Archive

  • Write to: Kouroush in Iran

    Kouroush grew up in a Muslim family in Iran. He first heard the gospel at school but resented the friend who told him about it. Years later, the same friend invited him to a house church meeting which ignited a period of searching that led to him giving his life to Jesus.

    Kouroush – whose name we’ve changed to protect his identity – got involved in a house church and eventually became a leader. But it came at a price – he was arrested and tortured. Later released, Kouroush continued his ministry, but the authorities again tracked him down. He had no option but to leave the country.

    He fled to Turkey where he went through an enormously tough transition. Without a job, his family, and the familiarities of his own country, Kouroush was sad, fearful and confused.

    The experience led Kouroush and his new church to draw up plans to create a safe space for Iranian refugees to settle in Turkey. The centre – due to open this year – will house a library of Farsi Christian books, a room for discipleship training, a base for aid distribution, and space for people to share their stories and receive counselling.

    “Without the international family of God, we wouldn’t have been able to establish this centre,” Kouroush shares. “I feel like God’s hand was in this. He brought us all together.”

    You can encourage Kouroush in this new and exciting venture by writing him a personal letter of encouragement.

    Writing guidelines

    •  We advise using greeting cards, artwork by children and postcards
    • Postcards with scenes of countryside, landscapes, mountains, flowers, water, and gardens are much beloved by Iranians. However, please do not send cards that picture animals as the main image as this is culturally inappropriate (animals as part of a landscape picture are accepted)
    • Be encouraging and include one or two Bible verses (for security reasons, please do not use verses that refer to Israel, armies or war)
    • Write in simple English (or in Farsi). Keep your message brief and print clearly
    • Show sensitivity. Please do not dwell on the recipient’s plight, or share about the blessings of life in your country.

    For security

    • Do not mention Open Doors
    • Do not mention Islam
    • Do not refer to Israel, even when using Scripture. Also, do not use images, flags or maps of Israel, or Hebrew signs
    • Do not criticise the country’s religion or religious extremists, its government, judicial system or political leaders
    • Do not send money or make proposals to help
    • You can disclose your name and country, but do not provide your full address.
    • Send to us!

    Send your messages to messagestoiran@opendoorsuk.org

    And we’ll do the rest!

    Please note this campaign ends 1 October 2021

  • Write to: Mary in Iran

    Mary is a brave 22-year-old Christian convert and activist who has paid a high price for her faith and willingness to speak out for human rights in Iran.

    She spent six months in prison for being part of a house church, during which time she experienced awful, degrading treatment. It’s not the only time Mary has been arrested and imprisoned for her activities.

    Mary has suffered in other ways, too – she’s been kicked out of her university and lost her job as a gymnastics teacher.

    “I don’t seek pity, lamentation, or mourning,” Mary says. “I stand here only to expose these unspoken dimensions of oppression, until the day comes when I see the realisation of the inalienable rights of every victim of human rights violations.”

    Will you write to Mary to encourage her in her faith and ministry? Check out the guidelines below the form before you send your message…

    Writing guidelines

    • This is a digital campaign, so email messages are best. We do accept greeting cards, artwork by children, and postcards, but these will need to be scanned or photographed, and sent to us at the below email address
    • Postcards with scenes of countryside, landscapes, mountains, flowers, water, and gardens are much beloved by Iranians. However, please do not send cards that picture animals as the main image as this is culturally inappropriate (animals as part of a landscape picture are accepted)
    • Be encouraging and include one or two Bible verses (for security reasons, please do not use verses that refer to Israel, armies, or war)
    • Write in simple English (or in Farsi). Keep your message brief and print clearly
    • Show sensitivity. Please don’t dwell on the recipient’s plight, or share about the blessings of life in your country.

    For security

    • Do not mention Open Doors
    • Do not mention Islam
    • Do not refer to Israel, even when using Scripture. Also, do not use images, flags or maps of Israel, or Hebrew signs
    • Do not refer to the UK or USA or places within the USA or UK. Also, do not use images (e.g. the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben, a flag, the Queen)
    • Do not criticise the country’s religion or religious extremists, its government, judicial system or political leaders
    • Do not send money or make proposals to help
    • You can disclose your name, but do not provide your country or full address.

    Send to us!

    Send your messages to messagestoiran@opendoorsuk.org

    And we’ll do the rest!

    Please note this campaign ends 1 October 2021

  • Write to: Saghar from Iran

    Saghar grew up in a Muslim family in Iran and first encountered Jesus through a dream. She went on to lead a small house church. They were meeting when the secret service forced their way in.

    Despite feeling terrified, Saghar remained calm as she faced interrogation. Thankfully, she avoided arrest by exposing the agents’ need for a warrant – which they didn’t have. But she knew it wouldn’t be long for a warrant to be issued. Her arrest felt inevitable. She had to leave Iran, immediately.

    Three days later, Saghar was at the airport. She was queuing to board her plane when she spotted one of the secret agents who raided her home. Nearing the boarding gate, the security agent clocked her, but miraculously she made it on board.

    Saghar later discovered that the moment she was on the plane, security had called her name – a warrant for her arrest had been issued. But they were too late – Saghar was gone.

    Now living in a different country, Saghar is grateful to have escaped. But her experience has left scars. In the first year living abroad, she suffered from nightmares each night. Thankfully, Saghar is now doing better, but she remains haunted by occasional flashbacks.

    “Fellowship is essential for growth,” Saghar says, reflecting on the house church she left behind. Will you help fill the gap this has left by writing her a letter of encouragement?

    Writing guidelines

    • We advise using greeting cards, artwork by children and postcards
    • Postcards with scenes of countryside, landscapes, mountains, flowers, water, and gardens are much beloved by Iranians. However, please do not send cards that picture animals as the main image as this is culturally inappropriate (animals as part of a landscape picture are accepted)
    • Be encouraging and include one or two Bible verses (for security reasons, please do not use verses that refer to Israel, armies or war)
    • Write in simple English (or in Farsi). Keep your message brief and print clearly
    • Show sensitivity. Please do not dwell on the recipient’s plight, or share about the blessings of life in your country.

    For security

    • Do not mention Open Doors
    • Do not mention Islam
    • Do not refer to Israel, even when using Scripture. Also, do not use images, flags or maps of Israel, or Hebrew signs
    • Do not criticise the country’s religion or religious extremists, its government, judicial system or political leaders
    • Do not send money or make proposals to help
    • You can disclose your name and country, but do not provide your full address.

    Send to us!

    Send your drawings, cards or letters to us at:

    PO Box 6,
    Witney,
    Oxon,
    OX29 6WG

    And we’ll do the rest!

    Please note this campaign ends 1 October 2021

  • Write to: Pastor Jeremiah

    “When we go to sleep at night, we are never sure whether we will make it alive to the next day.”

    Pastor Jeremiah – whose name we’ve changed to protect his identity – was attacked whilst at his home in Nigeria’s middle belt in April 2020. The attack was part of a wave of violence against Christian farmers and communities, carried out by militant Fulani herdsmen. His home, and the connecting church building where he is a pastor, was set on fire and many of his things were destroyed.

    Not all the Christians in the community survived this attack. But Pastor Jeremiah is still selflessly shepherding his people toward hope, reminding them that God is with them and still has plans for them. “We should give glory to God,” he says. “He is alive and will help us.”

    Thanks to you support, Pastor Jeremiah and the believers under his care, have received food, medicine, help rebuilding homes, spiritual support and trauma care. “If you had not come, we would have suffered even more,” he says.

    Pastor Jeremiah is one the many Christians in Nigeria who risk their lives daily to live out their faith in Jesus. He needs encouragement – more so given his responsibilities as a pastor – and you can do that by writing to him personally.

    Writing guidelines

    • Greeting cards, children’s artwork, and postcards are best
    • Write in simple English and keep your letter brief
    • Print clearly
    • Be encouraging and include one or two Bible verses
    • Show sensitivity; please don’t dwell on the recipient’s plight, or share about the blessings of life in your country.

    Security guidelines…

    • Do not mention Open Doors in your letters
    • If writing a postcard, please send it in an envelope and do not write the Open Doors’ address on the postcard
    • You may provide your name, but do not provide your full address
    • Do not criticise a country’s religion or religious extremists, its government, judicial system, or political leaders
    • Do not send money or make proposals to help.

    Then send to us…

    Send your drawings, cards or letters to us at:

    PO Box 6
    Witney
    Oxon
    OX29 6WG

    And we’ll do the rest! Thank you!

  • Send a message of hope this Christmas!

    Daniela’s dad was shot and killed by powerful drug gangs. He was a pastor and he was helping people find freedom from their drug addictions and a new life with Jesus. The gangs didn’t like this, so they took his life. Could you send Daniela and young Christians like her a message of hope and encouragement this Christmas?

    Because of her family’s belief in Jesus, Daniela has lost her dad. This is tragic, especially at Christmas.

    Last year, when Daniela and her brother were struggling with the loss of their dad, Open Doors partners invited them to spend some time over Christmas at a special children’s centre and school. The family received an amazing welcome – Daniela said: “I was so surprised to see all of them, singing a welcome to us. It made me feel so good. I was really happy to be surrounded by so many loving people.” And Open Doors partners have helped the family move to a safer area, providing a new home and opportunities for them all to flourish.

    Daniela says: “It is very important to know that this Christmas there are people around the world praying for me and my family. I am very grateful for that, because I see that God works through these prayers.”

    Could you send a message of hope to Daniela and other children from the children’s centre?

    Download our Christmas decoration template, print it off and write a message to send to Daniela and other young people from the children’s centre.

    Download the template here…

    Message tips:

    • Keep it simple, write a short Bible passage, song lyric or prayer.
    • Let them know you are praying for them
    • Sign the message with your first name and which country you are from (UK or Ireland).
    • And please don’t mention Open Doors. 

    Want to write something in Spanish, or write to a specific child at the children’s centre? Check out the tips here…

    Where do I send the cards?
    Pop your card in an envelope and send it to us at
    PO Box 6
    Witney
    Oxon
    OX29 6WG

  • Write

    Use the power of post and write to a persecuted Christian to let them know you are standing with them and are praying with them…

  • Write to: Children in India

    Children in Christian families in India have faced increased bullying and violence in recent times. There is a strong feeling in the country, and from the government, that everybody should be Hindu. Sometimes their homes are attacked, or they may be thrown out of their villages. They may be denied access to water, education or government rations, because of their faith. When it’s this difficult to be a Christian, you need encouragement.

    Children who are not from Christian families also need encouragement. When it is discovered that they are attending church activities, their families start to object. “Christianity is considered a detestable religion in our village,” one young boy told us. He started to attend church secretly, but when his mother found out he was told off and beaten many times. This is not uncommon.

    Guidelines for emailed messages…

    This is a digital encouragement campaign so all messages will need to be sent to messagestoindia@opendoorsuk.org. Please don’t send physical drawings or messages as we won’t be able to send them. However, it means you can be more creative! Here are some suggestions for what you could send:

    • a photo of an object or image with a Bible verse
    • a photo of a hand-drawn self-portrait of a child
    • a short video with captions or audio message
    • a short audio message, e.g. children talking or singing.

    Security guidelines…

    • Do not mention Open Doors in any messages.
    • You can provide your first name, but don’t add anything else – do not provide your address.
    • Do not send money or make offers of help.
    • Do not mention anything to do with the news, religion, politics or government of India.

    Plus…

    • To avoid problems with permissions, please don’t send photos or videos that include children’s faces.
    • Please don’t use pre-recorded music as this will infringe copyright and performing rights laws.
    • Please don’t direct your messages towards any individual you have read about in Open Doors communications. Your message may be shared with different children in different settings, e.g., at events or meetings where persecuted Christians are gathered together.
    • Keep messages as simple and as personal as possible. Explain why you feel for people suffering for their faith in India. For instance, if you know what it’s like to be sad or worried, share how God has helped you at these times. Or take an idea from a Bible story or verse that means something to you.

  • Encourage young Christians in Algeria this Christmas…

    Send a Christmas message to youth from churches that have been forced to close…

    The Algerian government has been closing churches and investigating the activities of congregations over the last few months (like the one in the video above). The closures have specifically targeted a group of protestant churches – eight have been closed this year. Could you send a message to young Algerian Christians facing the prospect of Christmas with no church to celebrate in?

    We’re looking to send a bunch of digital messages over the Christmas period to let our family in Algeria know that they aren’t alone and that we are standing with them in prayer – a kind of digital Christmas card! Could you write a short note, something that could fit into a text or WhatsApp message that we could send to them? Maybe an encouraging Bible verse, prayer, song lyrics or some other encouraging words. Use the form on this page to submit your message, then we’ll get it translated and sent on in time for Christmas.

    Real-time WhatsApp message timeline…

    Some of the most recent churches were closed in October – and we heard directly from young Christians who were there when the police raided their services and forced them to leave their church. They kept us up to date via WhatsApp.

    Why are churches closing?

    There are various reasons. Most churches aren’t registered with the government – they need a license, and no licenses have been given in 13 years. The government says the churches and their pastors are spreading ‘destructive ideas’. It’s more likely that the churches are full of converts from Islam, and those people are seen as traitors. Those who convert can be hated, even by their own family, for going against Islam. There are even laws that mean you can get into trouble for ‘shaking the faith of a Muslim’, so Christians have to be careful when talking about their faith. Churches can exist, but they have to stick to the rules – those rules prohibit Bible studies, foreign preachers and Sunday schools, so you can see why many don’t stick to them!

    Send your message to Algerian teenagers here…

    • Write your message to our teenage friends in Algeria below. Please try and keep it short - no more than 100 words would be great... If you have trouble submitting the form, please email your message to youth@opendoorsuk.org...

      Thanks!
    • Your details

    • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
    • Want to hear more from Open Doors Youth?

  • Write to: Christians in prison in Iran

    Share an encouraging word with those that are going through hardship in prison or under investigation for their faith in Jesus!


    Images L-R: Victor, Ebrahim, Nasser and Shamiram

    Write to those in prison…

    Ebrahim Firouzi (31) was charged with ‘promoting Christian Zionism’ following his arrest in March 2013. He was tried at the Revolutionary Court in his hometown of Robat Karim, just to the south-west of Tehran, charged for conducting evangelism activities. He has been imprisoned since August 2013, and though he was due for release in 2015, he was kept back under new charges of ‘acting against national security, gathering and collusion’ and sentenced to a further five years in jail.

    Nasser-Navard Gol-Tapeh (57) is an Iranian convert to Christianity serving ten years in prison for ‘missionary activities’. He was first arrested in June 2016 alongside three Azerbaijanis following a raid on a wedding party. The four men were sentenced a year later, but the Azerbaijanis have not been forced to return to Iran to serve their sentences.
    Nasser lost his appeal against his sentence in November 2017 and was moved to Evin Prison in January. He recently wrote from prison, “I thank God in perfect joy and peace for considering me worthy to be here because of my faith in and witness to Jesus Christ.”

    Write to those on bail…

    Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz was arrested with two members of his church in 2014 as they celebrated Christmas together. The government had already closed the Tehran Pentecostal Assyrian Church, which he led, in 2009. He was found guilty of ‘conducting evangelism’ and ‘illegal house-church activities’, among other charges, and given a ten-year prison sentence. His first appeal hearing was heard in June this year, but the court’s decision is awaited. He is on bail at the moment, and it is hard to be in a state of uncertainty, not knowing if he will be called to serve his prison term.

    Shamiram Isavi Khabizeh, the wife of Victor, is appealing against a five-year prison sentence for ‘acting against national security and against the regime by organising small groups, attending a seminary abroad and training church leaders and pastors to act as spies’. Shamiram is awaiting the results of her appeal, and is out on bail at the moment. Please pray that her appeal is heard and that she will be set free.

    Security guidelines for letter writing:

    • Be brief and encouraging
    • Please do not mention Open Doors in your letter or card
    • You may provide your name, but not your full address
    • Please do not criticise a country’s religion or religious extremists, its government, judicial system, or political leaders
    • Please do not use cards with images of animals on them as they are not culturally appropriate
    • Please do not send money or make proposals to help.

    Please send your letters/cards in one envelope to Open Doors UK & Ireland, PO Box 6, Witney OX29 6WG. Please note that this letter-writing campaign ends on 18 November 2019.

    Don’t know where to start?

    Here are some simple letter-writing guidelines to help you as you write – the following points are always good to bear in mind.

    I thought everyone had forgotten about me…

    In 2017, Maryam Naghash Zargaran from Iran was released after four years in prison. She recieved hundreds of letters and cards from Christians all around the world, and was finally able to read them after leaving prison.

    She says, “I thought everyone had forgotten about me when I was in prison… I want to thank everyone who prayed for me. I may never meet them in person, I might never be able to embrace them, but they are my family. I want to say a big thank you. I send you love and kisses. You are in my heart and so dear to me.”

  • Write to: Children in Sri Lanka

    Easter Sunday began as a happy morning in Zion Church, Batticaloa. The children in Sunday school ate breakfast together, then sang and celebrated Jesus’ resurrection. One of their teachers asked: “How many of you want to be witnesses for Christ?” Five or six children raised their hands and made their first prayer of commitment. A few minutes later, however, there was chaos as a bomb exploded in the church. Among the 29 believers who died, 14 of them were children.


    Image: The Sunday school at Zion Church

    In addition, 17 children were injured, as well as many more adults. In total, over a hundred children were in church that day. Those that weren’t physically hurt, lost friends and were traumatised by the event.

    Since then, Open Doors teams have been working to provide the church and bereaved families with long-term trauma care and counselling, and livelihood support. Sunday school teachers at Zion Church have also been faithfully supporting their children. Could you help by sending a message of encouragement to the children who were traumatised by the blast?

    Send messages to the children of Zion Church

    Messages will be delivered around Christmas time so they can be Christmas-themed.

    Please send letters and cards addressed to ‘Children of Zion Church’ to Open Doors UK, PO Box 6, Witney, OX29 6WG.

    Digital messages should be sent with the subject line ‘Children of Zion Church’ to: messagestosrilanka@opendoorsuk.org

    The closing date is 31 October 2019.

    Important guidelines

    • Do not mention Open Doors in any messages.
    • Do not include political, anti-Buddhist, or anti-Islam messages.
    • Please be sensitive to the children’s losses and avoid mentioning how good life is in your country.
    • Kindly avoid using your full name (first name will do) and do not include proposals or promises to help.
    • Many children in Zion Church may not understand English. Most of the believers in Zion Church use the Tamil language. If possible, please use Tamil phrases to make your message easy to understand.

    Tamil phrases for you to use…

    My name is
    En peyar

    I am praying for you
    Nan unkalukkaka jepikkirenṟēṉ

    God loves you
    Katavul unnai necikkirar

    You are in my prayers
    Ninkal en jepattil irukkirirkalḷ

    Stay strong!
    Valuvaka irunkalḷ

    Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
    Yocuva 1:9 Palamakavum tairiyamakavum irunkal; payappatatirkal, kalankatirkal, enenral ninkal enku cenralum unkal tevanakiya karttar unkalutan irukkirar.

    A prayer for children in Sri Lanka

    Lord Jesus, please heal Your children. Take the painful memories away. Let them know that You are God and You have them safely in Your care. Amen.

    Where is Sri Lanka?

    Sri Lanka is an island country in the Indian Ocean, to the south east of Tamil Nadu in southern India.

    Send in your cards and messages…

    Please put all your letters and cards in one envelope and send to Open Doors UK, PO Box 6, Witney, OX29 6WG.

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