Archive

  • Among the ashes

    What do you do when it all falls apart? This beautiful, inspiring film combines biblical reflection with stories from the persecuted church, to explore how the biblical principle of lament can bring us hope and comfort, even in the darkest situations.

    Watch now…

    The film is presented by teacher and writer Ron Boyd-Macmillan who has worked with Open Doors for over 35 years.

    After watching the film

    Read:

    • Psalm 6:6-7
      “I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.” (Psalm 6:6–7)

    Pray:

    1. Tell God how you are feeling

    • Privately and in quiet, tell God how you feel right now. Where is the light? Where is the darkness? If it helps, write down your thoughts – write a letter to God.

    2. Tell God about the ‘foes’ you are facing

    • As Christians, our ‘foes’ are not people whom we want to destroy. But perhaps there are people whom you need to forgive, but who, in all honesty, you do not feel like forgiving.
    • Or, maybe your foes are not people at all, but feelings: anxiety, fear, shame. Perhaps your foes are things that you have done
      and for which you need to ask forgiveness. (Perhaps you do not feel any of this at all. In which case, praise the Lord!)
    • What can you pray in this situation? Can you pray a blessing on people who have hurt you? Can you pray for protection from feelings which harm you? Can you bring before our loving God the things for which you know you need forgiveness?

    Jesus promises us forgiveness. He promises us His presence. We have the promises of God – in writing.

    Read:

    • Psalm 6:8-9
      “Away from me, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping. The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer.”
  • O Holy Night

    O Holy Night: Tom Smith

    Free audio download of the track!


    We’ve teamed up with our good mate Tom Smith from Worship Central and Soul Survivor to give you a very special Christmas pressie!

    We asked the brilliant Tom to record his take on the classic carol ‘O Holy Night’ to help us focus our prayers and thoughts on those in Iraq and Syria who have lost everything due to war and terror. And as a gift from us, you can grab a free copy of the track! Watch a vid of the carol above, download your copy (see below) and please do share it with your friends and family.

    As you watch and listen to the carol please pray for the people and scenes you see. You’ll know that millions have fled their homes in Iraq and Syria over the last few years. Many have left the region, but millions also remain, unable to return home, living as refugees within their own countries. Open Doors has been supporting thousands of families, supplying relief and food packs, trauma counselling, pastoral support, help with medical care and training as well as distributing Christian literature and Bibles.

    This Christmas the world is weary, but please join us in seeking God’s love to offer ‘a thrill of hope’ and ‘a new and glorious morn’, especially for those in Iraq and Syria.

    As you watch pray these lines in the third verse:
    “His law is love and His gospel is peace.
    Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
    And in his name all oppression shall cease.”

    Cover_Art_O_Holy_NightGet your free audio version of the track…

    If you like the track you can download a free Mp3 version using the form over there… In giving us your details we’ll also add you to our monthly email list and send you a copy of our little mag, The Cost, in the post (three times a year)*. It’s a little gift from us to you! Happy Christmas.

    *You can unsubscribe from postal and email mailings at any time. Just drop us a line…

    Grab your free download of ‘O Holy Night…’

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  • 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.

  • 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…

  • Iran: ‘When you walk through the fire’

    Saghar was in the airport when she spotted the secret agent. Only three days earlier, he and several other members of the Iranian secret police had raided her home. They were the reason she was making a quick escape from Iran, the country she’d lived all her life. Now she didn’t know if she would even make it onto the plane – or if, instead, she’d end up in one of Iran’s infamous prisons.

    Miraculously, she wasn’t spotted. It wasn’t until she was on the plane that security called her name – a warrant for her arrest had been issued. But they were too late. Saghar had gone. Write a letter to encourage Saghar now…

    The raid

    Saghar knew, as a Christian from a Muslim background, that organising a secret house church was dangerous. She had grown up in a Muslim family and, like many believers from a Muslim background, first encountered Jesus through a dream. He used the same words as He spoke to the disciples Simon and Andrew in Mark 1:17: “Follow me.” That simple, powerful call changed Saghar’s life forever.

    Saghar gathered with other Christians, worshipped and prayed. It was always risky but, as Saghar says, “Fellowship is essential for growth.” They shared their lives together, and became family. Eventually Saghar even decided to take the most dangerous job in church: the pastor.

    Saghar was prepared

    Iranian house churches are regularly raided, so Saghar knew it was a scary possibility. Dozens of Christians are imprisoned for their faith each year, and the prisons they’re sent to are truly appalling. Saghrar says: “The first thing the security services want is to de-unify us,” says Saghar. “But staying together will really help us in these times.”

    Increasingly, Iranian Christians meet to share advice and knowledge on how to withstand persecution from secret police – including both practical and spiritual tips. Saghar had been to a meeting like this just a few months before the raid and, despite being understandably terrified, she had an idea.

    As her interrogation was about to begin, she asked to go to the toilet. Door locked, Saghar took a selfie, and sent it to the outside world: “Please pray for us; our church is being raided!” She started deleting evidence from her phone that would link her to other believers, as she’d been advised when meeting with other believers.

    Saghar knew her rights

    This meeting was also extremely useful when Saghar was back with the interrogators. She knew her legal rights and so, when the officers told her she was going to be arrested, she asked to see their warrant for arrest. They didn’t have one, and so she avoided being taken away immediately. The secret police continued to search the house, seized items including Saghar’s Bible, and left – crucially, she had time to escape.

    “At the gathering with the other believers, I learned how to manage my emotions and what my rights are,” remembers Saghar. “I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for my preparation.”

    Three days later, Saghar was at the airport. She knew that at any moment she could be intercepted by the secret police – but God reminded her of a verse from Isaiah 43: “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.”

    And she walked through the airport, and onto the plane, without being burned. Thanks to being prepared and to God’s intervention, Saghar managed to get out of Iran – and now she lives safely in another country. It’s been extremely hard – with flashbacks, nightmares and missing her home – but Saghar knows she has escaped something much worse.

    When asked what Christians around the world can do for Iranian believers, Saghar immediately knows the answer – it’s the same thing she asked for in the middle of the raid: “Pray! No Christians should face persecution unprepared, and no Christian should go through it without prayer from the worldwide church.”

    Pray now…

    • Give thanks for Saghar’s miraculous escape
    • That Saghar will continue to experience God’s healing, strength and provision
    • That house churches in Iran will be protected from raids and believers kept from imprisonment.

    Write to Saghar now…

    You can write a letter of encouragement to Saghar – she would really love to hear from her church family in the UK and Ireland.

  • “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.

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