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Why We Write

Doing Time for God

By becoming a “Voice” for Persecuted Christians you are entering into the vital and important ministry of “intercession and solidarity” with those who suffer for their faith in Christ Jesus.

As Christian prisoners are “doing time for God”, so you will be spending time, praying, writing and entering into a partnership with the Almighty. You will be “doing time for God”, and sharing His heart and burden for those who suffer because they love Him.

The principles and purposes of this letter-writing ministry mean that you will be endeavouring to protect the rights of prisoners and at the same time, being the voice of the persecuted church. Christian prisoners have the right to be heard; the right to be valued; the right to be defended; and the right to be supported.

The reward for your endeavour will be what many prisoners say. “Whilst doing time for God”, we praise Him that we are not forgotten.” Even in the most horrific conditions and suffering, there can be dignity. This is what you will give to a fellow believer in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Benefits of Letter Writing

Personal letters are tangible evidence to imprisoned Christians, whether they can read them or not, that they are not forgotten. Communist oppressors and other persecutors try to brainwash Christians into believing that no one knows about them, that they are forgotten and unloved.

Letters to prisoners tell the authorities that outsiders are monitoring their activities and it chips away at the theory that the West is apathetic. Mail testifies of the love and unity found among Christians throughout the world, especially when censored.. Letters may result in better treatment and/or earlier release.

Letters demonstrate clearly to authorities that Western Christians and their governments are aware of persecution and human rights abuses.

Writing Guidelines

Writing to Prisoners

Please DO

  • Write in English and write as neatly as you are able to. Your letter must be legible to be translated (Many people study English, so there will often be someone to translate your letter).
  • Express your Christian love and tell them that you are praying for them (then do!) They, in turn, will be praying for you!
  • Keep your letter brief and loving – one page is enough.
  • Include Bible verses.
  • Hand write the address on envelopes accurately and mark it AIRMAIL; make sure the postage is correct.
  • You may include a snapshot of yourself, your family or your prayer group if you want to make your letter even more personal and special.

Please DON'T

  • Do not write about politics or criticise the government.
  • Never mention the source of your information or the name of any organisation such as Voice of the Martyrs. It is not dangerous for a prisoner to receive letters from an individual, but if an organisation is mentioned, they may be accused of links with “foreign organisations” and receive even harsher sentences.
  • Use words that might imply some kind of hidden activity e.g. “thank you for the Christian work that you have done in Vietnam” might imply that the prisoner had done some covert work for a foreign organisation to subvert the government.
  • Build up hopes and expectations of prisoners – and likewise, don’t make any offer of help unless you intend to act on it!
  • Use religious jargon, sermonize, or be presumptuous about the prisoner’s situation, needs or feelings.
  • Quote verses which refer to war, fighting, armour, weapons (eg ‘the sword of the spirit’, ‘fighting the good fight of faith’, ‘the armour of God’ etc).

Writing to Government Agencies

Letters show officials that there are people who know and care what happens to prisoners. Their conditions may be improved as a result. If the authorities think no one cares, the Christian may be imprisoned with dangerous criminals, abused, deprived of food or denied rights to their mail, parcels and visits.

Must Do's

Use the correct honorific.

Be polite. You are representing Jesus Christ.

Do not write about politics or criticize governments.

State a general concern for persecuted believers.

State a specific concern for one or more prisoners.

Whenever possible, give the full name and hometown of the prisoner(s).

State why you are concerned (perhaps they have been beaten).

State what you would like to see done (released, given medical treatment, etc.).

Remember to thank them in advance for their positive actions.

Refrain from quoting Bible verses or preaching.

Do NOT mention VOM or other organizations as it may be used against the prisoner.

Don’t underestimate the power of your letter, your letter will show the authorities that there are people out there who know and care what happens to each prisoner. Their conditions may be improved as a result.

Helpful to Know:

It’s helpful if you find out as much as you can about the prisoner concerned, eg: when and where they were first detained and sentenced, the charges made against them and length of their sentence. Also, the prisoner’s physical condition if known and if they are allowed to receive visits from family and/or their legal help. This info is not always available, but it gives the official you are writing to credible information to go by.

Be brief.

Be polite.

How to Begin and End a Letter

OFFICIAL
SALUTATION
VALEDICTION
Monarch
Your Majesty
Yours respectfully and sincerely
Heads of State
Your Excellency
Yours respectfully and sincerely
Prime Minister
Dear Prime Minister
Yours respectfully and sincerely
Ambassadors or High Commissioners
Your Excellency or
Mr/Mrs...(if you know the name)
Your respectfully or
Yours respectfully and sincerely (if you have used the name)
Local Authorities
Dear Sir/Madam
Yours faithfully
Prison governors
Dear Sir/Madam
Yours faithfully
Judges
Your Honour
Yours faithfully
Military Officials
Dear General, Colonel etc.
Yours faithfully
Members of Parliament
Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms...MP
Yours sincerely
A government minister (outside New Zealand)
Your Excellency
Yours respectfully and sincerely

Writers Groups Around New Zealand

2nd Tuesday/monthly (except January)

10:30am

Contact:

Hilary 021 116 8262

Letters written monthly

Contact:

Barbara 07 868 2300

3rd Wednesday monthly
7:00pm

Contact:

Barbara
handbdejonge@gmail.com

1st Tuesday monthly
7:00pm

Contact:

Jenny 021 0273 5114

3rd Thursday monthly

Contact:

Fran
franvom@gmail.com

Run monthly

Contact:

Ian and Jandy Wilson  

ianjandyw60@gmail.com

0276870390

Second Tuesday of the month
11:00am

Contact:

The VOM team
office@vom.org.nz

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