was NOT down. Near the end of our time together, Peter Paul made this statement: “Persecution is not an accident. It is the expectation.”
Persecution is not an accident. It is the expectation.
Peter Paul’s words and attitude may seem foreign to American Christians.
But they don’t seem nearly so foreign in light of the New Testament, which is largely written by and to persecuted Christians.
Jesus sent his followers out “as sheep among wolves.” What happens to sheep among wolves? Jesus said “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”
Paul wrote in second Timothy that “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,”
Peter told us, “do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
James tells us to consider it “pure joy” when we face trials. Not if we face trials. When.
It seems Peter Paul was right. Persecution is the expectation.
There are instructions for those not facing persecution, too. Like you and me. Paul tells us to bear one another’s burdens, and that when one part of the body of Christ suffers, we should all feel that pain. The writer of Hebrews says to remember the prisoners as if you were right there in prison with them.
Today we are praying for persecuted Christians. I asked Peter Paul how we could pray for him. He would like you to pray that he can continue doing evangelism work. And he asks us to pray for his parents, because their faith has been a bit shaken by the trials their son has faced.
It’s interesting what he didn’t ask prayer for, isn’t it? He didn’t ask us to pray for a place for his family to live, even though they had no place to go. He didn’t ask us to pray that the charges against him will be dropped, though they are still pending. He asked us to pray that he can keep doing God’s work.
As we pray for persecuted Christians today, that really is their heart. They aren’t asking prayer that the persecution will stop. They’re asking prayer that they will be faithful servants of Christ, come what may.
Please pray for Peter Paul and his wife and his two beautiful young children.
There are others, too. There is a woman in Pakistan named Asia Bibi, and last Monday a court there sentenced her to death for the crime of blasphemy against Mohammed. Lawyers right now are working on an appeal, which she has until tomorrow to file. If she is executed, she would be the first woman put to death for blasphemy in Pakistan’s history.
A pastor in Iran also faces the death penalty. A Christian bookstore owner in Beijing named Shi Weihan is serving three years in prison. Pray for the countless Christians in North Korea who wither and die in concentration camps because they follow a savior other than Kim Jong Il.
Thank you for joining with us to remember Peter Paul and his family and the thousands of brothers and sisters like them around the world on this International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. They need our prayers, today and tomorrow and the next day. And the next.
Todd Nettleton is the Director of Media Development at The Voice of the Martyrs - USA. He also posted these remarks on his personal blog.
Recently, Tom White, from The Voice of the Martyrs USA and Michael Wurmbrand, the son of the founder of VOM, Richard Wurmbrand, had the opportunity to go to Romania and visit the prison that Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand spent time in.
This is an amazing journey into one of the most depressing and desolate prisons. In this 30 minute video you will hear Richard Wurmbrand share his feelings about his mom and dad being in this prison.
You'll also see Tom White share about his time in prison and how Richard Wurmbrand offered to take his place while he served in a Cuban prison. And you'll also see the barbed wire that Tom takes to commemorate his visit to the prison.
There are also other moving testimonies in this short film, that will move your heart.
This is an amazing video of the never seen before prison of the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs. Please take some time to watch this and be inspired. And may this continue to spur you on to pray for the persecuted church worldwide.
Last weekend The Voice of the Martyrs had a conference out here in Southern California, and unfortunately I wasn't able to attend, but a dear friend of mine was. So I asked Kathi Macias, to share with us her experience at the VOM conference. Click here to visit Kathi's website and to learn more about her, she's a great writer.
For Southern California, it was a cool morning...sun shining with the temperature hovering just above sixty. Anyone who flew in for the “Bound with Them” conference from anywhere east of Murrieta no doubt thought they had landed in the tropics.
Registration began at eight, though the conference itself wasn’t scheduled to start until nine, so when I drove into the Calvary Chapel parking lot at 8:10, I thought I’d be the first one there. Not so. The main parking lot was already filling up…and still they kept coming. Before long people were parking in the lower parking lots and hiking up the street to the beautiful campus, making their way inside to register and mingle, to have a free cup of coffee and a breakfast snack, to pray and wait expectantly.
By nine o’clock, the large auditorium was filling quickly…but still they kept coming. Parents brought their children, couples came arm-in-arm, the elderly and infirm came on walkers and in wheelchairs. Those of us already seated squeezed together and made room, as the number of attendees grew and the level of expectancy continued to rise.
Melodious harp music filled the air as we came together for a brief time of worship…and then the speakers began to present their testimonies, their stories, their calls to action. And people responded, as passion for the lost and compassion for the suffering flowed from hearts afire with love for the Savior.
“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body” (Heb. 13:3) was the rallying cry…and still they kept coming, some who had been unable to break away from prior commitments to arrive in time for the opening sessions but who came as soon as they were able. All were of one accord, as we discovered while talking and sharing during breaks and lunchtime, or just visiting at the resource tables.
Everyone agreed that it was a joy and a privilege to gather together with so many who shared in their love and support of the persecuted Church around the world. What an honor to hear speakers who had actually been a part of that persecution and who now love Jesus more than ever!
I for one will never be the same. Though I have long supported VOM, this was my first opportunity to attend one of their conferences; I pray it won’t be my last. I encourage anyone who has a chance to do so in the future to be sure you are numbered among those who “kept coming.” It is an experience you won’t soon forget.
Many of you know that The Voice of the Martyrs has many speakers who go to churches and tell about the persecuted church. If you are in Baltimore, Maryland we have a great speaker by the name of Robert Brock who will be sharing the latest about the persecuted church. All the information you need is below: