The open practice of any religion other than Islam is forbidden here, and conversion to another faith is punishable by death. Most Christians are ex,pats from Asia or Africa. During 2013, several Christian migrant fellowships were raided by police, and tens of worshippers detained and deported. Muslim,background believers run the risk of honor killing if their faith is discovered. Yet a small but growing number of Muslims are coming to Christ and sharing their faith on the internet and satellite TV.
PRAY: Widespread unemployment and increasing discontent amongst young people makes this a breeding ground for extremists. Ask God to halt the spread of extremist views.
That more Muslims will meet Jesus through satellite TV or dreams and visions of Jesus.
In 2013, two men were convicted of proselytizing, and were sentenced to a few hundred lashes and several years in prison. Pray for their release.
Give to Persecuted Christians. Leave a Prayer or Comment. NOTE: Comments which use inappropriate language or attack any individual based off of religion, ethnicity, belief etc will be removed. Take the World Watch List Challenge. Make a huge impact for persecuted Christians.
The World Watch List Challenge is a three part challenge designed to inspire prayer, awareness, and financial support to impact the lives of persecuted Christians around the world.
"We didn't know that people outside of Nigeria knew about the crisis. It is so encouraging to know that other Christians around the world are praying for us."
About Persecution. And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." Matthew 10:22. Persecution is defined as a policy or campaign to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate a people because of their religion, race or beliefs. According to The Pew Research Center, almost 75% of the world's population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions. Many of these people are Christians. So, who are the 75%? Where are Christians facing persecution? Persecution occurs whenever believers are denied the protection of religious freedom, prevented from converting to Christianity because of legal or social threats, physically attacked or killed because of their faith, forced to leave their job or home because of the threat of violence, or imprisoned and interrogated, and often tortured for refusing to deny their faith.
Christians face persecution in more than 60 countries around the world. Each year, Open Doors ranks the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted in the annual World Watch List. You can learn more about Christians who are persecuted (and how you can help them) here at: http://www.worldwatchlist.us It can be disheartening to learn that so many Christians are being persecuted for their faith. But it is key to remember that Christ was persecuted and suffered, to the point of death on the cross. He tells us that if we follow Him, we will be persecuted (John 15:18,21). In 1 Corinthians 12:26, the apostle Paul talks about Christians (as the Body of Christ) facing persecution: "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." Though we may not face persecution, we are called to be united with the part of the Body of Christ that does face persecution daily. The most important way to unite with our brothers and sisters who do face persecution is through prayer.
Romans 15:30 says, "I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me."
One Nigerian widow said, "I didn't know that anyone outside of Nigeria knew what was happening to us Christians. Now that I know that others are praying, I am greatly encouraged."
You can learn more about praying for persecuted Christians, and sign,up for free resources at:
About Open Doors. Open Doors works in the world's most oppressive countries, strengthening Christians to stand strong in the face of persecution and equipping them to shine Christ's light in these dark places. One of the greatest challenges to Christians living under tyranny and oppression is isolation – from God's word and from the body of Christ.
Where other Christian organizations cannot enter or have been forced to flee by oppressive governments or cultures, Open Doors can be found – supplying Bibles, training Christian leaders, developing Christian communities and ensuring prayer, presence and advocacy for these suffering believers. When the Christians are strengthened in the Lord, they begin to demonstrate God's forgiveness and reach out in love, even to their oppressors.
The witness of the persecuted church has a unique power to reach lives and communities that would otherwise never be open to the gospel – but they cannot do it alone.
OUR MISSION. We are a non,profit organization working in the most oppressive countries, providing Bibles and literature, media, leadership training, socio,economic development and ensuring prayer, presence and advocacy for Persecuted Christians.
We strive to raise awareness of global persecution, mobilizing prayer, support and action among the Christians around the world. Every year, we publish our World Watch List which ranks countries by the severity of persecution. Learn more about World Watch List and how Open Doors ranks countries of persecution. About Christian Persecution. "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." Article 18, Universal Declaration of Human Rights. WHAT IS CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION?
Christian Persecution is any hostility, experienced from the world, as a result of one's identification with Christ. From verbal harassment to hostile feelings, attitudes and actions, believers in areas with severe religious restrictions pay a heavy price for their faith. Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and in employment, and even death are just few examples they experience on the daily basis.
According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world's population live in areas with severe religious restrictions. Many of these people are Christians. Also, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in the person of Jesus Christ.
WHERE IT OCCURS?
In the United States, it's easy for believers to take for granted the rights they so regularly enjoy. From praying and worshiping in public to attending Sunday worship services, practice of one's faith is generally accepted in America.
But this isn't the case in many nations such as North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Mali, Syria, etc. in which religion, itself, is banned or where one faith system is permitted and touted, with all others being continually denigrated. The persecution is so severe in many localities, Christians are systematically targeted and mistreated because of their religious beliefs. According to The Pew Research Center, The Economist, Christians today are the most persecuted religious group in the world.
WHERE CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION IS WORST
Every year, we release our annual "World Watch List," a ranking of 50 countries that exposes the places Christians are most persecuted across the globe. World Watch List includes individuals in all Christian denominations within an entire nation.
INDEX OF CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION IN THE MOST UNFRIENDLY COUNTRIES
According to this graph, the statistic shows the index of the persecution of Christians in the top unfriendly countries around the world 2013. North Korea is the country with the strongest suppression of Christians with an index value of 87.The survey for the World Watch List included various aspects of religious freedom: the legal and official status of Christians, the actual situation of Christians living in the country, regulations from the state as well as factors that can undermine the freedom of religion in a country.
WHY IT OCCURS? AUTHORITARIAN GOVERNMENTS SEEK TO CONTROL ALL RELIGIOUS THOUGHT AND EXPRESSION. There are variety of reasons why Christians are persecuted. One of the reason it occurs, is when severe abuse of Christians takes place under the authoritarian government. In the case of North Korea and other Communist countries, authoritarian governments seek to control all religious thought and expression as part of a more comprehensive determination to control all aspects of political and civic life. These governments regard some religious groups as enemies of the state because they hold religious beliefs that may challenge loyalty to the rulers.
HOSTILITY TOWARDS NONTRADITIONAL AND MINORITY RELIGIOUS GROUPS
Another reason why Christians are persecuted is hostility towards nontraditional and minority religious groups. For example, in Niger more than 98 percent of the population are Muslims and hostility comes more from society than from the government. Historically, Islam in West Africa has been moderate, but in the last 20 years dozens of Islamic associations have emerged, like the Izala movement which aims to restrict the freedom of 'deviant Muslims' and minority religious groups like Christians.
THE LACK OF BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS. The lack of basic human rights is another significant part of persecution in some countries. For instance, in Eritrea violations such as lack of freedom of expression, assembly, religious belief and movement; extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, extended incommunicado detention, torture and indefinite national service cause many Eritreans to flee the country. Freedom of religion, like all freedoms of thought and expression, are inherent. Our beliefs help define who we are and serve as a foundation for what we contribute to our societies. However, today many people liver under governments that abuse or restrict freedom of religion. Christians in such areas suffer deeply, and are denied basic freedoms that humans should be entitled to. In 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration came as a result of the treatment of the Jews in Nazi Germany. The document states that every person is entitled to basic human rights. This reaffirmed the dignity and worth of all human beings no matter what a person's race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status. In 1966, the United Nations developed the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights in addtion to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights focuses on four elements of religious freedom:
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions
The Bible calls us to be advocates of human rights. Psalm 82:3 says "Stand up for those who are weak and for those whose fathers have died. See to it that those who are poor and those who are beaten down are treated fairly." As Christians we need to see that all people are entitled to basic human rights.
WHY WE SERVE PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS?
As Christians in the free world, we are to take stand for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a simple matter of compassion and justice to speak up for the suffering (Zechariah 7:9, Luke 11:42, Matthew 25:35,36). In following Christ's example, we are to show mercy to those who are suffering, especially those in the household of faith (I Corinthians 12:26,27).
Financial & Annual Reports. Open Doors USA 2013 Financials. Open Doors with Brother Andrew, Inc. is a 501c(3) tax,exempt organization. All donations made to the organization are tax,deductible. At Open Doors, stewardship is an integral part of everything we do, because we recognize that every resource entrusted to us can transform the lives of persecuted Christians. In 2012, millions of Bibles and training materials have been delivered to children, families and communities in need. Open Doors is a charter member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. To check up on us, please feel free to view our 2012 Annual Financial Report, 990 Form, and our Audited Financial Statements Report.
We believe to strengthen and equip the body of Christ living under or facing restriction and persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ, and to encourage their involvement in world evangelism by providing Bibles, literature, media, leadership training, socio,economic development, and intercessory prayer.
BIBLE AND LITERATURE DISTRIBUTION
A boy receives his bible from Open Doors.
In 2012, Open Doors continued its commitment to placing Bibles and other biblical literature into the hands of the persecuted Church. We have never wavered from our commitment to the principle that the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to do the work of God in the hearts and minds of people. Over 2.4 million Bibles, study materials, and children's curricula were delivered to waiting hands and hearts in 2012.
In the Middle East, over 830,000 Bibles and study materials were distributed while in Africa 50,000 children received their own Bible from Open Doors. One Nigerian boy joyfully exclaimed "now that I have my own Bible I can read it anytime I want!" In Egypt, where Christ,followers are facing increased persecution, Open Doors brought critical assistance with the distribution of more than 160,000 Bibles. In Central Asia, Christian coloring books produced by Open Doors in several native languages were distributed to thousands of children who were introduced to the stories of the Bible for the first time. The delight of owning a Bible was dramatically felt in the words of a young Sri Lankan student whose seminary career had never included a Bible of his own until Open Doors gave him one. "My Study Bible has helped me understand Bible passages better," he shared. "Especially those I preach about on a Sunday."
LEADERSHIP AND PASTORAL TRAINING. Training Leaders to become effective ministers of God's Word for Sama Believers., The conviction that the church is only as strong as its leadership has been a driving value at Open Doors since the beginning. In 2012, over 219,000 church leaders received assistance from Open Doors through seminars offering training in theology, teaching the Bible, leadership, perseverance through trial, discipleship and counseling.
Open Doors took advantage of opportunities in the Middle East to introduce a Trauma Counseling Training course called Captivity and Release. With imprisonment becoming a daily reality in many areas, this training course addresses the unique needs of those who survive the miseries of confinement, interrogation and even torture. Through these sessions church leaders are equipped to come alongside those who are being overwhelmed with waves of despair and spiritual emptiness. We are seeing many find physical, emotional and spiritual healing, and restoration.
Where persecution is rampant, the only hope is a strong biblical foundation and through people,to,people training Open Doors continues to see this hope grow among those whose faith in Christ can mean the reality of daily persecution.
CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT. Open Doors distributed bicycles to needy pastors and evangelists. Often the broader effects of religious persecution go unrecognized by those whose only contact with the persecuted church comes through stories of imprisonment and torture. But many more suffer being ostracized from their neighbors and ruthlessly prevented from making a living, gaining education for their children, and even getting the basic necessities of life.
In 2012 Open Doors served more than 207,000 people through community development projects designed to provide job training, educational opportunities, financial support, church restoration, and medical assistance. In Egypt, 29,500 Christ,followers found themselves in immediate and desperate need. Open Doors was there to help, both spiritually and with the provision of daily essentials. In Central Asia, a young couple was forced from their jobs when the authorities found a Bible in their home. Open Doors stepped in to help them purchase enough livestock to begin a small farm that, under the blessing of God, now supports the family as well as a local church. The wife declared "Helping us in this way gives us wings to continue! Thank you for making all this possible."
PRAYER, PRESENCE AND ADVOCACY MINISTRIES. Praying for Persecuted Believers at National Open Doors Day. Open Doors has always been about being with those who follow Christ at great personal cost. We are privileged to share their suffering, learn from their courage, and champion their cause. In all this, prayer stands at the beginning, at the end, and everywhere in between. Through our prayers God builds His heart in us even as He moves miraculously in the lives of our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters. Through our commitment to being with people we have the privilege of reminding them that they are loved by God, and by our prayer partners around the world. They are not forgotten. Our worldwide teams are actively sharing the grace and truth of Christ with the widows, orphans and prisoners, reminding them that the valley of death can't derail the love and provision of our Savior. The Persecuted Church remains strong, and we are advocating for them at the highest levels of government, using every means possible to promote justice and mercy. Yet, our strongest weapon remains the faithful, heart,felt, and informed prayers of God's people, as we intercede for those who share our faith but not our freedom.
DOWNLOADABLE REPORTS & AUDIT FORMS. "What Do You Want Me To Do For You?" Posted on February 14, 2014 by Janelle in Countries, Stories. Communism, deep spiritual allegiance and persecution are all challenges that Christians in Vietnam face. It is a mainly Buddhist country (52.48%), with a population of over 90 million people. Vietnam is ranked 18 on the Open Doors World Watch List, which is three spots up from its ranking in 2013. Though these challenges are difficult for Christians in this country, they are also opportunities for us to join together and pray for these believers. Jesus had a heart for listening to and learning about the problems that each person he encountered was facing. In Mark 10:51, Jesus asks the blind man, "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus obviously knew that the man was blind, yet just like He does today, he waited for the man himself to declare his need to Jesus.Through this example, we know that we must learn to pray for specific needs on behalf of the persecuted, so that our prayers will rise like incense to God, and we will see change in the world. Here are two stories from Vietnam that we can pray for.
Last January, local authorities refused to grant believers in South Vietnam a permit to hold Sunday worship. Their pastor, Hoan*, had been renting a house for their weekly fellowship for the past eight months. The officers claimed that there was no "red paper"—indicating it was for lease—attached to the said house. The religious pressure took its toll on Hoan's health. "When Hoan learned about Tien's case," said a local source, "Hoan got sick."
In Central Vietnam, a police officer knocked down the door of another house church while it held its worship service on January 5. He demanded that believers write their names on a piece of paper. The youths, for fear of their names reaching their schools, rushed and hid in another room.
The rest of the congregation, however, stood their ground and refused to give their names. The officer pressured the pastor to give the names, and that if he did, the house church would be allowed to continue their worship. The pastor refused and said that the religious regulations—referring to Decree 92—required churches to report only the number of the members, but not their names.
God, we pray for these believers to continue in their boldness, and to not fold underneath the weight and pressure that these local authorities are putting on them. We thank you for their witness, and we pray that many people in their community want to know Jesus because of what these believers are doing. In Central Vietnam, a Christian student Thanh* was estranged from her mother, who had discovered a portrait of Jesus in her daughter's closet. Thanh had just come home from a youth prayer meeting on January 17 when her mother confronted, mocked and cursed her about the portrait. She forced Thanh to recant her faith on paper, and to choose between Jesus and her family.
"Thanh kept quiet," said another local source. "So, her mother got even more infuriated, and told Thanh to leave the house, but she stayed.". The mother would not speak to Thanh since, and the 23 year old university student had to take on a job, so she could continue and finish college. Thanh became a follower of Jesus at the age of eight, and had always wanted to share the gospel to her family. We are so encouraged, God, by the stand that Thanh has already taken. We ask that you would continue to pour Your strength into her. We ask so boldly for You to soften Thanh's mother's heart, and that the gospel would begin to be so beautiful and unavoidable to her.
*Names have been changed and certain details withheld for the believers' protection.
Growing Faith: Letter Writing Campaigns, Posted on February 13, 2014 by Janelle in Countries, Stories. Letter Writing, Ethiopia. When Daniel, a student from Oregon, heard about our letter writing campaigns, he was instantly hooked. His faith has been strengthened through his experience connecting with the persecuted church through letters. He had a project to do for school, and he found a way to incorporate letter writing into it. Here, Daniel shares his experience with us:
When I first heard David's story, I was emotionally disarmed. David, a church leader in Ethiopia (17 on our World Watch List), was attacked by a group of men one fateful morning in his home community. Miraculously, David survived this violent attack and lives on to share his testimony of his love for Jesus Christ and the power of faith. As David so courageously asserts, "The Lord has given me another chance to serve Him. The bullets didn't get me. There were more than 30 attackers. It is by the prayers and support of other believers we survived so far. I can only say God wants me to continue His work here. I have some unfinished business here."
These brave people often live in environments of dire poverty with high crime rates and a complete lack of religious freedom. In spite of the conditions they have to endure, these people clutch firmly onto their faith and rise above the darkness that surrounds them. What they all have in common is not just faith, but hope. I then chose to participate in a letter writing campaign with Open Doors.
When I first began my project I had been given a list of people to write letters to, but I knew that I would need to do a lot of research before delving into my letter writing. I really didn't want to commit the mistake of commenting on situations in places in the world that are very foreign to me without fully understanding the social, political and spiritual climates of the countries where my letters would ultimately be sent. So, off I went, researching places like Ethiopia and Kenya, trying to understand what it is like to live in those parts of the world and what words of encouragement could I offer to the people living there. When the time came to start drafting my letters, I found it to be less intimidating than I had initially thought. Although I struggled at first to find the right words, I quickly discovered that all I really needed to do was speak from the heart. The message I was relaying was simple, but nonetheless important: To keep trusting God no matter what life throws at you. What I discovered in the process of writing these letters was that the things I wrote didn't just have the effect of helping the intended audience; they also had a profound effect on me at a time in my life when I have faced a number of personal crisis's and have had my faith tested.
The most profound realization I came to after engaging with those in the margins is with the right kind of mindset, I have the power to make the world a better place. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "We have for once learnt to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated, the powerless, the oppressed, the reviled—in short, from the perspective of those who suffer."
In the end, I found something that caused my faith to be challenged and gave me a much fuller understanding of the impact that faith, hope and the fight for social justice have on the world. I learned that these three things are closely intertwined and really can't exist without each other. Therefore, I now understand that I have a great responsibility and opportunity to help make the world a better place through my faith and newly enlightened philosophy that hope is the driving force to all positive change in this world. It is a light that God shines down into our darkness that gives us the strength to fight for what matters; for what is true, for what is good, for what is fair and for what is right. He started out with an open mind and a willing heart. That is something that we all can have, and with God's grace, we will begin to learn and see what life is like for the persecuted. We will develop compassion for them in incredible ways, just as Daniel has. We are so humbled by his heart for those in chains around the world, and we pray that all who read his story would be similarly challenged by God, and allow Him to beautifully interrupt their lives.
What Would Your Life Be Like In The Top 10 Countries?
Posted on February 12, 2014 by Daniel in Countries, Stories. feb_newsletter_header. Imagine walking to Bible study, constantly looking over your shoulder to ensure you aren't being followed. Imagine getting ready for church, knowing that nearly 300 churches have been attacked in your country. Imagine knowing that not only you, but your parents, your children and your grandchildren have been sentenced to life in a prison camp because your faith was discovered. These thoughts never cross our minds as we get ready for Bible study, sit in church or when someone discovers our faith. But this is reality for many Christians around the world.
So what's it like to live in the worst places on earth to be a Christian? Take a deeper look at the top ten countries on the 2014 World Watch List: North Korea. For the 12th consecutive year, this is where Christian persecution is most extreme. The God,like worship of Kim Jong,Un and his predecessors leaves no room for any other religion. Forced to meet only in secret, Christians dare not share their faith, even with their families. Anyone discovered engaging in secret religious activity may be subject to arrest, torture or even public execution. Somalia. Islamic leaders and government officials publicly reinforce that there is no room for Christians in Somalia. The Islamic extremist group, al,Shabaab, targets Christians and last year reports indicate that at least ten believers were killed by the group. Christians often hide their faith from one another, for fear of betrayal. Syria. As the conflict inside Syria worsens, targeted violence against Christians has escalated. Many Christians have been abducted, physically harmed or killed, and many churches damaged or destroyed. In October, Islamic extremists invaded the ancient Christian settlement of Sadad, killing at least 45 people, and injuring many more.
Iraq. Islamic terrorist groups are increasing and are aiming to rid the country of Christians. According to a local source, every two or three days a Christian is killed, kidnapped or abused. As a minority group, Christians are an easy target for kidnappers.
Afghanistan. The country remains unstable, and Islamic extremist groups continue to gain power. Christianity is considered a 'Western' religion and those who leave Islam face pressures from family, society and local authorities. An Afghan politician recently called for the execution of converts to Christianity. There is no public church.
Saudi Arabia. The open practice of any religion other than Islam is forbidden and conversion to another faith is punishable by death. During 2013, several Christian migrant fellowships were raided by police, and many worshippers were detained and deported. In spite of all this, a growing number of Muslims are coming to Christ. Maldives. To be Maldivian is equated with being Muslim, so officially there are no Maldivian Christians, only expatriate Christians. The law prohibits conversion to other faiths, and those who do so face losing citizenship. There are no church buildings, and the few Maldivian Christians must hide their faith to avoid being discovered.
Pakistan. The notorious blasphemy laws continue to have devastating consequences for Christians. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable, and sexual assaults against underage Christian girls by Muslim men continue to be reported. A twin bomb attack on Anglican All Saints Church in Peshawar left 89 people dead. Iran, Since Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's warning of the ever,expanding influence of house churches, the treatment of Christians has rapidly worsened. The regime monitors church services, arrests converts, bans Farsi language services and has closed some churches. However, the church continues to grow. Yemen. There is some religious freedom for foreigners here, but evangelism is prohibited, and Yemenis who leave Islam may face the death penalty. Muslim,background believers are forced to meet in secret. Christians are believed to be under surveillance by extremists. World Watch List Challenge, 5 Afghanistan. Posted on February 10, 2014 by Emily in Countries, Stories. Afghanistan. "When Satan fell to earth, he fell in Kabul." This saying is sadly heard all too often in Afghanistan. Life in war,torn Afghanistan is hell on earth for many of its citizens. And for Christians, it's even worse… All Afghan Christians come from a Muslim background. If it becomes known that someone has converted to Christianity, he or she will face discrimination, hostility and severe persecution from their family, friends, community, local authorities and Muslim leaders. Due to this severe persecution, not a single official church remains in Afghanistan. Secret believers in Afghanistan are asking Christians worldwide to join them in prayer for their country. Here are their top five prayer requests: 1. The Christians in Afghanistan form a small church. Many are not part of a network of Christians. They feel isolated, and often do not know who to trust. Pray that the underground church is able to unite and to grow. 2. Christians are extremely vulnerable. Their families feel obliged to save the family honor by forcing them to reconvert. If that does not happen, Christians can be disowned, banished, abused, kidnapped or even killed. The authorities and extremist groups form another threat to the lives of Christians. 3. In 2014, the American troops will pull out of the country. There are many scenarios of what could happen. Extremists could seize power, or the government could work together with these extremist groups. Unless God intervenes, freedom of religion does not seem probable. 4. Thank God for the many Afghans who listen to Christian radio stations or download Christian materials from the internet. Some are genuine (but isolated) believers, others are disappointed in Islam and want to know more about Jesus Christ.
5. Every year, Christians lose their life for their faith. Often, these cases go unreported, but the pain and trauma of those who are left behind are immense. Pray that God heals the families of martyrs and makes them strong so they can endure in these difficult times.
*Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes
Thoughts From Our Founder: 5 Essential Questions About The World Watch List
Posted on February 7, 2014 by Janelle in Stories
Brother Andrew. In 1955, a young man responded to God with obedience to help those being persecuted in the world. 60 years later, our founder Brother Andrew (85) still has that contagious yearning to be right alongside our brothers and sisters experiencing on,going persecution worldwide. Brother Andrew cannot help but be concerned about what is going on in the world. For the Open Doors Magazine, he shares his perspective of the new World Watch List.
What does the new World Watch List show you?
Persecution is not decreasing, but in 2/3 of the countries on the World Watch List, it is only increasing. In this respect, the World Watch List worries me, even though it is a good means of gaining ideas for prayer. Do you then pray for all the countries that are on the list?
I focus on the countries with which I am still closely involved: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Syria has joined these. I find it very worrying that a country like Syria, with a Christian background, is being destroyed like this. We must be present in these countries, as witnesses to Christ, in the same way that we must make the Word of God heard in all the places where we are in the world. In the Netherlands and Belgium, we can certainly do this by making the news of the list heard: these things are happening to our brothers and sisters around the world. Looking back on the year 2013, which event made the greatest impression on you? That I was able to pray with leaders of terrorist movements in the Middle East. They know full well that I do not agree with them, and still I am welcome there. I prayed for various leaders. They allowed this, and I can tell that they are seeking. I recall that I prayed with one and clearly mentioned the name of the Lord Jesus. When I said "Amen", he also confirmed the prayer with a sincere "Amen". Which development on the World Watch List worries you? That countries where previously there was previously no persecution are now suddenly shooting up. I am referring specifically to countries in Africa, such as the Central African Republic. This increase mainly has to do with the growing influence of Islam. No one will be able to do anything about this as long as we keep calling Muslims 'terrorists' and 'the enemy'. Anything you oppress and reject is actually going to grow. You see this happening with the persecuted Church, which is growing despite oppression, but you also see it happening with radical Islam. How can we bring about a change in this? We must bring about a change in our thinking. As long as we make out all radical Muslim groups to be terrorists and condemn people in advance, tension will continue to exist between Christianity and Islam. I have difficulty with putting groups into boxes. On a political level, it is so quickly decided who the enemy is and whom we must support. But who is it about? Everyone falls under the great commission in Matthew 28:19, 'Go and make disciples of all men, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have taught you.' I keep to this and feel called to sincerely to love people because God loves them. Even if you are treated discourteously, remember your own attitude: show yourself to be a Christian. Do what Jesus did. Being a man devoted to prayer and involvement, Brother Andrew sets the tone for Open Doors. He understands the importance of being one with those being persecuted worldwide, and the importance of loving their persecutors. Through his example, we can learn so much. Join us in prayer for not only our own eyes to be opened to the role we must individually play, but also for these brothers and sisters to stand strong amongst their intense circumstances. Check out our World Watch List to find out how you can be praying specifically for each nation. President Obama Talks About Persecuted Christians At The National Prayer Breakfast
Posted on February 6, 2014 by Joshua in News
20130207, prayer, breakfast, (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
David Curry, CEO of Open Doors USA in Washington D.C. sharing his thoughts on President Obama's remarks. Today, at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama spoke about the global persecution of Christians. "Yet even as our faith sustains us, it's also clear that around the world freedom of religion is under threat," said President Obama. The President went on to speak about countries such as North Korea, Iran, The Central African Republic and Nigeria (where nearly 300 churches were attacked last year). During his speech, he highlighted the peril of those enduring religious persecution. He specifically urged North Korea to release Christian missionary Kenneth Bae and for Iran to release Christian pastor Saeed Abedini. "I am encouraged by President Obama's support for persecuted Christians and other faith groups in such places as North Korea, Iran and other countries around the world," Curry says. "With the number of martyred Christians almost doubling last year from 1,201 to 2,123, according to Open Doors researchers, it is past due for a new focus in the State Department and our entire government to support the value of religious freedom worldwide and in our own country." Open Doors unveiled the 2014 World Watch List (which ranks the top 50 countries where Christians face the greatest persecution) in January at the National Press Club in Washington DC. Of the countries on the list, 66% saw an increase in persecution from the previous year. North Korea topped the list as the most difficult country in the world to be a Christian for the 12th consecutive year. The global persecution of Christians is increasing and cannot be ignored. Join with us in spreading the word about their plight and coming along side our brothers and sisters in prayer. You can sign up to receive more resources at http://www.worldwatchlist.us.
You Can Do Something For Christians In The Central African Republic
Posted on February 5, 2014 by Janelle in Countries, Stories. Central African Republic
"The pastor of the first site told us that 4,000 people are packed into the church compound," says the Open Doors Field Director for West and Central Africa. He is in Bangui, capital of war,torn Central African Republic (CAR), to encourage believers, assess the needs of persecuted Christians and to meet with senior church leaders. "The numbers are swelling day by day. The French and African Union troops are limited in number, and the Seleka have not yet been disarmed. Although the ex,rebels know their time is up, they still cause trouble in various places. New families keep arriving in the camps, indicating that security remains a problem in many areas in town. For camp staff, major challenges include the provision of water, sanitation and food. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has provided some large shelters, and the Red Cross has dug some pit latrines and set up improvised washing areas."
As his report indicates, the situation in CAR is dire. Sometimes when we read reports like this, we feel hopeless, like there is nothing we can do to help our suffering brothers and sisters.
However, there is a way you can help Christians in CAR (and it will take less than a minute to do)!
Last week, several organizations started advocating for more troops on the ground in CAR. Join with us and these other organizations by sending tweets to Dlamini Zuma. Zuma is a South African politician, and is also the chairperson of the African Union Commission, the executive/administrative branch of the African Union.
Join with us and ask your colleagues, friends, family and others to tweet and raise their voice for the Central African Republic. Here is a tweet to get you started:
@_African Union Please approve UN Peacekeeping Operation to CARcrisis with at least 10,000 soldiers to prevent disaster DlaminiZuma ODCAR. Thank you for standing with persecuted Christians in CAR! World Watch List Challenge, 4 Iraq. Posted on February 3, 2014 by Emily in Countries, Stories. Iraq. The body of Salem Dawood Coca was found in his truck on the 8th of July, one month after he had been abducted. Salem was a 63 year old water truck driver known for his kindness. He left behind his wife and three children. Since his truck was rigged with explosives, the police believe that he was killed after he had refused to do a suicide bombing. A fieldworker says that this suicide bombing wasn't the only thing the kidnappers tried to force Salem into: "I believe that they also wanted to force him to convert to Islam and attack Christians, which this man very bravely refused. This man seems to have stood for his faith until the last moment."
The kidnappers had contacted Salem's family, saying that Salem was a 'Christian infidel,' but didn't demand a ransom. According to the same fieldworker, this shows that the kidnappers' intention was to intimidate and scare the Christians of Nineveh. Sadly, this isn't the first incident indicating this. "Muslim extremists often come from the outside with the clear goal of driving the Christians away," shares the field worker. "An example is the kidnapping and killing of the former Archbishop of this area, Paulos Faraj Rahho, that happened three years ago. Despite these incidents, Christians are unashamed to wear the cross in what Muslims feel should be an Islamic state.
*Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes
Quotes of Hope: Iraqi Social Media Posts. Posted on January 29, 2014 by Janelle in Countries, Stories. While you may be the biggest fan or most outspoken against Facebook or Twitter, we are praising God today for His hand in using social media to bring people around the world to Himself. As you may recall from the revolution in Egypt a few years ago, social media is undoubtedly playing a key role in the organization and execution of social movements. In this unique blog post, our fieldworkers have gathered some posts for social media discussing persecution in Iraq, and the hope for the church within all of it. Young IDP (Internally Displaced Person): "That people have died because they rather die than deny their faith gives me hope: it shows me that Christianity is strong." Bishop Nicodemos of the Syrian Orthodox Church: "I have faith that one day all Christians that have fled will return to Iraq." IDP that has fled from place to place because of the violence: "In all these years I have been moving around, I never felt like my life was difficult, because God was with me all the time. When I was in need, he provided for me in miraculous ways. Like the time that I had to give birth to one of my children, and there were a lot of bombs outside. I had to bring myself to the hospital because there was no electricity, and the doctor asked me, "How is it humanly possible that you reached this hospital alive in your state of pregnancy?" I said, "God is always there." Sister from Erbil: "Yes, being a Christian is difficult in this country. When I was a child, I had to attend Islam classes because they taught Arabic at the same time, and if I would leave the class, the teacher wouldn't explain the Arabic to me. Still I have always felt strong and special as a Christian because I know I belong to God." Muslim background believer: "The presence of Christ gives me hope. I feel His presence even in places where people aren't good to me. Humans don't give hope, only Christ does." Brother from Erbil: "As a human I have no hope left. But because of Christ, I have hope." Brother from Baghdad: "Even if there is a bomb attack today, tomorrow we will go back to work, because we are convinced that Jesus cares for us. He will restore His Kingdom one day, this is my hope." Kurdish background believer: "Living as a Christian in a Muslim world isn't easy; I have to hide my Bible, but the contact with my fellow believers makes me strong." IDP who experienced violence from nearby: "I can't imagine living without my faith. Prayer helps me so much in this situation. I can overcome my problems when I pray. I feel God's power in me when I ask God to help me." Fieldworker: "I have hope because I see God is working in the hearts of Muslims in Iraq. Even if all the Christians from traditional churches leave Iraq, Christianity will stay, because God is building a church with Muslim background believers."
Priest of a small Christian village: "I have hope because God answered my prayers. I asked God to send me someone to help me to educate my congregation, and he sent you!"
Syrian Orthodox Clergyman: "Most of my family left the country, but I don't feel alone, because I see the church as my family." God, we ask You to open our eyes to strategic ways that we can use social media for Your glory. Teach us to depend on You for each moment, just as these brothers and sisters do. Help us to keep these believers always on our mind so that we can be praying continually for them, because we believe that prayer changes things. We praise you for who You are, and for the great mercy you have shown us. In Jesus' holy name, Amen.