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…
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?
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!
Paul* from Eritrea was imprisoned for his Christian beliefs and spent ten years behind bars, where he was put under pressure to sign a document renouncing his faith. He tells his story in this short animation.
What’s it like in Eritrea?
Eritrea is ranked at number 6 on the 2020 Open Doors World Watch List. In Eritrea, anybody who is believed to have criticised the government is likely to be severely punished – and following an unapproved Christian denomination is considered to be anti-government. This means that hundreds of Christians are arrested and imprisoned, including 141 in May 2019 and 30 the following month. Some prisoners are held in shipping containers in scorching temperatures.
Thank God for Paul’s release and pray he would know God’s comfort and guidance.
For strength and courage for the hundreds of other Christians in prison in Eritrea.
For a new era of religious freedom in Eritrea so Christians will be able to meet and worship without fear.
Kim Sang-Hwa* became a Christian as a teenager in North Korea. She grew up knowing just how dangerous following Jesus could be: “We have a saying in North Korea, ‘When three of us are meeting, one of us is a spy and will report to the government.’”
Many North Korean Christians can’t even tell their families about their faith – it’s just too dangerous, and teachers sometimes ask students about their parents activities. You see, if the government finds out that you’re a Christian, it’s likely that you’ll be sent to a labour camp. Most prisoners never leave, and the conditions are worse than we can possibly imagine. Following Jesus takes extraordinary courage in North Korea – it’s been at the top of the World Watch List since 2002. It’s the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian.
When she was 12, Sang-Hwa found her parents’ secret Bible. “I threw the book across the room. I had shivers throughout my body. And I was so very afraid. I thought: ‘Wow, we’re all dead now.’”
She didn’t know what to do – tell the police, her teachers or confront her mum and dad. She put the Bible back to buy some time to think.
After two anxious weeks, she made the brave decision to ask her father about his faith. And he shared the truth of God’s Word with her.
As her father talked about the Bible, Kim Sang-Hwa felt the Holy Spirit come over her. Eventually Sang-Hwa made the decision to follow Jesus. She knew how dangerous it was, but she also knew it was the best choice to make, once she was convicted of the truth of the gospel.
The underground church in North Korea
More and more North Koreans are making the same courageous decision that Kim Sang-Hwa made. Despite living in a police state and the enormous dangers of being a believer, there is a massive underground church and it is growing. Open Doors estimates that there are 200,000 to 400,000 secret Christians in the country. Tens of thousands of believers are in concentration camps.
Open Doors secret workers are keeping 60,000 North Korean believers alive with vital food and aid, as well as providing Bibles, broadcasting Christian radio programmes and running safe houses at the Chinese border for those who are able to escape.
Pray for faith, resilience and courage for Christians in North Korea facing unimaginably harsh conditions, and pray for the continuing growth of the secret church. Please pray for Christians in all the countries on the World Watch List, particularly those in the top ten, where following Christ comes with enormous cost.
Hidden Word: Learn to value the Bible like Kim Sang-Hwa…
Our innovative resource to help you get inspired by persecuted Christians and learn God’s Word by heart! A series of six weekly devotionals, along with leader guide, challenges and a bunch of awesome memorisation aids!
Mohan was still at school when he became a Christian. He’s now 21, and the last few years have been hard. His family had to leave their home, community and livelihood – all because they trust in Jesus. But your support means that Open Doors partners could meet with them, encourage them in their faith and provide them with goats, materials and funds to rebuild their lives.
Watch the video to see what life is like when you decide to choose to follow Jesus in India. Despite persecution, God is doing amazing things – thanks to Mohan, three other families have decided to become Christians too.
Thank God for the perseverance and faith of Mohan and his family
Ask for continued strength, courage and support for them as they continue to follow Jesus
Lift up other families that have converted and pray for boldness and security.
Join the Blackout to stand with silenced Christians in India…
Sign up to go screen free and get sponsored to shut down your devices for anything from 6 to 48 hours. Raise money, prayer and awareness for silenced, persecuted Christians like Mohan and his family. Sign up and get a free pack!
Eight years of war has has taken its toll in Syria. While cities have been devastated, millions have fled and been displaced, tens of thousands have been killed. But some chose to remain – like Pastor Abdalla in Aleppo.
Watch this video to learn more about he and his church stepped up and starting bringing hope in the midst of conflict and violence.
Pastor Abdalla helped establish a ‘Centre of Hope’ in Aleppo, a place which provides training, distributes food, runs youth and children’s activities, teaches English, disciples new believers, provides business loans and runs marriage and parenting courses. There are now 16 similar centres across Syria, and they simply would not be possible with your prayers, fundraising and gifts! So thank you!
Heavenly Father, we ask for Your peace in Syria. Bring an end to war and violence there, that Your people may flourish. Be with all those who have no place to call home. Strengthen Your church, our family, that they may continue to bring Your hope to their communities. Be with Pastor Abdalla and others running Centres of Hope across the country. Give them the resources they need and help these centres become places of light and transformation where many come to know and love you. Amen.
Join the Blackout for Christians like Abdallah!
Sign up to go screen free and get sponsored to shut down your devices for anything from 6 to 48 hours. Raise money, prayer and awareness for courageous Christians like Pastor Abdalla who has stuck with Jesus despite attempts to silence his amazing faith. Sign up and get a free pack!
Nora* holds an incredible title: she is the first indigenous woman from a Muslim background to be ordained as a priest in Malaysia. But her journey to serve God has not been easy. “When I learnt about Jesus, I decided to follow Him because I believe He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I know that this decision will change my life forever. But, because of God and with [my husband] Daniel by my side, I am prepared to face it. Whatever happens, Daniel and I will take it as God’s test and training for our faith.”
Watch the video above to hear more of Nora’s story of brave faith.
Act now to See. Change.
Nora is risking everything because of her choice to follow Jesus. Being a young woman from Malaysia, she is doubly vulnerable to persecution because of her faith and gender. Check out our new campaign to see how you can speak up, pray and raise money for change!
Meet Abishek – a local partner of Open Doors in India. Abishek’s* role is to visit and encourage believers in India who suffer persecution.
“When somebody is in a struggle, maybe somebody is persecuted or attacked in the field, as an Open Doors partner, that is my first duty to collect the information from the field. And as soon as we get the information, if that place is good and not too sensitive, then we go to that place directly and we meet with the believers.”
Abishek shares some stories of how extreme persecution against Christians is becoming in India… Please pray for Abishek as he tries to support those who suffer extreme persecution. Pray for those he visits and supports. Ask God for strength, comfort and hope. Pray for the persecutors, that they would know they are doing wrong, and would come to know Jesus themselves. Pray for the leaders of India, and ask that they would look to defend the rights of all people.
Get inspired to live out your faith with Guts and Courage…
Choosing to follow Jesus takes courage in India. Get your free copy of our new Guts and Courage resource to learn more about the places in the world where Christians face pressure, violence and intimidation for their faith and get inspired to live out your walk with God with more boldness…
Leah is a Christian from Nigeria. She’s now 16, but she hasn’t been seen by her family for around 18 months. She was kidnapped in March 2018 along with over 100 other girls from her school by Islamic extremists opposed to western education and Christianity.
After a month, all the girls that were still alive (5-6 had been killed either in captivity, in the initial raid, or whilst trying to escape) were released – all except one, Leah. As she was due to be released, her Christian faith was discovered. Her captors said she could go free if she converted to Islam. She chose not to. She was not allowed to leave. She’s still in captivity.
Leah chose Jesus over her freedom.
She gave this message to some of her friends to give to her mum:
“My mother you should not be disturbed… My God, whom we have been praying to with you, is showing Himself mighty in my trying moment… I am confident that one day I shall see your face again. If not here, then there with our Lord Jesus Christ.”
What an incredible choice. Leah could have said she wasn’t a Christian, but she didn’t. Choosing to stay with Jesus was more important than her freedom.
Reflect on these questions…
1. What would you decide if you had to make the same choice as Leah? 2. What are some of the most important things in your life? Would you give them up for Jesus if he asked?
Think about this. Leah made a choice that has potentially cost her everything. EHer choice raises some immense questions. What did Leah know about Jesus that meant she would be prepared to give up her freedom for him? What was so important or precious that she couldn’t just deny her faith?
Tradition says that all of Jesus’ disciples were killed for their faith (except Judas). They spent three years with Jesus, then spent the rest of their lives talking about Him. They were completely transformed by Him. If Jesus was a phony, if God wasn’t real, and hadn’t revealed himself through Jesus, then why would a random bunch of guys give their lives for Him? Why, when being tortured and with the threat of death hanging over them, would they not give up their faith? Like Leah, they knew something about Jesus that they were prepared to give everything for. Leah knows what Paul, one of the writers of the New Testament, wrote two thousand years ago ‘to live is Christ, and to die is gain’ (Philippians 1:21).
Reflect on these questions…
1. Do you know Jesus in the same way as Leah and the early disciples? 2. Have you had experiences of God that mean you’ll always stick with him? 3. What does it mean that ‘to live is Christ’? What does that look like for you?
Leah’s story is hard. She’s not been released, and we don’t know how she’s being treated. She’s a real person, not just a challenging story. We write about Leah to inspire and challenge you, but also to ask you to pray for her. Spend 60 seconds now just saying Leah’s name, you can whisper or shout. Use her name as a prayer for her. Cheer her on. Picture her hearing you and thousands of others calling out her name. Ask God to give her boldness, courage, protection, and of course, her freedom.
See. Change. Act now…
Leah was taken specifically because she was a girl. She went to a girl’s school in Northern Nigeria, and Islamic extremists in the area believe girls should not undergo an education. But she is still in captivity because she’s a Christian. Leah’s story highlights that Christian women and girls are vulnerable to persecution because of both their faith and their gender. Check out our new campaign to see how you can speak up, pray and raise money for change!
During the 1970s, Christians faced a clamp down in China. Under the strict Communist regime, churches were forced underground, followers of Jesus were targeted and Christian materials were banned. But the church grew massively. Since those times laws were relaxed, and China opened up to the world, so much so, that China now has one of the world’s largest Christian populations.
The growth and influence of Christianity is now a concern of the Chinese government again. Persecution in Asia has risen sharply over the last five years with one in three Asian Christians now suffering high levels of persecution. China has risen 16 places up the World Watch List from 43 to 27. New laws in China seek to control all expression of religion. Watch the video below to find out more…
For the growth of believers from Muslim Uyghur and Tibetan Buddhist backgrounds
For wisdom and love for Chinese Christians reaching out to atheists and Confucianists
That Christ will reveal Himself to government officials who seek to control the church.
Get inspired to live out your faith with Guts and Courage…
Choosing to follow Jesus takes courage in China. Get your free copy of our new Guts and Courage resource to learn more about the places in the world where Christians face pressure, violence and intimidation for their faith and get inspired to live out your walk with God with more boldness…
We support people who are beaten, tortured, imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.