Monthly Archives: February 2013

Modern Witnesses: February 2013

Modern Witnesses-February 2013 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 Saeed Abedini, who was arrested in Iran and sentenced to eight years in Iran’s worst jail. He misses his wife, Naghmeh, and his two children, Rebekkah and Jacob, terribly.  We met Shijo Kokkattu, a Christian teacher from India who was working in Maldives. Even though he was a good teacher, he was arrested when school officials found Christian materials on his computer. They kept him in jail for over two weeks, then sent him home to India. And we met Makset Djabbarbergenov from Uzbekistan. After he was arrested and persecuted in Uzbekistan, he and his family fled to Kazakhstan. But last fall, Kazakhstan arrested him and put him in jail. They said they were going to send him back to jail in Uzbekistan. Finally, after several months, he and his family were allowed to leave Kazakhstan and move to another country.

We talked about all three men this morning, their families, and their homelands. Had we remembered to pray for Saeed, Shijo, and Makset? Had we remembered to pray for Saeed’s wife Naghmeh and Makset’s wife Aygul? What about Iran, Maldives, and Uzbekistan? Had we remembered to ask God to help the Christians who live there to be strong and brave, no matter what? Did we pray and ask God to help the people who don’t understand how much He loves them?

What about us? Have we asked God to help us be brave when people mistreat us because we love Jesus and try to 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: Pastor Makset

Pastor Makset and his family courtesy of World Watch Monitor

*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 and his family who are serving God even though it is very hard. His name is Makset Djabbarbergenov.

Pastor Makset led small Christian house churches in Uzbekistan. But the churches weren’t officially recognized churches, and that meant that Pastor Makset could be arrested at any time. And he was, once on his son’s second birthday. So five years ago, Pastor Makset and his wife Aygul took the family across the border to Kazakhstan and applied for asylum, the right to stay somewhere because it isn’t safe to stay in your own country. The United Nations granted their request for asylum, but Kazakhstan would not recognize their decision. On September 5, 2012, Kazakhstan arrested Pastor Makset, put him in jail, and told him they were going to send him back to Uzbekistan.

To make things even worse, Uzbekistan increased the charges against Pastor Makset from a charge that would mean three years in prison to a charge that could mean fifteen years in prison.

His family was heartbroken, and Pastor Makset was worried. He knew it could be very bad for him if he were sent to jail in Uzbekistan. And he didn’t know what would happen to his family. He and his wife had four sons and were waiting for the birth of a fifth child.

One day while he was praying in the jail in Kazakhstan, he heard God answer him in his prayers, “I will not send you back to Uzbekistan.” The weeks crawled by. Someone smuggled his cell phone to him, and he called his family as often as he could. But as the weeks became months, Pastor Makset struggled to believe God’s promise to not send him back to Uzbekistan. Everyone at the prison was sure he would be sent back. He prayed and remembered that evil wanted him to be afraid, but God wanted him to trust. He chose to trust God.

At first, Pastor Makset thought that God would use the time in jail to help the other prisoners learn more about God. But he got a surprise. God used his time in jail for more than that. He also used it to help Pastor Makset learn more about God and His power.

After three months, God performed a miracle. All the legal paperwork went through and was approved. Pastor Makset would be released and both he and his family would be allowed to leave Kazakhstan to move somewhere in Europe where they would be safe. The whole time he was being released from jail and waiting to get on the plane, Pastor Makset worried someone would change their mind or were just playing a very mean joke on him by letting him think he would be free. On December 4, 2012, he was let out of prison. He and his family were taken to the airport, where they were finally, after more paperwork, allowed to leave. They got on the plane and were free.

But Pastor Makset, Aygul, and his family still ask for your prayers. Aygul is due to have her baby in April. The family has moved to a strange country, with a new language and culture to learn, and left behind their families and friends. And they don’t know why God has brought them here. But they know God always has a plan, just like He did for the three months when Pastor Makset was in jail. They are trusting God to show them what to do next. Will you pray with me for them?

“Dear God, thank You for bringing Pastor Makset and his family out of Kazakhstan safely to a new home. Please keep Aygul and the baby safe. Please take care of the whole family and help them learn the many new things they need to learn. And help them understand what You want them to do next so that they can continue to tell people about Your amazing love for them. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

The facts of this story are based on World Watch Monitor news articles published on November 2, 2012, and January 28, 2013. For more information, please see my Parents and Educators page.

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

Modern Witnesses: Shijo Kokkattu

Maldives location

*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 Christian teacher from India who worked in the island nation of Maldives. His name is Shijo Kokkattu.

In 2011, Shijo left his home in India for Maldives, a country off of the southwest coast of India made up of a whole bunch of little islands. Shijo was a good teacher, and no one ever complained about him.

But one day, some school officials found some Christian materials on his school computer. He had accidentally downloaded the material from a removable drive he owned.

When school officials reported him to the authorities, they raided his house, found his Bible, and arrested him!  The police held him for more than two weeks before they sent him back home to India.

What I wanted to know was why they would do that.  After all, why couldn’t Shijo be a Christian and still teach school?

You know what I learned?  The country of Maldives claims that 100% of its population belongs to the religion of Islam.  They do not let a non-Muslim become a citizen.  And they do not allow foreigners to tell anyone about another religion.  You cannot display or express any religion other than Islam.

We really need to pray for the people of Maldives.  This small country is full of people who do not know Jesus loves them or that He died for their sins to give them life forever with Him in Heaven.  We need to remember that every single human being in Maldives matters so much to God that Jesus died for them.  And, we need to pray for ways to let the people know that Jesus is alive again today and loves them!

“Dear God, please help every person in Maldives to hear about how much You love them and want to take care of them. Help the Christians in Maldives to show Your love to others. Please keep them all safe. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

The facts of this story are based on a World Watch News article published on October 21, 2011. 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: Saeed Abedini

Iran map

*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. His name is Saeed Abedini. He has a wife named Naghmeh, and two little children. Rebekkah is six and Jacob is four.

Saeed was born in Iran. In 2000, he became a Christian and started to help build house churches in Iran. He met Nagmeh, who had also been born in Iran but had moved to the United States with her family when she was a little girl. Nagmeh went back to Iran to visit family, met Saeed, and they fell in love. They got married in 2004 and stayed in Iran together until 2005, when Saeed was arrested and questioned for his work in spreading the news about Jesus Christ to Iranians.

They moved to the United States, and Saeed became a citizen of the United States, just like his wife had when she was younger. They had two children, Rebekkah and Jacob. Saeed made an agreement with Iran that he could continue to come into the country to work on building an orphanage. He traveled back and forth from the United States many times.

But the last time he visited Iran, in September, soldiers came onto the bus he was riding in and dragged him off of it. They took away his passports and threw him into prison. They have beat him, kept him away from other people, and told him many lies. Sometimes, they let him talk to his wife on a cell phone.

He was put on trial on January 21 and sentenced to eight years in Iran’s worst jail. He was told he would not be allowed to talk to his wife and family any more. He misses her and his children. The prison, called Evin, is so terrible that some do not think he can live for eight years there.

His lawyer is trying to file an appeal, but the laws in Iran are not fair or just. Saeed and his family do not know what will happen, or if he will ever be allowed to come home to the United States.

I’m going to pray for Saeed Abedini, his wife Naghmeh, and their kids Rebekkah and Jacob. I want to pray for all the Christians in Iran, too. Will you pray with me?

“Dear God, please help Saeed, Naghmeh, Rebekkah, and Jacob. Help them to be strong and trust You no matter what happens. Please take care of each of them. And please help everyone in Iran to hear about Your love and trust You. Please help the government officials and lawyers in the United States, who can help Saeed, to work to have him released so he can come home. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

The facts of this story are based on World Watch Monitor news articles published on January 18, 2013, and January 29, 2013. For more information, please see my Parents and Educators page.

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