Growing up in predominantly Muslim Bangladesh, Fedu’s life was permeated by Islam. His father was an imam, and his grandfather told him stories of pilgrimages to Mecca. Fedu studied at an Islamic school, and, like his father and three brothers, became a Muslim scholar and imam, eventually teaching at a mosque in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka. While working at the mosque one day in 1996, Fedu met a student named Azad from a nearby college. The two struck up a conversation and quickly became friends. However, when Fedu learned two years later that Azad had become a Christian, he began to worry about him. He knew Muslims at his mosque would find out about Azad’s conversion, and he also knew the local Muslim authorities were some of the worst persecutors of Christians in Bangladesh. Instead of standing up for his friend, Fedu stopped talking to him altogether. Then, 15 years later, Fedu received a call from Azad, who had felt God nudging him to reconnect with his old friend. As the two caught up on each other’s lives, Azad mentioned how Jesus had changed his life. And when they finally met in person, Azad gave Fedu a Bible and

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Categories: Stories from the Field

Emmanuel resented his father’s ministry work in Vietnam and the repeated imprisonments it caused. But as he saw God working through him, his own work began to mirror his father’s commitment. Emmanuel has many painful childhood memories. He will never forget the fear he felt every time Vietnamese authorities arrested his father while preaching at a Sunday service or while teaching believers from various tribes at their home. He would sometimes cling to his father’s leg, trying to prevent the police from taking his daddy. And he still remembers the loneliness and abandonment he felt while his father was imprisoned. Emmanuel resented his father’s work, and it didn’t end when his father was out of prison. The resentment resurfaced every time his father was unable to attend a special school event because of his ministry work. Emmanuel often climbed to the top of a coconut tree to cry and vent his frustration toward his father and God in private. Then, at age 11, Emmanuel’s bitterness reached a new level as his father began to serve what became three years in prison. “I got angry with my father,” Emmanuel said. “Sometimes I didn’t even want to visit my father in prison.”

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In late February 2015, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) moved into a historically Christian region in northeastern Syria, driving Christians out of a dozen villages. Raman, an Assyrian Christian, and the rest of his village’s 130 households had known the attack was coming. For the first part of the war, the area was under Kurdish control. As the war progressed, ISIS moved in and established a camp just two miles from the village. Both sides sought the strategic location of the village, which was located at the top of a mountain. For several weeks before, ISIS fighters had shopped in the village weekly for vegetables. The jihadists warned the villagers to leave as there would be a battle. The men sent their wives and children away for protection, and they prepared to defend the village. Then on a Friday morning, ISIS soldiers appeared at the historic Assyrian church that had been standing for centuries. They told the Christians, “We are an Islamic nation. Remove the cross from your church.” The next day, they returned with two trucks full of men with weapons, and they threatened the priest: “If you refuse, we will cut your neck.” “We obeyed,” Raman said. “We

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The terrified couple clung to each other inside their one-room home while the mob of angry Muslims outside shouted insults and threats: “They have burned the Holy Quran! We will teach them a lesson!” Shama cried as her husband, Shahzad, tightened his arms around her and began to pray. At 6 a.m., more than 500 Muslims had gathered outside the young couple’s home near the brick kiln where they worked as bonded laborers. Shama’s husband couldn’t believe the events of the last few months had come to this. Indentured Workers in Pakistani brick kilns Shahzad, his father and four brothers moved to the brick kiln near Kot Radha Kishan, Pakistan, in 2000, when Shahzad was 16. As poor Christians (Pakistan’s lowest social class), they had few employment options. While the work in a brick kiln was grueling, it at least provided them food and a place to sleep. However, as often occurs with poor Christians in Pakistan, the family soon became indebted to the brick kiln owner. The debts are eventually passed on to the children, indenturing many families for life. Although Shahzad’s family was Christian, his father, Nazar, became friends with Muslims living near the kiln. He often read

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Categories: Stories from the Field

Sept. 11, 2014, began as a happy day for Mary Patrick. She and her older sister were walking to a wedding in a nearby village with the bride-to-be and the bride’s younger sister. But their lives, like those of many other young women in Nigeria, changed forever with the terrifying sound of yelling and gunfire. Mary, who was 24 years old, quickly hid in a nearby house with the others when the Boko Haram attack began in Adamawa state, in northeastern Nigeria. They hid in the house for four days before being captured while trying to escape. “The only thing I was thinking when they took me is that I will die,” Mary said. “I know they will kill me. I’m just praying to God everything that I do that is wrong, that the good Lord will forgive me.” The horror that Mary faced during four months of captivity with Boko Haram became clear to a front-line worker when he tried to buy her a meal. “I wanted to buy food for her and bought some meat,” the worker said. “She told me she couldn’t eat the meat. She said, ‘In the camp they used to eat human flesh, so

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“If you come to Islam, you will become super rich.” Andrew and a group of young men from nearby villages listened intently to the sheikh’s words. “You will also be worshiping the real god,” he told them. Although Andrew had been raised as a Christian in his Tanzanian village, he was not well grounded in the faith. So he didn’t need to think long about the sheikh’s promises before deciding to follow Islam. Andrew was so drawn to the teachings and promises of Islam that even the two-hour walk to the mosque failed to deter him. He was also very attracted by the radical words of the charismatic sheikh. “He told us how he killed people,” Andrew said, “and if we are going to stand up for Islam, we need to be ready to give our lives and kill the enemy.” The sheikh, who was preparing Andrew and the other young men for service with the Somalian Islamist group al-Shabab, also taught them how to use machetes and guns. Waging jihad, or “holy war,” against those perceived to be enemies of Islam, al-Shabab makes no secret of its goal to eradicate Christianity from Somalia. And it has been exporting its

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Despite being threatened with death and disowned by family members, Dawo was determined to share the gospel with the Fulani people. And his determination hasn’t wavered since losing his brother. The day after Dawo’s cousin burned Dawo’s Bible and kicked him out of the house, 20 young men surrounded the new believer, wrestled him to the ground and tied his hands and feet together with rope. When he had placed his faith in Christ three days earlier, he couldn’t have imagined that what he was about to endure would change so much for so many. As a member of the Fulani people group, it was assumed that Dawo was and would remain Muslim. He had moved in with his cousin in a large city in Bauchi state, Nigeria, intending to enroll in an Islamic school. However, his path was radically altered by a series of vivid dreams in which he saw heaven and encountered Jesus. Prompted by the dreams, he used the little money he had to purchase a Bible and learn more about Christianity. What he learned led him to abandon his traditional Fulani religion to follow Christ. Moved by the realization that he had received salvation, he declared

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Laila’s husband was away, and she was left to care for their two children alone. It was a cold winter in Central Asia, and her landlords had just kicked her out. “If you don’t leave, we’ll burn the house — and burn you too, if you stay,” they had told her. Laila and her family had been rejected for sharing Christ in the village, so they decided to shake off the dust, pack up and leave. The family had endured many difficulties and would continue to do so, but they felt it was worth it. It all began when Laila picked up a piece of trash from the floor. FINDING GOD THROUGH TRASH Laila sat in a hospital waiting room while her husband prepared to undergo surgery for bleeding ulcers. He was not expected to survive, and she felt absolutely hopeless. Noticing some discarded trash under a bench, she picked up the crumpled piece of paper, smoothed it out and saw that it was a Christian newsletter sharing the testimonies of other Christians. “I wanted to find other stories like this, so I asked my sister-in-law,” she said. It turned out that her sister-in- law had also become interested in

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Melissa was just four years old when she lost her mother. On July 1, 2012, she went to church with her mother in Garissa, Kenya, as usual. Melissa went to Sunday school while her mother, Sandra, joined in worship with other members of the Africa Inland Church. But the service ended abruptly when gunmen burst into the sanctuary and opened fire on worshipers. Melissa huddled with the other children in Sunday school as worshipers ran from the building. Later, after other parents had collected their children, Sandra’s best friend picked up Melissa and told her that her mother was in the hospital. The next day she was told that her mother had died. The attack, carried out by members of the militant Muslim group al-Shabab, had killed 14 believers and injured 58. Twelve children were orphaned that day, and The Voice of the Martyrs has helped support them since the attack. Melissa is being cared for by her elderly grandparents. Like many in the area, they are subsistence farmers in a drought-prone region where crops are undependable. The support from VOM will help ensure that Melissa is able to attend school and that she and her family will always be

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Many of the attack victims being cared for at a Christian-run rehabilitation hospital in Gboko, Benue state, Nigeria, cannot hide their wounds. Casts and crutches clearly identify which limbs have been hacked at — or cut off — by a Muslim extremist’s machete. But the wounds that 25-year-old Solomon Samaila received in a December 2013 attack on his village in Taraba state, Nigeria, are less apparent. He has to show you. After quietly and patiently sharing his story of the attack, he takes off his T-shirt and turns toward the wall. The scars and blistering on his back show that he has suffered severe burns. The burns are the price Solomon paid for refusing to deny Jesus as Lord. It’s a price he humbly accepts. “Christ, Himself, suffered,” he said. “The salvation that I have in Christ was not free, but paid with a price to save me. So I equally feel I am prepared to suffer in persecution for the salvation I have in Christ. I won’t turn back.” Attacked by Neighbors The attack on Solomon’s village wasn’t carried out by Boko Haram insurgents from the north or by Muslim Fulani herdsmen, who also attack Christian villages. It was

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