Monthly Archives: January 2013

Modern Witnesses: January 2013

Modern Witnesses-January 2013 activity sheet image

*If you’d like to read the first post in the Modern Witnesses series, click here.

So far this month, our Sunday School teacher has told us the stories of three people who have suffered because they believe in Jesus. We met Mehdi Forootan who was put in jail in Iran because of his faith in Jesus. He was in prison for one hundred and five days before he was allowed to go home. We met Nguyen Thi Lan, a woman in Vietnam, who was hurt very badly in an attack. Then she was turned away and not taken care of at the hospital. And we met Gamal Abdou Massoud, a teenager in Egypt who was sent to jail on charges no one could prove were true.

This morning, we talked more about them and their homelands. Had we remembered to pray for Mehdi, Nguyen Thi Lan, and Gamal this month? Had we remembered to pray for Iran, Vietnam, and Egypt? And had we asked God to help us be brave when it is hard to obey Him and do what He says?

We colored a picture that we can use to help us remember to pray for them. If you’d like to color one yourself, you can find it here.

Modern Witnesses: Gamal Abdou Massoud

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*If you’d like to read the first post in the Modern Witnesses series, click here.

This week, our Sunday School teacher taught us about a brave Christian teenager who is being persecuted in Egypt because he believes in Jesus. His name is Gamal Abdou Massoud.

Last April, 17-year-old Gamal Massoud was sent to jail for supposedly posting cartoons on his Facebook account that insulted the main religion of Egypt. He has said he didn’t do it, and some people aren’t even sure he has a Facebook account, but it didn’t matter. Mobs became angry and rioted. They even destroyed his home and the homes of some of the other Christians in his town. And the court blamed Gamal for starting the riots!

The judge gave Gamal the longest sentence he could—three years in jail. And that’s for something people aren’t even sure that he did! As for the crowd that destroyed Gamal’s home, and the homes of the other Christians, none of them have been arrested.

What makes what happened to Gamal even more unfair is that when people in Egypt insult God and the Bible, most judges don’t do anything at all. I don’t want people to go to jail for insulting Christians, but I don’t want Gamal to go to jail, either.

There are a lot of changes in the government of Egypt happening right now that will have a big impact on Christians like Gamal. Please pray with me that God will help Egyptian Christians to be strong and faithful, no matter what.

“Dear God, please help the Christians in Egypt to not be afraid. Help them remember that You never forget them. And, please help us not to forget about them, either. Help Gamal be strong and continue to tell others about Your love. We pray that he could come home to his family very soon and not have to stay in jail. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

The facts of this story are based on World Watch Monitor news articles published on April 6, 2012. For more information, please see my Parents and Educators page.

If you’d like a printable version of today’s story, click here.

Modern Witnesses: Nguyen Thi Lan

Nguyen Thi Lan-World Watch Monitor 2011-with caption

*If you’d like to read the first post in the Modern Witnesses series, click here.

This week, our Sunday School teacher taught us about another brave Christian who is serving God even though it is very hard and painful. Her name is Nguyen Thi Lan, and she lives in Vietnam.

Ms. Lan is an evangelist who shares the love of Jesus with everyone she can. She used to be an official in the Communist Party, but in 2010, she accepted Jesus as her Savior. She began telling people about Him and what He was doing in her life. And fifty people decided to believe in Jesus!

This made one of the villagers, a man named Khoan, very angry. On November 13, 2011, Khoan, his son, and a gang attacked Ms. Lan and other Christians who had gathered for a special service for church leaders at her home.

They smashed and destroyed everything they could. They ruined the motorcycles the pastors use for traveling to the other villages. They destroyed a vegetable garden Ms. Lan needed for food. And, they hurt Ms. Lan and the others who were there.

After the terrible attack, she was taken to three different hospitals, along with two other Christians who had been very badly hurt. But, at all three hospitals, the doctors said she and the others were fine and sent them away. Many times, when doctors in Vietnam know someone has been hurt because of their faith, they will not examine them or help them. On November 18, five days after the attack, the staff at one hospital said there would be no examinations until the next Monday, November 21.

The church leaders made the decision to attempt to take Ms. Lan and the others 1,000 miles south to Ho Chi Minh City. They knew the government hospitals still might not help them, but they hoped that even if they wouldn’t, they would find a doctor in a private hospital in the city that would take pity on these hurting people and take care of them.

With God’s help, they did find a doctor who admitted Ms. Lan to the hospital. The doctor also examined the other two Christians and took care of them. They found that Ms. Lan had a very badly broken bone and internal injuries.

Khoan and the others were not arrested. They promised that if they could, they would kill Ms. Lan if she ever went back to her home.

That was the last story the news reported about Ms. Lan. We don’t know what happened to her after she was able to leave the hospital. But, we know that God knows where she is, and we know that He loves her and will help her be strong. There are some verses in Luke 12 that say:

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.”  (Luke 12:6-8 NIV)

I’m going to pray for Ms. Lan and all the Christians in Vietnam. Will you pray with me?

“Dear God, please help the Christians in Vietnam to not be afraid. Help them remember that You never forget them. And, please help us not to forget about them, either. Help them be strong and continue to tell others about Your love. And, please help Ms. Lan to completely heal and go wherever You send her. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

The facts of this story are based on World Watch Monitor news articles published on November 16, 2011, and November 22, 2011. For more information, please see my Parents and Educators page.

If you’d like a printable version of today’s story, click here.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Modern Witnesses: Mehdi Forootan

Mehdi Forootan-World Watch Monitor-with caption

This morning in Sunday School, our teacher taught us a verse, Hebrews 12:1. It says that we are surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses.” (KJV) I didn’t know what she meant at first, but she explained.

It’s not always easy to live like a Christian. There are days when you just don’t want to do the right thing. Sometimes other people make it really hard for you to do what’s right. And, do you know what? It’s always been that way. Clear back in Bible times, there were times it was hard for the people to live the way they knew God wanted them to. But, the author of Hebrews reminded them to keep their eyes on Jesus. He told them to keep remembering how much Jesus did for us, how He died to save us, and how much He loves us. And because Jesus is stronger than death and lives today, He helps us live for Him.

The book of Hebrews talks about some people in the Bible who were brave and kept trying to do the right thing, even when it was really hard. That’s what it means when it says, “so great a cloud of witnesses.” All those people who have lived for Jesus and kept on trusting Him have proven that it is possible to live for God, no matter what. Sometimes they made mistakes, and sometimes they were sad or scared and wanted to give up. But, they hung in there, and with God’s help, they made it. They lived their lives for God.

Our teacher said that we’re going to spend the next few weeks learning about some of the people who are being brave and living for Jesus today, in places that make it very hard to live for God. The first person she told us about is Mehdi Forootan.

Mehdi lived in Iran. On December 26, 2010, police came to his house early in the morning and arrested him. They dragged him out to a car and turned on a video camera. They had already taken his books and his computer. Now they wanted him to confess to his “crime” on tape.

But, he told them he didn’t know why they were arresting him. He hadn’t done anything wrong. They asked him again, and he told them he didn’t know. Then, they turned the camera off and threatened to hurt him if he didn’t tell them what they wanted him to say. When they turned the camera back on, Mehdi admitted he was a Christian. The police officer gave him a chance to give up being a Christian and follow the religion of the state instead. Mehdi said no. The officer said they would take him to a prison called Evin.

That’s when Mehdi knew things were going to get very bad. He knew some of his Christian friends had been arrested, kept for a short time, and released. He had hoped that was all that would happen to him. Maybe he’d be home later that day. But, when the officer said “Evin,” Mehdi knew he would not be coming home today. He might not ever come home. Evin was one of the worst prisons in all of Iran. Terrible things happened there.

After they got to Evin, they treated Mehdi like a murderer. They locked him up in a tiny cell all by himself. He didn’t have a bed or a chair. All he could sleep on was the cold floor, with just a thin blanket to try to keep warm.

Some days, the guards would come and ask him all kinds of questions. One would threaten to kill him. One would promise everything would be OK if he would just tell the guards what they wanted to know—who were the other Christians he knew, how big was the secret church in Iran, and lots of other things. Mehdi didn’t want to tell them anything that would hurt anyone else.

There were other days when the guards wouldn’t come at all. Day after day after day, Mehdi would just sit by himself in his cell, with no one to talk to. He would try to pray, but he still felt sad and lonely. He missed his parents, his fiancé, and his friends.

Sometimes, he got to talk to other Christians who were in the same part of the prison as he was. A guard might leave him alone for a minute in the hall, and someone would whisper to him from another cell. Finally, after thirty-eight days, the guards moved him to a cell with other people. He told as many of them as he could about Jesus’ love.

Finally, after one hundred and five days in prison (over three months), on April 9, 2011, the guards released him. He still doesn’t know why he was let go. He eventually escaped Iran to the country of Turkey. He and his fiancé were finally able to get married. They were married for two months when she had to leave to live in another country. He hopes they will be able to be together again someday and have a family.

Mehdi knows how hard it can be to live for Jesus. But, with God’s help, he is living for Him each day.

“Dear God, please help Mehdi and his wife be together again soon. Please help all the Christians in Iran who are sad or lonely to trust You. Help them be strong. And, please help each of us to live for You, no matter what. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

If you would like a printable copy of today’s story, click here.

The facts of this story are based on a World Watch Monitor news article published on September 6, 2011. For more information, please see my Parents and Educators page.