True stories for children - 2

Suffering for Jesus 

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New Words:

Communist: Someone who believes that everything must be owned or controlled by the government, even what people think and believe.
Compromise: Changing what you believe or think in order to agree.

"What are you suffering for Jesus?" asked Markus, a ten-year-old boy living in the Soviet Union.*

His question may sound strange to American children. But for Markus, it seemed perfectly normal. His own suffering had shown him how God takes care of those who follow Jesus, no matter what others say.

When Communist leaders took control of Markus's country, they tried to stop Christians from talking about Jesus. They didn't want people to read the Bible or trust God. So when his brave parents continued to tell others about the God they loved, they were sent to prison.

The angry new rulers placed the frightened boy in a special training camp. There he would learn to think like a Communist and forget about God. But Markus didn't forget. Nor would he join the other children who made fun of Jesus. He would rather be alone than have friends who hated God.

He refused to compromise; he wouldn't change his beliefs and follow the group. That upset his teachers, and they embarrassed him in front of the other students. Markus hurt inside, but he couldn't turn to his parents for help. He didn't even know if he would ever see them again. He felt terribly lonely, but he still wouldn't join those who mocked his Lord.

Instead, he cried out to God for help, and something exciting happened. Jesus became his best friend. Day after day, Jesus gave Markus the courage to say "no" to the Communist leaders who wanted to destroy his faith. It didn't matter how much his teachers pressured him to change his mind, Markus stayed faithful to God. In fact, the greater the pressure, the more strength and courage he received from Jesus.

All the time, God was watching and protecting him. So it's not surprising that one day, Markus was released from the camp and returned to his family. But he didn't forget the wonderful things he had learned through his suffering for Jesus. He knew, without a doubt, that Jesus was always with him. Nothing was too difficult when he trusted his faithful Friend. Rejection couldn't crush him, nor could loneliness. Nor could the Communist tactics for changing the beliefs of children.

Instead, Markus had learned to know Jesus far better than most Christian children do today. No wonder he believes persecution is a special gift God gives to His best friends.

God's Word

The Bible tells us that Christians are different from those who don't know Jesus. That makes a lot of people angry. They want everyone to be the same. They also want people to accept new beliefs and values that oppose God's truth. But our God is the King of the universe, and nothing can block His plan for each of us. We may face hard times, but He has given us some very special promises to encourage us. Here is one of them. If you know the following promise, it will help you stay close to Jesus -- no matter what happens:

        ". . . we are children of God, and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him. . . .
        "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
(Romans 8:16-17, 37-39)

Let's talk about it

1. What happened to Markus and his parents when they continued to tell others about Jesus?

2. How did God encourage Markus?

3. What does God promise those who are willing to suffer with Him?

4. What would you answer if Markus asked you, "What are you suffering for Jesus?"

*This story, retold in my words, came from a children's book titled, What made them so Brave? Markus was not his true name. If you want to order this special book for your family, click on Kanaan and scroll down to the last item.

Remember -

Jesus isn't surprised at the growing hostility toward Christians. He told us to expect it:

"If they persecute me; they will persecute you because they do not know the One who sent me." (John 15:20-21)

If you trust and follow Him, the people who reject your Lord will probably reject you also. Are you ready to follow Jesus-­even when it hurts?

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