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“They threatened to kill me, and had God not protected me, they would have succeeded.”   The “they” in *Abdul’s story are not Islamic jihadist group Boko Haram that terrorizes Christians and churches in West Africa, fiercely attempting to eradicate Christianity. “They” are Abdul’s family.   When Abdul left his tribal religion of Islam and committed his life to Christ in 2000, his Muslim family felt and acted like he had just pointed a challenging dagger straight at them. Abdul’s family (part of the ethnic Kotoko group spread over Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria) always took pride in the fact that [More]
Has God ever sent you little reminders of times in the past when He’s been faithful? I love it when He does that, and I received an email recently that brought back one of those memories.   A friend posted an emergency prayer request for her blog. It launched that day, and when it went live, the content didn’t show up like it should. To make it worse, her web designer was sick.   My friend’s email reminded me of something similar that happened to me—and what made it extra special was that her email arrived exactly four years to [More]
Growing up, I was in awe of the empty old farmhouse next door. I looked at it from the road, admiring the front porch, thinking it must have been grand years ago with fresh paint and shutters that weren’t losing louvers like loose teeth. Often, I’d get off my bike and climb the bank, up the two creaking porch steps to peek in the windows.   Once I saw a woman, dressed in a habit, walking by the old falling down outhouse in the backyard. Her veil blew in the breeze and she looked almost like a dream. I overheard [More]
“A powerful lesson on how to receive what you need from God. This can apply to healing as she needed or anything else.” Admin   I woke up with the same tormenting headache I had gone to bed with and struggled to the bathroom. I grasped the sink with both hands and reluctantly raised my pounding head to the mirror. The face reflected in the glass was a fiery red mask of tiny bumps and large acne-like sores. Hundreds of them.   The horrid rash covered my face like the Egyptian plague of boils in the Bible. The unending headache [More]
I stood outside my sister’s house that cold March morning trying to understand how everything had changed. Police cars lined the driveway. An ambulance drove away and a coroner drove up.   How was this possible? We had all been together the night before eating Sunday dinner at my mom’s house. Could it really be true that my sister was dead?   “What do you think happened?” I looked at my mom, shivering. Neither of us had grabbed a coat in our urgent dash to my sister’s house on the other side of town.   Mom shrugged and shook her [More]
Are you all right?” I said.   The middle-aged woman next to me on my flight home had been teary-eyed when we boarded, and now she was visibly crying.   I wasn’t doing great myself. My 22-year-old son had recently died of a blood clot in his brain. I was returning home to New York after clearing out his apartment in Phoenix, Arizona, where he’d only just moved—he hadn’t even had time yet to buy me a cross for my collection. I had one from every other place he ever lived. It was our ritual.   “Yes, well—” the woman [More]
I tend to get caught up in the process of life. I’m an analytical sort of person and definitely a planner. With every project, I try to anticipate any possible potholes and pitfalls. I build timelines and set expectations.   This was definitely true when our son was in the military and deployed, and I was anxious for his safety.   I truly believed that I could figure out solutions—in advance—to every possible scenario that might occur. In a lot of ways, I was packing my parachute for those life-moments when I would have to jump into the unknown. The exhaustive [More]
Pray with me that one day I’ll be able to go back to my hometown and testify to the people about my faith in the Lord.”   This is Vang Atu*’s prayer.   Vang Atu, a 28-year-old father to two kids, was the first Christian convert in his village in Vietnam (#18 on the World Watch List). He comes from the Hmong tribe and once worshipped different spirits asking for luck, wealth, good health and food; but when he surrendered his life to Jesus, he completely abandoned his animistic beliefs. As a part of the body of Christ, Vang Atu [More]
02/12/18 A new book touting “archeological discoveries that prove the Bible” has gotten a boost from some high-profile tweets in recent days. First it was former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich promoting “Etched in Stone” by Lisette Bassett-Brody to his million-plus Twitter feed. That was followed by one from Gov. Mike Huckabee who had this to say: “Think the Bible is full of nonsense? Do you have the courage to confront archeological evidence? Only if U have an open mind, check out Lisette Bassett-Brody’s new book.” Read More: High-profile tweets pushing ‘Etched in Stone’ book
As part of its most recent clampdown on Christian churches, Chinese authorities have instructed priests and pastors to post signs on churches barring entry to minors.   The instruction is part of a new set of communist party-controlled regulations on religious activities that went into effect on February 1, 2018 and is aimed at preventing children and young people from getting religious instruction or taking an active part in Christian worship.   According to a report Thursday from ucanews, the leading independent Catholic news source in Asia, authorities have begun enforcing the government ban on minors in church in several [More]
The month of January is always exciting because of how God uses the World Watch List to draw attention to the needs of persecuted Christians around the world. But this January, something new happened too.   Author and researcher Ed Stetzer invited Willow Creek Community Church to write encouraging letters to Christians facing persecution in Turkey. The letters, which Ed forwarded to be delivered by Open Doors, offered a heartwarming display of Christian unity as Chicago-area believers let Turkish Christians know “you are not alone.”   As I looked through the letters that arrived at our offices, it struck me how [More]
Nawal lives in the very real tension between finding ways to follow Christ in secret and being a wife and mother in a Muslim culture.   In Saudi Arabia (#12 on the World Watch List), the pressure on believers from family, society and government can be  suffocating, both emotionally and spiritually. Isolated from other Christians, Saudi wife and mom Nawal has gone almost completely silent, afraid to be in touch with other believers. Like all women who have converted from Islam to Christianity in countries governed by Sharia law, Nawal lives in the very real tension between finding ways to [More]
Lee Joo-Chan, now a pastor in China, grew up never knowing the “family secret.”   Lee Joo-Chan* (now in his 50s) is one of the thousands of North Koreans who grew up in a Christian family without knowing it. In this country (#1 on the 2018 World Watch List), parents can’t risk telling their children about their faith–perhaps the saddest consequence of North Korea’s high “squeeze factor.”   Some parents wait until the children are old enough, then let them in on the “family secret.” Others, like Lee’s parents, never feel that freedom.    30 Years of Secrets Revealed   “I [More]
Pinpoints of hope are popping up everywhere—God is doing amazing work in the Middle East and Open Doors is blessed to be His hands and feet.   In a hidden location in the Middle East, a group of female house church leaders has gathered in secret to grow and learn together. Lively conversation and warm smiles fill the room.   Outside this room, in a culture dominated by men, these women are forced to blend into the anonymous mass of covered heads. They must hide their faith and risk their lives. But the light of Christ can’t be stopped, and [More]
When a bomb exploded right next to Samiha at St. Peter’s Church in Cairo on December 11, 2016, everyone thought she was dead. But Samiha miraculously survived—and now testifies of Jesus’ presence throughout her recovery.   Samiha Tawfiq Awad and her husband Qalini prepared to go to church on one Sunday morning in December 2016. Qalini said he was tired, but Samiha encouraged him not to miss church.   Once at St. Peter’s, the two parted ways. Qalini went to sit in the men’s section, and Samiha took her seat in the women’s section—an early church tradition still practiced by [More]
Jan. 24, 2018   Only four of out 100 teenagers have a true biblical worldview, according to a new survey from the Barna Group.   The survey, “Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation,” said that teenagers who are part of Generation Z (born from 1999 to 2015) are the most non-Christian generation in U.S. history.   The survey found that more teens today identify themselves as atheist, agnostic, or not religious affiliated.   Of those surveyed, 35 percent of Generation Z teens say they are atheist, agnostic or unaffiliated in any religion. That number for [More]
Systematic persecution continues for Chinese Christians as new religious legislation approaches   As many as 50,000 Christians in China lifted their voices to the heavens at the Golden Lampstand Church in Linfen, China (#43 on the 2018 World Watch List, #WWL2018). Now, that seems like a long, long time ago.   As of Tuesday, Jan. 9, the well-known megachurch, which reportedly was built with nearly $3 million in contributions from local worshippers in one of China’s poorest regions, was a pile of dust and rubble after Chinese paramilitary forces reportedly used excavators and dynamite to destroy the church, and with it, the [More]
For the last six decades, North Korea (#1 on the 2018 World Watch List for the 16th year) has waged war on Christianity. The Kim dynasty (Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il and now Kim Jong-Un) has deported and even killed entire families who follow Jesus. With Kim Jong-Un as the new leader of the cruel regime, researchers and analysts expect that life may get even worse for Christians. Below, one of our reps draws from interviews with North Korean refugees, secrets letters from North Korean church leaders, research and accounts from the book Escaping from North Korea to bring us this informative [More]
Celebrating Christmas in Saudi Arabia… Is that possible? Officially it is not, but in the deepest secret Christians working and living there manage to celebrate Christ coming to this world. Earlier this month, Open Doors workers managed to visit a group of Indian believers in Saudi for their annual Christmas service. Celebrate with them and stand with them this Christmas through your prayers.   It’s night in one of Saudi Arabia’s cities. The streets are empty. Two Indian men can be seen walking on the sidewalk. When they knock on a nondescript door, it is opened and immediately closed behind [More]
“They will take my land … because I believe in my God.”   In Vietnam, more than a million people are part of the Hmong  group. Over the last 30 years, increasing numbers of Hmong have converted to Christianity from the group’s traditional religion of animism (belief in the spirit world and the interconnectedness of all living things). As this report from our partners in the field shows, turning from animism to believe in Christ and share His gospel can come at great cost.    When Thao*, his son and daughter-in-law became Christians in 2016, his younger brother reported them [More]
Where these children live, it takes more than a village—it takes the entire Body of Christ.   When stories of persecution emerge from dangerous regions, they often focus on the experience of adults. Perhaps this is because it’s too difficult to wrestle with the image of children being targeted because of their faith. How can any peaceable citizen fully grasp the ideological madness behind ISIS or Boko Haram or other Islamic extremist groups? Imagine how difficult it is for children who don’t yet understand the political context of their region to make sense of such actions. Why would a stranger—someone [More]
“Excellent article.”  Admin   If we truly get what prayer is–and what it does–we’ll realize it’s one of the most powerful weapons for change we have in our arsenal.   A recent Netflix show I was watching spent an entire episode mocking the “thoughts and prayers” response that public officials often give in response to tragedies. To be honest, I’m sympathetic to the show’s perspective. Often, I find myself thinking that the “thoughts and prayers” response seems like a platitude, just a socially polite way of saying, “I’m sorry this happened, but I’m not going to do anything about it.” [More]
These persecuted Christians are likely the future of Christianity. How can you encourage and support them as they persevere and grow in their faith?   For Abbas*, a Christian in Somalia, decisions about his faith have become life-altering. Abbas’ family members and society are out to punish him for abandoning his Islamic faith. Abbas is part of a group we often call “Muslim-background believers” or MBBs (people like Abbas who were raised Muslims and have converted from Islam to Christianity). MBB’s are growing rapidly, in some places explosively, throughout the world.    Becoming a Christian in the Muslim world is a [More]
Bao gets the Word of God into the hands and hearts of children and adults.   In Vietnam (#17 on the World Watch List), getting Bibles to people isn’t easy. Converts to Christianity from Buddhist or ethnic-animist backgrounds face increasing persecution. For the last two years, Bao, a 33-year-old believer in Ho Chi Minh City, has served as a partner with Open Doors’ Children’s Bible Project in Vietnam. Here, he shares how his faith has led him into the high-risk adventure of distributing God’s Word.   Meet Bao, a 33-year-old father of two—and a Bible smuggler.   In the last [More]
What do new trends mean for religious persecution?   Christianity in China (#39 on the World Watch List) has always lived in tension. Though the Communist Party of China has habitually restricted the freedom of Christians to worship over the last 70 years, the skyrocketing growth of the Chinese church is impossible to miss. Even non-Christian observers have taken notice, with many outlets putting the true number of Christians at tens of millions more than the Chinese government officially recognizes.   The official government line is that freedom of religion is guaranteed in the Chinese constitution. And technically, that’s true—but [More]
“Neither war, nor communism, nor death can separate me from the love of God”   Since childhood, Ruben* was a fierce and feisty fighter who learned to deal with weapons, war and death. He never imagined that, years later, God’s plans for his life would lead him to leave the illegal army, begin a pastoral journey, and today, evangelize to those in arms.   From child to soldier   Rubén’s story begins the same way as many of the stories of poor children in rural Colombia—a dysfunctional family, physical and emotional abuse, and absolute poverty and hunger. It is for [More]
Nearly 35,000 members left the Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States last year – continuing a decade-long downward spiral for the Left-leaning Christian denomination.   The steady decline in membership was divulged through a 2016 statistical report recently released by TEC.   Plummet in the pews   According to the figures, 2016 saw a decrease of 34,179 members of the Episcopalian Church, while 37,669 were lost the previous year. The data also indicated that the average decrease in Episcopalians attending Sunday worship services last year dramatically fell by 9,327.   The significant drop has diminished a substantial percentage of [More]