Tag Archives: ministries we support.

Good News from Sudan: VOM Staff Member Released from Sudanese Prison

Under the heading of “SET FREE,” I received this email from The Voice of the Martyrs, this past Monday, February 27. This is a story we have been keeping up with, and read the announcement with great joy:
“Czech national and long-time VOM staff member Petr Jasek has been released from prison in Sudan, following a pardon issued by Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir.” 
Here is a recap of the story, from 2 emails we received:

HE’S FINALLY HOME

HE’S FINALLY HOME!

“After 445 days in prison in Sudan, Czech national Petr Jasek has been set free. He flew out of Sudan Sunday afternoon along with Czech Republic Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek. Jasek, arrested in December 2015, had served as VOM’s Africa Regional Director. He was reunited with his wife and two grown children last night in Prague.
We are so thankful for all those who prayed for Petr and his family. Many also wrote letters to the Sudanese government on behalf of Petr and two Sudanese men sentenced with him. THANK YOU!
From the earliest days of his imprisonment, Petr said many times, “God holds the key to my cell.” We are thankful that God used that key to open the door, and we pray that He will also open the cell doors to allow the two Sudanese men, one of whom is a pastor, also to go free.
Petr was arrested in December 2015, after visiting Sudanese Christians and helping one of them with a small gift to cover medical expenses. Last month a Sudanese court found him guilty of “waging war against the state,” “violating restrictions in military areas,” “spreading rumors to defame the state,” “espionage” and “inciting strife between communities.” He was sentenced to 24 years in prison. Since that sentence was announced, negotiations have been ongoing between the Czech government and the government of Sudan.

Please continue to pray for Rev. Hassan Abduraheem (second from left above) and Abdulmonem Abdumawla (far right above), who can be seen with Petr in the photo above, and were sentenced to 12 years in prison for allegedly aiding Petr’s espionage activities. Pray that they will be released soon, and pray for their families.

Please continue to pray for Rev. Hassan Abduraheem (second from left above) and Abdulmonem Abdumawla (far right above), who can be seen with Petr in the photo above, and were sentenced to 12 years in prison for allegedly aiding Petr’s espionage activities. Pray that they will be released soon, and pray for their families.

Also: Pray also for Petr Jasek and his family as they reunite and as Petr begins to recover from the physical toll that 14 months in prison has wrought.

“I was in five different prisons, each worse than the last,” Petr said. “I was placed in group cells with drug traffickers, violent criminals and radical Muslims – including ISIS members. I was deprived of sleep for days in a cell with no running water, where mice ran over my body every time I lay down.”

As a career field leader with VOM, Petr has devoted his life to serving our persecuted Christian family. For more than 15 years, he has traveled continually and served in the toughest mission fields in the world.
Inspired by years of serving Christians imprisoned for their faith, he felt honored to be able to serve God while himself the prisoner of a brutal Islamic regime. He embraced his imprisonment as an opportunity to share the gospel with Sudanese, Eritreans and radical Muslims who are normally inaccessible to missionaries.

“I found that I was peaceful and joyful in prison, and that is a miracle that only God can do,” Petr said. “I can say that I was experiencing an amazing time with the Lord. My prayer was that I wanted to have the right words to speak at any time so that everything I said would be for the glory of God and touching the hearts of the other prisoners.” During his almost 15 months in prison, Petr shared the gospel with many and saw several come to saving faith in Christ.

Each of us should be inspired by Petr’s example. We should seek to boldly witness for Christ wherever we are.

Each of us should be inspired by Petr’s example. We should seek to boldly witness for Christ wherever we are.

Pray also for all of our Christian brothers and sisters in Sudan. They have become bolder – not more cautious – in their witness for Christ since Petr and the others were imprisoned, even singing hymns outside the courthouse during our brothers’ trial.

Here is a direct link to The Voice of the Martyrs website, which will include information on how you can help those persecuted for their faith, and how you can help their families:

The Voice of the Martyrs

“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; [and] them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”
Hebrews 13:3


 

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Christmas 2016 and What I Can “Do More” in 2017

This past year, as never before, I have felt the calling to pray for our persecuted Brothers and Sisters around the globe. And, not just pray for them … but, to also learn more about them. To find out where they are, and what they are going through. Plus, to not only “pray for the persecuted,” but to pray for “the persecutors.” To learn about them. Time after time, as I read the stories of those suffering, read about the tremendous hardships and tragedies they must endure, every day, the same request rings true:
“Pray for the persecutors.
Pray for the persecutors.”

I think about the statement I read from Pastor Rick Warren … that prayer is like a guided missile … which can be launched from anywhere on earth … and, reach the heart of anyone on earth … regardless of where they are located, and, regardless of “who” they are.

This time of year, the emphasis is always on how thankful we should be for the blessings we have, for being thankful for “all we have.” I hope we can apply this same spirit of thanksgiving to every day of the year. We shouldn’t only take time to think about our blessings at a particular time of year, but, it should be something that is part of our daily existence, part of our daily prayers, every day of the year. The plight of those “less fortunate” is also something we seem to focus more on, during “this time,” than at other times. Same rule should apply: The plight of those “less fortunate” should also be part of our daily existence, our daily prayers, every day of the year.

What good is what we have, if we can’t share it?
There is no “greater good” than the “good news” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There is no greater purpose in life than to share this Gospel, and to support those who share it.

We often share materials we have received from “The Voice of the Martyrs.” Yes, there are many organizations which support persecuted Christians, and I’m thankful for that. Here I am, sitting downstairs, in front of the pellet stove, in a warm home, at the end of a tough work week.
I don’t know what “tough” is. My home isn’t war-ravaged, my neighborhood isn’t in shambles, and I haven’t been forced to move … just because I’m a Christian.
Tough week?
I don’t know what tough is. Here I am, debating over the “agony” of having to bring out the snow-blower … I don’t know what “tough” is. The losses so many have suffered. The pain and agony my fellow believers live through, every day. I’m surrounded by clean laundry (making use of the pellet stove), and I don’t have a clue what it’s like to be displaced from my home, fleeing with only what I can carry, only to live in a distant “camp,” in a tent … I don’t know what it’s like … I don’t have a clue … seeing family murdered … children murdered … only because “word got out” they had accepted Jesus …

Children … Children … Children …

Yes, we support the work of organizations like “The Voice of the Martyrs”
I don’t mind that there are a couple of common themes throughout my writing, and that I write of them often:
Pray every day.
Study your Bible every day.
Pray for our persecuted Brothers and Sisters every day.
Be thankful for the blessings you already have, every day.
If that’s all you “get” from my writing, I’m ok with that.

It is so important to pray and read the Bible every day. To set aside a time for this, every day.
Often, I’ve written about how important it is to have Scriptural messages, verses, posted around your home (and, even on the visor of your truck) to remind you of great Scriptural truths … things you can’t help but see every day …
It is … after all … about “every day” …

I don’t have a clue about how tough it is for Christians around the world, living in hostile and “restricted” nations.
But … I want to learn more.
I want to learn more.

There are a couple of resources, offered at a minimal price, through “The Voice of the Martyrs,” which I plan to use-every day-of the next year.
I want to learn more, and I’ve already learned so much about what’s going on “over there” through materials I’ve already received from them. I’d just like to share a couple of those with you, a couple of resources I am planning to use, in the year ahead.
I will include a link at the bottom of this post.

One is a “Prayer Calendar.” I love the 2016 calendar I have (which I think was bought at Walmart, on sale), which includes verses and quotes, so often helping me in exactly what I am going through at that particular time.

But … maybe it’s time to not think about me when I look at a calendar … maybe it’s time to think about others …

I will be using their 2017 Prayer Calendar, and here’s why, as I use text from the VOM website:
I will “be guided to pray throughout the year, with a new prayer request for each day of every month. The calendar includes prayer requests for the specific needs of Christians living in hostile and restricted nations as well as prayer requests for their persecutors, that God would change their hearts. When VOM staff travel to meet Christians in hostile and restricted nations, we often ask how American Christians can help them. Their first answer is always ‘Pray for us.’
By giving your Christian friends VOM’s 2017 Prayer Calendar, you will be helping to fulfill the request of our persecuted brothers and sisters every day in 2017. Specific prayer requests are provided for each day of the calendar year, including reminders to pray for the persecutors as Scripture instructs.”

The other resource I will be using is a Daily Devotional called “Extreme Devotion.” Talk about something I can use every day:
“This engaging devotional includes 365 stories of persecuted Christians along with devotionals based on each person’s life. You will be encouraged in your daily walk with Christ through the examples of believers from around the world who have shown extreme devotion in sharing their faith with others.”

Prayer and Bible study.
Remembering our Christian Brothers and Sisters.
Every day.
Every day.

I want to pray more.
I want to study more.
I want to learn more.
I want to remember them more.
I want to do more.
Here’s the link to help you do that:

The Voice of the Martyrs

 

New Year-New Resolve: Part Two/Our Part

Hi Friends:

In what has now become “Part One” of “New Year-New Resolve-Part One” there was one item which I didn’t add, because I felt it was so important that I wanted to devote an entire writing to it:

To pray for our persecuted Brothers and Sisters around the world. I want to make sure that I pray, every day, for these men, women-and children-who are being persecuted for their faith in Christ Jesus. I want to encourage … but a much stronger word must be used … I want to urge you, to admonish you, to pray for these men, women, children … these families … who are, simply and only, persecuted, put in jail, and killed … only because they “are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:16).

If you look at the definition of the word “admonish,” yes, it means “to tell or urge (someone) to do something.” But, if you look at the meaning of the word as used as a transitive verb (thank you Merriam-Webster!), it means “to indicate duties or obligations to.” And, that is exactly what, as fellow Christians, we are to do: “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body” (Hebrews 13:3).

The numbers of Christians, around the world, who are persecuted is, simply, staggering. Here in the United States, we are so blessed … yet, because of the freedom(s) we enjoy, it is so difficult to realize how things are “everywhere else.” I know … I know … we have griped and complained about the price of gas we pay over here … I don’t mean to sound callous, but my response to these complaints is to remind those complaining how people in other countries have been paying 5.00 for a gallon of gas for years … I think the same mind-set can set in, when we think about persecution in “those other places.” Jesus was right (I just love to write that!) when He said/predicted that things won’t change … they hated Him … they will hate you: “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Luke 21:17). Jesus said this many times.

In the great chapter of Hebrews 11, we see, from today’s perspective, that things haven’t changed: “And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment” (Hebrews 11:36).

I must say that there are many great organizations which both carry the Gospel to far-reaching places and peoples around the world, and that minister to families and groups which are suffering for their faith. We are proud to support one such ministry, the work of “The Voice of the Martyrs.” Through their emails and printed materials, this is one way we can “keep in touch” with what is really going on around the world, in regard to persecution.

In December, here is part of a story about an outreach program which “The Voice of the Martyrs” was involved in:
“… more than 3,000 children in northern Nigeria received VOM Christmas Care Packs this year. Her pack included school supplies, a T-shirt, soap, pencils, a toothbrush, noodles, milk and an animated story book about Jesus. Christmas Care Packs were the perfect gift for these children, many of whom have experienced the horrors of Boko Haram attacks. The gifts showed Abua and the other children that they are loved. Children from many nations, including children of Iraqi families that have been exiled at the hands of ISIS, will receive Christmas Care Packs in this year’s distribution … in many of the more than 60 countries where we work. A VOM worker from Pakistan says the Bibles included in the packs often become the family’s favorite Bible since many parents cannot read.”

Here’s another small glimpse of how it really is “in other places” around the world:
“In Iraq, ISIS threatened to kill Abu’s family if they didn’t convert to Islam, but he still trusted God. In Nigeria, Boko Haram killed Micah’s wife and demanded that he renounce Christ, but he stood firm in his faith. Christians worldwide remain committed to Jesus despite the threat of imprisonment, torture and even death. In northern Iraq, ISIS spray-painted the Arabic letter ن, or “N,” on the homes of Christians. The property owners were publicly identified as Christ followers and given a choice to convert to Islam, pay a high tax, leave the country or die. Many courageous believers refused to deny their faith.”

I am reminded of the words Walter Cronkite would use as he completed his newscast: “And that’s the way it is …” Well, in a lot of the world today, this is “the way it is”:
“Iraqi and Syrian Christians stand strong in the face of ISIS. They have lost their worldly possessions, but they have joy in their eternal hope in Christ. Nigerian Christians love and forgive in the name of Jesus while Boko Haram terrorists kidnap and kill Christians, burning churches and homes in their ongoing rampage across northern Nigeria. Pastors in China remain faithful despite being imprisoned for years because of their faith. VOM is supporting believers like these throughout the 68 countries where we work … As persecution has continued to increase around the globe this year … we have distributed thousands of Bibles and other Christian materials in areas hostile to Christianity. In addition, VOM is supporting more than 40,000 front-line workers as they carry Jesus’ name into the world’s most difficult missions frontiers. We are grateful for all those who have remembered their persecuted family in prayer.”

Don’t worry: The crime of “Bible Smuggling” is still alive and well:
“We are blessed to serve alongside a network of more than 40,000 Front-Line workers that serve as today’s “Bible Smugglers.” Many risk their lives delivering the Bibles. Others journey for days to reach remote areas. All of them covet our prayers … in 2015, VOM delivered over 1.2 million Bibles … Front-Line workers are evangelizing, planting churches, and distributing Bibles on the world’s most difficult missions frontiers.”

Again, there are many worthy organizations which are doing this work around the world. “The Voice of the Martyrs” is just one of the organizations which we support. We have shared other ministries with you, but for this writing, we are using their (VOM) information exclusively.

We’ll close with this story from Columbia. Not too long ago, Carol and I were in South America, and we witnessed first-hand the difference between “here and there.” Working with children, and especially while I was working with young children (K-2), I’ll be honest … every time I read a story of violence toward children, I put “my kids” face in the story. I’m sure you know what I mean. Here’s “the way it is” for many children around the world:
Here’s the story of “Flor,” which also carried a picture of her … you’re right … Think of your children, our children, my children, and, after you get off your knees thanking God for the blessings of your children being raised in this country … think about this story, which was titled, “Her Father’s Killer Is Looking for Her:”

“Flor” still misses her father every day.
Her father, a pastor, was killed when she was just a preschooler, but his death left a huge hole in her world. Then the news came that his killer had been released from prison and was now hunting her family. Flor’s father pastored in a rural area of Colombia. When his killers delivered his body to the door of their home, VOM immediately helped Flor and her mom relocate to a safe house. VOM supported them as Flor and her mom restarted their lives, helping them begin an agricultural business. Eight years later, her father’s killer was released from prison. Neighbors warned the family that he was asking about them. Again, VOM immediately relocated the family to a safe place. Just last week, Flor called her VOM contact and asked to be picked up from school. She was struggling with grief and fear and needed some encouragement … the Families of Martyrs Fund supports believers like Flor and her family. This fund allows VOM to quickly relocate a family when there is immediate danger, and it also helps provide for them in the long-term with jobs, housing and education for children.”

Every day, let’s pray for our Brothers and Sisters in Christ, around the world, who are suffering persecution. That God will give them safety and protection.
Pray for those “in bonds,” those in prison/jail because of their faith. I pray two things, every day: For God to send an angel to them to minister to them … to strengthen them (just like in the Garden). That Jesus will personally visit them …
God can do anything. There is nothing too hard for Him.
Pray that God will make a way for them to be released. Because, God can make a way where there is no way. He can open doors which no man can shut. And, He can close doors which no man can open.
Pray for the families, churches, and organizations which are praying for their release.
Here is the picture I get every morning: Moses, standing above the Red Sea, staff outstretched … that these families … will “stand back and see the deliverance (salvation) of the Lord …”

Every person whom I have ever known … ever … who has been persecuted, has the exact, same request: To pray for those who are persecuting them.
I admonish you to pray for the “captors.” For those individuals, or groups, or factions, who are doing the persecution. Here is what I pray: For them to realize that the Messiah has already come … His name is Jesus … and He’s alive forevermore …

That’s it!
Back to Hebrews to encourage us more:
“For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance” (Hebrews 10:34).

Blessings to you, and your family.
Now.
And, always.

Richard. Vincent. Rose.

Here’s a direct link of Voice of the Martyrs
Voice of the Martyrs

 

Fear Not: Verses to Encourage You

We are always so blessed and encouraged when someone sends us a Bible verse … the right verse just seems to show up at the right time …
Often, we’ll receive a particular verse as part of correspondence with friends and customers, and, so often, it is just what we needed to hear at just the right time. I am always seeing messages the Lord is sending my way, wherever I go. It may be a bumper sticker or automobile tag, a sign somewhere, and many times, it’ll be a poster someone has posted on their door or wall. God always uses whatever means are necessary to put the right words in front of us, or allows us to hear “just what we needed” from a friend or associate … often during just a “regular” conversation. How many times have we gotten “confirmation” from a simple conversation with someone we just happen to run into?
I remember once, being deep in thought over a particular problem I was confronting, stepping out of an elevator, and walking down the hall behind 2 men who were having a conversation. I only overheard a small part of what they were saying … but, it was exactly what I needed to hear to help and encourage me … at that exact moment.

There are just so many verses in Scripture which deal with fear … all written to help and encourage us. I can’t reinforce how strongly I feel that the most important way to start your day is with prayer and Bible study. Even just one verse … being allowed to sink into your mind and soul first thing in the morning … will stay with you the rest of the day. Many times, someone will send me a list of verses on a particular subject, and I may spend the entire week-or longer-using those verses for my morning study.

So, I’ll share this list with you, which I received from Gregory Dickow Ministries, which really helped me, and it can help you. I’ll provide a link for you to download these below.

My Pastor used to always remind us that courage does not mean that you are not scared … even “scared to death” … courage means that you act in spite of your fear.
I hear Joyce Meyer, in teaching about overcoming fear, that FEAR stands for
“False Evidence Appearing Real.”
I hear another Pastor give an example like this:
Fear knocked on my door.
I went to the door with Faith.
When I opened the door, there was no one there.

Enjoy these verses:

Scripture Verses for VICTORY OVER FEAR
BY PASTOR GREGORY DICKOW

II Timothy 1:7
God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a calm, well balanced mind.

Isaiah 12:2
I am not afraid because God is my salvation and I trust Him.

1 John 4:18
I am not tormented because all fear is cast out in God’s perfect love.

Isaiah 41:10
I do not fear nor am I dismayed, because God is with me. God makes me strong and helps me and upholds me with His victorious and righteous right hand.

Isaiah 43:1
I do not fear, for God has redeemed me and called me by name – I am His.

Hebrews 13:6
The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man can do to me.

Proverbs 29:25
I avoid snares because I do not fear man, but I place my trust in the Lord and therefore I am safe.

Deuteronomy 31:6
I am strong and courageous, delivered from fear, because the Lord my God goes with me. He will not fail me nor forsake me.

Deuteronomy 1:21
I will not fear nor be discouraged, for the Lord my God has set the land before me – I will go up and possess it.

Deuteronomy 3:22
I will not fear, for the Lord my God shall fight for me.

Luke 12:32
I do not fear, for it is my Father’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom.

Psalm 112:7 
I am not afraid of bad news, for my heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.

Isaiah 12:2
I am strong and courageous, not fearful and dismayed for the Lord Jehovah is my strength, my song and my salvation.

John 14:27
I walk in the peace that Jesus has left for me, not peace as the world gives. My heart is not troubled neither is it afraid.

Here’s a direct link, if you’d like to download the Scriptures:
Gregory Dickow Ministries

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church 2013

Here is a special video we’d like to share, produced by “Gospel For Asia,” for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church 2013, coming up this Sunday, November 3.

Every day, believers around the world risk banishment, beatings, imprisonment and death to follow Christ and take His Gospel farther. Perseverance often seems impossible, but when the Lord enables believers to stand strong, He works mightily through their sufferings.

On November 3 (or any Sunday in November), join churches across the nation in lifting up the persecuted through unified prayer. Share this video with your congregation, and let them see how their prayers can strengthen believers and expand God’s kingdom into the most unreached places.

Special Video Testimony: The Power and Opportunity of Resources

Here is a powerful, compelling video testimony produced by “The JESUS Film Project.”
Here is Cheeia, telling her story, of how she accepted Jesus as her Savior, and the way this decision has changed her life, and the lives of many others. It reminds us again how important that just being friendly to others can be … how important it is to read your Bible every day … and to share the gospel message with others … to not be afraid to share what you have with your family … at her family reunion, 37 family members accepted Christ … and, so far, over 60 members of her family have become Christians …

This also makes me realize how powerful-and important-the resources we have now, which we didn’t have even 20 years ago, can be in sharing the gospel, and reaching the world. And, it is the world which we can reach, with all these resources … available in so many different languages …

I remember how important it was to us, when, years ago, a missionary or guest speaker would visit our church, and how thrilled we were that the Bible was “now available” in so many different languages! How important that was! And, how about those radio broadcasts being “beamed” into those countries … Now … it’s not just printed media that is available … but CD, DVD, MP3 downloads, apps for your hand-held device … all capable of bringing the gospel message into lands and peoples not even accessible to missionaries!

That should be thrilling, but for some reason … the thought of a movie telling the gospel message … well, it seems we don’t feel exactly the same way about that sometimes … but, how powerful the message is … “portrayed” and explained in the listeners’ own language … I think that’s a great idea, and there is always a “live” Christian speaker when these films are shown to an audience. I think about how I’ve let a friend or someone at work borrow a “gospel” video, and I’ve seen how the message of the video or DVD has affected them … even without me being there to “hammer home” the message … I think the gospel message is powerful enough to get the point across in any medium … after all, it’s not our power that “hits” them, is it?  

Enjoy this remarkable story from a young college student, who realized the power-and opportunities she received … when she received Christ …


Here’s the link to The Jesus Film Project

Success: Message From Gregory Dickow: You CAN Change

“Change is not something that happens BY you. It is something that happens TO you.”

We wanted to share this short message with you from Gregory Dickow, founder and pastor of Life Changers International Church.

“Do you need something to change in your life? Maybe in your finances, your family, your emotions or your health? Well it’s easier than you think and easier than what most people will tell you.

Yet how often do we feel that changing our lives is a difficult and almost insurmountable challenge? We tell ourselves: “It’s too hard. I’m too old. It’s too late. I don’t have the background or resources, the right education or experience.”
But the truth is: the power to change doesn’t come from anything on the outside. The only pathway to true transformation is from the inside out.

Every day we make the choice to accept whatever thoughts come to our mind, or to fill our mind with God’s thoughts through His Word. Proverbs 23:7 says, as a man thinks, so is he. Therefore what we fill our mind with shapes our entire life.

Real change begins by simply filling your mind with God’s Word. Then it is the power of God’s Word that transforms you from the inside out. Romans 12:2 says “…BE TRANSFORMED…” This is not something that happens BY you. It is something that happens TO you. As you renew your mind to God’s Word, your life begins to supernaturally change. Before you know it, you begin to think differently, see yourself different and treat others different. Before you know it, success and prosperity begin to cling to you, simply because of the way you think.

You might ask, “How long is all this going to take?” Not long. Remember, though it took the children of Israel forty years to get from the wilderness to the Promised Land, it was only meant to be an eleven-day journey! Are you ready to turn your “forty-year” delay into an eleven-day journey?”

To Visit Gregory Dickow Ministries, click here:
Gregory Dickow Ministries

Here is a short video message from Pastor Dickow that we really enjoyed: If we want our lives to change, our thinking has to change:
Remember, “Think right. Act right.”