• 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.

    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.

  • August activities: Week four – Speak to your friends and family

    At the start of August we posted out to you a series of postcards with a challenge to do each week during August. We’re now at our final week, and we want you to do something amazing – to choose to lose something you love to stand with those who have lost everything because of their love of Jesus.

    Week four: Speak to your friends and family

    God has given you talents, skills and passions to be used for Him. What do you love? Football, your phone, dancing, X-Box, eating, reading, gaming, cooking, running, YouTube, baking, swimming, skating, music? What is it for you?

    It might seem weird calling these things talents. You might think,  ‘It’s just something I can do, no big deal.’ But to someone else, your passion could be an inspiration. The guy who started Open Doors, Brother Andrew, began smuggling Bibles by recognising a need and doing what he could to meet that need. It’s was just something he did, but he’s changed millions of lives through his actions.

    Could you use your talents and passions to help raise awareness and money for God’s global church? Many people do not know that Christians are persecuted for their faith. You could help others learn. You could help change the lives of our persecuted family.


    Sign-up to Blackout and get sponsored to lose what you love.
    Persecuted Christians often have to give up everything to follow Jesus: their families, homes, jobs, friends, freedoms and, sometimes, even their lives. Could you give up something you love for a weekend and ask people to sponsor you, raising much-needed funds for our persecuted church family? Every year we run Blackout, challenging young people and youth groups to raise money together for persecuted Christians.


    • List the things you love and thank God for them now.
    • Then ask God how you can use these things you love to raise awareness and money for the persecuted church.
    • Sign up for Blackout here, and we’ll email you a graphic you can post on social media – tagging three friends  challenging them to get involved in Blackout too.
    • Set yourselves a fundraising target, or compete to see who can raise the most!
  • August activities: Week three – Speak to your persecuted fam!

    At the start of August we posted out to you a series of postcards with a challenge to do each week during August. We’re now at week three, and we want you to do something incredible – to send a letter to Christian children in India who have been impacted by persecution. Read on to send a message of hope!

    Week three: Speak to your persecuted family

    Have you ever felt forgotten? Felt like no one cares about you? For many Christians, the decision to follow Jesus means they can face threats and exclusion by their communities. It means no one wants anything to do with them. Harsh, right?

    This is especially true in India, where there is a strong feeling that everyone should be Hindu. Christian homes have been attacked, and believers have been thrown out of their villages. Last week we learnt that some are refused vital aid; others can be denied education and even water.

    Children and teenagers from Hindu backgrounds who choose to follow Jesus can face even harsher treatment. “Christianity is considered a detestable religion in our village,” one young boy said. He started to attend church secretly, but when his mother found out he was told off and beaten many times.

    This isn’t fair, It’s not right, And we know that our church family in India need encouragement So let’s send them some.


    Encourage your persecuted family: Everyone loves getting messages, and if you were having a rough time, imagine getting a load of messages from people on the other side of the world! It’d help you realise that you’re not forgotten. So write, draw or film a message that we can pass on to encourage vulnerable Christian children and teenagers in India

    Grab some pens, pencils, paints and some paper and get creating. Then, take a pic of your message and email it to us at If you want to send a video, just email it to us at the same address!

    Here’s some tips…

    • Keep your drawings and messages ‘light’ (e.g. no pictures of things associated with war etc)
    • Do not mention Open Doors
    • Keep it simple and make it encouraging

    If you’re stuck why not…

    • Write a prayer
    • Write out a Bible verse
    • Write the lyrics of your fave worship song
    • Draw a picture of a global church community

    Pray this

    Lord Jesus, thank You for touching the lives of children in India. Be with them now, help them to know we, their church family, are praying. Help them to know that ‘the joy of the Lord is their strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10). Amen

  • August activities: Week two – Speak to your MP!

    Earlier this month, we posted out a little series of postcards setting you a challenge each week throughout August to make a stand and do something simple to help your persecuted church family. This week, we want you to speak to your MP. Sounds scary, boring or hard work? Don’t get put off – we’ve made it simple. And it’s really important – your MP represents you in our government, part of their job is to hear your views, so tell them you’re worried about persecution and the rights of Christians around the world! Read on…

    Week two: Speak to your MP!

    Ever had someone push in front of you in a queue? It’s pretty annoying, and just not fair, isn’t it?

    Well, did you know that Christians around the world are forced to be the last in the line when it comes to getting help from their governments and communities?

    During the Covid-19 pandemic, already vulnerable Christians are being ignored and left to fend for themselves. In northern Vietnam (a communist country, where the government sees Christianity as a bad western influence), 107 people from 18 families, who couldn’t work and earn money because of the Covid-19 lockdown, were refused aid by the local authorities. They were told: “You are Christians and your God will take care of your family! The government is not responsible for your families!”

    This is shocking. It shouldn’t be happening. And did you know, you have power to do something about it?


    Send your MP a message: Your voice is powerful. You can influence those in power to change the systems and regimes that mean Christians are ignored in the first place. Writing to your MP means they will know about this issue and can then act; they also HAVE to respond to you, it’s an important part of their job.

    1. Go to and fill out the simple form to send an email to your MP, asking them to urgently write to the Department for International Development about how Christians are being treated. It will take one minute, you don’t have to write anything and when you put in your postcode, it’ll automatically find your MP for you!

    2. Now, take a pic of yourself with a cross and an empty bowl (like the example pic here).

    . Share the pic on Instagram, tagging your MP (whose name you’ll know from step one) and also @opendoorsyouthuk and #thelastinline


    Your words have power. After writing to your MP, why not share what’s going on with a friend or your family over a meal? Offer to cook, and over the meal share what you’ve done, why and challenge those present to do it too. We’ve shared a situation from Vietnam above, so you might want to cook a simple noodle dish. You can find more stories about Christians who are #thelastinline here…


    Father God, we thank You for those following You even if that means they are last in the line. We pray for provision of food and for protection and wisdom for Open Doors partners as they serve those in need. Help Christians use the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to show and share God’s love with their neighbours. And help me use my freedom to boldy follow You and speak against injustice. Amen.

  • August activities: Week one – let God speak!

    Well, it’s August – officially the summer holidays (though after the last few months, does it feel any different?). We know the summer holidays can be pretty fun, but with holidays being cancelled and social restrictions coming and going, we wanted to give you a few things to do with all the time you have – a few things that will help you realise that you can do some incredible things with the time and freedom you have.

    So, we devised a nice piece of post to send out to everyone on our mailing list. Inside the envelope are four cards, one to open each week in August including a story, prayers and activities to inspire and challenge you. And if you didn’t get it through your letterbox, don’t panic, you can join in with the activities and fun here…

    Firstly, you can download a digital version of this week’s card here to see what it’s like…


    Week one: Let God speak

    Week beginning 3 August

    Do you own a Bible? Do you think it’s important? In some places, being found with a Bible can mean serious, sometimes deadly, trouble. Yet, many Christians are willing to take huge risks to learn from God’s Word.

    In the same way, letting God speak to you through the Bible, his Word, can change your life.

    Mojtaba from Iran was arrested because he led a house church. Whilst in prison, he kept asking if he could have a Bible. All the guards said ‘no’ but, amazingly, a Muslim religious leader brought him photocopied pages of the Bible disguised as English lessons. The guards had no idea what the pages were. Mojtaba started translating and copying them for other prisoners. He said, “the best thing was that prisoners were giving their lives to the Jesus of the Bible.”

    In North Korea it’s incredibly dangerous to own a Bible. Anyone caught with a Bible is likely to be sent to one of the countries horrific labour camps – some may even be killed. Instead, Christians hide their Bibles, only reading them when it’s absolutely safe to do so. They memorise verses, sometimes creating sock Bibles by writing out verses and hiding them in their socks!


    • Find a scrap of paper and write out the verses below from Psalm 119.
    • Then fold up the scrap of paper and hide it in your sock for the week. When you have a moment, take it out and try to memorise the verses.
    • Try choosing other verses to add to your ‘Sock Bible’.

    ‘How can a young person stay
    on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word.
    I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
    I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.’
    Psalm 119:9-11

    Want tips on how to memorise the Bible or take this further? Get our innovative ‘Hidden Word’ resource….


    Pray for Christians who don’t have access to the Bible – ask that God would help them to know him and for them to be able to get hold of a Bible to help them grow in their faith. And, ask God to speak to you through the Bible this week.

    Did you know

    At Open Doors, we’re passionate about people having free access to God’s Word. Last year, thanks to your help, Open Doors distributed 1,873,503 Bibles and Christian books in countries where Christians are under pressure! You can help get a Bible into the hands of a persecuted Christian for just £10. Find out more here…

  • 100,000 reasons to be thankful during the Covid-19 crisis

    Your gifts and prayers have meant a milestone has been reached in Asia – 100,000 believers have been given crucial Covid-19 food and aid so far! Many of these Christians are left at the back of the queue when aid is distributed.

    Thank you so much for your support and prayers.

    Here are some things you can do now as a response…

  • Missing a festival or youth camp?

    One of the things we’re going to miss most over the summer is going to a bunch of festivals and camps where we get to hang out with mates in all kinds of venues and get inspired to follow Jesus with greater passion and depth. With festivals and camps cancelled loads of our friends are hosting their events online, which is great – we’ll see you at some of them – but we will massively miss not being able to be in a big tent or venue with hundreds or thousands of others, singing out our love of Jesus.

    And we’re not alone in that. Around the world, young Christians spend time away at camps to learn more about Jesus, many of which will have had to be cancelled too. For us in the UK, these events may seem like a bit of a lifeline – a high faith point in our years. But just imagine how important they would be if you would normally never be able to speak about your faith, or even had to go to a secret church.

    In Malaysia, a largely Muslim country where the minority of Christians face discrimination when it comes to accessing government services, it is technically illegal for Malay people to leave Islam. Pre lockdown, Open Doors partners were running youth camps to help encourage and strengthen the faith of Christian young people.

    If you’re feeling a bit nostalgic about old times at Soul Survivor, New Wine, Dreaming the Impossible or Limitless, then check out the video to see what camps for Malaysian young people look like…


    • What will you miss most about not going to a festival or camp this summer?
    • What differences could you see between the Malaysian camp in the video and a camp or festival you’ve been to?
    • Did you hear how some of the young people reacted when seeing a Bible (they kissed it)? How do you view your Bible?
    • Did you hear what Pastor Lukas said about having access to a Bible? If we don’t read it for ourselves, if we rely on hearing what others think about it, we may never live our ‘true life’. What do you think he meant by that? How can reading the Bible help you live your true life?

    Pray now…

    • Jump to the final section of the video and pause on the prayer points screen. Pray through the different prayer needs.

    New, free resource: Secret Church!

    Want to experience just some of what it’s like to be church as a secret community of believers? Get our new version of Secret Church to journey with hidden believers, seeing how they worship, learn from the Bible, pray and be community together. Plus, we’ve created the resource to work over a video chat – so it’s completely lockdown friendly!

  • From fortune teller to faith

    Amanda* and her husband come from a small Muslim village in Northern China. While most people in her village thought she was a full-time housewife, Amanda had a secret. She was a fortune-teller.

    Word began to spread that Amanda was exceptionally good at her ‘craft’ of fortune-telling, and people travelled from other villages to ask guidance about their future and seek solutions for their problems.

    But then Amanda was struck by a mysterious illness. One day she awoke and was unable to move any of her limbs. Her husband rushed her to hospital, but the doctors were unable to diagnose the problem.

    “I was so afraid,” Amanda recounted. She thought God was punishing her – she thought she had displeased him.

    Amanda’s sister was a Christian and visited her in hospital. She told Amanda, “Jesus is the only Saviour for all mankind.”

    Image: Church service in state approved Three Self Church in Urumqi, China.

    That night Jesus revealed himself to Amanda in a dream.

    “In the dream, I was in a taxi and it was very dark outside,” Amanda recalled. “We were driving into complete darkness. Suddenly, three men wearing white robes with radiant light all around them appeared on the right-hand side of the car. I couldn’t see their faces, but they told me it was time for me to make a choice. As quickly as they had appeared, they were gone.

    “Then two men wearing black robes appeared to the left of the taxi. They approached me and tried to entice me to join them on their side of the car. Something drew me inexplicably to the pure white robes, so I got out on the right-hand side of the taxi.

    “I woke from the dream and knew immediately that one of the men in white robes was Jesus, and that I was to follow Him. I prayed right there in my bed and immediately the paralysis left my body. It has never returned.” Miraculously, her husband experienced the same dream months later, and also came to faith.

    Amanda’s ‘craft’ has been changed by her encounter with Christ. Now, when people come to ask for wisdom and solutions to their problems, Amanda points them towards Jesus. She prays that he will illuminate their lives with his truth and love.

    Image: Children playing in the village streets, Central China.

    But Amanda’s conversion hasn’t been free of persecution. When her father-in-law found out that she had become a Christian, he lost his temper and treats Amanda and her children badly.

    In spite of the persecution from her relatives, Amanda continues to share the gospel with others. Many have found the Lord, and up until the coronavirus crisis began, they were meeting once a week to read the Bible and pray together.

    Even in the hardest places to follow Jesus, his light is continuing to shine through believers just like Amanda.

    Pray now…

    • Thank God for Amanda and ask that God will strengthen and encourage her.
    • For the small group of believers Amanda was discipling. Pray they’d be still about to meet using technology to share with and encourage one another.
    • For Amanda’s grandparents to come to know Jesus.

    New, free resource: Secret Church!

    Want to experience just some of what it’s like to be church as a secret community of believers? Get our new version of Secret Church to journey with hidden believers, seeing how they worship, learn from the Bible, pray and be community together. Plus, we’ve created the resource to work over a video chat – so it’s completely lockdown friendly!

    *Name changed for security purposes

  • Lessons from the lockdown

    Mike Gore, who heads up Open Doors in Australia, reflects on the lessons he’s been learning during the lock down…

    I recently had a conversation with a friend about the global lockdown. The conversation reminded me that even though this period of isolation can feel claustrophobic and oppressive, what if this isolation is actually a hand on the back from the Lord, pushing us in to a beautiful, focused relationship with Him?

    At the height of persecution [in China] in the 50’s and the 60’s, the church was dispersed, and forced into homes – much like we’re experiencing now.

    Chinese believers reflected that “before persecution came we practised our faith and our love for God in the church – and almost nowhere else, but when persecution came it dispersed the church, and we practised faith in our homes, and because of that – everywhere else.”

    Prayers have been answered

    Image: A Chinese woman looking towards her closed church.

    Churches have gathered online as we can’t meet in person and the church is really starting to understand that it is much more than a building. Many leaders always remind us to reach out to our communities and “be a Monday Christian too!”. Because of the lockdown, overnight these prayers were answered, and churches were scattered into homes. People are responding, doing what they can to help their neighbours. The church is stepping up, all over the world.

    Less content, more connection

    Image: A Christian family gather in their home, Syria

    Over the last few weeks, I have seen people become more comfortable with our situation, and churches have decreased their focus on content as they increased their focus on connection. That is the key in what we’ve learned from the persecuted church. When the church is forced into homes, the battleground shouldn’t be around the best deliverable content – the battleground is connection.

    Stripping back all the distractions of culture, and all the things we found our identity in – whether it is church, work or socialising – we’ve realised that when all our distractions are gone – we’re still okay.


    Image: Believers praying together for the persecuted church

    One of the risks is that we will look back on this time in history and see a decline in the number of regular church-attending Christians. A major reason will be that the pursuit of content over connection has left some believers saying, ‘I haven’t even heard from my church’.

    For others, their routine will be forever interrupted by the change in church setting and they won’t go back to the building as often. We will also see a broadening of the gospel as people become used to receiving information online – but from a variety of sources.

    But I believe we will also see a reduction of denominational lines and the patriotism surrounding denominations. I’m hoping we’ll see a far more unified Church arise from this pandemic.

    Faith in the home

    Image: Believers praying at a house church gathering, Laos.

    When faith is brought out of our church, it enters the rest of the world. That’s one the most beautiful realities of what we’re experiencing now; faith has become a part of our homes.

    This pandemic has become a super intimate, faith-growing – and hopefully faith-deepening, experience. Let us use this opportunity to grow the Church as we see God working during this pandemic!

    Grow with God during the lockdown: Isolated Church…

    To help you through this time of enforced social distancing and isolation, we’re releasing a series of new content every week. Were going to be looking at how the persecuted church can inspire us during this time of lockdown. Sign up for our weekly emails to get fresh videos, stories, reflections, prayers and actions – all of which you can do from home!

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