• Secret Church: Online Edition

    How can you be church, when you have no building?
    How do you worship, when you have to be silent?
    How can you learn from God’s Word, when you can’t get a Bible?
    How do you pray with others, when religious meetings are banned?

    During the pandemic, we weren’t able to meet in church buildings and it was illegal to gather in large numbers. But, for millions of Christians across the world, that’s what life is like all the time. In many countries, Christians have never entered a physical church building. They have never experienced the buzz of worshipping with hundreds of others, or even sung to God in anything above a whisper.

    They are the secret church, yet wherever they meet – they find Jesus. And that’s what we can learn from them: that despite the period of enforced lockdowns and isolation, that we can still be church. As we emerge from Covid-19 restrictions, we can gather again, and be inspired by persecuted Christians to really understand just how vital the church is.

    Download our free Secret Church resource to run a group session in-person (or via video chat) and experience how secret Christians gather to worship, pray, share and learn from God’s Word.

    Secret Church

    Our Secret Church resource explores some of the ways isolated, hidden and secret Christians do church. We’ve taken ideas and approaches from underground church meetings all around the world, and translated them into a simple session outline for you to use with your youth group or small group.

    The session involves multiple activities and stories, all of which can work in-person or via video chat service like Zoom or Skype. The session should last around 60 minutes, but each element could be used as a stand-alone activity for a shorter session.

    Included are ideas on how to:

    • Worship with a secret North Korean Christians
    • Read the Bible with Eritrean Christians in prison
    • Pray with persecuted and threatened believers in Pakistan
    • Share and encourage one another like the underground church in China
    • And loads more too…

    Download now…

    Fill out the form below (mobile) or on the right (desktop) to get instant access to a downloadable guide, video and images from the Secret Church. You can also use the form to opt into receiving our monthly emails and our postal mailings (about three times a year), but no pressure!

    Get your free Secret Church resource!

    Secret Church

    Nishan's secret

    Nishan is from Mogadishu in Somalia. He has a secret he's prepared to risk his life for...

    The secret reality

    “On our arrival the men approached us one by one and welcomed us with huge smiles and handshakes, often followed by big hugs. We could smell the sweat on them and knew many hadn’t bathed in days…

    There was no electricity in the house where we assembled, and blankets covered the windows to prevent unwanted observation. Apart from a little sunlight leaking at the edges of the window coverings, candles provided the only light. For the next few hours we were transported into a world few have experienced…“

    Brother Andrew, the founder of Open Doors, attends a Secret Church meeting in Afghanistan

    The Problem

    Pasha's story

    Pasha is a secret Christian in Iran who had an amazing dream where he met Jesus!
  • Secret Church

    Secret Church

    Nishan's secret

    Nishan is from Mogadishu in Somalia. He has a secret he's prepared to risk his life for...
    Secret Church

    10 steps to a secret...

    10 steps to help you run a Secret Church service... it's easier than you think!
    Secret Church

    Secret Church

    Worship with the world’s hidden christians.

    Secret Church is a totally different way of doing church. Powerful, interactive, full of worship and faith, this is an experience that will help you to journey deeper into the world of the persecuted church.

    It’s an inspiring introduction to the real-life worship of persecuted believers around the world. Whatever size your group is, the Secret Church resource will wake you up to the reality of persecution. And when we say ‘wake up,’ we mean it! Because, we’re suggesting you meet at dawn and in a secret location – just like so many followers of Jesus have to do around the world.

    Of course, you can meet at any time. But the reality of church for millions of people in the world is that in order to meet safely they have to remain hidden. They rise early and meet in hidden places. What would we learn about our faith if, just for once, we did the same?

    Download resources and let us know what you’re doing below!

    Secret Church Resources

    Donwload elements from the Secret Church pack to help plan your events....

    Secret Church Leader Guide
    Download now...
    Secret Church Poster
    Download now...
    Secret Church Donation Forms
    Download now...
    Secret Church Gift Aid Form
    Download now...
    Secret Church

    Ideas for a secret service

    Grab some ideas to make your Secret Church service more authentic...
    The Problem

    Pasha's story

    Pasha is a secret Christian in Iran who had an amazing dream where he met Jesus!

    The secret reality

    “On our arrival the men approached us one by one and welcomed us with huge smiles and handshakes, often followed by big hugs. We could smell the sweat on them and knew many hadn’t bathed in days…

    There was no electricity in the house where we assembled, and blankets covered the windows to prevent unwanted observation. Apart from a little sunlight leaking at the edges of the window coverings, candles provided the only light. For the next few hours we were transported into a world few have experienced…“

    Brother Andrew, the founder of Open Doors, attends a Secret Church meeting in Afghanistan

    Secret Church events

    Planning on running a Secret Church event? Well, let us know!

    We’d love to hear if your church or youth group are planning to get involved and host a specialist service to stand alongside persecuted Christians.

    Drop us a line and we’ll add some of the basic details to this little box, but don’t worry, we won’t add dates, times or locations in case we spoil the secret!

    Secret Church

    Secret Church stories

    Stories and quotes from real-life secret Christians to inspire your prayers and services...

    Secret Church video playlist

  • Secret Church: What now?

    Congratulations! You’ve taken part in a Secret Church service.

    But now what?

    Here are four ways to deepen your connection with the secret church around the world.

    1. Keep connecting

    One of the things which encourages secret believers is knowing that they are not alone and that others are praying for them.

    “We try to stay in touch, and we stay connected through WhatsApp,” says pastor George Moushi in Syria. “We have devotions and we praise and worship together.
    Everyone prays and shares their thoughts and feelings. At the same time, we share our prayer requests with each other and exchange the latest news.”

    You, too, can keep connected with the persecuted church.

    Receive regular email updates from Open Doors Youth.. fill out the form below…

    News Sign Up Form

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    2. Keep supporting

    Without our help, secret Christians will be even more isolated, even more alone. But as a global family we need to continue to pray and support them.

    This picture shows a secret baptism which took place in Central Asia. All the twelve new believers became Christians through receiving digital Bibles and other media. Could you raise money or give to support your persecuted church family?

    • Every £10 could mean five people are reached by the church through social media
    • Every £19 could provide vital Bibles for 15 believers from a Muslim background

    3. Keep learning

    Keep reflecting on the experience. Whilst we know that the lockdown is temporary for us in the UK, we can use it to learn more about the courageous faith of those for whom isolation is an everyday fact of life.

    Mojtaba from Iran was imprisoned for leading a secret house church. In this video, he shares how God used his imprisonment to share the gospel with the least and the lost.


    • Are there any elements of the secret church experience you’d like to repeat? Why?
    • Do you think the experience will affect or change the way you worship, pray and read the Bible?
    • How will the example of the persecuted church affect how you live out your own faith?


    • Did you manage to memorise the verses that you wrote down? Can you recite them?
    • What stuck with you from the secret church experience?
    • What story or stories do you remember?


    • Do you know of any other ways that secret believers from around the world meet?

    4. Keep Sharing

    Spread the word. Let others know about your Secret Church experience.
    Could you share a Secret church service with others? Maybe lead one for your friends, church, cell or home group?

    This is how the Secret Church grows around the world: it starts with one group meeting in one house, then the news spreads, more groups appear.

    And the Kingdom of God carries on multiplying and growing, right under the noses of those who think that they have it under control…

  • Secret Church stories

    Secret Church might seem like an exciting way to do church one Sunday, but for Christians around the world this is the only way to meet as followers of Jesus. Read some of the stories below to get your head round the reality and let their commitment to God’s body challenge our often consumerist attitudes to our church attendance.

    North Africa

    An Open Doors worker shares:

    “The next day we met another young believer. It was such a blessing to see him. Who would ever think that we went there to encourage him? He encouraged us with all God had done in his family. He had finished reading the study New Testament and all I brought him on my last visit. His brother and sister joined him in faith too. He told his parents about his faith, they were quite shocked by his boldness. His father gave him a very hard time and persecuted him. Soon after his younger brother and sister denied their faith but he didn’t…

    Instead, he started having a house church meeting in his room with his brother and sister. He didn’t know what to teach them so they started asking Jesus to join them to teach them; they had worship, prayer, reading and discussion together. “It’s a big honour to be persecuted for Jesus as he said in the Bible: we are not here on earth to have rest but to be the light to the world…”

    He was 17 years old. We gave him a whole study Bible and other books he had requested. He promised us that he and his small church will pray for us during our other visits

    North Korea

    In North Korea Christians meet in small groups in homes or in remote areas like forests and mountain caves. They dare not sing above a whisper for being discovered by police. Nowhere in the world is Christian persecution so fierce. Christians have to hide their faith; Christian parents can’t even share their beliefs with their children until they are old enough to understand the dangers. Owning a Bible could get you killed, or sent to a harsh labour camp. Despite the risks, the church is standing firm: there are an estimated 400,000 believers.


    Joshua is 14 years old he lives in Jakarta the capital of Indonesia. This sprawling nation is home to the largest Muslim population in the world. Joshua and his family are very much a minority; they’re followers of Jesus and are completely surrounded by a strongly passionate Islamic neighbourhood.

    Joshua and his family do church together in secret, in their home…For fear of their neighbours hearing them sing to Jesus and harming them they worship in silence; but their hearts shout out to praise to God. They often stand and sing something like ‘Amazing Grace’ – each knowing when the song starts and ends. Every so often Joshua and his family take a trip away from their community and meet with other Christians – you can imagine how good the worship times are!

  • Ideas for a secret service

    Want some ideas on how to make your Secret Church service more authentic. Then use these ideas (all taken from our lovely Secret Church Guide)!

    1. Memorise the Bible

    In Afghanistan possessing a Bible is difficult and dangerous, so believers memorise the Scriptures. In Vietnam, one group of Christians had such a shortage of Bibles that they had to prove how much they really wanted one by learning Psalm 119 off by heart – a total of 176 verses! Even then that only got them on the waiting list.

    So… print out some verses from the Bible. People simply have to memorise a verse and then write it out from memory. And when they’ve done that …

    2. Create a sock Bible

    In North Korea if a believer is caught in possession of a Bible, it means detention in one of the country’s many horrific labour camps. Some Christians have ‘sock Bibles’ – small Bibles which secret believers can hide down their socks.

    So… those who have written out a memory verse have to hide it down their socks. Or perhaps they might like to copy out a longer piece of Scripture.

    3. Speak in code

    In some Muslim countries, Christians are forbidden from using the word ‘Allah’ to describe God. In North Korea it is dangerous to use certain normal Christian terms.

    So… in pairs tell one another how you became a Christian. But obey the following rules.

    Do not use…
    Bible/Scripture/Word of God

    Do use…
    The One
    The Book
    Talking to Father

    Then discuss how easy or hard you found it. What would life be like if you couldn’t use these ordinary words?

    4. Silent hymn singing

    In many places, when Christians meet in houses, they worship in silence for fear of their neighbours hearing them. So they ‘sing’ without actually making a sound.

    So… pass round the words of a hymn. ‘Sing’ it together, but as silently as possible.

    5. Contain yourself

    In Eritrea, secret believers have been imprisoned in disused shipping containers in the desert, where the temperature can reach 40 degrees Celsius. And yet still they sing hymns and worship songs.

    So… using rope or tape on the floor or chairs, mark out a rectangle the size of a shipping container. Make it 8ft wide, and either 20ft or 40ft long. Then everyone gather together in there. Now sing a hymn. Just like Eritrean believers do.

    6. Secret Church Communion

    In North Korea, Holy Communion can be practised only once or twice a year in remote areas. Bread and wine are rarely available so they use biscuits, or fruit and juice. Some Vietnamese Christian prisoners told how they shared Communion using ‘food and honey to represent the bread and wine’.

    So… celebrate Communion using non-traditional elements. Use crackers and fruit juice, or a biscuit dipped in honey. Or tear and share flatbread and dip it in olive oil. And remember those who remember Jesus in the best way that they can.

  • 10 steps to a secret…

    OK, so you’re up for it – getting up early and meeting secretly with other Christians to worship Jesus and stand with your persecuted family. Here’s some simple tips to get you started.

    If you want a full overview, plans and suggestions just download our super dooper Secret Church leaders guide and materials to help plan and promote your Secret Church service.

    1. Get a date and time sorted

    You can choose whatever time you like. But we think a dawn service – or a very late night one – will present a real challenge and give a memorable insight into the lives of secret Christians.

    “I meet with the others at night, from midnight to two o’clock. We do this because of safety reasons, but also because most of us work during daytime.”
    Pasha, an Iranian secret believer

    2. Sort a venue

    Find somewhere unexpected. Somewhere out of the way. Get creative. Hold your Secret Church meeting in a barn, in a field, in some woods. Is there a basement or cellar you can use? Or a disused shop? Whatever the case, choose somewhere no one else would notice.

    “I used to meet up with another lady high in the mountains. One day we were singing and all of a sudden a young guy stood behind us. We gave him some food and drinks and then he left. On the way back we could only pray he would not report us. Thank God, he didn’t.”
    Hea Woo, a North Korean Christian, spent years in a labour camp because she was a Christian

    3. Spread the rumours

    Tell people what is happening. This is where you have to excite people about the event. You will probably want to tell them when it is happening, but not where. Use the poster downloads to help promote your service.

    4. Create a secret network to spread the message

    Because people don’t know where it is happening, you will have to find a way to keep them informed. Maybe you do it by email. Maybe you do it by text. (In many parts of the world Christians cannot publicly advertise their meetings. Instead they use mobile phones, or even word of mouth.) Maybe you set up a chain of communication, so A tells B who tells C who tells… well, you get the idea. But you need a way of contacting people nearer the time.

    5. Plan your secret church service

    Use our leaders guide to find ideas on what to do during your service.

    6. Sort out the venue

    Before the service, get the venue ready. Do you need sheets on the windows? A secret sign on a doorway or gate?
    Find more ideas in our leaders guide here…

    7. Wake everyone up!

    Text, email or phone people to tell them where to meet. If you’re doing the dawn service you may want to text them on the morning itself and literally wake them up! Or perhaps you send out an email the night before. Tell them where you want them to go and what sign to look out for. You might tell them to go to a street and look for the sign…

    8. The secret service

    Everyone arrived. You might sing hymns silently, memorise Bible verses, share communion using fruit or honey. These are the kinds of things that secret Christians do to worship under the radar.

    9. Identify

    At the end of the service people will be given a Secret Church ID Card. This will help them to identify with the Secret Church and challenge them to go deeper.
    You’ll find some sample ID Cards in the Secret Church pack or to order more, just drop us an email to let us know how many you need…

    10. Let the secret out!

    Tell people what you’ve done. After the service feel free to let the secret out. Tell the world what you’ve just experienced. Tweet it. YouTube it. Facebook it. How did you feel? What did God say? One of the best ways in which we can serve the persecuted, Secret Church is to tell the world that it exists!

  • Nishan’s secret

    Nishan is from Mogadishu in Somalia. He’s a secret Christian.

    When he told his family that he had become a follower of Jesus they locked him in a dark room on their roof for 13 days without any food. His sister secretly brought him meals. Eventually his mother persuaded Nishan’s father to talk to him.

    Now Nishan goes to the mosque like everyone else. But secretly, in his heart, he prays to ‘Isa al Masih’ – Arabic for ‘Jesus Christ’. He knows of 16 other secret believers who meet at the mosque and call themselves followers of Isa al Masih. And when he can, he joins with others as, one by one, they make their way to that nondescript house…

    Life in Somalia…

    Somalia is currently second on the World Watch List. The majority of people in the country are Muslim, and no one is expected to be a Christian. The tiny Christian minorty is made up mostly of converts from a Muslim background, and a very few expat aid workers.

    Islamic religious and political leaders maintain publicly that there is no room for Christianity, Christians or churches in Somalia. Most Western NGOs have pulled out of the country, because of their (supposed or accused) affiliation with Christianity.

    The violent Islamist terrorist group, al-Shabaab uses its presence in parts of the country to radicalise communities at the expense of Christianity in general and individual believers in particular. Muslim-background believers – or those accused of being Muslim-background believers – have often been killed on the spot when discovered.

    There is a high level of fear among believers, they don’t know who who can be trusted and who could eventually betray fellowships. Christians have to act very secretively in their communities in order to hide their faith. They meet in rather small groups and are often isolated.

    They are Somalia’s secret christians.

    Where is Somalia?

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