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Advent & the persecuted church: Simco’s story

December 1, 2023 by Abigail Hart in Advent Season

Week 3 Devotional – Joy: The Shepherds’ Candle

Imagine standing amid the quiet countryside. No passing airplanes or the hum of distant traffic. Just the bleating of sheep under the starry night sky. You’re a humble shepherd in biblical times, watching your flock.

Then, all of a sudden, an angel bursts into the sky. Your first reaction? Pure terror. But the angel hasn’t come in a spirit of fear. It’s here to give the greatest news of all time:

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” –Luke 2:10-11

 In one moment, overwhelming fear. The next, unbridled joy! Not only has the Savior come, but you get to share the news with everyone who has been waiting.

Fast forward to the present day, and Simco gets to share the same good news in the same region where Christ was born. He’s a Bible smuggler in the Middle East, where he manages a secret Bible printing press.

He’s been arrested three times and survived five assassination attempts. But amid the fear, the joy of the Lord is his strength: “The Holy Spirit that I have … He made me really strong and gave me the strength to keep going.”

 Just like the shepherds, Simco gets to tell the incomparable news of Jesus with those he encounters. He delivers Bibles to those far from Christ. He shares the gospel with all who will listen.

When reflecting on the Bible and the good news it holds, Simco says, “These words strengthened me and helped me not even think about giving up.” What joy!

The Christmas season is here! As a token of our appreciation for your continued generosity to our ministry, we put together a Christmas prayer guide to help ready your heart for the coming of our King. You can read the free prayer guide below and reflect on the Biblical events of Christ’s birth, while calling to mind the fruits of the Spirit and the inspiring stories of the persecuted church.

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Prayer of Reflection

Lord, help us choose Your joy this Christmas season. So many things are vying for our attention. Our world is broken. We see angst, fear and panic flicker across our televisions and cell phone screens. But You came to bring the Body of Christ joy. Though the shepherds were first filled with fear, they went out and spread the good news, just as our persecuted brother in Christ, Simco, is doing today. Help us follow their example. Embolden us to share Your Son with all those who will listen, maybe even sharing the story of Christmas through the Advent prayer guide. Let it be a joy we can’t keep silent about. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Questions for Contemplation

• How has God sustained me with supernatural joy during trying times?

• In what ways do I see my persecuted family clinging to joy amid profound hardships?

• What actions can I take to share joy this Advent season? How can I make my prayer life more joyful?

*Please note: Simco’s name has been changed to ensure his safety and anonymity.

About the author
Abigal Hart writes for Global Christian Relief, sharing the inspiring stories of persecuted Christians all around the world. Read the latest Christian persecution stories on our website and learn more at

Have you been inspired by Simco’s story? You can help us get Bibles in the hands of those who need it most. For just $5, you can deliver God’s transforming Word to our persecuted brothers and sisters.

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