25 May 2017

Persecuted Christians pray for Manchester

Persecuted Christians around the world are praying for the Manchester terror attack victims. Open Doors contacts in some of the countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian have shared their messages of support. It is precisely because they live under the constant threat of terrorism and violence that they are able to empathise with all of those caught up in this terrible attack.

A Pakistani sister, who has been involved in helping victims of terror attacks in her country, shares: "I was a student in Manchester for three years. There, God called me to serve His church. There I met people who prayed for the persecuted church. I was moved by how believers really did pray for those who are suffering.

"Today, my team and I remember our praying friends and family in the UK. Today, we assure you that in your pain and grief and shock, in the trauma and tragedy of it all, we are standing by you and trusting Jesus, Emmanuel, to walk with you and comfort you and wipe your tears. We journey together."

A pastor from Bangladesh said: "I am shocked to hear this news as the UK is a highly protected country. I'm praying for the affected people and their families; may God pour His love and blessing over them. May God change the minds of the people who are behind the brutal attack, that they may also be caught by the fear of God. At the same time, we praying for our country, that God will save us all from these kinds of attacks."

A church worker in Malaysia expressed his sadness too. "I pray for those who have lost loved ones that God will comfort them in their sorrows. I also pray that this tragedy will help open our eyes to see the great need to share the truth of Jesus to all; for only His love can help them lay down their bombs."

A young believer from the same country was confused after hearing about the news. "The first thought that came to my mind after I heard the bombing was 'Why did he do it?' I cannot understand the reason why that man blew himself up and took the lives of others as well. But I can understand how you, our brothers and sisters in UK, feel. My heart goes out to you and I pray for God to comfort you in your grief."

A Christian from north east India said she grieved with the victims. "May God comfort them and lead them through these trying times."

A believer from Sri Lanka hopes the UK will become stronger because of this tragedy. "We condemn this horrendous act and our hearts go out to the families that lost their loved ones and others affected. Be strong Manchester! May God heal your emotional and physical wounds."

A brother from Laos offers words of comfort. "God never leaves his people as orphans. He will come to you. Be encouraged."

In Vietnam, five Christian groups took time to pray for Manchester. "We ask God to forgive ISIS and to comfort the people in Manchester and the UK." The so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack in Manchester, although this has not been verified.

All of these countries are on the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List, the annual ranking of the 50 countries where persecuted against Christians is most extreme. Pakistan is number 4, India is number 15, Laos is 24, Bangladesh is 26, Malaysia is 31, Sri Lanka is 45.

Photo of secret church leaders in Vietnam praying for Manchester, blurred to protect identities:

persecuted believers

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Note to editors:

For more information call the Open Doors press office on 01993 777377, 01993 777346 or 07484 000 441, or email Tania at taniac@opendoorsuk.org or Beth at bethf@opendoorsuk.org

Information on Open Doors - www.opendoorsuk.org

Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians in over 60 countries for over 60 years. Last year it raised approximately $70 million to provide practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources. Open Doors UK & Ireland raised over £11 million.

Every year Open Doors publishes the World Watch List - a ranking of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. This is produced using detailed information provided by Open Doors co-workers in more than 60 countries, as well as independent experts. Data is gathered on five spheres of life - private, family, community, national and church life - plus a sixth sphere measuring the degree of violence impacting Christians. Persecution in each country is recorded by Open Doors using a point system. Open Doors' research methods and results have been independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom. The 2017 World Watch List accounts for the 12 months ending 31 October 2016.

The Open Doors World Watch List is the only instrument that measures the persecution of Christians annually. Its methodology is designed to track how the exercise of the Christian faith gets squeezed in five distinct areas - private life, family life, community life, national life and church life - as well as covering violence such as rapes, killings and church burnings. Dr. Ronald Boyd-MacMillan, Director of Research at Open Doors International, explains why: "It is possible for persecution to be so intense in all areas of life that Christians fear to witness at all. You may find very low levels of violence as a result, because incidents of violent persecution are often a response to acts of witness."