Archive

  • World Watch List 2021: What you need to know…

    The Open Doors World Watch List 2021 has been released. It is the most authoritative list of its kind, studying the most dangerous places to be a Christian.

    This year, we have seen that persecution has grown, both in likelihood and severity.

    Here are some trends in persecution and discrimination as revealed by the World Watch List.

    1 in 8 christians are persecuted for their faith

    For the first time ever, all countries ranked in the World Watch List top 50 score at least “very high” levels of persecution and discrimination. 12 countries saw “extreme” levels of persecution and discrimination, another increase on last year’s list.

    Persecution has intensified and reaches at least 340 million Christians today.

    That’s 1 in 8 worldwide, 1 in 6 in Africa, 2 out of 5 in Asia, and 1 in 12 in Latin America.

    COVID-19 has changed the face of persecution

    COVID-19 has transformed the face of persecution like never before.

    Authorities across Asia have restricted Christians from accessing medical treatment and supplies. In fact, 80% of those that received emergency relief from Open Doors in were first excluded from official distribution.

    Across the Middle East, the enforcement of quarantine laws has forced Christians back into the homes of those who persecute them (often, their own family members). In countries like Iran, some Christian doctors and nurses were forced to run COVID-19 clinics with no PPE as their governments believe that Christians are expendable.

    North Korea is still number one

    North Korea has been ranked as the most dangerous country for Christians since 2002. Experts say there is no sign of any improvement in the lives of the estimated 200,000 – 400,000 Christians remaining in the country.

    Right now, around 50,000 – 70,000 Christians are believed to be imprisoned in labour camps.

    COVID-19 fuelled Islamic extremism in sub-Saharan Africa

    The church has faced 30% higher levels of violence compared to last year in countries like Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Cameroon.

    Nigeria has re-entered the World Watch List top 10 in 2021, with more Christians killed in Nigeria than any other country.

    Persecution increased in china

    New religious laws in China have sought to control all religious activity across the nation.

    In the last three years, China has escalated from #43 to #17 on the World Watch List. Many churches have been forced to close down, surveillance cameras are monitoring registered Christian activity and some believers have been sent to ‘re-education camps’.

    Comoros re-entered the World Watch List

    Comoros re-entered the World Watch List top 50. The government has openly denied freedom of religion for its citizens. A Christian caught preaching the gospel can face a year in prison.

    Colombia rose 11 places

    Colombia has risen from #41 to #30 on the World Watch List 2021.

    After the breakdown of a 2016 peace deal, organised crime groups have continued their violent control over parts of the country, especially rural areas. These groups prevent Christian leaders from delivering physical and spiritual care, even killing those who spoke against them.

    The 340 million

    The World Watch List is so much more than a ranking of the most dangerous places to be a Christian. It represents people. Our brothers and sisters. The 1 in 8 persecuted for following Jesus.

    As we look towards 2021, please continue praying over the persecuted church.

    Pre order 2021 World Watch List resources…

    Inspired by these stories of brave faith from China? Find out more with our all new 2021 World Watch List resources. We’ve produced an all new map with country stickers and stories, plus a special youth leader guide too.

  • Five things the persecuted church taught us in 2020

    Though 2020 was a year that nobody saw coming, many have weathered the storm with exceptional faithfulness and wisdom. As we take stock of the year that was and look towards the 2021, we remember the radical lessons we learnt from the persecuted church in 2020.

    1. To get to know Jesus, build yourself a cell

    For 23 years, Wang Ming-Dao was imprisoned in China for refusing to renounce his faith. During his sentence, he shared Jesus with his inmates through the sewer pipes that linked their cells. 96 people came to Christ.

    “When I was in the cell the only thing I focused on was getting to know Jesus, it was only me and Him in that cell,” he said.

    “You need to build yourself a cell where it’s only you and Jesus.”

    2. Deep roots bear fruit


    Muktar* disciples secret believers in one of the most dangerous places to follow Jesus.

    “Discipleship training has been conducted for more than two years now,” he said. “Because of that, believers have become deeply rooted in Jesus.

    “They are able to share the gospel with other people. One of our disciples recently had the opportunity to share the gospel with five fellow students at school. One of them came to Jesus, and we believe the other four are on their way.

    “I believe in the future they will take the gospel forward.”

    3. Jesus is the missing peace

    During the pandemic, change and upheaval have been at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and people are seeking answers and meaning more than ever before.

    House church leader, Suri,* said, “People are searching for answers everywhere. They seek God, as only with Him do they feel the peace they’ve been searching for.”

    In an age where truth isn’t always considered absolute, Jesus remains the answer and the peace that people are seeking.

    4. We know where we’re going


    Sop* lived in a small village in Laos. His fellow villagers beat him and cast him out when they discovered his Christian faith.

    In his new village, Sop experienced more threats. But he refused to stop sharing the gospel.

    “I am always reminded that if people try to kill me for my faith, the Bible says not to be afraid,” he said.

    “They can kill my body but not my soul. If they want to kill me, I have no problem with it for I know where I’m going after.”

    5. In crisis, there is opportunity

    In Yemen, COVID-19 compounded the hardship in a country already suffering from years of conflict and famine.

    One believer said, “Even in light of the difficult conditions we’re facing, we feel that the Lord Jesus is with us.”

    “We feel His mercy and closeness to us. A lot of people complain about emptiness and boredom because of the need to stay home more, but I’ve found it to be a valuable opportunity to pray, draw closer to God and feel the affection of His hand outstretched to His children.”

    *Names changed for security purposes

    Want more stories like this?

    Pre-order our 2021 World Watch List resources to get inspired to follow Jesus with all you have this year. Order now and we’ll send them out in early February.

  • Advent reflection (part two): Daniela

    10 minute Christmas reflection

    You’ll need: A Bible and some time.

    ———————-

    For many Christians around the world, risk and threat are part and parcel of everyday life. But it was also a key part of the first Christmas too.

    Watch this vid

    Read

    Matthew 2:13-16

    Think

    • What on earth is happening here?
    • Why would Herod do this? What did he want to achieve?

    Herod was all about power. Israel was occupied by the Romans who had allowed Herod to stay in charge, so he was in a precarious position. Any challenge to his authority could result in rebellions and the Roman empire losing important land and income (in the form of taxes). If either happened he would no longer be ruler, and he’d likely be punished severely by the Romans. He wanted to crush any challenge to his power before it even started – and was desperate to do so.

    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.

    • How are the drug gangs and Herod alike? Why would the gangs target Christians? 

    Both are afraid of losing power. They both use power aggressively and violently. Christians are targeted for various reasons – some refuse to pay the gangs money, others, like Daniela’s dad were showing people how they could get out of gang life or be free of their influence. These things undermine the ability of the gangs to keep ruling and to keep earning money.  

    • What was Daniela’s dad’s attitude towards power? 

    Daniela’s dad was warned. But he chose to keep doing what God had called him to – serving addicts who were left out, excluded and ignored – despite the cost. God’s love in him, and his desire to show that to others, was more powerful than the fear of violence or pain. It’s a different kind of power. 

    Reflect:
    Daniela says, “Although there are difficult times in life, there are also times when Jesus helps us to overcome through people and prayer.” 

    Because of her family’s belief in Jesus, Daniela has lost her dad. This is tragic, especially at Christmas. Think about things you have lost this year. They could be big and really sad things, like a friend or relative getting sick, or they could seem more trivial, like not being able to hold a birthday celebration.  

    Write down two or three things that you’ve lost out on this year, and then spend a moment telling God about it. Be honest about your feelings and emotions. Don’t hold back. Ask Him to help you know His all-powerful love as you reflect on this year of loss. 

    There is hope 

    Read Luke 2:8-12

    Explain: The stories of Daniela and Bijli are tragic, but there is good news, and there is joy. These young people are not alone. Thanks to you, their global church family, they are finding healing and courage. 

    Last year, knowing that it would be dangerous for Bijli and her family (whom we met in session one) to celebrate Christmas at home, we saw how Open Doors partners arranged a Christmas celebration for them, and dozens of other families, in a safe location. It was a real encouragement and chance for Bijli to make new friends who accept her beliefs. The family continue to be supported by Open Doors partners. 

    And whilst Daniela and her brother struggle 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.

    Write

    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 design a little Christmas card for children in Colombia like Daniela who know trauma and pain because of their faith in Jesus? Spend some time designing up a simple card with a message of hope. Use the template and ideas here…

    Pray

    • Pray that Daniela and her family would continue to know God’s healing and that they would thrive in their new home.
    • Thank God for Open Doors partners working on the front lines to serve and support those like Bijli and Daniela who know the risks and cost of following Jesus. Ask for wisdom, strength and passion to keep going.

    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.

  • Advent reflection (part one): Bijli

    10 minute Christmas reflection

    You’ll need: A Bible and some time.

    —————————————-

    Christmas is all about the start of a new family: Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

    But that first Christmas is also the start of another, worldwide family. As followers of Jesus, we’re connected, not by biology, but by belief. As Christians we’re part of God’s global church family. And that all started with the birth of Jesus.

    Now, we know family isn’t an easy thing for many people. And we know Christmas is usually when we spend a lot of time with immediate family. That looks to be especially true this year with Covid-19 restrictions continuing. For some that is a great thing, for others of us, it’ll be harder.

    But whatever your family looks like, let’s spend time thinking about and hearing stories from our global church family. We know this Christmas will look a bit different – we’re facing limitations on gatherings, festive services and parties. 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.

    Watch this vid

    Think

    • Have people ever been mean to you? Have you ever been excluded or left out?
    • Have you been laughed at or left out because of your faith?
    • Think more broadly now, who in our society do we leave out? And why?

    Read out Luke 2:8-12

    Ask:

    • What do you know about the shepherds? How were they viewed by other people?

    Tradition says that shepherds were despised and unclean. Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher, wrote: “the laziest are shepherds, who lead an idle life, and get their subsistence without trouble from tame animals”. It seems that shepherds were, at best, looked down on; at worst, viewed as impure, lazy and not very clever.

    • Why would God reveal the birth of Jesus, the most incredible good news, to people who were looked down on and excluded? People who might not even be listened to?

    Chat about Jesus coming for those society rejects and leaves out.

    • Who else turned up to visit Jesus? How were they different from the shepherds? What does this say about Jesus?

    Think about the contrasting characters mentioned in the first Christmas story – shepherds and wise men. One group from the top and one from the bottom of society. Jesus has come for everyone, He doesn’t care about who is most or least popular – He sees way beyond the labels we put on each other, and loves us no matter how we or others view ourselves.

    Reflect…

    The Christmas story offers hope to all like Bijli who know what it is to be looked down on and left out. At that first Christmas, it was the shepherds who first heard about the birth of Jesus. We’ve seen that the shepherds were social outcasts who were most likely uneducated and excluded by society. But God chooses to reveal his amazing good news to them first. They are the first to visit Jesus and see that God has changed everything.

    They are the first to understand the true message of Christmas: that God is now with us.

    Despite rejection and bullying, and even though she can’t safely celebrate Christmas in her own home, Bijli still knows the truth of Christmas – that God is with her. And Open Doors partners have made sure that Bijli and her family could celebrate Christmas in a safe location, with around 100 other Christians.

    Pray this…

    Lord Jesus, we thank You for our church family around the world. For Bijli and her family, who are willing to change how they live just to have the freedom to celebrate You at Christmas. As we face a different Christmas this year, help us to know how to be family to people, how best to love them and show them You. Amen.

    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.

  • Be family to Daniela

    Christmas is likely to look different for all of us this year. Some of us will be celebrating the birth of Jesus without our friends and family closest to us. You may have even lost somebody you love this year, and this will be your first Christmas without them. Daniela from Colombia (pictured above) is only 12, and she already knows how it feels to lose somebody close to her. In August 2019, her father, Plinio, was murdered because of his faith.

    Plinio was a pastor in La Caucana. It’s a dangerous part of Colombia. But Plinio knew that it was part of his ministry to his community to speak out against organised crime and help prevent young people being recruited.

    Daniela’s mother, Alba, remembers the day that her husband paid the ultimate price for this ministry. “I was working in the kitchen with some other women,” Alba says. “Plinio had gone to church to pray. When he came back, he sat and watched the news. It was a very peaceful day.” She pauses. “Suddenly I heard gunshots.” Plinio was shot twice. Murdered in his own home.

    Forgotten victims

    Daniela isn’t too different to you and I. “I like to draw. I feel inspired when I look at the sky and the trees,” she says. “When I grow up, I want to be an illustrator.” She’s happy to share these things about her life, but when she’s asked what she finds most difficult, it’s obviously harder to speak: “When I think about…” Daniela pauses, and her eyes fill with tears. She tries again. “When I think about my dad…” That’s all she is able to say.

    Alba has seen how much the tragic event has affected her children: “My son [Sebastián] is very expressive. He cries and often says things like, ‘I don’t want anything to happen to you, because I’d be left alone.’ On the other hand, Daniela is less expressive. She cries a little but doesn’t express her feelings.”

    Children are often the forgotten victims of persecution. Even if they aren’t directly targeted, the impact of having your parents threatened, attacked or even killed can last for many years. And times like Christmas can really bring home the loss. “Christmas for me is being with my family,” says Daniela, echoing how many of us feel. “I believe that celebrating the birth of Jesus is a moment of joy! Usually we celebrate together as a family; we’ll cook and eat together. I also remember a Christmas that we spent with the church brothers and our family, simply enjoying and talking.”

    Replacing isolation and grief with joy

    In 2019, Open Doors partners were able to take Daniela, Sebastián and Alba to a children’s centre, run thanks to your support. They could have a break, safe from danger and away from sadness and isolation, finding comfort and joy as they celebrated Christmas with other believers. When Daniela and her family arrived, all the staff and children were waiting outside with a big welcome home banner.


    Image: Thanks to you, Daniela and her family were able to celebrate with their church family and start to heal

    “I didn’t expect so many people,” remembers Daniela. “It made me feel so good. I was really happy to be surrounded by so many loving people.” They spent four weeks there. “I felt good for the first time in a long time,” says Daniela. “I met many children and learned that, although there are difficult times in life, there are also times when Jesus helps us to overcome through people and prayer.”

    Daniela also saw the change in her family. “She saw that she doesn’t have to walk through this time of grief alone,” Daniela says of her mum. “She felt surrounded by other people. For Sebastián, it was the best experience he ever had! He likes to run and play football, so he invited the boys to play with him at the Children’s Centre.”

    After seeing how dangerous the area was where the family were living, Open Doors arranged a new house for them in a much safer area. “This was only possible through the gracious prayers and gifts of our supporters,” an Open Doors worker says. “Alba wants to open a sewing workshop in her home. Daniela and Sebastián are at school and are happy. Through the trauma support, we can see that they are moving on with their lives, despite the painful loss they suffered.”


    Image: Daniela and her family are beginning to heal

    Many families in Colombia are still in danger. In the region where they lived, two other pastors were recently killed by gangs for preaching the gospel. Drug traffickers see the church as threatening their way of life. Many pastors and their families are vulnerable and live with the fear of threats being carried out – or the tragic consequences, if they already have. Open Doors helps these families by giving them pastoral and psychological support, financial aid and – in some of the most harmful cases – a permanent home for children at the Children’s Centre.

    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 like Daniela? Learn their stories in our youth sessions and videos, write a Christmas card or message to encourage them and even send a gift.

  • Blackout launches this weekend!

    Blackout is our challenge to get sponsored to give up something you love for a short time to raise money and prayer for those prepared to lose everything for Jesus.

    The Blackout launch weekend is this weekend, and though you can Blackout whenever you want, we wanted to make sure that you’ve got everything you need! Here’s a quick checklist.

    1. Make sure you’ve signed up

    If you sign up then we can send you an awesome fundraising pack in the post including fill-in-yourself poster, story/prayer guide and temp tattoos. Plus you’ll also then get access to a bunch of online resources too. We’ve made a promo poster, social networking graphics, put together a bunch of interactive prayer ideas and even written a youth session. There’s loads of stuff to help you promote what you’re doing, and stuff to help you connect and pray with your persecuted family during your Blackout too. Signing up is easy – just fill out the form here…

    If your pack hasn’t arrived, drop us an email and we’ll look into it. Do use the pack and let us know what you think of the resources!

    2. Don’t forget – raise money!

    Giving up something you love is going to be a massive challenge, so don’t forget to make the most of it and ask people to sponsor you. As you give up something you love you can help to support people who have been forced to give up everything because of their faith in Jesus.

    Raising an amazing £60 could help provide access to a safe house for a believer fleeing extreme persecution.

    If you haven’t already – set up a justgiving page – it’s a really simple way to gather sponsors (and you don’t have to chase anyone who doesn’t pay up!!).

    3. Challenge others

    We’d love loads of people to join us in raising money and prayer by losing what they love. So do this now.

    • Download this image and edit so it says what you are giving up
    • Text it to three mates or put it on your social feed and tag three friends to challenge them to join you!

    4. Feature on our Instagram

    We’d also love to feature you on our Instagram account too. Make a short video (under 15 seconds so we can put on our Stories) introducing yourself and letting us know what you’re giving up. Post it up to your feed,  tag us (@opendoorsyouthuk) and we’ll repost it.

    You could also email us an image and a little description of what you’re doing too!


    Thanks taking part in Blackout and choosing to lose. We pray you’ll be inspired and challenged as you give up something you love, and that you’ll also meet with God afresh, the one worth giving it all for.

  • New video: Family

    Check out this video reflection from Naomi and Jamie (and a few others too) on the theme of family. As Christians we see the Church as a family – we’re brothers and sisters in Christ, united through our faith in Jesus. This video is an insight into the persecuted church around the world and the real challenges some of our church family are going through.

    We made this as part of Youthscape’s Together Apart series of resources, you can check them out here (they are all free)…

    Once you’ve watched the video, think through these questions:

    1. What defines family for you?
    We’ve all got different families. Some of us might have grown up with just one, or no, parents, whilst others of us have mum, dad, brothers, sisters, pet dog and a massive extended family too. Think through your experiences of family and how they have impacted you. What would your ideal family look like?

    2. What is God’s idea of family?
    Being a Christian gives us a massive shift in our understanding of what family means. 1 John 3:1 says ‘See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children
    of God’. Accepting Jesus means we get a new Father, but that also means we get a new family too. Our love of God, and His Spirit in us, gives us, as Christians, a connection or bond that Biblical writers liken to family. God’s idea of family isn’t simply about biology, or even a geographic proximity. It goes beyond all of that… it’s something much bigger.

    3. How does this effect how you view your own family, and your church family?
    We all know that we don’t get to choose our families. We have to stick with what we’ve got, through good and bad! That’s true of our church family as much as our biological families. Think about Hadija in the story. Her biological family rejected her, but a lady from her church family adopted her – and gave her a whole new life – amazing. Her idea of family has been redefined and changed. Is God also calling us to widen our perspectives and see our global church family as important as the people we see each week on a Sunday at church! What do you think?

    Pray now…

    • Thank God for the good experiences you have had of family. Pray for those people you consider family/like family and the good influences and ways they have impacted you.
    • Ask God to help you see and care for His Church – the family He is building.
    • Pray for Hadija and Melina. Thanks God for their family and ask that many others risking it all to follow Him would know a loving, caring and supportive church family.

    Want to do something to support your church family?

    Join the Blackout and get sponsored to give up something you love for those like Hadija who are prepared to lose everything for Jesus. Raise money and prayer. Choose what to give up, for how long and when! Sign up and we’ll send you an awesome fundraising pack in the post!

  • Watch Standing Strong Online now…

    Watch our live event, Standing Strong Online 2020, to hear and see inspiring stories of courageous faith from Syria, Nigeria and China, with worship led by Tim Hughes. The evening was aired lived on Saturday 3rd October, but you watch the stream below to stand with the persecuted church in prayer and hear first-hand how God is working. Catch up below with all the testimonies, worship and prayer during evening.

    Want to do something in response? 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 featured in Standing Strong Online who have lost out because of their faith in Jesus? Sign up and we’ll send you an awesome fundraising pack in the post!

  • Why would you choose to lose?

    If you believe the hype, we humans love to win. Whether it’s Darwin and the survival of the fittest theory, a Premier League footballer desperate for a trophy or when you’re just trying to wind up your little brother or sister in a board game, the desire to win is supposed to be part of our DNA. So why would you ever choose to lose?

    Did you see that Spanish triathlete, Diego, in the news recently? He was in fourth place with just 100 metres or so until the finish line. He had no chance of finishing third and getting a medal. Then the guy in front, James, misreads some signs and runs the wrong way. Diego overtakes him. A few metres from the finish line, Diego stops to let James take third. He gave up his medal-winning place.

    Diego said: “When I saw that he had missed the route, I just stopped. James deserved this medal”.

    Winning isn’t everything. Diego realised that choosing to lose was the right thing. And in doing so his morals and sportsmanship have been praised around the world.

    Want to be first?

    Jesus spoke to this desire in our character to win in both His life and teachings. He lived it. And instead of being the traditional strong, winning hero character, He pushed a different mentality:

    “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last. They must be the servant of everyone.”
    Mark 9:35

    “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled,
    and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

    Luke 18:14

    He regularly challenged and angered those who were ‘winners’ in His society. The ruling religious elites just couldn’t get their heads around His ideas. Jesus said it wasn’t about being rich and powerful or praying and doing the right things at the right times, but about humbling yourself before God in everything and at every time. Think about it: 2,000 years ago He was falsely accused, put on trial and then crucified – hardly a winning end in the eyes of the world. But we know that isn’t how it all finishes.

    The upside-down

    By all accounts, the rich young ruler was a winner (Mark 10:17-27). He had devoutly followed all the religious rules and had gained money, influence and property. But his interaction with Jesus ends with the implication that he couldn’t give up his wealth – the thing God had pinpointed in his heart. In contrast, when Jesus and His disciples see people giving money at the temple, Jesus praises not those who have the most, but the poor widow who gave the least. He explains: “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:44).

    In Jesus’ kingdom, everything is turned upside down. Wealth, security, reputation, medals, abilities – all the things that help us to believe we’re winning in life – Jesus doesn’t really care about. These things fade and He sees right through them. We may value them now, but Jesus says that it is our relationship with God that is the real win. Not fame, followers or funds.

    This is one thing that many in our persecuted church family have grasped much better than us. In many places, following Jesus is a ‘losing’ choice. It could mean your family reject you. It could mean losing your job, home and security. In other places it could mean losing your freedom because of a prison sentence. In some places, it could mean losing your life.

    The losing choice


    Image: Nhung and his family – we can’t show their faces for security reasons

    Back in April, Nhung* and his family from northern Vietnam chose Jesus. They knew their decision would have consequences – Nhung was a government official and, because Vietnam is run by the Communist Party, he wasn’t supposed to be involved with any religion. In August, the local authorities found out about the family’s choice to follow Jesus.
    There was a lot of pressure on the family to give up their faith, but they stood firm, telling those intimidating them how God had changed their lives since they became Christians.

    Because they refused to give up Christianity, Nhung lost his party membership and his job. Since then, the family has a new dilemma: give up Jesus or be forced out of their home and village.

    By all accounts, in choosing Jesus, Nhung has made a losing choice. So why have he and his family stuck with it? Why would he give up a decent life and job, his reputation, money and nice home?

    Nhung deeply knows what we sometimes miss – that in choosing Jesus we can never lose. He knows that the last will be first and first will be last. He knows that in Jesus, things spin upside down and that our source of worth and value can never be found in things, but only in God.

    Paul, who wrote a chunk of the New Testament, said something similar. In his life he faced arrest, prison, riots, beatings, ship-wrecks and eventually execution. In the midst of it all he wrote: “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8)

    With Jesus, no matter what life throws at us and whether it looks like we’re losing we know we’ve already won – and that is the upside-down.

     

    Could you choose to lose?

    So, could you choose to lose? What is that thing that you love? Read through the story of the rich young ruler (Mark 10: 17-27) and see what God pinpoints in your heart – something you love doing, having or eating!

    Could you get sponsored to give that up for a short time to raise money and prayer for persecuted Christians – those prepared to lose everything because they have chosen Jesus?

    Could you stand with them, and explore their incredible brave and courageous faith?

    Could you use that time to draw closer to God, choosing to put Him above all else… the ultimate winning choice?

    Join the Blackout and choose to lose something you love – we’ll send you an awesome pack to help you raise funds and connect with God and the brave faith of your persecuted family.

    Pray now…

    • That God will encourage Nhung and his family, and they will be strengthened in their faith
    • That God will provide for them and help Nhung find a new job
    • For God to protect and comfort them

    *Name changed for security reasons

  • Sheona clears out to help out!

    Sheona (Sheo) is a 23-year-old Open Doors supporter who took to Instagram with a fresh way to raise money for the persecuted church during lockdown – here, she shares what she did and why. You can find Sheo on Instagram @sheosclothes.


    Image:
    Sheo, an Open Doors supporter, in the Scottish Highlands

    I have been in the most beautiful part of the UK, the Scottish Highlands, for the whole of lockdown and I have enjoyed the slow pace of life during this time. It has been an absolute joy to go for walks, read, bake and try a random mixture of new creative projects – turns out embroidery is actually really difficult but so worth the effort!

    I have found it hard not being able to see my parents and there have been big life changes which have been sad, but ultimately I have so much to be thankful for. I have remained healthy and so have all my loved ones. In many ways I have felt phenomenally guilty for how much I have enjoyed lockdown, especially when you hear stories of how hard it has been for so many.

    Clear out to help out

    Reading stories across the world of people struggling due to lack of finances, struggles with physical and mental health, and abuse in a variety of forms are really heart-breaking to read. It left me feeling totally helpless in what I could do to help and how I could share Jesus while I do it. During lockdown I was able to clear out my closet, piling up clothes I have accumulated over the years that I no longer wear, no longer fit or no longer need.

    With charity shops still closed and nowhere to drop them off I thought I could maybe use them to make money for organisations who were doing the work I wish I could be doing personally. I love how Instagram makes it so easy to connect with people and so I decided to use that platform to sell my clothes, on a donation only basis.

    Supporting persecuted believers in India

    Through talks with my sister I started looking into the work of Open Doors. It broke my heart reading stories of Christians in India being refused basic human needs due to their faith in Jesus Christ. In India, many Christians already face persecution for their faith. I can’t get my head around how someone can be refused food and aid during a global pandemic because of their faith. India is a place very close to my heart, as I grew up there in Ludhiana and Mussoori and still have many friends living there, so this seemed like the perfect place for my fundraising to go towards.

    “It is so easy to feel like you are helpless and that you can’t make an impact but it has been a joy to remember that God uses everything for good.”

    The response to my Instagram sale has been phenomenal. I am amazed by how generous people are and how willing people are to get involved. In just two days we had made about £350 from clothes that had been in my cupboard. Now it’s over £750! Not only that, I had messages from friends saying they loved the idea and asking if they could donate their clothes to the project too. I had set out with the idea of making a little money for Open Doors and getting rid of some old clothes. Somehow along the way it became a little bigger and I am so excited to see where it goes from here.

    Being an offering

    My middle name is actually Arpana which is the Hindi word for ‘offering’. I aim to live a life that reflects that, offering up my time, talents and, in this case, my clothing to the work of the Lord. It is so easy to feel like you are helpless and that you can’t make an impact but it has been a joy to remember that God uses everything for good. What can seem like such a small act, God can turn into something much bigger.

    Please keep praying for the work this money is going towards and give thanks for the generosity people have shown at this time.

    Want to raise money?

    Up for raising money for Open Doors too? Amazing, get in touch and send us your ideas and plan, or get involved in Blackout and get sponsored to give up something you love for a short time to raise money for people who have lost everything because of their love of Jesus.

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