Pastor Andrew Brunson, author of a new book called God’s Hostage, was imprisoned in Turkey for two years, and he says every single day was a battle to overcome his fear and grief and anxiety. One of those who inspired him in these battles was Richard Wurmbrand, VOM’s founder. In Part 2 of our interview with Brunson, he explains how Wurmbrand inspired him to dance inside his prison cell. He says he didn’t feel joy or happiness, but he set his will to act joyfully in spite of his feelings.
Brunson was also inspired by another former prisoner for Christ (and VOM Radio guest), Dan Baumann, to lock away doubts and questions and choose to leave those in God’s hand. Brunson says he told God from his prison cell, “I don’t need answers to have a relationship with You.”
Listen as Andrew shares how he came to “embrace my assignment” of being in prison for Christ.
Andrew will share about the song God birthed in his soul while he was locked in prison, and how his heart changed over long months in prison to a posture of faithfulness and trust in spite of not seeing his outward circumstances change. That heart change, he says, was his victory over the terrible circumstances and injustice he faced in prison.
Finally, Brunson will tell the story of a letter he wrote to Norine that clearly demonstrated his changed heart as he expressed commitment to drink every drop that the Lord had ordained for him to drink from the “cup of suffering.”
Pastor Andrew Brunson spent two years in Turkish prisons accused, among other “crimes,” of helping plot a coup against President Erdogan’s government there.
There were very dark days for Brunson, isolated in prison and wondering why God seemed silent in his time of suffering. Listen as he shares how he poured out his frustrations to God, but ultimately chose to lean into God—even if God seemed to remain distant.
Through those dark days, Andrew's wife, Norine served as his pastor and encourager, the only Christian he was allowed contact with. Listen as he tells how she was “heroic” in standing with him in spite of risks to her own freedom.
Pastor Brunson also took strength from the stories of other Christians who suffered persecution. One of those was Richard Wurmbrand, founder of The Voice of the Martyrs and the author of Tortured for Christ and other books. Andrew says he “spent a lot of time with Richard Wurmbrand in prison,” through Richard’s writings.
Andrew tells the entire story in a new book, God’s Hostage, which you can order here (affiliate link).
Prior to the start of Andrew’s trial in Turkey, his daughter Jacqueline was our guest on VOM Radio. You can hear our conversation with her here.
Gary Lane has been telling the stories of persecuted Christians for decades. As International News Director and Senior Correspondent for CBN News, he’s gone to meet them—he’s traveled to more than 100 countries—and been drawn not only to tell their stories, but also actively serve and stand with bold believers enduring persecution.
A month after 21 Christians were martyred by ISIS on the beach in Libya, Gary went to Egypt to meet the families of many of those beheaded on the sand. When he met these families—just weeks after their loved ones were killed—he was moved and challenged by their strong faith. They told him what an honor it was that their loved ones had died for Christ, and expressed forgiveness to the ISIS murderers.
Gary also served three years on staff at VOM. He’ll share how he encountered VOM workers on the front lines in Sudan and how that led to a cooperative effort between VOM and Operation Blessing—and eventually to Gary serving on VOM’s staff.
Gary will tell about his first encounters with persecuted Christians, and how he transitioned from simply being a neutral observer, reporting on their suffering to actively providing help as a brother and fellow member of the Body of Christ.
Brother Rachid is the host of an Arabic-language television program, answering on-air questions that Muslims have about faith and about Jesus Christ. The first day his program went on the air, Rachid was hoping 10 or 20 Muslims might call in with questions. They received 800 calls in the first half hour!
He knows first-hand the persecution that comes when a Muslim rejects Islam: Rachid’s own family kicked him out when he became a Christian.
Listen as Rachid shares his story of coming to Christ, his family’s rejection and what it meant for him to come into fellowship with other Arab Christians. He’ll also help listeners understand some of the teachings of Islam that directly contradict the gospel message—and advise us on reaching out to Muslims we know.
You can watch a video about Brother Rachid’s testimony here.
September marks the five-year anniversary of VOM Radio, and all month we’ve heard clips from powerful stories God has allowed VOM Radio to share over the past five years. This week: a clip from “Sister Amber,” who was arrested in Tibet. You can hear her entire, powerful testimony here.
This week we’ll meet the pastor of an unregistered church congregation in China. Because of the danger to him for sharing his story, we aren’t sharing his name and you’ll only hear the voice of his translator during the interview.
He’s been detained by police more than 20 times, and he says of course there is fear when police raid his church or come to arrest him. But he’s seen God work through him inside prison cells, including seeing fellow prisoners come to Christ for the first time, and says he’s willing to go back to prison if his being there is part of God’s purpose.
He’ll give an update on the current wave of persecution in China, and talk about why the Communist Party leaders are so afraid of the growth of the church. Finally, the pastor will give specific ways to pray for the nation of China as a whole, and for the church there, including Christians currently in prison for their faith in Christ.
We’ll also hear, as we continue to commemorate the five-year anniversary of VOM Radio, from a man detained inside North Korea—just one of many powerful stories God has allowed VOM Radio to share over the past five years. (You can hear his complete story here.)
Brother Semeone is a church leader from Ethiopia—a country with a long Christian history, but where persecution can come from different directions, often beginning with members of a new convert’s own family.
Learn some of the history of the church in Ethiopia—including how persecution and hardship have helped the gospel spread. “Persecution,” he says, “has its own way of purifying the church.”
Semeone will also share how the church—within Ethiopia and around the world—steps in to help Ethiopian Christians in times of trouble, and what it means to him to be a part of the extended family of God.
We’ll also continue our commemoration of the five-year anniversary of VOM Radio this month by looking back at another powerful moment from the past five years as “Dr. Andrew” shares about the terror he feels when police detain or interrogate him—and how he overcomes that fear by focusing on Who God is. You may want to go back and listen online to our full conversation with Dr. Andrew. Listen to Part 1 and Part 2.
Early in 2017, Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted off the streets of Malaysia—a military-style operation that took less than 40 seconds. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
Since our first VOM Radio conversation with Raymond’s wife, Susanna (listen here), the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia issued a formal report on Pastor Raymond’s disappearance. Susanna will give us an update on what that report said.
Raymond and Susanna’s daughter, Esther, will tell the story of the day she found out her dad had been taken, and what she misses most since his forced disappearance. She’ll also talk about the amazing way God prepared and strengthened her mom to go through this season of suffering.
Susanna shared what a blessing it was to receive encouraging cards and letters from Christians all over the world after her last visit with VOM Radio. You can mail your cards and letters to her at:
Liew Sow Yoke
Lot LG109B, One Utama Shopping Center,
No. 1, Lebuh Bandar Utama,
47800 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor Darul Ehsan,
September marks the five-year anniversary of the launch of VOM Radio, and all this month we’re sharing highlights of the amazing stories God has allowed VOM Radio to tell over the past five years. This week’s clip features the story of an ISIS trainer who wanted to find a copy of the Bible. You can hear that entire episode, featuring a conversation with a gospel worker in the Middle East we called “Julian,” by clicking here.
“Brother Enfu” is the pastor of an unregistered (illegal) church in China. Every time his church meets, members know police could raid the service and close down their meeting. Other churches in the area have already been closed. Church members have been told to stop attending services, or risk losing their jobs.
How do Christians deal with the constant, oppressive surveillance state that is modern-day China? “Everything is illegal in China,” Enfu says. So how do Christians overcome fear to continue serving Christ in spite of the high cost they may be asked to pay?
Listen as Brother Enfu shares how persecution is becoming more intense in China, and how pastors and churches are responding—and the gospel continues to spread. Enfu also gives specific ways to pray for brothers and sisters in the Chinese church, and for him and other church leaders.
Brother Enfu has been on VOM Radio previously; you can hear that conversation here.
Pastor Pierre serves the Lord in Lebanon, including reaching out to refugees who have fled violence and war in Syria to find a safer place to live and raise their families.
Listen as Pierre shares how Muslims have become more open to the gospel in the midst of suffering, and how Christians have sacrificially helped meet needs and share Christ among refugees. He’ll also talk about the persecution Christian converts face, sometimes even at the hands of their own families.
Pastor Pierre will also share the story of a man from Syria who came into genuine relationship with Christ after he lost everything in Syria—and even had his life threatened by terrorists. His family now joyfully shares that losing everything they owned on earth was worth it, because it brought them into joyful, eternal fellowship with Christ.
Pastor Pierre also equips us to pray for the church in Syria, Lebanon and throughout the Middle East.
Most Americans look at the world through a lens of right vs. wrong; a person is either guilty or innocent. But in the Muslim world, most people see the world in terms of honor and shame. Audrey Frank is the author of a new book, Covered Glory: The Face of Honor and Shame in the Muslim World (affiliate link), which explores honor/shame cultures and specific ways Christ speaks to people with that cultural worldview.
Listen to learn how the honor/shame worldview affects every decision many Muslims make, how men and women play different roles in upholding honor, and how the Scriptures were written from within an honor/shame culture. She’ll also discuss how persecution of Christians often grows out of perceived shame.
Audrey will also remind us of God’s loving heart to reach Muslims, and advise listeners on specific ways to reach out to Muslim friends and coworkers with the message of Jesus’ love for them.
Connect with Audrey via her web site, www.AudreyFrank.com.
“I really shouldn’t be alive,” says Brent Teague. He’s one of a small number of Americans who have survived an Al Qaeda attack. While serving in Niger, he was shot multiple times and left for dead. But as he prepared to say goodbye to life on earth and enter heaven, Brent sensed God telling him that his earthly ministry wasn’t finished yet.
Later, he discovered that God had worked a miracle—before he was even shot—that led police to find him before it was too late. Hear the incredible story of his rescue, and how God has used the story of the attack, and even the physical scars, to open doors for ministry for both Brent and his wife, Shelley.
Brent and Shelley will also share advice for creating opportunities to share the gospel with Muslims that you know, and talk about their ongoing work for the gospel in West Africa.
Dr. Mike Ansari leads Heart4Iran, working with different ministries to reach Muslims in Iran with the gospel message, and to strengthen Iranian believers to withstand persecution and continue boldly serving Christ.
Dr. Mike will tell us the story of an Iranian Christian woman currently in prison for distributing Bibles inside Iran—a project supported by VOM—and how she is responding to persecution with boldness and grace, even witnessing for Christ inside the prison.
You’ll also learn how VOM partners with Christians from restricted nations to support and further their vision and ministry, and about the intense persecution Christians are facing right now inside Iran—where they are seen as one of the biggest threats to the Islamic Republic.
Merv Knight has served persecuted Christians for more than 50 years, including co-founding The Voice of the Martyrs Australia and serving for decades as a member of the board of directors for VOM-USA. He worked side-by-side with Pastor Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, VOM’s founders and former prisoners for Christ in Romania.
Recently Merv spoke to the staff at VOM headquarters on the occasion of his retirement from active service on the ministry’s board. Listen as he shares insights about the Wurmbrand family, the early days of the ministry and some of the persecuted Christians who inspired Merv over his many years of serving through VOM.
He’ll tell about:
Finally, Merv will challenge each of us to be faithful in the things that God has called us to do to serve Him and build His Kingdom, wherever we are.
Ron Morse was a teenager when his missionary family was told to leave Burma. But before the family could get out of the country, the borders were closed—for six years!
Listen as Ron describes living in the jungle, making everything the family needed—including cooking pots and blackboards for school—and how God used those difficult years to plant seeds in his life that are still bearing fruit today as he serves the Lord and the people of Southeast Asia through North Burma Christian Mission.
With the story of a snake bite, Ron will challenge all of us to be willing to do anything to share Christ. He reflects on lessons he learned from his parents and grandparents as he watched them serve in difficult circumstances, and offers advice for those exploring a call to missions today. He’ll also equip listeners to pray specifically for the church in Myanmar and for missionaries serving around the world.
Read about Ron’s family and their years in the jungle in Exodus to a Hidden Valley (affiliate link), written by Ron’s father, Eugene.
God called John Weaver to Afghanistan as a single man, and he stayed in the country even after 9/11 when the U.S. government encouraged all Americans to leave. John committed his singleness to God, making peace with the fact that he might never get married while living and working in an isolated village in Afghanistan.
It was only weeks after making that commitment that John met Jeanne—an American woman born in Kabul whom God had brought from half a world away to be John’s bride.
Listen to the story of their amazing romance, which is also told in a new book called Najiba: A Love Story from Afghanistan (affiliate link). You’ll hear how they courted and married according to Afghan traditions, honoring the culture in which they served while still shining as a lighthouse for Christ and for God’s amazing blessing that is Christian marriage.
John will also demonstrate specific ways we can pray for Afghanistan.
What questions would you expect from a Christian suffering in prison for their faith? When Dr. Hormoz Shariat from Iran Alive Ministries received a call from an imprisoned church leader in Iran, he expected hard questions about suffering and why God would allow it.
Instead, the Iranian man simply encouraged Hormoz. Imprisonment, and even torture, were an honor, this brother said, because he was suffering for Christ.
Persecution of Christians in Iran—especially converts from Islam—is different from other places. In most Islamic nations, persecution starts with the convert’s own family. But in Iran, Pastor Hormoz says, most people—including Muslims—have a favorable view of Christianity, and don’t take offense at family members following Christ.
Persecution in Iran is real, though, coming from the Islamic government that knows it has lost the hearts of the people—and is turning to violence to maintain power and control.
Listen and be encouraged by how the church in Iran is growing, with specific stories of Iranians who have left Islam behind to follow Jesus Christ. The challenge now, Hormoz tells us, is not evangelism. The challenge is to disciple the many new Christians in Iran and help them mature in their faith. He will share how Iran Alive is creating resources specifically for the Persian church. Finally, Hormoz will help us pray specifically for Christians inside Iran—and for government leaders as well.
You can connect directly with Iran Alive ministries by texting “Iran” to 74784.
In the second half of this conversation, Hannelie Groenewald recalls the day her husband and two teen-aged children were killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The names of Werner, Rodé and Jean-Pierre Groenewald will be unveiled on the Martyrs Memorial in Bartlesville, Oklahoma on Saturday, June 29 as a part of the commemoration of Day of the Christian Martyr, 2019.
In this interview, recorded in 2016, Hannelie recalls the Psalm she read over and over again as she waited to hear whether her family members were alive or dead, and the amazement of Afghans at her ability to forgive the Taliban which had murdered her entire family. She’ll also describe the blessing of knowing that Christians around the world were praying for her as she grieved—and the hope she has because of God’s promise of eternity in heaven.
Hannelie shares hard-earned truth with listeners who may be struggling to forgive someone who has wronged them, and her thoughts on working through fear with God’s help. She’ll also equip us to pray more effectively for the nation of Afghanistan and for our Christian brothers and sisters there.
You can watch the induction ceremony for Werner, Jean-Pierre and Rodé Groenewald onto the Martyrs Memorial by going to www.Persecution.com/martyr. The event will also be available through Facebook Live on the VOM Facebook page.
Listen to Part 1 of the conversation here.
After the attacks of 9/11, God called Werner and Hannelie Groenewald to go and share Jesus’ love in Afghanistan. Even some of their own family members said, ‘NO! God would never call you to take your children to Afghanistan!’
Inside the country, they served and loved the Afghan people in the name of Jesus. Hannelie, as a doctor, provided medical care. Werner worked in leadership development and humanitarian aid. Their work, and the fact that they served in the name of Jesus, did not go unnoticed by radical Muslims in Afghanistan.
In 2014, a Taliban attack on their home took the lives of Werner and the Groenewalds’ son and daughter, Jean-Pierre and Rodé. Hannelie was not home at the time of the attack, and her life was spared. Listen as she tells the story of God’s call to Afghanistan, and how God increased her faith even in the days and weeks before the attack, preparing her to endure faithfully a terrible loss.
You can watch online as the names of Hannelie’s family, Werner, Jean-Pierre and Rodé are added to The Martyrs Memorial on Day of the Christian Martyr, June 29th. You can find more information, and register to access the video of the ceremony, at www.Persecution.com/martyr.
Ali, a follower of Christ in Iran, and his family have experienced God’s rescue numerous times. First, God rescued Ali’s father from alcoholism. Then Jesus rescued Ali from drug addiction and hopelessness. They began to follow the God Who rescued them. But following Jesus in Iran is costly: persecution came quickly as Ali’s grandfather gave him one week to denounce Christ and return to Islam, or else.
Ali and his parents could never denounce the God Who’d rescued them, though, and they lost their home, their money and their support system.
God miraculously provided for their needs—including a rice bowl that never emptied. Ali and his family couldn’t help but tell everyone around them about the God who rescued people and answered prayer, and soon they’d helped 60 people meet Jesus.
Their ministry was noticed, and Ali’s father and brother were arrested; Ali had to move to a different city to avoid arrest himself. In spite of the risks, he continues to share the gospel stories of Christ, and to see Iranian hearts, sick and tired of religious duty and oppressive leaders, warmed by Jesus’ love. The biggest love, he says, is when you lay down your life for others.
Listen to Ali’s story, including how he and his wife prepare for the possibility of more persecution and specific ways you can pray for the church in Iran, this week on VOM Radio.
God called Ruth to serve Him in missions in a nation in South Asia. She answered His call, but the government of that country told her she had to leave—and never come back! Listen to how she responded to this persecution, and how God worked to return her to Christian ministry in that country within 30 days!
“Peter” and “Ruth” are spreading the gospel through training people to memorize and share the Scriptures. The process enables new believers to quickly drive deep roots into the Bible and compels them to share gospel stories with those around them. The process also quickly crosses language barriers because it works even in languages where the Bible is still being translated. And it works for believers of all ages.
Hear an example of a Word by Heart, and see how even a one-minute story can drive discussion and lead people to spiritual truth.