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Modern Witnesses: Zafar and Zhang

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

This morning, our Sunday School teacher told us about four men who are in prison because of their faith in Jesus. Their names are Zafar Bhatti, Zhang Huamei, Naser Zamen-Dezfuli, and Gao Zhisheng.

Zafar Bhatti is from Pakistan. He was arrested in July 2012 because someone accused him of sending text messages that insulted the religion of most of the people in Pakistan. He has been in prison more than 400 days.

Zhang Huamei is from China. He and four other ministers were arrested in 2009. A mob of people—including police—had attacked members of a Christian church. When Zhang Huamei and the four other ministers tried to go to Beijing to protest the attack on the other Christians, they were arrested. Zhang is still in jail today. He has been in jail more than 1,300 days.

Naser Zamen-Dezfuli is from Iran. He was a pastor at a church in Ahvaz and was arrested when his congregation met for a church service in December, 2011. In February, 2012, he was allowed out on temporary bail, but in October, he was arrested again. He was sentenced to a year in jail and has been there more than 100 days.

Gao Zhisheng is also from China. He has been arrested and put in jail so many times no one knows exactly how many days he has been in prison. He is a Christian, and he has fought for the rights of Christians in China. He has been treated terribly in prison, and his family doesn’t even know where he is all of the time.

These four men, and so many men and women like them, are suffering because they love Jesus and they want the whole world to know that Jesus died on the cross to pay for the mistakes each of us makes. They want them to know that He came back to life again three days later. So many people saw Him—even people who didn’t believe in Him!

We talked again this morning about Hebrews 12:1. It says that we are surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses.” (KJV) It is talking about people who are brave and do the right thing for God, even when it is terribly hard. They keep trusting Him to take care of them. They make mistakes, and they get sad and scared and want to give up. But they hang in there and they live their lives for God. And in the end, they know they will live with Him forever in Heaven.

“Dear God, please help me to be brave and live for You, no matter what happens. Help me trust You to make things work out right in the end, even if things right now seem awful. Help everyone who is suffering because of their belief in You, and please help their families who miss them. Please help Zafar Bhatti, Zhang Huamei, Naser Zamen-Dezfuli, and Gao Zhisheng to stay strong. Please keep them safe and bring them home to their families soon. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

For a printable version of today’s story, click here.

If you’d like to send a letter to Zafar Bhatti, Zhang Huamei, Naser Zamen-Dezfuli, and Gao Zhisheng to let them know you are praying for them, ask a parent if they can help you do that on http://www.prisoneralert.com/.

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Modern Witnesses: Pakistan

Pakistan flag

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

Our Sunday School teacher taught us more about Pakistan today. It is extremely dangerous to be a Christian in Pakistan. Some Christians in Pakistan have to work in hot, dangerous brickyards making bricks for the owner all day long, six days a week. Even the children and the grandparents have to work to make bricks. Other Christians have to work at very dangerous jobs where what they do every day could make them sick.

The constitution in Pakistan says that everyone has religious freedom, but there is a clause in the law, usually called the “blasphemy law,” that says that anyone who defiles the name of Muhammad or the Quran can be sent to jail for life—or even killed. But many times, the police don’t need any proof to charge someone with doing that and put them in jail. A neighbor, an employer, or even a friend can lie about a Christian and have them arrested. Sometimes it is months or years before they are released from jail. Sometimes, they never are.

There are also some people in Pakistan who intentionally hurt Christians living there. They might attack their church, beat them up, destroy their home, or worse.

But do you know what is amazing? Jesus can’t be defeated in Pakistan or anywhere else in the world. Just like in the Bible, when the people arrested Him, beat Him, and even killed Him, He loved them and forgave them. And He gives His people the courage and the love to do that when they are hurt or even killed. Just like He was stronger than death and came back to life, His love is stronger than any other force in the whole world. He knows that every person needs to know how much He loves them. Even if they have hurt other people in the past, He still loves them.

“Dear God, please help all the people of Pakistan. Please help the Christians who are living in such a dangerous place. Please keep them safe and help them show others Your love. And please help the people who don’t know You yet to know how much You love them and ask You to forgive them, just like You forgive each of us, no matter what we have done. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

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

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