Archive

  • World Cup: John Bostock answers 15 quick fire questions

    Professional footballer and Ballers in God founder John Bostock answers 15 quick fire questions – Who’s the best player he’s played with? Who is toughest opponent he’s ever faced? How has he been inspired by the persecuted church?

    These questions, and more, are answered in this Q&A as we seek to raise prayer for the seven countries playing in the World Cup where living as a Christian can be dangerous.

    Find out more about how you can tackle persecution at the World Cup here…

    Find out about Ballers in God…

  • Finding Jesus through Google

    The World Cup is underway, featuring two nations on the Arabian Peninsula that are on the World Watch List – Saudi Arabia and host nation Qatar. Living as a Christian on the Arabian Peninsula can be dangerous. But it’s not stopping thousands of people having online conversations about Jesus with an Open Doors team, which is leading to some 200 face-to-face conversations each year. And it all begins with Google.

    Online opportunities

    “On the Arabian Peninsula, a person who is searching to know more about the Christian faith cannot enter a church,” says Daniel*, who is helping lead this ministry. “In Saudi Arabia, there are no churches. In the other countries, the churches are only accessible to foreigners. For example, in Qatar or in the United Arab Emirates, every person who enters the church compound is checked, and only foreigners are allowed in.”

    Given that many Christians on the Arabian Peninsula are secret believers, finding someone to ask about Jesus is difficult and risky.

    “When a Christian ex-pat living in one of the countries on the Arabian Peninsula wanted to meet with a seeker, or even a new believer, in the era before the internet and social media, he would try to meet with people face-to-face in coffee shops and cafés. But that was very risky; ex-pats were kicked out of countries as soon as their activities were discovered.”

    But following the Arab Spring just over ten years ago, access to the internet and mobile phones grew, and this presented a new opportunity.

    “Our focus turned to using the internet to connect with searchers,” says Daniel. “The internet is anonymous, although governments on the Arabian Peninsula are monitoring what people do on social media.”

    “Who is Jesus?”

    But there was another challenge. When seekers ask questions – such as “Who is Jesus” or “Do Christians believe in three Gods?” – the first websites to appear aren’t always the most helpful for those seeking or are new to faith. The Open Doors team began work on creating content – including videos, animations and frequently asked questions – that would appear prominently on searches.

    According to Daniel, ‘tens of thousands’ of people ask such questions every year, thousands of which lead to online conversations with a member of a follow-up team. This is resulting in some 200 face-to-face meetings each year.

    It may sound like a low number, but Daniel has a different take on it. “This is so much more than before the internet when foreigners on the Peninsula would go to coffee shops to get in contact with random people and start a conversation hoping to meet a seeker. That didn’t lead to so many good conversations as we have nowadays.

    “When a person really is interested, we arrange such a meeting within 12 to 24 hours after the online meeting. Open Doors makes those face-to-face meetings possible. The situation on the Arabian Peninsula is different from the West. Sometimes a woman must take a taxi and drive for an hour to get to a place where she can meet someone safely. Sometimes the seekers don’t have the money to sit in a coffee shop to have a conversation.”

    Brave encounters

    Unsurprisingly, the face-to-face meetings are the trickiest – and riskiest – part of the journey, particularly for native seekers. To help address this, the Open Doors team will often send a local and a foreigner to a meeting, because the seeker is more likely to trust the latter. But it’s not just those searching that take a risk when having a meeting. “Sometimes the seeker can be a person who pretends to be a seeker,” says Daniel.

    This ministry has already to led people encountering Jesus. You can help not only by praying, but by clicking some of the below links, because the more they’re used the greater chance they will appear higher on people’s searches and therefore deemed a reliable source of information. Thank you for your prayers and support for our brothers and sisters on the Arabian Peninsula!

    1. Home page (website name means “Growing in Christ” and is for seekers and disciples of Jesus)

    https://annamu-fi-almassih.com

    2. Questions (think gotquestions.com)

    https://annamu-fi-almassih.com/الأسئلة/

    3. Articles (think desiringgod.com)

    https://annamu-fi-almassih.com/مقالات/

    4. Verses

    https://annamu-fi-almassih.com/آيات/

    5. Basics about Christianity (common misconceptions, what is the Bible, who is the Christian God, etc)

    https://annamu-fi-almassih.com/الأساسيات-ف-المسيحية

    *Name changed for security reasons

  • Saudi Arabia: Adam’s brave faith story!

    There have been a few shocks so far in the World Cup – not least, Saudi Arabia beating Argentina in the group stages. But, whilst we might see the country as an under-dog on the footballing stage, inside the country, the tiny Christian population are the true underdogs, dealing with violence, arrest, prison and exclusion. Adam’s* story, highlights just what is at stake for those who choose to follow Jesus.

    Adam grew up a Muslim. He comes from a Yemeni background but has spent most of his life in Saudi Arabia. When Eve*, his sister-in-law, became a Christian four years ago, her family asked Adam to convince her to return to Islam – but her faith inspired Adam to give his life to Jesus.

    Since then, Adam has faced multiple charges – including inciting others away from Islam and helping Eve to flee the country because of persecution – and has spent time in prison. Last July, he sent his family abroad while he battled the accusations. A month later, Adam was convinced to join them following a brutal attack that left him severely wounded and visibly discouraged.

    “I’d like to thank every brother and sister who prayed for me and contributed to getting us a place to live together,” Adam shares from a safe country where Open Doors local partners are helping the family settle. They have joined a church with other Yemeni believers. The two children are studying to become dentists.

    Meanwhile, Adam is learning to shake off the false guilt that accompanied his escape. “It took a while for him to be freed from the feeling of failure,” says Hakeem*, a family friend. “We showed him the example of Paul in the Bible. When people searched for Paul, Christian friends helped him to flee the city [Acts 9:25].

    “We don’t encourage Christians to leave their country,” Hakeem continues. “But this was an emergency. Adam had gone through too much, and it could put other Christians at risk. He was really in danger, that is why we helped him. If he had stayed, things wouldn’t look good for him and for others.”

    “I feel that today I can live again,” Adam says. “Your prayers have been answered. What we need in this world is to turn to God in prayer for the church and for the sake of others. God listens to the true prayers. If we pray, we will feel His presence and we will have His guidance.”

    Pray now…

    • That the family will heal from trauma
    • That Adam will soon find work to support his family
    • That Adam’s sons will thrive in their faith and studies.

    Do something…

    1. Get our free World Cup prayer wall chart and pray for Christians facing persecution from countries in the tournament.
    Download yours here…

    2. Download our free Christmas session outline! Grab a free Christmas session outline to use in your youth/small groups in the build up to Christmas!
    Get it here…

    3. Pray regularly: Every Monday night at 7pm we’ll be praying one prayer for one minute for the one in seven Christians around the world who face persecution. Set an alarm and tune in…

    *Name changed for security reasons

  • China: Heavy fines and prison

    You’ve probably heard about the current Covid-19 lock down protests in China. People have been arrested for questioning the strict lock-down measures, whilst others have been detained simply for taking photos of the protests. It shows just how tightly the Chinese government want to control the way people think, behave and relate to their authority. But it’s not just anti lockdown protestors that are facing the wrath of the government. For the last several years, the pressure facing Christians has been increasing.

    Recently, a 41-year-old Christian has been fined the equivalent of £17,000 (150,000 Chinese yuan) for hosting what was described as an unauthorised religious training event. The heavy fine is the latest in a series of punishments being handed out for Christian activity considered ‘unauthorised’ by the authorities.


    A church in China

    The event took place in June, in Dali city in China’s southwestern Yunnan Province. The Yunnan Province Dali Municipal Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs ordered him to pay the 150,000 yuan fine after it reviewed evidence of the gathering, including photos, confiscated documents and a list of attendees.

    “Heavy penalties are one of the ways in which the authorities hinder Christian leaders and their activities which are then also used as a warning to others,” said an Open Doors field researcher. “We recently learned of another case where someone else who ran Christian training faced a heavy fine from authorities.”

    Believer imprisoned for selling Christian books

    This is the latest fine in a series of court rulings against Christians. In December 2021, a court in China’s Zhejiang province upheld a verdict by another court against a Christian online bookseller in which he was sentenced to seven years in prison and a fine of 200,000 yuan (approximately £23,000).

    Chen Yu was arrested in and charged with ‘selling illegal overseas religious publications online’ for importing and selling books from Taiwan. The police confiscated more than 800 of the sold books through contacting his customers in China.

    In August this year, a pastor of a house church was detained for purchasing Christian literature online and faces charges of fraud.

    And another believer, Chen Lijun, has been held at the Lu’an County Detention Centre in western Anhui province since 13 August while more than 100 members of his church also face persecution, as reported by ChinaAid. Lijun also received a fine of 100,000 yuan (approx. US$ 13,600) because of his faith, said his wife.

    Christians encouraged to ‘focus on sovereignty of God’

    The outcomes of last month’s 20th Congress of China’s Communist Party do not bode well for the future of Christians and other minority groups in the country, says Thomas Muller, persecution analyst with Open Doors World Watch Research.

    “The Party Congress showed that authorities want to increase their push for control and, judging from experience, Christians are more likely to be seen as a threat to security than an asset.”

    As for the Christians themselves, their response varies depending on the location and the church leaders. The Open Doors field researcher explains: “Some pastors are afraid of the potential of persecution that is coming, while others encourage their congregation to focus on the sovereignty of God and not to worry on the outcome of the event.”

    Our brothers and sisters in China really value your prayers – they can see the power of God at work through them. Please keep praying for them to stand strong in the face of this rising opposition.

    Pray now…

    • That God will strengthen the faith of these believers facing heavy fines, and that the charges and punishments against them will be dropped
    • For strength and wisdom for Open Doors local partners as they seek to help believers accused of ‘unauthorised’ activities
    • That God’s power would shine through His church in China in these cases and draw many more people to Christ.

    Do something…

    1. Get our free World Cup prayer wall chart and pray for Christians facing persecution from countries in the tournament.
    Download yours here…

    2. Download our free Christmas session outline! Grab a free Christmas session outline to use in your youth/small groups in the build up to Christmas!
    Get it here…

    3. Pray regularly: Every Monday night at 7pm we’ll be praying one prayer for one minute for the one in seven Christians around the world who face persecution. Set an alarm and tune in…

  • Syria: ‘Mum, I saw Jesus…’

    In 2019, we introduced you to Apo, from Syria. Apo’s dad, Rober, was kidnapped in 2013 by Islamic extremists due to his Christian faith.

    Thanks to your continued prayers and support, and help from a local Centre of Hop Apo who is ten, and his mum, Jina, are flourishing. Jina is being trained as a beautician in a local beauty salon – something she loves.

    “A lot of things have changed in my life since the last time you came here,” Jina says. “The organisation (Open Doors) helped me a lot to find this work.

    I love make-up. I have loved make-up ever since I was a child. Now whenever I see one of my friends, I say, ‘Come, let me do your make-up!’ Now I’m doing their make-up and practising, thanks to the organisation. I want to develop my skills to make this an income source – you know how expensive it is nowadays, everything is expensive – for me and for my son to be able to survive and live decently.”

    Apo spends a lot of time with other children at the Centre of Hope, playing games and attending classes. “What I like most at school is the sports class,” he says. “I play basketball and sometimes the coach trains me and we play against another team. I also have swimming class and play football.”

    Jesus meets Apo in a dream to encourage Jina

    Jina struggled bringing Apo up on her own. He used to misbehave a lot – but he’s found a place to channel all of his energy through the sports he plays.

    Initially, she wasn’t sure if she should begin the training at the salon. But God spoke to Apo in a dream! “One morning my son said, ‘Mum, I saw Jesus’,” Jina remembers. “He said, ‘Jesus asked me to be a good son to you and not to give you a hard time. And to be good in my school.’ He continued with, ‘Mum, you should go work. I will listen to what you say and be a good son to you, I am okay with whatever you want.”

    “If I continue this path, my future is good”

    Life has not been easy for Jina and Apo. So many years have now passed since Rober’s disappearance that the authorities officially designate Jina as a widow. “We still don’t know about him,” Jina says. “It’s been ten years and we haven’t heard of him. Nothing. My son looks at the picture and cries. I ask him why he’s crying, and he says, “When will my dad come back? They all have fathers and mothers and I only have a mother. I don’t have a father.”

    But through the help she and Apo are receiving through the Centre of Hope, Jina is optimistic about the future. “If I continue this path, my future is good, my income will be good. I thank you who supported me from the bottom of my heart. I pray that God will bless you and will open new doors for you to continue to help us in Syria.”

    Pray now…

    • That Jina will go from strength to strength in her new job and be a blessing to her customers
    • That God will bless Apo through sports and the classes he attends
    • For Open Doors partners in Syria as they continue to reach out to families in need this Christmas

    Do something

    Do something…

    1. Get our free World Cup prayer wall chart and pray for Christians facing persecution from countries in the tournament.
    Order yours here…

    2. Download our free Christmas session outline! Grab a free Christmas session outline to use in your youth/small groups in the build up to Christmas!
    Get it here…

    3. Pray regularly: Every Monday night at 7pm we’ll be praying one prayer for one minute for the one in seven Christians around the world who face persecution. Set an alarm and tune in…

    *names changed for security reasons

  • Qatar: Pray during the World Cup with the church in Qatar

    Christians in Qatar are inviting the global church to join with them in praying for a move of the Holy Spirit during the World Cup.

    The country is number 18 on the World Watch List and one of seven participating countries that are on the World Watch List. The others are Iran, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, Mexico and Cameroon.

    Foreign Christians in the host nation can gather freely, although space is limited and there are some restrictions. During the pandemic, all 157 church buildings were closed. Since then, 61 have reopened, with many others still closed due to a revision of meeting guidelines by the government.

    Meanwhile, Qatari believers – who are very small in number – are forbidden from having their own churches or even entering a church. Converts can face extreme pressure from their family and community, and there can be legal difficulties and loss of citizen status since Qatar doesn’t officially recognise conversion from Islam.

    God is on the move through dreams, miracles and healings

    But despite the costs that can come with following Jesus, the church in Qatar is growing – and there is the expectation that it will continue to do so during the World Cup.

    “We’re expecting a big move of the Holy Spirit during the World Cup,” says the leader of a church for migrant workers and foreign nationals. “Our main focus in our prayers is that God will touch the nationals here.”

    “We already see the move of the Holy Spirit in Qatar,” he continues. “God is visiting people in their dreams. God is doing miracles. God is doing healings among the Qatari people.”

    These observations are echoed by another church leader, called Gabr. “God is doing miracles in this land,” he says. “I can witness over years and years. God is visiting in dreams without any missionaries coming to this land. And because of the fear of the people, they cannot share the gospel openly.”

    Pray while they play

    Bishop Beda S. Robles thinks the tournament ‘will be very good for Qatar, a big opportunity for this nation’. He is chairman of the Evangelical Churches Alliance Qatar (ECAQ), a recognised network of more than 90 expatriate church communities in Qatar. Most are Filipino but it also includes Nepalese, Indian and African groups.

    “We as Christians are praying that this will be a victorious event,” he says. “Many of us will be serving as volunteers at the event. We pray for Qatar, we pray for the World Cup, we hope that Christians around the world will stand with us in prayer, too.”

    The decision to host the World Cup in Qatar has drawn much criticism. Those living in the country have already seen welcome developments. “We have seen positive changes in social justice in this country,” says a Christian woman.

    However, more progress is needed. “Pray that God will bring changes,” says Daniel*, who oversees Open Doors work in the Arabian Peninsula. “Pray that Qatar will grow towards more respect for diversity, that the country will be a place where locals and foreigners can live like Christ wants them to live, with no fear for repercussions.”

    “A golden opportunity”

    “I believe that we have a golden opportunity during the World Cup,” adds the leader of a church for migrant workers and foreign nationals. “I hope that the name of the Lord will be magnified during the event. Pray that fear will vanish, and that people will speak openly. We believe that more miracles will happen.”

    Pray now…

    • That the Holy Spirit will move mightily among people in Qatar during the World Cup
    • That all fear felt by Christians will vanish and that believers will express their faith with boldness and expectation
    • That the World Cup will lead to greater religious freedom for Qataris.

    Do something

    Do something…

    1. Get our free World Cup prayer wall chart and pray for Christians facing persecution from countries in the tournament.
    Order yours here…

    2. Learn more and pray: Get our free glow-in-the-dark World Watch List Map and find out more about the places where faith costs the most. Get your map here…

    3. Pray regularly: Every Monday night at 7pm we’ll be praying one prayer for one minute for the one in seven Christians around the world who face persecution. Set an alarm and tune in…

    *names changed for security reasons

  • Write to: Children in Colombia

    “I felt that I had no freedom where I lived,” shares 15-year-old Valentina from Cauca in Colombia. “I used to say, ‘My God, I want to get out of here. I don’t even know where I want to go, but I want to leave.’”

    The reason for this is persecution. At school, Valentina was pressurised into performing indigenous rites, while in society, she was acutely vulnerable to recruitment into guerrilla groups who often target prominent Christians (her father is a church leader).

    Because of these dangers, her parents sent her to the Children’s Centre run by Open Doors local partners. “Thank God there was an open door at the Children’s Centre,” share her parents, while Valentina adds: “I don’t know if my life would exist if I still lived in Cauca, or if I’d be lost.”

    As well as providing a safe haven for Valentina, the Children’s Centre is also helping Valentina develop in her studies and grow in her faith. “I know that, in the middle of persecution, God is faithful and merciful,” she says. “He is the best because He takes care of us. It’s Jesus who unites us and means we can enjoy peace and hope.”

    Read beautiful Christmas letters written to you from young people at the Children’s Centre in Colombia
    This Christmas, Valentina will return to spend it with her family. “For me, the best Christmas is when I’m with my family,” she says. But she won’t be able to stay beyond Christmas, because it’s too dangerous.

    You can write to Valentina to encourage her in her faith, and other Christians in children who are also vulnerable to persecution for their faith, be that from indigenous groups or criminal gangs. They’d love to hear from you!

    There are two ways you can write to Christian children in Colombia:

    Get your church to write one large card

    Our Christmas resources includes a large fold-out card for your church to write to children at the Children’s Centre.

    Write an individual letter

    You can also write to specific children at the Children’s Centre and elsewhere in Colombia…

    • Valentina
    • Keiner (15), Sneiker (13) and Rubén (9), whose father was shot dead earlier this year, having served as pastor in an area rife with criminal activity. You can also write to their mother, Yaneth
    • Daniela (14) and Sebastián (7), whose father was shot dead for speaking out against criminal activities and helping prevent young people from recruitment to gangs
    • Specific individuals at the Colombia Children’s Centre (visit here for a list of names)
    • Children living in the following regions: Nariño, Tumaco, Arauca, Chocó, Catatumbo, Buenaventura, Córdoba and Cauca (for these, introduce the letter by saying, Dear child from )

    Please note: Please write in simple English or in Spanish. You can find a list of Spanish phrases here.

    Guidelines

    • Greeting cards, postcards and children’s artwork are best
    • Be encouraging and include one or two Bible verses. For security reasons, please do not use verses that refer to Israel, armies, or war
    • Show sensitivity. Please do not dwell on the recipient’s plight, or share about the blessings of life in your country.

    For security

    • Do not mention Open Doors
    • Do not mention other religions
    • Do not refer to Israel, even when using Scripture
    • Do not criticise religions, religious extremists, governments, judicial systems or political leaders
    • Do not send money or make proposals to help
    • You can disclose your name and the country you live in, but do not provide your full name or full address.

    Send to us!

    This campaign is postal and digital. Please send your physical drawings, cards or letters to us at the below address, and your digital encouragements to messagestocolombia@opendoorsuk.org

    PO Box 6
    Witney
    Oxon
    OX29 6WG

    And we’ll do the rest!

    Please note this campaign ends 31 December 2022

  • World Cup Fantasy League!

    Would you believe it? The World Cup is here!

    Now, we know football isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and we also know that playing a tournament in a country with a very poor human rights record raises some major questions. But we also know that there are seven countries playing in the World Cup that are on the current Open Doors World Watch List. That’s seven countries, including the host nation Qatar, where Christians face persecution. And that gives us all an opportunity to pray, speak out and raise support for our church family in these places.

    We’ve created some great resources to help you pray, including our World Cup Prayer Wall Chart (download a version you can print at home here…) and created a bunch of fundraising ideas too. But you can also get involved in our World Cup Fantasy League!

    We know some of you will love pouring over the player stats and building the best possible team, so why not join our league and pit your selections against loads of others who will also be praying for Christians in the seven countries at the World Cup on the World Watch List? And, as a special bonus, there will also be an incredible special prize for the league winner too!

    The prize

    You can win a free ticket to one of the following 2023 events of your choice: Dreaming the Impossible, Limitless, Luminosity, Satellites, Summer Madness, Magnitude or the National Youth Ministry Weekend. That’s pretty good, right?

    How to enter

    So, what are you waiting for? Just click this link to join:
    https://play.fifa.com/fantasy-classic/join-league/IXV3M6JH

    Any questions or issues joining, drop us a line at youth@opendoorsuk.org

  • Coming home for Christmas

    If you were to ask 15 year-old Valentina her favourite thing about Christmas, it wouldn’t be the decorations on the tree, the food or even the presents. She loves all those things, but her favourite? “For me, the best Christmas is when I’m with my family.”

    Most children live with their family all year round. But Valentina can’t. Christmas is one of the only occasions when she gets to spend time with her family. It’s not that her parents Francisco and Luz don’t want her at home – but, rather, that being a Christian is really dangerous in Cauca, their Colombian town. And children are particularly at risk.

    “I felt that I had no freedom where I lived,” shares Valentina. “I always wanted to leave. I used to say, ‘My God, I want to get out of here. I don’t even know where I want to go, but I want to leave.’”

    Why is Valentina persecuted in Colombia?

    What makes living in Cauca so difficult? While the population of Colombia is overwhelmingly Christian, there are still areas where following Jesus is dangerous. Those who convert from indigenous beliefs or oppose the activities of criminal groups are particularly at risk. That’s why Colombia is number 30 on the Open Doors World Watch List.

    Persecution started when Valentina’s father took a stand for religious freedom, for his family and for all the other Christians in the region.

    In Cauca, the population and the local authorities are predominantly from an indigenous community that is openly hostile to Christians. The Cauca Indigenous Regional Council (CIRC) was actively trying to close churches and impose indigenous rites in schools, including the one Valentina attended. When Christians opposed the idea, the council was furious and prevented Christian children from going to school.

    And that wasn’t the only problem as the family were threatened by local guerrilla groups. In Colombia, these guerrilla groups target prominent Christians in the community – particularly church leaders – because these believers stand against corruption and protect children from being coerced into joining the cartels. “The guerrillas were looking to recruit children as young as 12 years old,” says Francisco. He knew that Valentina and her siblings were at risk.

    “Thank God there was an open door at the Children’s Centre”


    Image: Valentina studying in class

    This is where Open Doors supporters like you stepped in. Because it’s not safe for children such as Valentina to live in dangerous areas, their parents often make the difficult decision to send them somewhere much safer: the Children’s Centre, run by Open Doors partners.

    “We sought help to get our children out, as desperate parents,” says Francisco. “Thank God there was an open door at the Children’s Centre.”

    At the Children’s Centre, Valentina is able to get Christian education and support. She doesn’t face any threats or harassment. She won’t be targeted for following Jesus. And though she can’t be with her family, all the other children at the centre have become like a family for her.

    “I was sad, because I missed my family, but now I don’t want to leave the Children’s Centre,” she says. “I don’t know if my life would exist if I still lived in Cauca, or if I’d be lost.”

    Valentina has spent four years at the Children’s Centre so far, and her life has been radically transformed. “When I got to the centre, I said ‘Thank you, God – because I didn’t have this in mind, but You brought me here,’” she remembers. “I love visiting home, but I don’t want to stay there.”

    A letter of encouragement

    Some of Valentina’s story is unique to her region. But other parts of it would be familiar to hundreds of thousands of Christian children across the world. In many countries, these children face persecution because of their faith – either because they are directly targeted, or because they suffer when their families are persecuted.

    For Mimi in Iraq, persecution targeted her whole family when she was very young. She is 12 now, but was only four years old when her family had to flee so-called Islamic State (IS). Open Doors partners are helping the family financially, so they can run a farm. Valentina’s situation is different from Mimi’s in many ways – but similar enough that the two girls, living thousands of miles apart, can understand and support each other.

    They’ve been able to write letters to each other – sharing their experiences, and giving each other hope for the future. It has given the girls a chance to feel part of a global family of believers.

    “When I heard your story, I was angry about what happened to you,” Mimi writes to Valentina. “I know how you feel – because we, the Christians in Iraq, have also been persecuted.”

    “I know that, in the middle of persecution, God is faithful and merciful,” writes Valentina in reply. “He is the best because He takes care of us. It’s Jesus who unites us and means we can enjoy peace and hope.”

    How you can help children like Valentina

    The problems faced by Christian children are diverse and complex, and so the solutions need to be too. Around the world, Open Doors partners respond with context-specific programmes to support, protect and encourage persecuted Christian children.

    Valentina has a message for all the other children like her, facing persecution because of their faith: “For those people who are being persecuted, I would tell them not to leave their faith. If they are still here, it’s because God has a purpose for them, even though we don’t see it immediately.”

    She knows she faces ongoing danger, but her hope for the future remains strong. She wants to study art when she leaves the children’s centre, and dreams of one day travelling and meeting many people to share her experiences with, and to spread the gospel. “With God, nothing is impossible,” she says. “I know He can help me.”

    One way He helps Valentina, and so many children like her, is through your gifts, letters and prayers. Today, can you show these courageous young believers that you are their family, and they are yours?

    Write to children like Valentina

    You can send a Christmas message of hope and peace to children like Valentina in Colombia.

    Pray now…

    • For God’s strength and hope for Valentina and Mimi and their parents, and all families of believers who can’t be together because of persecution
    • Praise God for all He continues to do to support persecuted Christian children through Open Doors local partners
    • That this Christmas would be a time when the gospel is abundantly shared and received in places of darkness.

    Do something

    1. Get our free Words of Hope Christmas session outline and share Valentina and Mimi’s stories, with your group during the festive season.
    Download for free now…

    2. Give. Every £22 could give a month of education to a child impacted by persecution.
    Make a donation here…

    3. Get our free World Cup prayer wall chart and pray for Christians facing persecution from countries in the tournament.
    Order yours here…

    4. Learn more and pray: Get our free glow-in-the-dark World Watch List Map and find out more about the places where faith costs the most. Get your map here…

  • Yemen: Pray for Christians facing arrest

    Christians in Yemen are experiencing a sharp rise in arrests and torture, resulting in a traumatising impact on affected believers and their families.

    The spike has come in recent months. These are not linked to one specific church network, but several different ones.

    “We are specifically concerned because torture is used to force the Christians to give information about the activities of believers or names of other believers,” says an Open Doors spokesperson.

    Some of the arrested Christians have been released, but they are struggling with the aftermath of what they have experienced.

    “We see that their arrest and the torture had, and still has, a deep impact on their families, too,” the spokesperson adds. “They are shocked and are struggling with their faith, as they were counting that God would spare them, that God would intervene. Their faith is shaken.”

    Pray for believers shaken by persecution

    “Pray that they will see God as a loving and caring God,” they continue. “Pray for the Christian community in Yemen, that the Christians won’t be paralysed by fear and stop visiting and encouraging each other out of fear that, for example, their mobile phones would be traced.”

    The persecution of Christians in Yemen – which is number five on the World Watch List – has been extreme for many years. Believers are mostly converts from Islam, but because conversion from Islam to Christianity is forbidden in Islam and Yemeni law, they must keep their faith hidden, with pressure coming from both the government and local communities. A rise in reported incidents of violence meant the country rose two places in the latest World Watch List.

    What’s it like to be a Christian in Yemen?

    A Christian who goes by the pseudonym Naser not long ago said, “We, the believers, carry hope that helps us with the certainty that tomorrow will be better and that by the will of our Lord, we will pass through this and all the anxieties and fears surrounding us.”

    Please use these words to inspire your prayers for our brothers and sisters affected by this recent spate of arrests.

    Pray now…

    • For God’s comfort, healing and hope to engulf the victims and families of this recent crackdown
    • That those held will be released and that there will be a complete end to all arrests and torture
    • That Christians in Yemen will not be paralysed by fear but be strengthened by God’s power at work in them (Ephesians 3:20).

    Do something

    1. Get our free Words of Hope Christmas session outline and share stories of young persecuted Christians with your group during the festive season.
    Download for free now…

    2. Get our free World Cup prayer wall chart and pray for Christians facing persecution from countries in the tournament.
    Order yours here…

    3. Learn more and pray: Get our free glow-in-the-dark World Watch List Map and find out more about the places where faith costs the most. Get your map here…

  • We support people who are beaten, tortured,
    imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.