Archive

  • Finding Family: Christmas resources!

    Many Christians can’t openly celebrate Christmas, like us due to Covid-19, they face restrictions and limitations. This year, why not share Christmas with some young persecuted Christians? Learn their stories in our youth sessions and videos, write a Christmas card or message to encourage them and even send a gift.

  • Nigeria: Attacks highlight Christians are vulnerable

    “When we go to sleep at night, we are never sure whether we will make it alive to the next day.”

    Pastor Daniel’s village was attacked in April 2020—and it’s part of a massive wave of violence against Christians in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. In this region, militant Fulani herdsmen are pushing their cattle through the regions where Christians have lived for generations. People have died in the attacks that are trying to wipe out the Christian presence in the region.

    “We have cried to the government to intervene, but they have done nothing,” Pastor Daniel says. “We still pray for [the Fulani militants] to change their ways because some of them were forced into it, while others had hardened their hearts to do this evil, but nothing is difficult for God.”

    The attack

    On April 23, 2020, around 4pm, the violence began. “We heard gunshots close to our vicinity,” Pastor Daniel says. “So, we told our women and children to go to the next town, while the men stay guard.”

    “About 15 minutes later, armed Fulani surrounded the town,” he says. Many of the attackers were tall and wore uniforms. They came bearing automatic weapons, shooting anyone in sight, and torches to burn down the village.

    It was impossible to protect the town against heavily armed men, so everyone fled. “The Fulani [radicals] shot at me while I was running,” Pastor Daniel says.

    Some of the Christians in the village didn’t make it out alive.

    The Fulani militants went from house-to-house, setting everything ablaze. They also went into Pastor Daniel’s church. They stacked plastic chairs inside and placed them in a heap on top of the wooden benches that congregants sit on during church. They set fire to the chairs in the hope the blaze would burn the benches, engulf the church and destroy the roof. Amazingly, the benches did not catch fire.

    Pastor Daniel explains: “They did this because they want to own this area, from here into all the bush. That is why they attacked intending to kill the people here. But God did not allow that to happen.”


    Image: Pastor Daniel sits in his ruined home

    Increased persecution

    This kind of violent persecution is part of the Christian life for many believers in Nigeria today. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, deadly attacks increased in the region.

    Through this terrible attack, Pastor Daniel is still shepherding his people toward hope—reminding them they survived by the grace of God—and the Lord still has plans for them. Plans to bring glory to His name.

    “We should give glory to God. He is alive and will help us,” Pastor Daniel adds. “Just as a hen opens its wings to cover her young.”

    The fear of more attacks always looms, but Pastor Daniels says the Christians here have never fought by carrying guns to kill people.

    “Even if we die, we are in the hands of God,” he says.

    Open Doors helped Pastor Daniel and the other believers living around Kufana with critical support to buy food, medicine and materials to rebuild their homes—along with spiritual support and trauma care—to help encourage them in their faith and strengthen the church.

    “If you had not come, we would have suffered even more,” Pastor Daniel says. “Open Doors, on behalf of my people, we are saying, thank you. God has allowed us to have fellowship with one another,” Pastor Daniel shares, speaking directly to Christians who have prayed and sent support to their village. “Even with all our differences, together, because of Him, we are One.”

    Pray now…

    • For the Christians of Kufana as they return and rebuild from this violent Fulani attack. Ask God to give them strength and faith to continue gathering as the church and to be a light for Christ in the region.
    • For those who lost loved ones in the attack. Ask God to give them comfort and peace to rest in Him.
    • For the Nigerian government to do more to intervene and protect the Christian community from violent militants. Pray also that the government will reach these communities with relief and aid and the resources to rebuild.
    • For Pastor Daniel to have wisdom, courage and strength to continue to shepherd the Christians of Kufana and point them toward forgiveness and hope.
    • For our partners on the ground in Nigeria. Ask God to give them wisdom and success in delivering support, trauma counseling, discipleship and training.

    Share this Christmas with your persecuted family!

    Many Christians can’t openly celebrate Christmas, like us due to Covid-19, they face restrictions and limitations. This year, why not share Christmas with some young persecuted Christians. Learn their stories in our youth sessions and videos, write a Christmas card or message to encourage them and even send a gift.

  • Ethiopia: Khalid chooses Jesus despite the cost!

    Khalid was born into a Muslim family in Ethiopia. He lived a comfortable life, supported by his loved ones and community.

    But then a friend told him about Jesus.

    It was this message of the gospel that Khalid couldn’t shake. But he knew the choice to follow Jesus wouldn’t be an easy one.

    Khalid said, “It’s very difficult for a Muslim to come to Christ, because in Islam, Jesus is said to be human, and in Christianity, it is said that He is Lord. It was so hard, but God helped me, and I became a free man.”

    When Khalid chose to be baptised, his new church family welcomed him with open arms. However, his family at home weren’t so happy.

    “They told me that I defiled the culture and betrayed their faith,” he said. “They forced me to leave the house and refused to give me food or shelter. They even threatened to kill me.”

    Khalid left with few possessions and no way to sustain himself. Like many others in Ethiopia, choosing to follow Jesus nearly cost him his life.

    “When I lived with my family, life was comfortable. But when they kicked me out, life turned dark.

    “What helped me to stand strong was the Word of God, which says: ‘He will never leave or forsake you’. With that in mind, I left everything behind, even if it would make me unhappy.”


    Image: Khalid’s daughter

    One Sunday church service, Khalid came across a life-changing opportunity. An Open Doors economic empowerment program.

    After receiving a microloan and attending saving and investment training, Khalid chose to invest in a small convenience store.

    He discovered a gift for entrepreneurship and was soon able to expand his business, rent farmland and employ other members of the community.

    With one microloan, Khalid was able to bless his entire community and even began to restore his relationship with his family.
    “The loan changed many things in my life,” he said. “Now, I provide for my family and even beyond that.

    “Those relatives that used to hate me before, now come to spend time with me. Many things have changed.”

    Pray for Ethiopia

    Ethiopia is currently going through a lot of turmoil. ‘Scores, and probably hundreds,’ of civilians have been massacred in the growing conflict in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, according to a report from Amnesty International as tensions between the ruling government and another political party play out. Neighbouring Eritrea has also been impacted. This follows violence earlier in the year, when protests erupted and Christians were targeted, with 9,000 people being displaced.

    Pray now…

    • Thank God for Khalid, and his brave faith. Pray that he’ll continue to be a light and sign of hope to his wider family.
    • For peace in Ethiopia and for the traditional orthodox church to stand up for all Christians.
    • For Open Doors workers providing micro-loans and hope to those struggling because of their faith. Pray for wisdom in knowing who needs help.

    Share this Christmas with your persecuted family!

    Many Christians can’t openly celebrate Christmas, like us due to Covid-19, they face restrictions and limitations. This year, why not share Christmas with some young persecuted Christians. Learn their stories in our youth sessions and videos, write a Christmas card or message to encourage them and even send a gift.

  • Three ways Covid-19 has impacted the global church

    As lockdown restrictions continue for us in the UK we can continue to look to our persecuted family for encouragement and hope in these strange times. Around the world, some churches, have seen COVID-19 bring unexpected blessings. But for others, the suffering still lingers. Amidst the pain, uncertainty and even the unforeseen opportunities, this is how COVID-19 is impacting the persecuted church.

    1. China: A reminder that the love of Jesus cannot be quarantined

    Pastor Huang has seen immense change at his church in Wuhan.

    “Before the virus, church activities were very normal,” he said. “But after the city was put into lockdown, all activities stopped.

    “During this period, we have realised that we need to be intentionally proactive in loving others through action. For example, we discovered some young guys who work as couriers were not being given food at work. So, for two months, we provided meals for them every day.”

    COVID-19 has brought devastation to China. Yet, even in the hardship, the church is uncovering timely reminders as they seek out the Lord. And the greatest of them all:

    “The love of Jesus cannot be quarantined.”

    2. Yemen: A church leaning into prayer

    Today, Yemen is on the brink of collapse. The worst humanitarian crisis in the world has led to 24 million people in desperate need of life- saving aid.

    But for Christians, life is even harder. They are often denied emergency relief which is distributed through Islamic organisations and local mosques.

    Yet, the church is stronger than ever.

    “We pray for each other that the Lord delivers us from this pandemic,” Maritza* said. “It has brought us closer to Him and brought us closer together as His children in Yemen. We’re trying to spend more time with our children, teaching them and praying together and praying for the salvation of our people.”

    3. India: Trusting in God despite uncertainty


    In India, over 120 million people have lost their jobs to COVID-19, leaving countless families dependent on emergency relief.

    Yet, even in a pandemic, discrimination in the 10th hardest place to be a Christian never stopped.

    “A couple of times there was relief distribution carried out in the village,” said Sita*. “But they refused to help us, leaving us empty-handed.”

    Fortunately, with the help of supporters like you, thousands of Christians, including Sita, received the resources they needed.

    “This lockdown has given me more time to spend with God. Thank you for the emergency relief. We, as a family, are encouraged and strengthened by Christ’s love.”

    Pray now…

    • Thank God, that even in the midst of the pandemic, He is still working and Christians are still shining His light to their communities
    • That God would meet needs and essential aid and support gets to where it is needed
    • That Open Doors partners working around the world would have strength, wisdom and the resources to continue supporting the church

    Lockdown resources

    We’ve two, awesome free sets of resources that’ll help you continue to grow with God during the UK lockdown. Check out our new lock down friendly Secret Church small group session or try out the different reflections on themes like loss, uncertainty and healing in our Isolated Church series!

  • Colombia: Young Timóteo says no to guerrilla fighters!

    At just 11 years old, as Timóteo was walking home from school, a man carrying a gun starts calling after him. The man was a Guerrilla fighter, looking to recruit new, young soldiers. They were everywhere in his community in rural Colombia. There was a war between the fighters and the government, and the violence often spilled over to impact normal people.

    Timóteo wasn’t just from an indigenous, animist tribe – one that believes everything in the universe has a spirit, and practices ancient rituals to worship them. His family were also Christians. Their conversion to Christianity enraged the tribe, who saw it as a betrayal of their traditions and feared they would anger the spirits.

    A family facing pressure…

    Timóteo’s grandfather was the first to become a Christian in the family – and he was poisoned by the tribal authorities. But the family remained strong in the faith and never denied Christ. In fact, Timóteo’s father became a pastor.

    “He used to evangelise the youth whom the guerrillas wanted to recruit,” says Timóteo. “They weren’t going to join the guerrillas if they had Christian thinking.”

    This angered the guerrillas, and they threatened to kill him because of his opposition to the fighters. But Timóteo’s father didn’t back down. It made young Timóteo an especially attractive target for guerrilla fighters.

    When a Colombian guerrilla fighter wants to recruit a child, they use everything they can think of to try to make it an attractive offer. Money, food, medicine, shelter – the offer changes depending on the child’s situation. If persuasion fails, sometimes children are taken by force.

    Timóteo stands firm…

    With all the persecution he and his family faced from the community, Timóteo was severely tempted when he was offered a better life by the guerrillas.

    “When I came home from school, there were guerrillas on the road,” remembers Timóteo. “You saw that they had a good life because they had a lot of money. They offered you things, like: ‘We will give you money. If you come here, you will have a better life’.” And it wasn’t just money. They offered him power and belonging – he wouldn’t just be one of the tribe’s outcasts anymore. He would be a guerrilla, and the tribe would have to listen to him or face the consequences.

    But Timóteo said no. He remembered what his father had taught him about Jesus being worth more than earthly riches or power. Timóteo’s father was delighted his son had stood firm – but was afraid it was only a matter of time before Timóteo gave in to their offers or was taken by force. His son would make a fine trophy for them, given his own public opposition to the guerrilla fighters. And, remember, Timóteo was only eleven years old. It was a lot of responsibility for a young boy to shoulder.

    A new life…

    So, Timóteo’s Dad remembered the Open Doors Children’s Centre – a school and home for persecuted children in Colombia, where they can stay for short or long periods. It offers safety and shelter, as well as education and community. Timóteo was accepted for a place – that was 7 years ago – he’s now 18, and has recently graduated!

    During his time at the centre, as well as getting a good education and making great friends, he learned more about Jesus and deepened his relationship with Him. “What I like most are the principles they have here. It helps you to become a Christian. I pray in the morning. I stick to the Bible, to what it says. And I want to continue reading because it contains many important things. Now I know God better; I live for Him.”

    Preaching the gospel…

    In the years since Timóteo first came to the Children’s Centre, his father and mother continued to risk their lives to spread the good news about Jesus. Thanks to your support, they didn’t have to choose between following the call of God for their lives and keeping Timóteo safe.

    And now, Timóteo wants to follow in their footsteps: “I want to talk to families. I would like to go to their homes and share about God as an evangelist. I want to do this because Jesus did this. If He did it, I must do it too.”

    Pray now…

    • Praise God for the Open Doors partners who work at the Colombia Children’s Centre and the children who have found safety there
    • Pray that God would equip Timóteo and his generation with boldness to proclaim the gospel – even in the face of threats and violence from the guerrillas
    • Please pray that God would extend His hand of protection over Colombian Christians and that He would change the hearts of those who run guerrilla and criminal groups.

    Finding family this Christmas!

    Timóteo found a new family at the Open Doors Children’s Centre – could you share your Christmas with other young people like him this year? Check out our Christmas pages for things you can do this Christmas to encourage and support young Christians like Timóteo. We’ve created two (lock-down friendly) small group sessions to use, there’s a template to download and send a message of hope to young people from the Children’s Centre and you can even send a gift this Christmas to a young Christian facing persecution on behalf of a loved one (and you’ll get a certificate to give as a present).

  • Send a message of hope this Christmas!

    Daniela’s dad was shot and killed by powerful drug gangs. He was a pastor and he was helping people find freedom from their drug addictions and a new life with Jesus. The gangs didn’t like this, so they took his life. Could you send Daniela and young Christians like her a message of hope and encouragement this Christmas?

    Because of her family’s belief in Jesus, Daniela has lost her dad. This is tragic, especially at Christmas.

    Last year, when Daniela and her brother were struggling with the loss of their dad, Open Doors partners invited them to spend some time over Christmas at a special children’s centre and school. The family received an amazing welcome – Daniela said: “I was so surprised to see all of them, singing a welcome to us. It made me feel so good. I was really happy to be surrounded by so many loving people.” And Open Doors partners have helped the family move to a safer area, providing a new home and opportunities for them all to flourish.

    Daniela says: “It is very important to know that this Christmas there are people around the world praying for me and my family. I am very grateful for that, because I see that God works through these prayers.”

    Could you send a message of hope to Daniela and other children from the children’s centre?

    Download our Christmas decoration template, print it off and write a message to send to Daniela and other young people from the children’s centre.

    Download the template here…

    Message tips:

    • Keep it simple, write a short Bible passage, song lyric or prayer.
    • Let them know you are praying for them
    • Sign the message with your first name and which country you are from (UK or Ireland).
    • And please don’t mention Open Doors. 

    Want to write something in Spanish, or write to a specific child at the children’s centre? Check out the tips here…

    Where do I send the cards?
    Pop your card in an envelope and send it to us at
    PO Box 6
    Witney
    Oxon
    OX29 6WG

  • Blackout Survey: Tell us what you thought

    Taken part in Blackout and given up something you love? We’d love to know how you got on, what you choose to give up, what you learnt and what you thought of the Blackout resources. Fill in this quick survey to tell us your thoughts…

  • India: School for kids affected by Covid-19

    Earlier this year, during the first Covid-19 lockdown schools across the UK shut. While that was probably great for a week or two, after a while, many of you would have probably felt a bit bored, stuck at home, unable to see friends and adapting to a new routine.

    The same is true for other young people and children around the world. In India, lockdown restrictions especially impact the poorest. Families that make a living working as day labourers saw work and income drastically drop. With little money and schools shut, poorer families don’t have the resources for their children to continue with online lessons – smartphones and tablets are just too expensive. Many Christian families in India are poor and vulnerable, especially when they can be denied access to essential government aid.

    But thanks to your prayers and gifts, now restrictions have been eased, Open Doors local partners have set up a bridge school so that young people won’t fall behind in their studies. It was set up with aim of helping children who are struggling to catch up after the pandemic lockdowns, and slow learners who need help to strengthen their basic skills. This extra support is helping them catch up with their peers.

    Not only are the children equipped academically in line with the school syllabus, but there is also a focus on other life skills. Along with the classroom, there is play equipment and time for games. They are able to express their creativity and views through drawing and colouring, and they hear stories from the Bible too. They are also taught about safety and hygiene, to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

    The school is attended mainly by children of daily wage labourers and farmers who have low levels of education and low incomes, and could not provide these opportunities for their children without help. The school is open to children from all cultures and backgrounds, helping to build communal harmony as the children play with each other without any discrimination. There is laughter, and the atmosphere is joyful.

    “During this lockdown I was very upset and annoyed as there was no school, I could not go out to play and my parents had their own worries. But because of this organization today we have a bridge school in our village. Now I am able to spend time in study and play along with friends. Now my parents are less worried also. You have given us books, toys and stationary according to our needs. We are greatly blessed because of the classes. We feel very good and we are very happy – thank you.”
    Ajay

    Pray now…

    • For the education of the children at the bridge school, that the school would help to lead them to a normal life, despite the unusual times they are living through
    • That they will grow up to know Jesus and a blessing to their communities
    • For attitudes towards Christians in India to change and for leaders to promote tolerance

    Lockdown resources: Experience the secret church!

    Organise a Secret Church meeting with our new, free resource and learn more about how Christians around the world do and be church. Send time seeing how persecuted Christians meet in secret, worship in silence and learn from the Bible when they have no access to Scripture. And, raise money and prayer for change.

  • North Korea: Letter from a secret believer

    Mi-Ok (not her real name) is over 70, but don’t let her age make you think she’s passed it. She’s an incredible lady, part of a family of secret Christians that spans well over 100 years!

    Her parents served in the underground church for decades. Earlier this year Mi-Ok managed to get to China where she visited an Open Doors safe house and received food, support and pastoral care. After she was strengthened physically and spiritually, she went back to North Korea. Just before she left, she wrote a thank you letter to the people who took care of her, and the brothers and sisters she has never met (people like you) who have made safe-houses like the one she stayed in possible.

    ——————————————

    I am Mi-Ok from North Korea.

    I cannot find the words to express how grateful my heart is, how great and how amazing God’s grace is upon me.

    The only thing I can say is ‘Thank you so much’. I am less worthy than an insect who crawls on the ground, but God pours out His grace over me. I’m just overwhelmed. When I received food, clothes, medicines and other living supplies from you, I just cried out so much.

    I feel so thankful to God’s amazing love. As you know, this wasn’t my first time in China. But this time I saw, felt and realized so many things. I’ve always believed I was already a Christian since I was conceived in my mothers womb. My family and my ancestors are such faithful believers and I followed in their footsteps. But it was only now that I learned how many people have been praying for us, the North Korean believers, and for our country. I am amazed that so many people care for us.

    My father and my mother served the underground church secretly. Even though we all experienced much suffering and persecution, my parents raised me and my siblings as Christians. I have kept the faith so far through your powerful prayers!

    Thanks to your prayers, I could experience the love of God. It has been more than a century since Korea was divided [A reference to the Japanese colonisation of Korea in 1905 and the Communist take-over in North Korea after World War Two]. Without the love of Jesus Christ, how could I have experienced the love of God?

    After I go back to my country, I do not know what kind of sufferings I may face. But I promise that I will keep my faith until the last day of my life.

    Please pray for me to be able to stand firmly. Also pray for North Korea to be the country freed in Christ. I will miss you so much when we are physically apart. However, I will be looking forward to meeting you soon and to worshiping God with loud voices in an Korea that’s unified by Christ’s love.

    Thank you so much again. I will remember you in my prayers even when I go back to North Korea. If possible, come to my house. I will serve you a large portion of corn rice!

    I pray that you will stay healthy. In Christ, I say ‘Goodbye’.

    ——————————————

    What an amazing lady! Please pray for Mi-Ok today:

    • Thank God for Mi-Ok and her incredible family who have served God for decades
    • Pray that she’ll stand firm, that her needs are met and that she remains safe
    • Pray that North Korea will open up to the good news of Jesus
    • Pray she’d be a light in dark times and lead many others to Jesus

    Blackout: Choose to lose

    Could you get sponsored to choose to lose something you love for a short time to raise vital funds for Christians like those in this story who have given up so much to keep their faith in Jesus? Sign up and we’ll send you an awesome fundraising pack in the post!

  • Finding Family Landing Intro

    Share this Christmas with your persecuted family

    Christmas is going to be a bit different this year. Because of the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, we’re facing limitations on gatherings, festive services and parties. Sadly, we might not be able to get together with the usual groups of friends and family. So, maybe this year, we’re able to identify just a little bit more with those Christians around the world who can’t openly celebrate Christmas. Christians who know the cost of following Jesus, but still choose Him.

    Here you’ll find three ways you can share this Christmas with your persecuted family.

    Below you can download two free youth/small group session outlines, use our star template to send a Christmas message of hope to young people in Colombia and also make a donation that you can give to a friend or loved one as a Christmas pressie (and print off a certificate for them)! Before you get started, check out Bijli and Daniela’s stories in the videos below!

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