Answers to Prayer
La Macarena congregation - Colombia
Four months after a FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrilla leader forced closure of a church in Colombia, the La Macarena congregation is once again open for worship. The church was closed in late April 2012 on the orders of the commander of the FARC 27th Front. But he was killed in a battle with Colombia’s military, and his death cancelled the order. On 5 August, guerrilla leaders authorised worshippers to once again openly gather in their own building. While the church was closed, the group continued meeting in secret, in members’ homes. During this time the two pastors felt God say to them that the church would be quickly reopened.
In response to the YouTube video insulting Mohammed, a mob of 600 people, armed with guns and bombs, made their way through the centre of Cairo to the embassy building. Unable to get near it, they headed for a nearby church and painted a slogan on the wall 'Kill the worshippers of the cross'. A pastor was inside praying with a number of the young people, assuming the destruction of the building was inevitable, but praying for a miracle that their lives would be spared. Out of the blue, one man started telling the crowd not to damage the church because when he was hurt during the 2011 revolution, the Christians in that church had come to his aid and tended his wounds. Another man told the crowd, that these were the Christians who had offered them water to wash with so they could say their Islamic prayers during Ramadan. Amazingly, the crowd went silent, turned around, and went on their way. Listen to the pastor tell the story
Tamirat Woldegorgis* - Ethiopia
Tamirat was arrested following a disagreement with his Muslim roommate over money and imprisoned for allegedly desecrating the Quran. He was tricked into signing a false confession and sentenced to three years in jail. In prison Tamirat felt forgotten. "For many months I didn't know that Christians were praying for me." He said. However, during one court appearance Tamirat saw several men in the public gallery bowing their heads and he knew they were Christians praying for him. For the first time in months, an indescribable joy came over him. The night before his release Tamirat had a dream in which, he said, "God told me that I would be released the following day." Normally, prisoners are ordered to wash themselves and their clothes before being released. But Tamirat was instructed to leave the prison as quickly as possible, a year before his scheduled release date.
Ruth - Colombia
Ruth (16) attended a camp sponsored by Open Doors. Ruth hadn't laughed ever since her father, a well-known church leader, was murdered. The day the guerrillas shot him, her parents had given Ruth permission to go and play soccer. But she was late coming back, so her father had gone looking for her. Two years later, she still believed that she was to blame for his death. But God turned things around for Ruth at the camp. He confronted Ruth with the reality of her pain and started her on the path to healing. Asked to write down the things that she wanted to fill her heart, Ruth wrote "I want to fill my heart with forgiveness for myself, and for those who killed my father." Ruth has been accepted at the Children's Centre, where she will receive love, counselling and an education. "I would like to be a good Christian and serve the Lord with all my heart," says Ruth.
William Masolo* - Uganda
William Masolo's family received numerous threats following their conversion to Christianity in 1998. Twelve years later, William's son Francis was brutally murdered by young militant extremists. In December 2011 the family received a bundle of cards from Doors supporters. William said, "I have been deeply comforted in a way I cannot even describe. Even little children wrote to us! Because of your contribution, I have finally forgiven and released the people who killed my son." In another report in March 2012 he says, "God is hearing the prayers of the saints... we had a massive crusade in our village. More than 30 people, including many Muslims came to the Lord! May God bless each of you."
Pastor - Azerbaijan
"When you are a Christian, you lose your friends, your job, you don't have any money. When you live in a society where people kind of hate you and don't want any relationship with you, you feel isolated. Thank God for people who pray. You feel that not everyone in this world hates you, there are some people who care about you, who feel that you're part of the family even if you have never met them. I can't explain how great is the blessing to have people from outside of the country who pray for you, who stay outside but you feel that that person stays with you in prayer. It's a great encouragement. Please continue to pray for us."
Pastor Ilmurad* - Turkmenistan
Pastor Ilmurad was released on 18 February 2012 having served just 18 months of his four year prison sentence just when his family was giving up hope for his early release. He says, "Your prayers were as a wall of fire around me; even when it was very cold, the Lord Jesus warmed me and when it was very hot, Jesus provided me with shadow. Thank you for praying for me and my family." Ilmurad had many opportunities to testify of his faith to other inmates and even visiting mullah's. Once his very sore back was healed following a beating. He says, "I went to the guard and said thank you, that God had used his beating to heal my back."
Susan* - Uganda
On 22 August 2011 we asked you to pray for Susan Ithungu (14), who was left hospitalised and unable to walk after her father tortured her for becoming a Christian. Just two months later, Susan was discharged from hospital, had found a home with a Christian mother of four, was planning to go back to school and able to move around on crutches. Pastor Baluku whose Church members have been visiting Susan in hospital says she is spiritual strong, loves praying and enjoys singing hymns. "Every time I go to see Susan, I leave their place feeling greatly encouraged! She is truly an inspiration." Thank you for praying.
Nowhere in the world is Christian persecution as fierce as it is in North Korea, where all Christians must hide their faith. Just owning a Bible could get you killed or sent to work in one of the many brutal concentration camps. Yet despite the risks and this fierce persecution, the church is growing. They are very grateful for your support and prayers...
Martha Azi - Nigeria
Martha Azi's husband was shot dead during the religious violence that engulfed the capital of Plateau State in November 2008. Only in her twenties she is the sole provider for her two children. However Martha testified that she is experiencing God's miracles in her life as the result of Christians praying for her. "My greatest joy in this difficult situation is that the people of God are praying for me. Please keep it up."
"It is against the law to teach the Christian faith at home," one Uzbeki believer told us. "Recently the police showed up at my brother's house. The officers combed through the house but finally left without finding any Christian material, despite there being four Bibles, 15 worship CD's and sermon printouts in the house!" The believers attribute this to the power of prayer and are so grateful to those who pray for them.
Mrs Edet Okhouya - Nigeria
Pastor Israel Okhouya died of injuries after being attacked by a mob of thirty Muslim extremists armed with machetes in June 2009. His wife Edet said, "Pray that I will be able to forgive the killers of my husband wholeheartedly. It is not easy." In a stunned and silent courtroom, Edet was able to tell the suspects that she loved them with the love of Christ and even offered to pay their bail! She said "I am so happy to know that I am not alone in this battle of faith and that is why I am strong. The Good Lord will bless you richly in all your endeavours."
Dawit and Meaza - Ethiopia
Last year Dawit and his wife Meaza were kicked and beaten by Muslims outside their church building. Meaza lost the child she was carrying and has since suffered two miscarriages. However, both of them have forgiven their attackers and been greatly strengthened to know that many are praying for them. "The Lord is encouraging me through your prayers," Meaza said. "Please say thank you to those who are praying for us," said Dawit. "We do not know them personally. But God knows them."
Peter* - The Middle East
'Peter', a believer from the Middle East, was arrested earlier this year because of his faith. When his father visited him in prison, Peter told him that he had had a dream. In his dream he was surrounded by many people – he didn't recognise any of them but they all knew him – who were hugging him and calling his name and waving. He woke up and knew he was being prayed for by many people he had never met! When his father heard this, he wept, but Peter told him to dry his eyes as there was no reason to be sad. Peter said he knew he was free – it was just the walls around him that had changed. Praise God!
Maryam and Marzieh - Iran
Maryam and Marzieh were imprisoned without trial or charge in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran in March 2009. At one of their lowest points they met a stranger in the prison who told them that documents they had been shown apparently proving that they had been forgotten about were false. The stranger added, "Many Christians around the world are thinking, talking and praying for you." Then she disappeared from sight. Knowing that believers from around the world were praying for them enabled Maryam and Marzieh to stand firm in their faith despite their illnesses and mistreatment in prison.
Obe Agnes Olanike - Nigeria
Nigerian Christian Obe Agnes Olanike was consumed with sorrow and could hardly stop crying after her husband was murdered for his faith in 2008. Twelve months later she radiated a peace that passes all understanding. She testifies that it was because of the prayers of the faithful [referring to the letters she had received from around the world]. "I can see the hand of God in my situation," she said. "The joy in me is overflowing even to my neighbours. I now believe in prayer. I never thought I would overcome the pain of the death of my husband, but the Lord has done it."
Rinaldy Damanik* - Indonesia
Rinaldy Damanik, an Indonesian Christian prisoner was miraculously healed of severe kidney problems after he heard the Lord's voice inside saying, "Don't worry: there are many people praying for you." On his release from prison Rinaldy said "I am doing very well in both body and soul. I believe this is because of the many prayers from many brothers and sisters all over the world. How am I aware of this? As of yesterday, since my detention at the beginning of the year, I have received 13,425 letters and postcards from abroad."
Prisoners - Mexico
As part of an Open Doors team, I visited 34 Christian men in a high-security prison in Mexico, where we handed out gifts of shampoo, soap and other toiletries as well as the many letters that had been written to them from supporters around the world. They were grateful for the gifts but it was when we told them that they were not forgotten and that people were praying for them that each of the men broke down in tears. They were grateful for the gifts, but much more grateful for the assurances that Christians around the world knew and cared about them and were praying for them.
Junas Naik - Orissa, India
Junas Naik from India, who was helped with his medical care by Open Doors after 2008 Orissa riots, said: "Only people of prayer, like you, have sustained me. I am alive today with so many bullets in my body because of your prayers. In fact, so many people could have died in attacks like this, but we have survived just because of the mercies of Christ. So please continue to shoulder us and stand with us."
Jamila Noma - Northern Nigeria
After Jamila started to follow Christ, her father forced her into an arranged marriage with a Muslim. After several rape attempts, Jamila managed to escape and went into hiding. With the help of her Christian uncle, she was put into the care of a lawyer, who courageously defended her case in the Sharia (Islamic law) court. When asked about how she keeps standing strong in her faith, Jamila said: "I must confess that your prayers give me joy. You need to know that God is answering your prayers in my life!" Jamila's father has since admitted his error in trying to force her into marriage, and has agreed to let her live her life as she chooses.
Brother Jacob* - Mozambique
Brother Jacob would hear the muffled gunshots coming from somewhere in the prison complex and think that it could be his turn tomorrow. He prayed "Father, please tell your children around the world to pray for me." He explains how one day he found a short message, hidden in a rice bowl by local Christians who visited him in prison. It said that brothers and sisters around the world were praying for him. He says "It was a tremendous assurance of God's faithfulness – to me and to my family. It encouraged me greatly. Oh, how I could rest in the knowledge and comfort of those prayers, regardless of what tomorrow would bring." Brother Jacob continues – "May I encourage you today with these words: Your prayers are heard - Your prayers are answered. Your prayers are felt by us."
*Photos used for illustrative purposes