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.
“Only Christianity can cut the root of our communism.”
—Kim Il Sung, founder of North Korea
Why is the government of Kim’s grandson, Kim Jong Un, so threatened by the gospel of Jesus Christ? Why do Christians in North Korea face such fierce persecution? Dr. Eric Foley, co-founder and leader of VOM-Korea, answers those questions, and helps us pray for North Korea and VOM’s work to get Bibles and gospel radio broadcasts to people there.
Dr. Foley will talk about the difference made by President Donald Trump’s meeting in Vietnam with Kim, and why the current leader of North Korea can never actually be the President there, because that title is held eternally by his grandfather.
We’ll discuss how the North Korean government preserved and publicized the story of a Christian martyr, Cha Deoksun. You can watch the video the regime created about her life, and death, here.
Dr. Foley will also provide an update on VOM-sponsored Bible balloon launches into North Korea, which delivered 30,000 Bibles last year. Surveys show this Bible work is making a difference: today eight percent of North Koreans have actually seen a Bible—a dramatic increase from even a few years ago.
To learn more about Christians in North Korea, order a copy of Dr. Foley’s book, These Are The Generations (affiliate link). You can also learn about the history of the church and persecution in North Korea by reading Restricted Nations: North Korea, written by VOM Radio host, Todd Nettleton.
John Grooters spent many months deeply immersed in the story of VOM’s founders, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand. They lived exemplary Christian lives, even loving and witnessing to their torturers. Their example has deeply challenged Grooters, who directed Tortured For Christ – The Movie, as well as the video segments for the WURMBRAND small-group curriculum.
Listen as Grooters shares the philosophy that drove this project, and the challenges for Christian filmmakers competing with big-budget Hollywood studios. John will share how viewers responded to the film—including a 10-year-old boy who committed his life to Christ after seeing Richard and Sabina’s example of following Christ under persecution.
You can receive a complimentary copy of Tortured For Christ – The Movie on DVD when you make a donation to VOM’s work with persecuted Christians. You can learn more about Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand through the Wurmbrand small group study, or by reading WURMBRAND: Tortured For Christ The Complete Story.
Would you give up your job to keep following Christ? Listen this week to the story of a teacher in Laos presented with that very question, and the choice he made.
The Khmu were once kings and rulers, but today they are seen as nobodies in society and looked down on by the Lao people. But God is reaching the Khmu, and many are leaving behind the worship of spirits and the fear of the witch doctors for the peace that comes through relationship with Christ.
Our guest, Brother Joshua, is part of Khmu Christian Connection, helping reach Khmu people in Laos, Vietnam, China and Thailand with the gospel message and then discipling them and training leaders to share the gospel with friends and neighbors—in spite of persecution.
Brother Joshua is a second-generation worker with KCC. You can hear our conversation with Josh’s dad here.
“Brother Jeff,” from YWAM Frontier Missions, has a reason so many Muslims around the world are coming to know Jesus: prayer. He says Christians have been much more committed in recent years to praying for Muslims to meet Jesus, and God is answering those prayers.
Right now, Ramadan, is an especially strategic time for prayer, and Jeff will equip listeners to pray for Muslims seeking Christ, as well as those who’ve already decided to follow Him, and may be facing challenges and persecution because of their decision.
Jeff will discuss how to prepare believers to face persecution, including helping develop a well-thought-out theology of risk for workers taking the gospel to hard places. He’ll also advise listeners about reaching out to Muslims in western nations.
You can learn more about the Muslim World Prayer Guide at www.30daysprayer.com.
Mariam was abused as a young girl. As a teen, she took 12 pills a day to treat her depression. She was an atheist, believing no god would allow her to suffer so much. The betrayal by her father and abuse by another man left Mariam hating men. Without hope, she tried suicide five times.
But Jesus rescued Mariam! Listen to the amazing story of how she experienced Christ’s presence in an amazing way even as she tried to end her life, and how Jesus completely transformed her. Hear also about Mariam’s ministry today telling Muslims—especially women and girls—inside the Islamic Republic of Iran about the Jesus whose miracles saved and healed her.
Mariam will also share specific ways to pray for the people of Iran right now.
In this special episode of VOM Radio we’ll bring listeners an update on Christians in Sri Lanka and how they’re responding to Easter Sunday bombings that killed 250+ people and injured hundreds more. VOM's vice president of international ministry will talk about why the location and the bombers were surprising, and equip listeners with specific prayer requests from Sri Lankan church leaders.
We’ll also discuss the coup in Sudan and possibilities for change there in light of the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir. Sean Paton, VOM’s Africa regional director, will explain the kinds of persecution Sudanese Christians have faced in 30 years under Bashir. What is happening, and how much hope for more religious freedom is there under a new government? Sean will also give specific ways to pray for Sudanese Christians in the days to come, and then Petr Jasek—who spent 14 months in prison in Sudan—will lead us in prayer for the nation and for Christians there during this time of turmoil.
Please share this week's episode with your Christian friends and invite them to join in prayer for Christians in Sudan and Sri Lanka.
You can hear Petr tell the story of his imprisonment here.
Dick Brogden says when Muslims choose to leave Islam behind and follow Jesus Christ, often three things happen along their pathway to Christ: a love encounter, a truth encounter and a power encounter. Listen as Brogden—who’s ministered to Muslims for more than 25 years—shares the story of a power encounter that prepared a couple from Yemen to hear the gospel message and commit their lives to Christ.
He’ll also talk about the role of the American church in standing with Christians facing persecution, and offer advice for those feeling God’s call to missions—he says make disciples where you are now; don’t wait until you arrive on the mission field. Finally, Dick will share about his family’s burden for the nation of Saudi Arabia, and the direction that God is leading them based on that burden.
Dick Brogden has served in the Arab World for 25 years, planting gospel seeds and leading teams to plant churches among unreached people groups. His teams have to be prepared to face opposition and persecution, but also withstand spiritual attacks on their marriages, relationships, parenting or other areas of life.
Listen as Dick talks about God’s missionary call to reach every tribe and tongue and nation, and how that first requires us to abide in Christ. He’ll give advice on developing our spiritual muscles and challenge us to make even our time an offering to Jesus. He’ll also talk about challenges that come in every effort to share God’s love, and the need to not grow weary even if we have “a 90% failure rate.”
Finally, Dick will share stories of places he’s seen God do amazing work in bringing Muslims to faith in Christ, and how upheaval in parts of the Middle East has driven many Muslims to ask questions about their faith and to explore other spiritual options.
On February 13, 2017 Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted off the streets of Malaysia. Nearby security cameras captured the entire crime. In the two years since, Koh hasn’t been seen or heard from; his car has never been found. It wasn’t Raymond’s first taste of persecution; he’d previously been mailed a box of bullets as a warning to stop his ministry.
Our guest is Susanna Koh, Raymond’s wife, who will talk about how Pastor Raymond continued to minister in spite of the threats and danger. She’ll also describe a spiritual deepening she saw in her husband in the months before his abduction, and how she knows God was preparing him for the challenging time to come.
Listen as Susanna shares how God has carried her and her family through the past two years, and how He’s even enabled them to forgive those who took her husband away. She’ll share specific scriptural promises and Christian songs that have helped her through dark hours of grief and anxiety.
Susanna and her family have been greatly encouraged by notes, cards and letters from members of their spiritual family around the world. You can join in encouraging her by sending a card or a note of encouragement to:
Joel C. Rosenberg is the best-selling author of 13 novels and five nonfiction books and an expert on the politics of the Middle East. Listen as he shares how and why Middle Eastern leaders are reaching out specifically to American Evangelicals, and the opportunities that’s opened for those leaders to hear Biblical truth.
What are important things American Christians should understand about the Middle East, including persecution our brothers and sisters there face? Why is the gospel finding fertile soil, even in the face of radical Islamist groups? Which countries are seeing more people come to Christ…and why? And how can we pray for the nation of Israel, and for other nations in the region?
Dr. David Garrison is a long-time missionary who’s worked with Muslims in several countries, and has become a student of God’s work among Muslims around the globe. He is the author of a book about movements of Muslims coming to Christ, A Wind in the House of Islam: How God is Drawing Muslims Around the World to Faith in Jesus Christ.
Listen as Garrison describes what he considers a “movement” of Muslims coming to Christ, and some of the motivations that lead followers of Muhammad to become followers of Jesus—and the pressure and persecution they face after making that decision.
Today Dr. Garrison is working with Global Gates to help American Christians reach out to Muslims from around the world who currently live in the United States—and often are in regular contact with friends and family members back in their home country.
Brother Hannu leads the VOM-affiliated mission in Finland, inviting Finnish Christians into fellowship with persecuted brothers and sisters all over the world. As a young Christian he was involved in smuggling Bibles into the Soviet Union. Later he would take Bibles and Christian videos into tightly-closed Middle East nations, including Iran and Libya.
Listen to stories from some of his Bible delivery adventures, and more importantly the “holy moment” when God grabbed Hannu’s heart and filled it with love for the Muslim people of the Middle East.
Hannu will also talk about the work of VOM’s Finnish sister mission, especially his burden to reach young Christians there and invite them to fellowship with Christians willing to go to jail or even die rather than deny their faith in Christ.
You can learn more about the family of ministries begun around the world by Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand here.
John Grooters directed Tortured For Christ – The Movie, a feature-film telling the amazing story of VOM’s founders, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand. The story has inspired millions of Christians over the past 50 years through Pastor Wurmbrand’s best-selling book, Tortured For Christ.
Listen as John talks about turning this iconic book into a film, including the challenge of portraying Richard’s suffering in an appropriate way. John will also share how God’s hand was on the production, including snowfall and sunshine in Romania that miraculously cooperated with the filming schedule.
Hear how God led John to just the right song for the close of the film—a song written by a Christian cellmate of Richard Wurmbrand in prison! You’ll hear how Richard’s faith impacted John as he studied the story and created the film, and how he hopes it will also impact the faith of the viewers, including ending the movie not with a scene of suffering but a scene of American Christians worshipping the Lord.
US Residents: as a THANK YOU for your generous donation in the month of March to support VOM's work assisting persecuted Christians, VOM will send you a complimentary copy of Tortured For Christ - The Movie on DVD. You can give online here.
VOM Radio host, Todd Nettleton, has also been a guest on John’s podcast, “No Shame,” which is available wherever you listen to podcasts. You can hear the interview with Todd by clicking here.
Tessie DeVore leads The Lumo Project, which has been called “The Gospels for a Visual Age.” Listen to hear the story of bringing the pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—word-for-word, right from the text—to film in a way that brings the stories to life in a new way. She’ll also share how these films can be easily translated and produced for multiple languages—including the languages of restricted and hostile nations.
Tessie will describe the power of people seeing Jesus on the screen as they hear the words from the Scriptures, and the process of translating and releasing the films in multiple languages. You’ll also hear a story of how the film is making an impact on one family living in a hostile nation.
Are there blessings found in being in prison for Christ?
Yonas Haile was a Christian worship leader and filmmaker in the African nation of Eritrea. When his gospel film was released, the Eritrean government was furious; from that day, Yonas was targeted. He says Eritrean Christians are “ready always” to face persecution.
Listen as he tells of the joy that God blessed him with, even in the midst of horrible suffering and prison. Yonas also experienced God’s miraculous power, including walking out of an Eritrean prison just as Peter walked out of prison in the book of Acts.
He’ll also share about opportunities to be a witness for Christ and offer hope through the gospel of Christ—even in prison. Finally, Yonas will update on whether changes have happened in Eritrea since the country signed a peace agreement with Ethiopia. And he’ll give specific ways we can pray for that nation, and for our spiritual family members there—especially those in prison for Christ.
Helen Berhane, another Eritrean worship leader, helped Yonas make his gospel film. You can hear her interview with VOM Radio here.