The World Watch List is about the big picture – the facts and figures, the global trends. But the big picture is made up of millions of individual faces. Here are six representatives of persecuted Christians from around the world who really need your prayers and support.
An Open Doors partner visits 12 Christian families to encourage them. “They have only one Bible in the whole group, and each family must take turns to borrow it,” he reports. “They hide the Bible in a secret place. Once a month, three families get together and worship together; once a year all believers get together in a mountain valley to worship and have secret fellowship.”
“We always remember all the prayer support from all over the world,” says one of their leaders. “It encourages us to live another victorious day in Christ Jesus.”
In some ways 10-year-old Maryam is just like any other girl. She goes to school, plays with her friends, runs errands for her mother. She sings and plays her guitar. But Maryam lives in a refugee camp in Erbil. Her family fled from Mosul when Islamic State invaded. Thanks to the help of Open Doors supporters, they, along with thousands of others, have been helped with food, accommodation and heating. But her dearest wish is to return home, to the life she had before everything was torn apart.
“Please pray specially that we can return home,” she says. “Because the most precious thing for us is that we can return home – then we can go back to our schools, we can return to our beautiful churches. And pray that our situation will improve and that we won’t grow weary or have doubts.”
“The persecution and tribulation is ongoing,” writes a group of pastors from Eritrea. “As some Christians are released from prison, others are going in for the sake of the gospel. We accept and understand that this is how the gospel of Jesus Christ is to be preached, and we thank God for that.
“We have no shortage of food and financial support because of your obedience to support us in all our needs. We are very thankful for that and we hope things will change soon so that we are able to give thanks to God and gather with you freely in our homeland.”
When al-Shabaab militants from Somalia crossed into Kenya and attacked the university campus at Garissa, Frederick Gitonga (21), the Chairman of the Christian Students’ Union, survived by hiding under his bed.
“I praise God that some survived, many in truly miraculous ways. However, we are deeply traumatised, broken, and in need of much prayer,” he says.
“Please pray for us. Pray for the surviving students to heal not just in body, but in mind too. Many saw sights too horrible to describe and those memories can harm if not attended to. I pray that they each get adequate psychological help.”
“All of the believers in our area are secret and persecuted,” says a secret believer from Central Asia. “I kept my new faith a secret from my family for two months.”
The reason for her secrecy is that her father is a Mullah – a Muslim cleric. When she told him of her new faith he forbade her from meeting with other Christians.
“I met with them secretly for a year before my father found out. He shouted loud and long… but I had made my choice. I had decided to follow the joy and peace that Jesus brings. To this day my father will not speak to me.”
Violent attacks on Christians and churches in India increased in 2015. Schools have been destroyed, pastors beaten, church services attacked by mobs. Emboldened by an increasingly hardline Hindu government, some states have passed ‘anti-conversion laws’.
Open Doors’ ‘Standing Strong Through the Storm’ seminars help believers like Ajay face persecution. When Ajay became a Christian his Hindu father was furious. He was beaten for reading his Bible, then forcibly married to a Hindu girl. (The plan backfired – his wife decided to follow Jesus.) Ajay’s father disowned his son, his brothers threatened to kill him and the couple were thrown out of the house. He has never gone a day without some form of persecution, but Ajay is not downhearted: “God is blessing me in countless ways!” he says.
Please note: Bar Frederick, names have been changed and images are not of the real people making the statements, they are only for illustrative purposes!
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.