Legend held that Laksh’s homeland had been cursed for generations. Long ago, it is said, kings used it as a place to dispose of dead bodies and other refuse, and now spirits roamed the land, tormenting the people. When one of the spirits attacked Laksh’s wife, however, he knew she wasn’t suffering because of dead kings. This was the work of jealous neighbors.
Pastor Chanchal prayed fervently as Laksh walked into the other room, and to the amazement of Daivya and the other visitors, peace descended on the home. As the pastor spoke with His God, Udgita became calm.
As soon as he realized what had happened, Daivya rushed over to Pastor Chanchal and asked for the booklet he had used to drive out the evil spirit.
“I did not use any magic book like you,” Pastor Chanchal said, “but I used the Word of God. I have no Bible to give you, but what I can give you is this piece of literature. The Word of God is written in it. You may read it.”
That evening, Daivya couldn’t stop reading the literature. The next morning, he came to Pastor Chanchal’s house full of questions, and by the end of their visit, he had found his answers in Jesus Christ.
“I want you to come over to my house,” Daivya told the pastor, “and if you could help me remove all the religious booklets [and] charms, it would be so kind of you. I will now go to my teachers, and I will tell them of the new things I have learned about Christ.”
Woman’s Husband and Former Witch Doctor Share Christ’s Love
Having seen God’s tremendous power, Laksh and Udgita also decided to follow Christ, and like Daivya, Laksh began telling his co-workers about the One who had given his family new life.
Three-year-old Jishan felt his grip on his father’s finger slip as the crowd jostled them in the marketplace. Suddenly, his father was gone. Strangers surrounded him.
Crying helplessly in the midst of the crowd, Jishan had no idea he would never see his father, mother or sister again.
In the years that followed, Jishan spent many days crying at street corners, hoping his family would find him. Instead, he found disappointment day after day.
Train Ride to a Life of Begging
When a kind man saw little Jishan crying in the market, he took Jishan home to care for him as his own son. Even at such a young age, Jishan’s religious beliefs were strong and contradicted those of his new family. The family treated him very well, but their different beliefs bothered Jishan deeply. Eventually, 9-year-old Jishan ran away and boarded a train bound for a major city.
Upon arriving, Jishan didn’t have a friend in the world. He had nothing to eat for the first two days in the city. To survive, he slept in the train station and partially appeased his gnawing hunger by begging.
“I used to miss my home,” Jishan remembers. “I used to think, What happened to my father? Where is he? I used to cry all alone at the station.”
At one point during the two or three weeks he spent on the streets, a group of boys beat Jishan in the middle of the night and stole the few coins he had earned through begging. Wary of everyone after the attack, Jishan isolated himself from others. But he did not go unnoticed—a loving eye spotted him among the multitudes packed into the city.
A House of Hope
One day, a lady approached Jishan. When she asked what his name was or if he was hungry, he barely answered her. The lady told Jishan about a place he could call home, and after listening to her for a little while, Jishan decided to trust her and accept her help.
The lady brought Jishan to a Gospel for Asia-supported home for street boys. When Jishan arrived, he met the men, women and other rescued boys who would become his family. The staff gave Jishan a bath, tasty food and his very own cot in a room shared with other at-risk boys.
The environment was new for Jishan, but he embraced it. The rooms were kept neat and clean, and there was structure to the days’ events. Jishan had fallen behind in his schooling since running away, and he earnestly wanted to catch up, so the staff arranged for him to receive extra tutoring.
One Big Family
The men and women serving at the boys’ home truly love the children they minister to. As new children enter the home, the staff recognize each child’s individual needs.
“[The children] are already depressed, they are downtrodden,” explained Manik, the project coordinator for the Gospel for Asia-supported boys’ home. “They are not happy, and people despise them in the world outside. If we are not kind to them, if we do not show love to them, they will lose hope . . . and I don’t want that to happen to these children.”
The atmosphere in the boys’ home is that of a big family, with many “uncles,” “aunts” and “brothers” to learn from, play with and cherish. Children who are sullen or dejected when they arrive at the boys’ home soon learn to laugh again through the love shown to them day after day. Jishan quickly recognized this genuine love.
Once, when Jishan experienced trouble with his legs and became weak and tired due to illness, the staff ladies cared for him and served him in many ways. They provided medicine for him and even massaged his weak legs.
“I will never forget the way they have cared and loved me,” Jishan said. “They have served me more than a mother would do to her children.”
Positive Role Models for Life
Jishan, now 16 years old, is a testimony of the love and encouragement the Gospel for Asia-supported staff pour out for the children at this children’s home. Their lives demonstrate gentle yet strong character, and Jishan values their direction and counsel.
“Had that sister not come to the railway station and not met me that day,” Jishan shared, “my life would have totally changed. I would have become very bad and rogue. If I had not met that sister, I would have been into criminal activities, drinking, consuming drugs, maybe stealing, even murdering. Who knows?
“One of the reasons I like the staff here at [the boys’ home],” Jishan continued, “is because even if I do [make a] mistake, they correct me . . . and I don’t feel bad when they scold me because I know that they are trying to correct me. They are trying to teach me what’s right and what’s not right. . . . I know they do it out of love and concern to make my future and my life [better]. I am very grateful and thankful to them.”
Jishan might be miles apart from his biological family, yet he has joy in his heart because of the love showered upon him in Jesus’ name.
Through the kindness and care Jishan received at the Gospel for Asia-supported children’s home, his ambition changed from simply finding some food to fill his stomach to becoming a cricket player and completing his education. What’s more, God’s love has been demonstrated in ways Jishan will remember the rest of his life.
With many peaceful blessings
The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.
This week, we’re delighted to share some good news! It’s always a pleasure to be able to share positive developments with you: I hope that you’re as encouraged by this news as we are!
Our first bit of good news is about about Pastor Nadarkhani, who was arrested along with his wife, Tina Pasandide Nadarkhani, and fellow church member Yasser Mosayebzadeh on 13 May during a raid on his home. Two other people, Saheb Fadaie and Mohammadreza Omidi, were also arrested. We’re pleased to report that Pastor Nadarkhani and his wife were released immediately and Yasser Mosayebzadeh and Sahed Fadaie were released after making excessive bail payments.
However, judges had initially refused to accept Mr Omidi’s bail payment, saying that he faced additional charges. He was eventually released on 7 June and informed he would be “summoned again.”
Staying with Iran, we also have an update on Maryam Naghash Zargaran an Iranian Christian woman who is serving a four-year prison sentence. Maryam has severe health problems that were made worse by her time in prison – we’re relieved to tell you that she’s been released on furlough for treatment.
Finally, we are pleased to report that the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea (COIE) has determined that crimes against humanity have been committed in a “widespread and systematic manner“ by Eritrean officials since 1991; and is urging a swift international response to bring an end to these violations and to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. Together with our partner Human Rights Concern-Eritrea (HRCE), CSW campaigned for the creation of the COIE and the extension of its mandate to include an investigation into crimes against humanity.
We have also been working to bring the human rights violations in Eritrea to the attention of the world for many years, so this verdict is a fantastic answer to prayer!
As usual, you can find your digital edition of this week’s Prayer Diary below.
In summary, please pray:
- Thanking God for the release of Pastor Nadarkhani and Tina Pandide Nadarkhani and for the conditional release of Yasser Mosayebzadeh, Sahed Fadaie and Mohammadreza Omidi;
- That the Iranian authorities would drop all charges against Mr Mosayebzadeh, Mr Fadaie and Mr Omidi;
- For God’s protection for Mr Omidi as he remains in prison;
- For Maryam Naghash Zargaran’s health to improve;
Thanking God for the the COIE report of– and praying it would mark the beginning of effective international action to secure justice for victims of crimes against humanity.
Please join me in praying for all the millions of Christians throughout the world who are suffering great abuse and torture on a daily basis because they have faith and trust in the Lord our God.
Praise be the Lord
With many prayerful blessings
A life of hard labour: A pastor’s sentence
Lim Hyeun-soo, a Korean-Canadian pastor from Toronto, has been sentenced to a life of hard labour for numerous charges – including attempting to overthrow the government and establish a religious state in North Korea.
“Pastors like Lim, who have seen so much of how North Korea treats its prisoners, cannot easily be released,” said an Open Doors field worker. “I don’t see Lim returning home anytime soon.”
Pastor Lim, aged 60, has travelled to North Korea over 100 times to do humanitarian work. Though he was not involved in the country’s underground churches, the harsh sentencing has come after several of months of crackdowns on Christians by the North Korean regime.
“A case like this does outrage the North Korean government,” says the Open Doors field worker. “North Korean believers could be dealt with even more harshly if they are exposed.”
Conditions in the camps
Sources in North Korea have confirmed that, in the recent crackdowns, Christians have been murdered and others have been incarcerated in prisons and labour camps. In both detention facilities, people are starved, tortured and the death rate is extremely high.
“I was locked up for years,” said a North Korean refugee. “I will never forget the prisoners who were too weak to continue their work. The guards would pick them up and put them on an automatic belt that threw them in a large oven while the prisoners were still alive.”
Christianity in North Korea
Christianity is seen as a threat to the North Korean regime: they believe Christians spy for the enemy, meet in secret and, at most, only give lip service to the North Korean government. Such disloyalty deserves severe punishment.
Despite this tragic arrest and others, the church has survived almost 70 years of severe persecution. Between 200,000 and 400,000 Christians still secretly profess their faith.
If you receive the Open Doors Magazine, please look out for some inspiring letters written by North Korean pastors in the next mailing.
For more information about Open Doors and the many Christians who are being persecuted in many countries throughout the world please go to:-
Please join me in praying that our Father God blesses mightily all the Christians who are being persecuted for their faith in Him and to give them the strength to endure all the atrocities perpetrated against them.
In Jesus name
RESPONDING TO ‘ISLAMIC STATE’
Even in the face of the fiercest attacks, the church in Syria has continued to stand. Robert, Open Doors co-ordinator for Syria and Iraq, says: “We observe a new development best described as an ‘internally displaced church’. Every now and then we discover complete parishes adrift. Islamic State confiscated their church building, demolished their valuables, and burned their Bibles.
“Despite this, the priest and his deacons continue holding services. Functions are fulfilled and prayers ascend to God. All tangible elements of the church have disappeared, yet the church as the Body of Christ still functions.”
‘WHO WOULD HELP IF THE CHURCH DOESN’T HELP?’
The church is a vital lifeline for thousands of people in Syria. Pastor Samuel says: “If we did not help the suffering families who have no income, how would they survive? Who would help if the church doesn’t help?”
Open Doors is providing food and other essential items to almost 10,000 families – around 50,000 people – every month through local partners like Pastor Samuel. This is only possible thanks to the faithful prayers and generosity of people like you. A gift of £71 today can provide an emergency food parcel to feed a family of five in Syria for a month.
|With many thanks for your prayers.