It’s been a strange year – one of many changes and trials. From Brexit to climate change, there’s been a lack of hope – and if you’ve followed stories from the persecuted church, you’ll know that often it can feel like things are pretty dark. But, at Christmas we remember that Jesus, the light of the world, came to dispel the darkness. And despite many trials and challenges, there is hope. Check out these stories from the last year to see how God has been working in even the darkest places…
Image: North Korea village near the border with China
In 2019, you helped provide over 60,000 North Korean Christians with vital relief aid, including emergency food, medicines and clothes. North Korea is the most dangerous country in the world to be a Christian, so much so that all believers keep their faith secret. One Christian said:
“We appreciate your work. You help us to follow the path of Jesus Christ’s cross. We thank for your continuous love and concern. Thank you for taking care of our church believers who are in physical and spiritual needs. We dedicate ourselves again to help the other Christians.”
In Spring, we launched the See. Change. campaign for Christian women around the world who are doubly vulnerable to persecution. Your response has been incredible – over 12,500 people signed the handmade petition.
Image: Ijanada with her daughter Warasini, whose name means “I never thought I would get back home”
Thanks to you, Open Doors is able to support close to 2,500 women in Nigeria who have been traumatised by violent persecution. This help includes trauma care, practical help for widows and training for church leaders to help them respond to the trauma that persecuted Christians in their community have experienced. Ijanda (pictured above) received trauma care after she managed to escape Boko Haram, who had held her captive for four years. She says, “I found new life here… I learned to forgive those who have offended me and have forgiven those who mocked me, because they don’t know what they are doing.” She says, “I want to say thank you. May God continue to open doors for you. May God continue to grant you wisdom to reach out to many others. I have been touched and I have forgiven.”
Back on Easter Sunday, bomb attacks targeted churches in Sri Lanka. Thanks to your support, Open Doors now has the means to continue to support believers in Sri Lanka for the foreseeable future, which is a lifeline as families continue to grieve for lost loved ones and begin to pick up the pieces.
Verl (pictured below, right, with his brother Nithan) lost several family members as a result of the attacks, including his 13-year-old son, but his faith is still strong. He says, “They are special people. They were not killed. They were sown. They are like seeds. And the blood of the martyrs are the seeds of the church… God is good. God is great. My foundation is Jesus Christ. I’m zero. Jesus is everything.”
Image: Nithan and Verl
In India, courageous believers like Sharda*, a local church leader and schoolteacher, are continuing to serve persecuted Christians despite the danger. Her son was almost killed by Hindu extremists, but your prayers and support made it possible for her to keep going. “This was the most difficult time of my life,” she says, “yet by God’s grace some Open Doors partners encouraged me in so many ways. They stood by us, prayed with us and supported us practically. I am so thankful for their presence; it made a lot of difference.”
Thanks to your support, Open Doors partners are able to provide ongoing practical help to thousands of believers in India who have been persecuted for their faith. This help could include legal assistance, food, medical care, access to a safe house or permanent shelter.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.