08 June 2017

Christians in Qatar - Pray for us in this time of crisis.

Christians in Qatar are requesting prayer for the current diplomatic crisis their country is in. A growing number of Arab countries has cut all ties with Qatar. The future for Qatar and its hundreds of thousands of migrant workers - tens of thousands of those being Christian believers - is unclear.

Open Doors spoke with several Christians living in Qatar. All of them asked for prayer for the developing situation. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, and other smaller states have severed diplomatic ties with Qatar over its alleged support for Islamist groups. "Let's just pray this problem will not escalate further... that they will be able to settle their differences," one believer, a Christian from an Asian country, said.

Up until now, the diplomatic crisis has not been the biggest problem for the Christians. "Life goes on, almost as normal," another Christian leader puts it. "For us believers, life is same as last week, but please do pray for our safety. There are crowds in the supermarkets because people are scared and are buying food to stock."

This leader points out that there have been special prayer gatherings by Christians to intercede for the leaders in Qatar and its neighbouring countries. "Because of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for the Muslims, most of the companies have cut the working hours by 50 percent. Also, Christian workers only have to work half days, so they have more time go to Church and to pray."

Another believer asked for prayers to be focused on peace and calmness. This believer asked for prayer that pride would not stand in the way of resolution. In essence, that God’s will be done in the situation.

An Open Doors worker expresses the hope that something good will come from this crisis: "Many Christians in Qatar already live with strict limitations in expressing their faith, and extra pressure on them is not what we want. But hopefully the current media attention on Qatar will spark people to pray for the country and the people living and working there."

Qatar is number 20 on the Open Doors World Watch list a ranking of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

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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."