Your support and prayers mean that more than 4,000 children in Central Asia were able to receive Christmas gifts! Thank you for bringing them the joy of Christmas.
It’s amazing how a single gift can impact someone’s life. For persecuted children across Central Asia – especially those from Muslim backgrounds – celebrating Christmas is often not possible. But thanks to your prayers and support, Open Doors partners were able to bring the hope and joy of Christmas to many of them, distributing over 4,000 Christmas gifts!
"I am happy that Jesus remembers me and loves me" Six-year-old Christian girl
In one Central Asian country (which we can’t name, for security reasons) the team visited schools, maternity hospitals, orphanages and state colleges to share the Nativity story and the message of Jesus. They also distributed 8,000 calendars containing Bible verses, organised street performances depicting the gospel and provided Christian literature written in the local language.
One six-year-old girl said: “I was waiting the whole year for somebody to give me a gift. I am not going to school as it has become expensive. My mum is not working; my dad is working but earning very little. I am happy that Jesus remembers me and loves me.”
Another believer shared, “We are so grateful for your visits to our hospital. Nobody else comes to see us and nobody makes such joyful events with songs, performances and Christmas presents! Thank you for your visit and the news about Isa Masih [Jesus Messiah in Arabic] which gives hope to our children. Children here are very sick, but your words about Isa and His love help them to have hope for a better future!”
But it wasn’t without risk – the faith of the team was stretched through several challenges as they continued their Christmas ministry. Murat* shares about one of their most difficult experiences at a local high school: “A mother of one of the students complained to the head teacher about the school hosting Christmas events. She then contacted the State Department of Education, who questioned us intensely about the materials we were distributing.”
The State Department of Education recommended the materials be sent to the nation’s head Muslim clergy for review. Upon hearing this, the team met together for a time of prayer to seek God’s wisdom. Strengthened by the Holy Spirit, they decided to continue with the programme.
“While awaiting a response, we visited another community where 50-100 people gathered for our Christmas programme,” Murat continued. “There we met people who had connections to the Department of Education, and they promised to assist in the resolution of the conflict. As a result, our materials were not sent to the Muslim clergy and were cleared for use!”
Part of the ministry is about reaching people who’ve never encountered the gospel before. Evgeny*, another member of the team, describes the time they were arrested – again, in a school: “We distributed 500 Christmas gifts in the area where people never heard about Jesus and the children never got presents for Christmas and New Year. We organised celebration programmes in schools with songs, performances and games. In one of the schools, officers from local security services came and arrested our team. We were detained in a prison cell for several hours and threatened with imprisonment for ‘illegal religious activity with children’ but, thank God, after several hours we were released – we just paid a fine.”
Some of the most impactful gifts given weren’t just toys. Many Christians in Central Asia, especially converts from Islam or Buddhism, struggle with poverty and unemployment as well as persecution for their faith – and children often suffer the most hardship as a result. But even here, Evgeny and the team were able to meet their needs: “We also reached poor families with humanitarian help – grocery packages with flour, oil, pasta and other necessary products.”
God saw them through each of these challenges, which meant that the team was able to continue with their ministry. Zuchra*, a mother of six, expresses her thanks to you: “I am so grateful to God for the opportunity to know you. You came to our house and brought with you this amazing holiday. My daughter will celebrate Christmas for the first time in her life. It is amazing! Thank God for this wonderful gift in our lives!”
*Names changed for security reasons
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.