Thousands of Christians signed Open Doors Hope for the Middle East petition this weekend (20 October 2017) as they gathered for a night of inspirational worship, prayer and Bible teaching at the Festival of Life, the annual gathering for the Redeemed Christian Church of God. During the night Pastor Agu Irukwu, Senior Pastor at Jesus House, urged the 40,000 attendees to ‘add their voice to hundreds of thousands of voices from all around the world’ and sign their support for persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
Open Doors President, Eddie Lyle, thanked everyone at Festival of Life for their love and compassion and asked them to continue to pray for their family in the Middle East. He said, “The assurance of your prayers and commitment will help Christians in the Middle East to stand strong in the storm of their lives. It will give them hope and let them know that they are not forgotten.”
The petition, launched by Open Doors, calls upon the government and the United Nations to ensure that Christians in the Middle East and other minorities enjoy the right to equal citizenship, dignified living conditions and a prominent role in reconciling and rebuilding society.
Pastor Agu Irukwu, Senior Pastor at Jesus House, and Eddie Lyle, President of Open Doors UK and Ireland, presented the petition together on stage. Festival of Life delegates were able to sign the petition with their phones by texting an onscreen number. This digital signature added their voice to the 128,000 people who have already signed the petition in the UK and more than half a million signatures from around the world.
Speaking after the event Eddie Lyle said, “Our partnership with the Redeemed Christian Church of God is of the most profound significance. As one the faster growing churches in the nation, their heart for the persecuted Church strengthens our global Christian family in their struggles. We look forward to further joint initiatives to speak up for those who share our faith but not our freedoms.”
Open Doors launched Hope for the Middle East, a seven year campaign uniting the global church, to ensure every person in the Middle East, no matter what their faith, has a home, a future and a voice. As part of this, Open Doors is asking people to sign the Hope for the Middle East petition, which will be presented to the UN on 11 December 2017.
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Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians in over 60 countries for over 60 years. Last year it raised approximately $70 million to provide practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources. Open Doors UK & Ireland raised over £11 million.
Every year Open Doors publishes the World Watch List – a ranking of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. This is produced using detailed information provided by Open Doors co-workers in more than 60 countries, as well as independent experts. Data is gathered on five spheres of life - private, family, community, national and church life – plus a sixth sphere measuring the degree of violence impacting Christians. Persecution in each country is recorded by Open Doors using a point system. Open Doors' research methods and results have been independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom. The 2017 World Watch List accounts for the 12 months ending 31 October 2016.