Pastor Raymond Koh was forcibly abducted on February 13th, 2017 in a military-style operation that took less than 40 seconds. Almost seven years later, he’s still missing. His car has never been located.
Raymond’s wife, Susanna, has filed a lawsuit to force the Malaysian government and leaders of the police to release all information about what happened, and hopefully hold the kidnappers accountable for their actions.
Listen this week to an interview with Susanna recorded two years after Raymond’s abduction. Hear how she found out her husband was missing, and how the police turned her missing person report into an opportunity to interrogate her about the Christian work and gospel outreach she and Raymond were involved in.
Raymond had been threatened before for his faith and gospel work, yet he continued to follow God’s plan for him. Susanna says in the months before the abduction she saw a deepening of Pastor Raymond’s spiritual walk. He memorized large sections of God’s Word, went on long prayer walks and preached the gospel with renewed passion and intensity.
Susanna is very honest as she shares raw emotion, grief and pain. But she also says God’s promises have uplifted her—as have Christian songs. She and her family have even been able to forgive those who kidnapped her husband.
Pray for Susanna and the Koh family as they await the next hearing date in her lawsuit. Pray for wisdom for the judge, and that the truth of who was behind Raymond’s abduction is revealed.
Susanna was one of four courageous women of the persecuted church who shared their stories as part of the Hearts of Fire Virtual Event from The Voice of the Martyrs. You can register and watch the event online.
Never miss an episode of VOM Radio! Subscribe to the podcastOr you can listen each week—and get daily reminders to pray for persecuted Christians—in the VOM App for your smartphone or tablet. You can give online to support VOM’s ministry to persecuted Christians here.
Susi Childers has served with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) for more than two decades, using her photography skills to open doors to communicate the love of Christ to people all over the world.
Listen this week as Susi describes the impact of Loren Cunningham, YWAM’s founder who recently graduated to heaven, on her life and on encouraging her to use her gifts more fully to further the gospel. She’ll also share some of the personal qualities that made Loren such an impactful and visionary leader.
Susi will also share highlights from a recent trip to Nigeria, where she ministered to widows of Christians killed in northern Nigeria by Boko Haram or by Islamist militants from within the Fulani tribe. With more than 223 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country on the African continent. It is also a young country: 70% of the people are under 30. Susi believes that reaching the people of Nigeria with the gospel can be a key to reaching millions more all across the African continent.
A YWAM training school in southern Nigeria is a refuge for widows and orphans, providing them with a place to heal, as well as six months of training and discipleship. Many of the widows desire to go back to northern Nigeria, in spite of the loss they suffered there, to advance the gospel and live out their faith in Christ.
With her camera in hand, Susi went to visit and meet the widows and their children. Night after night, she awakened to hear singing and found, in the wee hours of the morning, these women gathered to read the Bible and pray for their persecutors.
“It was a holy place,” Susi said. “God hears the suffering of each individual day and night. He’s challenging us to carry a little piece of His heart.”
Listen as Susi shares how God led her to take donated jewelry with her on this visit to Nigeria, and how God used that jewelry to remind these widows of His abiding love for them. Susi and her husband, Paul, have both previously been guests on VOM Radio.
Never miss an episode! Subscribe to the podcastOr you can listen each week—and get daily reminders to pray for persecuted Christians—in the VOM App for your smartphone or tablet. You can give online to support VOM’s ministry to the persecuted church here.
Listen as Pastor Joe shares the struggles many new Christians in North Africa face when they believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Yet, people in the region are coming to Christ like never before!
Christians in North Africa often pay a huge price for following Christ. They are rejected by family, lose jobs and face other forms of persecution when they tell others of their faith in Jesus. Many of these persecuted Christians don’t know how each day will end. They rely on the Lord for strength and hope, despite their fear.
Listen as Pastor Joe shares the story of a young woman in his congregation who was overjoyed to share her new faith with her family. But when she did, she was beaten and thrown into the streets. Her own mother told her, “I would rather know that my daughter became a prostitute than a Christian.”
Pastor Joe encourages listeners to not flee from danger and potentially miss blessings and service that God has planned for us. He reminds us that Jesus came to earth knowing He would suffer. He says that, as a Christian, we should also know that persecution will come.
Hear the story of one young man who encouraged other believers until the final moments of his life. In addition, Joe shares of a married couple who kept their faith a secret from each other—until they ran into each other at a Christian meeting!
Pray God would call believers in North Africa to stay in their communities and serve. Pray Pastor Joe and his family will remain faithful to the Lord and His calling on their lives and for continued protection over their ministry.
Never miss an episode of VOM Radio! Subscribe to the podcastOr you can listen each week—and get daily reminders to pray for persecuted Christians—in the VOM App for your smartphone or tablet. You can give online to support VOM’s ministry to the persecuted church here.
“I could’ve lived and worked in that country my whole life and not seen the fruit that we are seeing now.” That fruit was planted in sacrifice.
From the time she was a little girl, Jane wanted to live overseas to spread the gospel. When she met her husband, he had the same missions mindset and a heart for Muslims after he was impacted by 9/11. Jane says her husband enjoyed living in the Middle East, immersing himself in the culture and, most importantly, living his dream of witnessing to people who’d never heard about Jesus.
Listen as Jane remembers the day her husband was killed, and how she prayed immediately afterwards. “God used His grace to sustain me through that time,” she says. “He really brought me through those initial days.”
Jane will share how they worked to disciple Muslims even before they became believers in Jesus—demonstrating with their lives what it looks like to follow Him. Jane sees how God used their family’s sacrifice to advance His kingdom.
“God used my husband’s death to catapult His plans and purposes for that nation and the people there.”
As ordinary people who loved the Lord and lived out God’s calling for their life, Jane says being obedient and knowing you’re in God’s will is the greatest joy you can experience. She’s had times of wrestling with her loss and asking God why but says one way she works through those times is to focus, with her children, on things they can be thankful for.
This weekend features a special opportunity to pray for our persecuted family as we commemorate the International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians. Churches around the world will mark a special emphasis on praying for persecuted Christians. Take time to pray with your church, family, or Christian friends. Pray our persecuted brothers and sisters remain firm during trials, have opportunities to own their own Bible, and continue to share the gospel no matter the cost. You can download free IDOP resources at www.VOMRadio.net/IDOP to be inspired and find specific ways you can pray.
Brother Bob has been connected to gospel work in North Africa for more than 20 years. He says government persecution of Christians in the region tends to come in cycles, but pressure and persecution of Christians by their own family members is common.
But even in the midst of family persecution, Christians have a chance to demonstrate the reality of the gospel. “If believers persevere and continue to be a light,” Bob says, “most of the time their family eventually accepts them. And in many cases, others in the family come to know Christ.”
Listen for the story of how a Muslim wife showed great displeasure after her husband accepted Christ—but was eventually won over by the consistent, Christ-like love he showed her.
Local people in North Africa have many fears: bad omens, the fear of spirits, or fear of the future. The absence of fear is one of the marks of Christians in the region and often draws others to learn more about Christ.
After working among Muslims for more than two decades, Bob says Christians who love and listen are more effective in sharing the gospel than those who criticize Islam or start a religious debate. He points to the model of Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well.
Bob will share how he prepares new believers to spread the truth of Christ, to walk alongside others in their difficulties and to withstand persecution when it comes. Listen as Bob gives practical ways we can be like Christ and tells how our persecuted brothers and sisters are living that out. Bob will also equip us to pray for Christians in North Africa.
When a radical-Muslim mob of 6000 attacked the Christian colony of Jaranwala in August, Christians could only flee. Some hid in sugarcane fields; others fled the area. The attack lasted the whole day; churches were destroyed and persecuted Christians’ homes were looted and burned.
Brother Johanna joins us this week on VOM Radio to share what led to the uproar in Jaranwala, and the response from other Christians in Pakistan to brothers and sisters affected by the violence. We will also look more broadly at the persecution of Pakistani Christians.
Listen as Johanna explains what the blasphemy laws in Pakistan are and how they are used against Christians—and against Muslims and members of other faiths, too. He will also unpack how the challenges are different for Christians in Pakistan depending whether they were born into a Muslim family or born into a traditional Christian family.
Brother Johanna will also give us an update on Asia Bibi, who still faces pressure and death threats even years after being found innocent of blasphemy by Pakistan’s Supreme Court and released from prison. Hear how you can pray today for her and for your Christian brothers and sisters in Pakistan.
Ben and Kimberly, gospel workers in South Asia, join VOM Radio again this week to share more about how the Lord is working in remote villages of South Asia. Struck by the boldness of local believers, Ben and Kimberly see the fearlessness persecuted Christians there have in preaching the gospel. The threat of jail doesn’t stop them from preaching; they will preach in jail if necessary.
With the rise of anti-conversion laws in South Asia, in many places it is illegal for people to change their religion or to lead others to change their faith. Yet Christians there continue to evangelize and reach people for Christ.
Ben and Kimberly will share how persecution is part of the DNA of believers there, and how they are equipping locals with training and discipleship tools. They will also share a story of how God opened one of the darkest villages in this region—a place that had been completely closed to the gospel. Listen to how God planted a church in that village—on the very spot where Christians had prayed God would build His church.
Ben and Kimberly love sharing what the Lord did in that village. Kim says, “it’s incredibly exciting to see fruit like that.” But they also remind us that even though we may not see immediate fruit we must keep being faithful; God is working whether we see it or not.
Pray for Christians in South Asian nations like India, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and Bangladesh to stand firm and find their identity in Christ, Pray for Ben and Kimberly to receive wisdom from the Lord as they continue in ministry. Listen to part one of Ben and Kim’s story to learn more about how they started in overseas missions!
“I didn’t know anything about my faith, but I knew I couldn’t deny Christ.”
A Christian for less than two months, a 15-year-old girl shared this with Ben and Kimberly when she came to their church for discipleship. Her father, one of the most powerful witch doctors in the village, kicked her out of the house and out of their village after she chose to follow Christ.
Ben and Kimberly are gospel workers in South Asia, involved in outreach, pastor training and discipleship of new believers. Listen as they share their testimonies, including how Ben rebelled against the Lord, got involved in drugs, eventually facing 35 felony charges and landing in prison. Yet, in prison, he gave his life to the Lord and miraculously the Lord allowed him to be released. Ben and Kimberly will also share how the Lord called them out of a comfortable life in America to go to the mission field.
Listen as they share the dedication they see in new Christians, sometimes even immediately after they hear the gospel. “One of the amazing things has been to see the wholeheartedness. The way Christians in our village are fully sold out to Christ from the very beginning. Most people we talk with can’t even consider walking away,” Kimberly says.
Christian persecution in South Asian nations like India, Nepal, Bhutan or Bangladesh often involves being ostracized and kicked out of homes and communities. Kim says that’s why church is so important as the Body of Christ becomes a new family for the persecuted Christians.
Ben’s story of coming to faith calls to mind a previous guest on VOM Radio, who also came to faith in an American prison and is now involved in Bible distribution in the Middle East. Listen to Joe share his testimony of coming to faith and experience God’s call to overseas ministry.
Young, married, and with a baby on the way, Cynthia Anderson and her husband set out for Nepal to “take new ground for the gospel,” bringing Jesus to the unreached. But God was already working in Nepal. “We weren’t taking Him there,” Cynthia says, “He was [already] there!”
Today, decades later, Cynthia is a longtime gospel worker in multiple nations and a trainer of pastors, mission agency and other Kingdom-minded leaders in how to multiply disciples and catalyze Jesus movements in their areas. She is a leader in YWAM Frontier Missions.
Listen as Cynthia shares what it truly looks like to make disciples and train others to continue making disciples, launching Disciple Making Movements (DMM). Her new book, The Multiplier’s Mindset: Thinking Differently About Discipleship, examines the mindset shifts that need to take place in order for multiplication of the gospel to happen.
As a young missionary, Cynthia was drawn to examples from the gospels and the book of Acts. “I was so convinced by scripture. Wow! God uses ordinary, broken people; people who don’t have their act together. Faith rose up in my heart to believe: ‘God can do it here; God can do it through us!’”
The harvest fields are ripe, even in Western nations. Research shows that only 3 out of 10 unchurched people in America have had a Christian explain the gospel to them.
Listen to Cynthia share stories of persecuted Christians who have become obedient disciples of Christ passionate to reach their people with the gospel. “Keep disciple making easy and actionable,” Cynthia advises. “When we have a simple repeatable pattern and people are like, ‘I can do that,’ it is reproducible, even by a brand-new believer.”
As you listen, you’ll also learn how you can pray for our persecuted family who are making disciples among their own people. You can learn more about Cynthia’s work on her blog and by listening to her first interview on VOM Radio.
The nation is called The Islamic Republic of Iran, but a recent study shows less than a third of Iranians still believe in Islam! Iranians are looking elsewhere to find answers to their spiritual questions. Dr. Hormoz Shariat tells us why, sharing from his own experiences ministering to people in Iran, evangelizing and answering their questions. “More and more I see people of Iran say, ‘To have a future for Iran, we have to get rid of Islam,’” Hormoz explains.
Iran has been led by Islamic clergy for more than forty years, imposing Islamic laws that control every area of life. The last few years, the numbers of Iranians finding salvation through Jesus have surged. Iran’s people desire change. They find Christian TV programs or online information, see changed lives and actions among Christian friends or hear the gospel in another way.
Recently the battle in Iran has been over women’s head coverings following the death of Mahsa Amini. But Hormoz says the real issue is much deeper than clothing choices. As protestors on the streets of Iran chanted, “Women! Life! Freedom!” Dr. Hormoz broadcasts a series of sermons showing how Christ valued women, how He came to bring eternal life, and how true freedom is found only in Him. Hormoz encourages Iranians that if they want their nation to be transformed, individual people must be willing to be transformed first.
Listen as Hormoz shares how our Christian brothers and sisters are being salt and light even amidst recent protests. “The greatest weapon we have against Islam is love,” he says. Hormoz shares testimonies from Iranians transformed by the gospel message, including one family reached through their son, who didn’t say a word but became a different person after finding Christ.
“I didn’t get in television to be famous, to be admired. I wanted to love people and have influence in their lives and by God’s grace, He has given me that.” You can hear more of Dr. Hormoz and his wife’s testimony of God’s call on their lives and marriage in this VOM Radio episode: Part 1 and Part 2.
Gospel workers in restricted and hostile nations risk their lives to spread the gospel. One worker in the Middle East, Jacob, was kidnapped last month and held by a terrorist group. He was kept blindfolded, not knowing if it was day or night. The group threatened to hang him. Even in captivity, this young newlywed pastor’s heart was to share the good news and help build God’s church by spreading his Word.
Thankfully, Jacob has been rescued from captivity and reunited with his wife and baby. Listen as John Samara, founder and executive director of Ananias House, shares how Jacob had memorized Scripture before being taken captive, and how he held onto several passages during his time in darkness.
With the scripture indelibly written on his heart and mind, Jacob was encouraged by the promises of God despite persecution for his faith. One verse that encouraged Jacob was Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage. Wait on the Lord.”
John also shares about a new book, Through the Eyes of a Child: Encounters with God in the Middle East. Ananias House is working in schools, sharing the gospel as they provide an education to children who might otherwise not receive one.
John will share stories from the book of a teen imprisoned and violated for her faith, yet praising and glorifying the Lord in the midst of it; and of a young child who prayed with his classmates over their small amount of food and saw God perform a miracle.
You’ll also hear how John and his team are training up women, who often face disrespect in that culture. Now many are reaching other women with the gospel and even leading their husbands to Christ!
John will equip listeners to pray for Ananias House and for the Body of Christ in the Middle East and North Africa.
There had been reports of a pending terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, when Hannelie Groenewald went in work as a medical doctor on November 29, 2014. Hannelie didn’t know that the Taliban attack would target her own home and family.
When she arrived home that evening, a sea of police and military personnel were all around the smoking ruins of her house. Reporters were already there, asking her for comment. She still didn’t know what had happened; that her husband, Werner, and two teen aged children, Jean-Pierre and Rode, had been killed in a Taliban attack on their home. She was taken to a neighbor’s house, where she read, over and over, Psalm 91, praying through its promises of help and divine covering. God’s overwhelming peace washed over her.
As a mother, she wished to have been with her children, to comfort them during the attack. But Hannelie is reminded that God is sovereign. Listen as she shares how God carried her through the days following the attack, and how Afghan people were impacted by her peace and spirit of forgiveness. Hannelie also tells of God’s blessings to her even as flames engulfed her home.
Pray for new believers in Afghanistan, that God would use the martyrs blood that has flowed there to bring forth a spiritual harvest, and that God’s church will be built up, even after the Taliban takeover of that nation in 2021.
Listen and watch Hannelie’s story on the new VOM App, and find her new book, Tragedy in Kabul: Fulfilling a Life Purpose for God’s Glory (affiliate link) to learn more about how God remained faithful and encouraged her as she continued to serve Him.
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It’s been two years since the Taliban retook control in Afghanistan. Pressure and persecution against Christians in the country continues to rise. Hannelie Groenewald, a former gospel medical worker there, paid a high price for her faith when her husband and children were martyred in their home in Kabul in 2014.
When the 9/11 attacks happened in New York, Hannelie Groenewald was living a comfortable life in South Africa with her family. Werner, her husband, took a short-term mission trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan and came home with a burden for Afghans to have a relationship with Christ. Werner shared his heart with Hannelie. After agreeing to go on a short-term outreach herself, she experienced the Holy Spirit in a new way and felt a shared desire to serve the Afghan people.
There was still a wrestling within her as she thought about her children and their safety in a war-torn land. Listen as Hannelie shares the small ways she knew the Lord was encouraging their family to go and serve in Afghanistan.
Hannelie describes Werner as “fearless,” and tells of his continuous preaching on having faith rather than fear. One month before Werner was martyred, he said in a sermon, “We only die once. It might as well be for Jesus.”
Watch as Hannelie shares her story and how God remained faithful and encouraged her. You can watch the short video of her story online or order the Heroic Faith DVD. The DVD also includes videos about other persecuted Christians on some of the world’s most difficult and dangerous places to follow Christ. The Hannelie video is also included in the VOM App
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Isaac Santiago, VOM’s Regional Leader for Latin America, and his team are standing with Christians suffering for their faith in Mexico, Colombia and other nations. They are also reaching out to Christians in Latin America who aren’t currently facing persecution, telling them the stories of heroic faith and inviting them into fellowship with persecuted Christians.
Listen as Isaac shares his excitement for VOM’s Spanish resources. These include tools for pastors to share stories with their congregation and next year will also include The Voice of the Martyrs Radio in Espanol. Last month, people all across Latin America also joined in the Hearts of Fire Virtual Event.
In addition to telling the stories of persecuted Christians in Spanish, Isaac is also walking alongside brothers and sisters directly facing persecution.
Listen to hear the story of Mateo and Elena, husband and wife church planters in the “Circle of Silence,” an area of Central Mexico where less than 1% of the people are Biblical disciples. Mateo and Elena boldly moved to the area to answer Christ’s call; they faced pushback and persecution almost from the first day they arrived. Read more about how God continues to work in Mateo and Elena’s lives and pray for their continued ministry.
You can visit VOM’s Spanish website at www.vom.org/es. Please pray for wisdom and protection as Isaac and the Latin American team at The Voice of the Martyrs navigate their dual-focused Spanish ministry.
Ten years ago, there were 3,000 unengaged, unreached people groups around the world--peoples who had never had a witness to share the gospel with them. Today, that number is less than 500 unreached, unengaged people groups. God is moving and His church is growing!
David Bogosian shares this week how Christian Aid Mission, where he is CEO, is training and equipping indigenous gospel workers to go and serve among those remaining unreached peoples. David formerly served as a missionary in the Philippines. He is amazed at the difference of each testimony, how God is uniquely revealing Himself to people all around the world.
David will share stories of places where missions leaders have seen the last remaining unreached people groups in a region reached for the gospel – even amidst difficult times for the church. He says 90% of the recently unreached are being served by local or near-culture Christians.
Listen as David shares about a persecuted Christian who was beaten and threatened by Muslims in his community—but forgave them and later invited them to partner in his thriving business. Today he is praying and reading the Bible with them, and now being he is defended in the community by his former persecutors!
“That’s the amazing thing about persecution,” David says. “It allows us to demonstrate the gospel in a way that nothing else could.”
In the next ten years, David says we could see the final groups on earth reached with the gospel, a prelude to the fulfillment of Revelations 7:9, which promises that in eternity there will be people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…” Yet many Christians are unaware of these exciting times we are living in.
Listen for David to share the one question people ask when they hear the gospel for the first time.
Pray for boldness and courage for front line workers reaching those around them. Pray for spiritual protection as the enemy tries to thwart the efforts of their gospel work.
Pastor Mele was detained in Laos after police found copies of God’s Word. Now, police attend his church services every week, looking for reasons to detain him or close the church. “As a human,” he says, “I have fear. But I trust the Lord to protect me and guide me.”
Pastor Mele became a Christian in 2003 when a school friend shared the gospel with him and his classmates. Everyone ignored his Christian friend but Mele, trying to escape constant spiritual oppression, prayed and accepted Christ. From that day on, the spirits no longer tormented him.
Mele immediately felt a burden to share the gospel with others. Within two months his bold witness brought Christian persecution. Teachers ordered him to renounce his newfound faith in the “foreign religion” of Christianity or lose all opportunities for further education.
Their threat didn’t discourage Mele but actually it encouraged him! He had read in the Bible that all Christians will face persecution for their faith (2 Timothy 3:12), and he was encouraged to know that what the Bible says is true. Mele says he was never tempted to renounce his faith. “I was so focused on my soul, my salvation, because I need to be with the Lord. Nothing is solid or permanent in this world…but my salvation in Christ, that’s what is firm and solid.”
Mele was accepted to Bible college and there he met his wife. Mele went on to be an associate pastor at his home church and began to evangelize other villages. As his ministry expanded, God gave Mele a heart to share the love of Christ with everyone, not just his own tribal people.
His ministry hasn’t been easy, and the pressure against him is constant. Listen as Mele shares about a time when three police officers sat right next to him as he was getting ready to preach.
Pray for Pastor Mele’s safety as he continues to be active in ministry and pray for 14 new churches that they may faithfully endure persecution, and for Christians facing pressure and trials in Southeast Asia.
Imagine worshipping the Lord while the walls of your church building are being torn down. It can be hard to fathom what our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ go through in restricted and hostile nations. How do Christians in free nations understand the Bible’s promise that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12)?
Floyd Brobbel, CEO of VOM Canada and author of Trouble on the Way: Persecution in the Christian Life, explains that persecution is not about the amount of pain inflicted, but about the goal of silencing the church. For many in free nations, the threat of ridicule is enough to prevent Christians from evangelizing their neighbors. Yet, the church continues to grow in places where Christians are kicked out of their families, beaten, imprisoned and even killed.
Recently, Floyd was able to sit down with a pastor from Burma who started a ministry and was part of leading many Buddhists to faith Christ. He was arrested seven times and tortured in ways he didn’t want to talk about. The pastor’s wife was also arrested. Both were sustained by God’s Word in the midst of their suffering.
Floyd shares how this couple reminded him of a modern-day Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, the founders of The Voice of the Martyrs.
Listen for an update on Christian persecution in India, where pressure against the church has increased dramatically during the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Pray for VOM Canada’s leadership as the ministry continues to grow. Pray for brothers and sisters in India, and pray for the persecutors.
Listen to Floyd’s previous conversation with VOM Radio about his book, Trouble on the Way.
Brother James followed the Lord’s leading to serve in the Middle East. He arrived for what he expected to be one year of service knowing almost nothing about Islam or the culture in which he would be serving. He remembers being startled awake the very first morning by the Muslim call to prayer, wondering who was screaming at 4:30 in the morning!
Soon he would understand that he was serving in a culture where choosing to follow Christ could cost one’s life. He would also come to understand that God’s call would last much longer than one year.
He acknowledges that there are times when fear rises up in him but says as Christians, we must not let fear drown out the call God has placed on us. His prayer in times of fear is a simple one: “Lord, don’t let them see me shake.”
During years living among Muslims, the Lord clearly confirmed James’ calling to serve in the Middle East through several Bible verses – Isaiah 40:28-31, Isaiah 41: 10-13, and John 14:13-14. And he has experienced God’s protection and covering, sometimes in miraculous ways. Listen for the story of James asking Jesus to be “the Great Mechanic”—and how God answered his prayer.
Christian persecution for our brothers and sisters in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan or Lebanon often comes first from members of their own family. Many Muslims there have an incorrect view of Christianity and are often surprised when they meet a follower of Jesus and understand what the Bible really teaches. James says Muslims are often open to conversation about religion, and shares stories from his time in the region.
James encourages listeners to pray for persecuted Christians in the Middles East as they face attacks from family members and governments. And he offers advice for those seeking to reach out with the gospel to Muslims here at home.
On September 11, 2012, Islamist fighters attacked a United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were killed in that attack. Just a few months later Ronnie and Anita Smith, a young American couple, moved to Benghazi with their infant son. Their goal was to live out their faith in Christ and have opportunities to introduce Libyan people to Christ.
“We wanted to live our lives out in a place that didn’t know Jesus,” Anita Smith says.
Anita acknowledges that there was fear moving to a dangerous place, especially so soon after a deadly attack on Americans. But Anita shares how God gave both her and Ronnie peace about residing in Libya to further God’s Kingdom. Days after Ronnie’s death in December of 2013, Anita was on national TV in the United States and on Arabic-language TV all over the Middle East, forgiving her husband’s killers and expressing her love for the Libyan people.
Listen as Anita remembers the day she found out her husband had been martyred and how she received comfort from the Lord through her family, church and Christian friends—the Body of Christ in action.
Ronnie Smith taught chemistry to high school students at the Benghazi International School and was admired for his knowledge and chemistry skill, but even more for his warm personality and love for his students. Listen as Anita shares how their Libyan neighbors looked out for them and really welcomed them into their families, spending time together, drinking tea and talking about life and faith. Such conversations gave Ronnie and Anita many opportunities to share how Christianity is different from Islam and Jesus is different from Mohammed.
Listen as Anita shares how she was able to forgive the ones who murdered her husband—expressing her forgiveness to a national audience on CNN and CBS This Morning. When Anita hears of Libyans who started following Christ after hearing the testimony of her and Ronnie, it’s a powerful reminder of how Christ is using their sacrifice. Listen also as she shares how we can pray for the widows of persecuted Christian martyrs all over the world today.
Anita was just one of the four amazing women who shared their stories of persecution and God’s faithfulness during the Hearts of Fire Virtual Event. Worship music for the event was led by award-winning Christian music artist, Michael W. Smith.
Highly restrictive religious laws. Surveillance cameras lurking around every corner. Police knocking on doors and raiding church gatherings. These are a few among the many challenges our persecuted family in China face each week.
Yet despite the communist government’s many attempts to control Christians, the church in China is still growing! Brother Enfu, pastor of an unregistered church, shares on VOM Radio this week the excitement of a growing Body of Christ and the challenges of leading an illegal church congregation.
As communist efforts to control and close down churches have escalated, large church gatherings have become almost impossible. This has led to many more meetings with smaller numbers of Christians, raising the need for trained leaders. Brother Enfu will share how Chinese Christians are meeting that need and help us pray specifically for God to raise up leaders within Chinese churches.
Brother Enfu serves as a leader in an underground Chinese seminary, training and encouraging pastors and their spouses to take on the challenges of leading a congregation. Graduates need to be equipped to lead their flock well and prepared for persecution, ready to face police questioning and even arrest. You’ll be encouraged as Enfu shares the story of five imprisoned church elders and the surprising report he received back of their sweet fellowship together and the spread of the gospel in the jail.
Listen as Brother Enfu shares how house church Christians work together in managing the risks of Christian ministry in a communist nation.
Pray men would be raised up to be godly leaders in their home and the church. Pray pastors in China would glorify God through their marriage and families. Pray our persecuted brothers and sisters in China will continue to fix their eyes on Jesus Christ, even in times of tribulation and suffering.
To hear more about persecuted Christians, register for the free and watch it on demand. Be inspired as you listen to four women who have been persecuted for their faith and how God has been faithful to them, as well as worship music led by Michael W. Smith.