Archive

  • 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.
  • ‘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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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…

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