TRAINING CHRISTIANS AND CHURCH LEADERS
...so that they can stand strong for Jesus.
From Africa and Asia to the Middle East, a core part of our work is to provide training that equips Christians to face persecution, whether training for church leaders, discipleship for Christians, or trauma awareness training to help churches deal sensitively with those who’ve suffered.
Through local partners in Iraq, Open Doors has supported the training of youth leader Martin, who fled his home in Karamles two years ago with the rest of his church when so-called Islamic State (IS) extremists took over their village near Mosul. Now he is serving his church in camp in Erbil.
"The displacement causes a type of stress that we haven't experienced before," says Martin, thinking especially about the young people in his group. "You have to realise that IS didn't only take their house,…(they) also seized…their future."
Open Doors is standing alongside the camp and equipping church leaders Thabet and Martin to support their comunity. Martin is able to continue with his training to be a church leader, with an online pastoral course.
Church leader Thabet says that a church was the first thing many Christians asked for. “Without a church we are all spread around, but we need to be united."
A portacabin church is being used for Bible study, prayer, and children's activities. "We need to proclaim the Word of God in this portacabin every day," he says. "By reading the Bible, we know how to be Christian in this situation. We don't have any other weapons."
Martin, Pastor Thabet’s assistant, says, "This continuing situation has just solidified my calling. I am needed here at this moment to feed my people with charity and with hope." And the young people appreciate that. A girl sitting in the front row says, "This stress makes it hard to focus on Jesus, but Martin is helping us. He is a good teacher."
Martin sees that the young people there ‘have hope again’.
Open Doors trained over 331,000 Christians and church leaders facing persecution or discrimination last year. Courses included theological training, dealing with persecution, and trauma counselling.
- For nearly 20 years, Open Doors has run the Standing Strong Through the Storm (SSTS) course, helping Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. In Kenya, Open Doors partners used these seminars to help the community face persecution.
"I thank God for the SSTS material because the books have been a source of hope, encouragement, and strength to the church, especially when it was darkest and we were at our lowest." - Kenyan pastor.
- In Sri Lanka, the number of participants attending SSTS and pastors’ training rose by 154%.
Around the world, Open Doors has supported trauma awareness and counselling workshops for Christians who have experienced extreme persecution.
"This seminar has really helped me. Through it we have been counselled, advised, and comforted… The training impacted not only the parents of the abducted children but also others in the church." – Ayuba, Nigerian pastor and father of Chibok abductee.
- In India, 7,440 men and women attended Open Doors seminars – an increase of 120% on the previous year. Some 540 teachers were equipped in Christian education and 1,562 children and youth attended Open Doors training events.
- In Indonesia, Open Doors supports persecuted believers through discipleship training, and providing Bibles and reading materials.
"I am deeply blessed by your gatherings. They provide great learning opportunities for me. Thank you Open Doors." – Nitta, a member of a network of mission workers
- In Algeria, Open Doors works in cooperation with local partners to support the persecuted church through training and prayer support, including the Talmatha discipleship training programme.
"Almost half of the churches in Algeria use Talmatha as their discipleship programme for new believers. The good thing about Open Doors is that you don’t only give donations. No, Open Doors works together with us. That is what is best for the church." – Mustapha Krim, pastor of Algerian church and former president of Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA).