Standing Strong is the annual gathering for Open Doors supporters. You can catch up with the event from 24 September, where you'll hear first-hand from persecuted Christians from the Middle East and Asia, and join in worship and prayer with believers from across the UK and Ireland.
On Saturday 24 September, hundreds of Open Doors supporters gathered in person in Nottingham, and watched online, to celebrate Standing Strong. During the evening, believers from across the UK and Ireland prayed together, worshipped God and heard first-hand from Bishop Daniel and Hanna*. These courageous Christians shared their experiences of persecution in Iraq and Asia, respectively, and encouraged us all with how they are seeing God act and the church grow.
"We may forget the people who have persecuted us," shared Bishop Daniel. "I have been persecuted by al-Qaeda personally, and my family – but I totally forgot about them. Our people will forget about ISIS, who persecuted them. But we will not forget the people who stood with us. We will not ever forget the support that you made to our people, the prayers that you prayed for our people, and the contribution you made to our people."
During the event, we also got people to add their light to the one million prayers of hope for the Middle East – a tangible reminder of how the global body of Christ is coming together to 'suffer with those who suffer' (1 Corinthians 12:26).
If you missed the event, or if you want to watch again, now's your chance. Why not share these stories with your church or small group?
Bishop Shimun Daniel (formerly Father Daniel) from Iraq spoke at both the evening event and afternoon seminars. He has experienced persecution for his faith since childhood – but he is committed to rebuilding and encouraging the church in Iraq to stand firm and keep proclaiming the gospel in their communities. On Saturday, Father Daniel shared his story and explained how your prayers and support are helping our persecuted church family in Iraq to stand strong.
Hanna grew up in a region considered the breeding ground of the extremist world. At the age of six, Hanna courageously decided she was going to follow the Jesus for whom her parents' friends were being abducted, hurt and even killed – and has experienced persecution and suffering herself. In the Gulf region, Hanna teaches theology and runs creative camps to share Christ and serves a network of persecuted believers to ensure they go deeper and deeper in love and their journey with Christ.
*Name changed for security reasons
Lord God, thank You for the opportunity to gather with our church family across the UK and Ireland and across the world. We thank You for the courage and strength You give Bishop Daniel and Hanna. Please protect them and their communities, and give opportunities for them to continue sharing the love of Christ with those around them. May Your light shine brightly in the darkest of places, and may Your church stand strong and know Your joy even through every hardship. Amen.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.