Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - What if owning a Bible was forbidden? World Watch List 2021 - Open Doors UK & Ireland
12 January 2021

What if owning a Bible was forbidden? World Watch List 2021

How many Bibles do you have in your house? One? Two? Five? Ten? In our society Bibles are easy to buy and read. But in other parts of the world, a Bible is a dangerous object.  

Islèm (not her real name) is a secret believer in North Africa. She has to hide her faith. “My family still think that I am a Muslim,” she says. Even her own father doesn’t know she is a Christian, or that she owns – and reads – the Bible.  

Your prayers and support are helping provide more Bibles for secret believers like Islèm

Islèm started exploring Christianity online. “I thought there were no Christians in North Africa. I thought I was the first person who might become a Christian in North Africa.” 

Eventually she contacted a pastor, who sent her a gift. 

“One day a Tunisian girl came together with her brother to give me a Bible. She was sent by the pastor. I went to the Bible study group with them and that was the first time I was reading the Bible. And the pastor, who was explaining the verses, even showed me how to touch and hold the Bible.” 

The pastor was teaching on John 14:6 – ‘I am the way, the truth, the life.’ “I felt as if he was answering the questions I had,” says Islèm. “On that day I became a believer.” 

For Islèm the Bible is not just a book: it is a source of life.  

“To me, reading the Bible was similar to eating, it was a need. I wanted to read more and more.” 

Risking lives for the Word 

All around the world there are believers who know exactly what she means. Persecuted Christians don’t just want the Bible: they need it. That’s why they run such risks to obtain it. In the prisons of Eritrea and Iran, small portions of scripture are hidden, handed round and memorised. In North Korea, where owning a Bible means instant arrest, Bibles are buried to keep them hidden.  

Wherever possible, Open Doors partners risk their lives to distribute scripture. In regions like Central Asia, for example, where owning or distributing scripture is a criminal offence, our partners work tirelessly to distribute smuggled Bibles.  

“To me, reading the Bible was similar to eating, it was a need.”Islèm

Even where the books are supposedly available, the supply is controlled. In China, Bibles are officially only available from State-sanctioned church bookshops: they want to know who is consuming this dangerous substance.  

Why? Because the Bible changes people. It is a book of life. 

As Islèm says, “Before I knew Jesus, I had two choices: either this life or die. It is as if I was taken from the waste bin and was cleaned. I have changed and, despite some difficulties in my current life, I cannot leave Jesus.  

“No matter what happens in my life, I can’t leave Jesus.” 

Please pray

Father God, thank You for the Bible, and thank You that more and more believers are receiving Scripture. Embolden more Christians to step out and share the Bible with others, and make a way for even more Scripture to be distributed safely.

World Watch List 2021

The latest World Watch List has been released. Discover the places where it costs the most to follow Jesus, and how you can come alongside them in prayer and support.


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