Your gifts, prayers and speaking out is making a big difference for our persecuted church family around the world. As we look back on 2022, here are some of the ways you are changing lives...
Thank you for all the ways you have continued to encourage, sustain and strengthen our persecuted brothers and sisters in 2022! Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, shares a message of thanks in the video above. Here’s just a glimpse of the amazing difference you’ve made for persecuted Christians around the world this year.
Kanak and her husband Peter* were meeting with their church in their home when Hindu extremists burst in. Wielding sticks and metal rods, they beat Kanak, Peter and the other Christians.
Peter called the police who put a stop to the attack. But Kanak and Peter could no longer stay in the area. “I had to leave the place where God called me to ministry; I had to let go of my people who were like family to me,” Kanak says. “I felt like I had come to the end of a tunnel.”
But thanks to your prayers and gifts, local Open Doors partners came alongside Kanak and Peter with practical and spiritual support as they rebuild their lives and ministry in a new place. “Certainly, God’s light shined through your help,” Kanak says. “I thank the organisation [Open Doors] for helping my family in our time of need and assuring us of your constant prayers and encouragement.”
In 2019, we introduced you to Jina and her son, Apo, from Syria. Jina’s husband, Rober, was kidnapped in 2013 by Islamic extremists while on a work trip because he’s a Christian.
Your prayers and support meant that Jina and Apo (now ten years old) have received much-needed practical and spiritual support through a Centre of Hope, led by Pastor Abdalla. Apo spends time with other Christian children at the centre, playing games. “What I like most at school is the sports class,” he says.
Thanks to you, Jina is also flourishing in a new job at a beauty salon – which she was encouraged by Apo to start after he had a dream where Jesus told him to ‘be a good son… and to be good in my school’.
Jina says Apo is thriving because he’s able to channel all of his energy into sports. “I thank you who supported me from the bottom of my heart,” she says. “I pray that God will bless you and will open new doors for you to continue to help us in Syria.”
When Mariama from Niger chose to follow Jesus, her family turned against her, cutting her off financially. “I faced a lot of challenges, and my siblings and relatives showed me hatred,” she says.
It’s hard for many Nigeriens to make ends meet; families survive by pooling resources. But when they turn their backs on Islam, Christians, by implication, also turn their backs on the support of their family and wider community.
But Mariama was not alone for long. Thanks to your support, local Open Doors partners in Niger gave her vocational training to help her earn a living. They provided her with a small loan, which she used to start up a farm.
“Thanks to your help, we’ve bought chickens, goats, and cows,” she says. “We even use these animals to help other people to start their own businesses. If you had not helped us, we would have lost our faith, because of our difficult situation. Thank you, may God bless you.”
Despite the political instability, this has been an amazing year for advocacy. By raising your voice, you’re making the voices of our persecuted brothers and sisters heard in the corridors of power. In January, over 90 MPs attended the online World Watch List launch, where they heard from Christians in China and Africa. Fiona Bruce MP, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), attended the Digital Persecution Conference in March to hear the talks and raise issues in government afterwards. And many of you invited your MP to the FoRB Ministerial in July, which made it possible to put the issue of digital persecution on the main agenda and raised Nigeria and gender-specific religious persecution as key issues. Thank you! Please keep praying for the UK Government’s ongoing engagement with religious freedom around the world.
Hundreds of Open Doors supporters gathered both in-person and online for our annual Standing Strong event! This year we met with Hanna* from Asia, and Bishop (formerly Father) Daniel from Iraq, who shared what’s happening to the persecuted church in these places – but also how encouraged believers are by your prayers and support. “Our people will forget about ISIS, who persecuted them,” Bishop Daniel said. “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.” You can catch up with the evening event online.
Thank you so much for all that you’ve done for persecuted church this year. Your prayers, gifts and actions are continually ‘refreshing the hearts’ (Philemon 7) of our brothers and sisters living for Jesus in places where faith costs the most. As Kanak* from India says, “The help and intervention of Open Doors partners is like a ray of hope peeping through the dark tunnel.”
*Name changed for security reasons
The World Watch List parliamentary launch represents a wonderful opportunity to highlight the plight of our persecuted family to those in power. Earlier this year, more than 90 MPs attended the event – and that's because they were invited by Open Doors supporters like you! Can you invite your MP to next year's event? It's taking place on Wednesday 18 January.