Archive

  • Video: Forgiveness

    Jeovani is from Central African Republic. A few years ago he was in church when a grenade landed at his feet. The grenade exploded. People died, Jeovani survived, but lost both of his legs. But, now, he’s chosen to forgive his attackers, and in doing so his example is changing his community.

    Bible:

    Read Ephesians 4: 31-32
    ‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.’

    Think:

    • If you were in Jeovani’s situation, which part of the passage would you find hardest to live out?
    • How did Jeovani’s forgiveness affect his pastor?
    • How does it make you feel knowing that despite suffering so much, Jeovani has chosen to forgive the people who did this to him?
    • Is there anyone you feel prompted to forgive?
    • Jeovani’s actions had a big impact on those around him. Could you influence others by forgiving those who have hurt you?

    Jeovani’s story is incredibly powerful. Despite losing his legs, he’s forgiven his attackers and is moving on, not letting hate or fear guide his future. In following Jesus’ command to forgive, he has helped change his community too. The challenge from Jeovani’s story is to realise that in living like Jesus, and in forgiving those who hurt us, we can change things. People don’t have to retaliate and escalate anger or violence. There is another way. Can we embrace that?

    Pray:

    Father God, thank You for the peace we enjoy in our country and that we can go to church without fear. Help us to remember to pray for Christians who have to live out their faith bravely every day. Holy Spirit, help us follow Jeovani’s example and be people of love and forgiveness.

    NANO – Forgiveness group session outline

    This video and Jeovani’s story are the central feature of our latest NANO youth group session outline. Download it for free for a simple session plan with games, discussion points, Bible material and prayer ideas.

  • God will never leave us

    As a teenager, it can be hard to be a Christian. There’s all kinds of pressures facing us, and holding onto God can be really tough. For Farah, from the Middle East, her faith in Jesus is shared by her family, but being a Christian has had some severe consequences for them. Her home was raided by the authorities, her things were searched, her dad arrested. She’s been spied on, followed and had to leave her home country all because she and her family have chosen to believe in Jesus. Watch her story below:

    Think…

    • Is there anything in this story that has stuck with you?
    • If faced with prison and hassle from authorities, how would you respond?
    • Farah’s dad kept sharing about Jesus even after he was told doing so would get him in serious trouble. He knew the cost, but wanted others to know Jesus too. Ben inspired by Farah’s dad – how can you take a risk for Jesus this week?

    Pray…

    • Thank God for Farah and her family. Ask God to give them courage and strength as they settle into life in a new country.
    • That Farah’s dad will be able to find stable work and income.
    • The family will be part of an incredible and supportive church community.
    • That Farah would do really well in her studies and find brilliant friends who accept her and her beliefs.

    Write

    You can write to Farah now. Use the form on this page to send her a message of encouragement and hope as she adjusts to life in a new country.

  • Holding on

    We all go through times when we feel like we’re just holding onto our faith. Over the last year the covid lockdown has dictated how we see friends, engage with church and meant many of us have missed out on big life changes. Some of us might have felt we’re just holding onto our faith when the ordinary supports that keep it in place (church, friends, youth group) have been taken away. If that’s you, we hope the emergence out of lockdown brings hope. But we also know we can find inspiration, challenge and encouragement from our persecuted church family. Sarika’s* story is one that might help you keep holding onto God…

    “Some time ago my family started going to church and believing in Jesus, but people from our village opposed us. They brainwashed my father and now he no longer considers himself a Christian. Now, only me, my mother and brother are believers.”

    Sarika is 15 and from Central India. She’s working hard at school, she has exams coming up – but it’s not easy to study and focus when her dad is so opposed to what she believes. 

    “We are not allowed to go to church, but we still go in secret. My mother and I have experienced the presence of Jesus Christ and His love in our life; this is why we do not want to leave Jesus. Even if my father scolds and tortures us, we do not want to leave our faith.”  

    After her dad found out that Sakira was planning on getting baptised, he beat her mother. He’s put idols of Hindu gods around the house and is trying to make his family worship them. Sarika and her mother keep refusing, despite the pressure – they pray to Jesus instead.  

    It can’t be easy for Sakira and her mum. But their commitment to keep going despite questions, pressure and intimidation is incredible. We all face doubts and questions, and Sakira has many, but she’s holding onto God and the promises of His love and faithfulness. Spend a few minutes looking up the following passages and pray that Sakira and her mum would know the truth of them now. Once you’re done, go back through the passages and pray the same for yourself.

    Philippians 3:8
    Habakkuk 3:17-19
    Romans 8:38-39

    What can you do now?

    Want to respond and help your persecuted family around the world? Get our World Watch List prayer map and resources to learn more and pray regularly.

    *Names changed for security reasons…

  • God is my rock

    Taher and his family were secret believers in a closed country in the Middle East. When their faith was discovered, Taher was arrested and ruthlessly interrogated by the secret police – but he refused to give up the names of fellow believers. Here’s his story.

    When the man came to Taher and Donya’s door, only Donya, his wife was in. The man said he was a postal worker. Donya knew he wasn’t, but by then it was too late.

    “When I opened the door, he put his foot down so I couldn’t close it,” she remembers. He was from the secret police. And others were behind him. They ruthlessly ransacked the home shared by Taher, Donya and their daughters Farah and Arezoo (all names changed for security reasons). They were looking for any evidence of the family’s Christian faith.

    Watch Taher’s story now…

    Taher was arrested and spent time in prison, where he was questioned and threatened. The secret service eventually released Taher on bail. During his sentencing, Taher was given one condition for his release: that he stop telling other people about Jesus. The judge told Taher that he wouldn’t get such leniency a second time – that, if he were arrested again, he would be executed.

    You might have read about the early the apostles’ miraculous escape from prison in Acts 5. Peter and others had been arrested and put in the public jail – “But during the night, an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out” (Acts 5:19). As soon as they were released, the apostles once again began preaching about Jesus in the temple courts. When he was challenged, Peter said “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29).

    Taher’s response was exactly the same. What did he do when he was released by the judge? “I went back home and started ministering and evangelising again,” he says. Amazingly, he has also forgiven the interrogators who persecuted him so relentlessly: “The time that I had with Jesus in prison was the real freedom for me.”

    Pray now…

    • That all secret believers would know that they are not alone, and that God would enable them to find fellowship and discipleship
    • For Christian refugees to find safety, community and hope
    • That Open Doors fieldworkers would be equipped to serve secret and isolated believers in the Middle East.

    Learn more…

    Want to respond and help your persecuted family around the world? Get our World Watch List prayer map and resources to learn more and pray regularly.

    *Name changed for security reasons…

  • “God, maybe this is the last meal…”

    “Maybe this is the last meal I will have with my family.”

    Qi Ming is a church leader from China. When his church was closed down he was forced to flee for his life.

    Watch the video to find out more about his story, then think through the questions below:

    1. “It made our faith more real and opened our eyes”. Trials and pressures can often affect our faith, but this experience only made Qi Ming’s faith more real. Can you think of times when your faith has become stronger or more real? What happened and why?

    2. “If you really believe in Jesus, this must happen in your life?”. How do you feel about that quote from Qi Ming? Does following Jesus involve a cost? Look up Luke 9:23-26. We might not face persecution like Qi Ming, but Jesus is explicit, we need to ‘take up our cross’ to truly follow him. What does that mean to you? What does ‘taking up your cross’ look like?

    3. Pray. Pray for Qi Ming and his brave faith. Pray for the church in China as it faces restrictions and pressure. And pray for yourself, that you’d stand strong when life doesn’t go as planned and that you’d be able to know that following Jesus is worth whatever the cost.

    What you can do now?

    Want to respond and help your persecuted family around the world? Get our World Watch List prayer map and resources to learn more and pray regularly.

  • What comes first?

    Khalid is a believer from Ethiopia who was excluded from his family because he chose to follow Jesus.

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

    But, thanks to support from local Christians, and help from Open Doors through a local church, Khalid has been able to start a new business and completely change his life. Watch the video below to see how things have turned out for Khalid.

    Think:

    • Imagine what it would be like choosing between Jesus and your family, culture and even your security?
    • Look up Luke 14:25. Can you see how this passage relates to Khalid’ story?
    • How do you feel about that passage – does Jesus really mean you should hate your family, or is he saying that following Him means putting everything else in second place? What do you think?
    • Khalid’s life changed because other Christians showed him God’s love and became friends with him. How can you be a good friend and shine God’s love to those around you? Is there anyone in your life that might need a friend now? What could you do to show you care?

    Pray:

    • Thank God for Khalid’s brave faith, and that he chose Jesus despite rejection, insecurity and threats.
    • Thank God that Khalid’s life has changed – pray that his business continues to be successful.
    • Pray for Khalid’s wider family. Ask that they’d also come to know Jesus.
    • Pray that you’d be brave in your faith like Khalid and able to put Jesus first. Pray you’d be a good friend, shining God’s love to those you know.
  • How persecuted Christians view Easter

    Over the past few years, Easter has become a dangerous time for my Christians around the world. For members of the persecuted church Easter is a time to celebrate, but also a time to be vigilant. It is a time when the church becomes much more visible – and therefore more vulnerable to attack. In 2019 more than 350 Christians lost their lives, and thousands more were injured as suicide bombers attacked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka. There have also been Easter attacks in Pakistan in 2016 and on Palm Sunday, 2017 in Egypt. And sadly, this year, a church in Indonesia was attacked on Palm Sunday.

    So, how do our persecuted family view Easter, the time we remember Jesus’ death and resurrection? Here’s three quotes from Christians around the world on what Easter means to them:

    Algeria


    
“I remember what the death of Jesus brought me. I remember the cross, the bloodshed, His broken body. But it is also about freedom. If the Son makes you free, you are free indeed.”
    An Algerian believer

    The majority of Christians in Algeria are converts from Islam. These believers are at risk of persecution from their family and from the wider community. They face harassment, beatings, threats, and imprisonment, as well as pressure to adhere to Islamic customs. Churches are under pressure from government, with several being closed in recent years.

    Iraq


    
“We could close our churches to protect ourselves… Or we can hold all the celebrations and maybe we will receive some bombs or attacks. We try to stay here and love like Jesus Christ. We try to give this meaning of Christianity: that love and life are better than death and killing.”
    A church leader from Mosul, Iraq

    In Iraq, Islamic extremist groups, continue to influence a society that is healing from conflict. Christians are pressured to conform to the Islamic way of life and are often faced with physical abuse or the threat of kidnapping.

    Jerusalem


    “We remember that God showed His love for us by sending his Son to die for our sins. He brought down the walls between us and Himself. He made our relationship with Him complete. By being raised from the dead, Jesus conquered death. He reassures us that we don’t have to fear death anymore.”
    A believer in East Jerusalem

    Pray now…

    • Pray for protection: Whether they gather in big churches in cities, small churches in remote villages, or secret churches in places where Christianity is forbidden – ask that God would be their strength and their shield and that they would be safe from harm.
    • Pray for hope: Ask God to bring Easter hope to communities who are suffering. Please pray particularly for communities who are rebuilding in places like Iraq and Syria. May they feel safe and secure as they seek to rebuild their homes.
    • Pray for courage: Ask the Holy Spirit to bring courage to believers so that, where possible, they will boldly proclaim the truth. And that those who need to encounter the love and life of Jesus would encounter it in the celebrations of Christians.

    What you can do now…

    Want to respond and help your persecuted family around the world? Try these things:

    Get our World Watch List prayer map and resources to learn more and pray regularly. Do that here…

    Blackout – get sponsored to give up something you love for a short time to raise money and prayer for those who have lost everything because of their faith in Jesus. Sign up here…

    Sign a letter to your MP asking them to act on behalf of persecuted Christian women and girls. Follow the link to a simple form that will find your MP and contact them for you…
    Sign the letter now…

  • ‘I was 20, and I was arrested’

    Mojtaba from Iran was imprisoned for leading a house church. Discover how God used his imprisonment to share the gospel with the least and the lost.

    Think

    • “Look, I took you through these doors and gates… to talk to people about Jesus”. Mojtaba shares that, understandably, in prison he felt he had done wrong. He was down. But God showed him that there was a purpose. Can you look back on tough times and see how God used you? Are you in a tough place right now? Ask God to help you see a way through – a way where he may even use you.
    • God sent help from a completely unexpected source – a Muslim Iman smuggled pages of the Bible into the prison for Mojtaba and his friends. Do you limit how God could use you or where His help could come from? Ask God to help you see where He is working, and ask Him to help you get involved.

    Pray

    • As Mojtaba says, pray that those in prison because of their faith in Jesus would be released, but also pray that they would be used where they are now.
    • Pray for yourself, that God will use you where you are and you’d be able to see what He is doing, even in tough times.
  • When one door closes…

    Xiang En was a member of a large house church in China that was raided and shut down by the government. But the persecution the church experienced helped to fuel the faith of its members*.

    Think

    • Would you go to church if you it could get you in trouble?
    • How would you feel about going to church, knowing the authorities could watch what you were doing?
    • Look up Revelation 3:7-8. Where doors seem closed, sometimes God opens new opportunities. How does that relate to you? Has Covid-19 closed some doors for you? Have any new paths been opened up?

    Pray this

    Heavenly Father, thank you for the remarkable growth of the church in China, despite years of opposition and hostility. We praise You for the power of the gospel. Fill believers with wisdom, discernment and courage as they seek to serve You in an increasingly monitored environment. Empower their witness and continue to build Your church. Strengthen and sustain Your children through all challenges. Amen.

    What you can do now…

    Want to respond and help your persecuted family around the world? Try these things:

    Get our World Watch List prayer map and resources to learn more and pray regularly. Do that here…

    Blackout during lent – get sponsored to give up something you love for a short time in the run up to Easter and raise money and prayer for those who have lost everything because of their faith in Jesus. Sign up here…

    *This is the personal account of a Chinese Christian from a large house church in China. Persecution in China differs by region and church context.

  • In depth: Explore what’s happening in China

    Over the last few years, Christians in China have been facing ever increasing restrictions. Churches are closing, services monitored, and there’s even efforts to re-interpret the Bible to make it more Chinese. Watch this explainer video with persecution expert, Ron Boyd Macmillan to get the bigger picture and understand the issues facing China’s 100 million Christians.

    Pray now…

    Heavenly Father, we are astounded at the remarkable growth of the church in China, despite years of opposition and hostility. We praise You for the power of the gospel. Fill believers with wisdom, discernment and courage as they seek to serve You in an increasingly monitored environment. Empower their witness and continue to build Your church. Strengthen and sustain Your children through all challenges. Amen.

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