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Persecution News

WELCOME TO THE HORN OF AFRICA'S SECRET CHURCH

“...as soon as our meeting started, with the group singing God’s praises, my skin defied the heat and broke out in goose-bumps. There were no instruments and no hymn books, but it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. The lyrics of a simple but profound chorus went, ‘Worship and serve the Lord. He gave us life, Hallelujah! Worship and serve the Lord. He gave us life, Hallelujah!’”


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"Prayer and giving money often feels like it is too easy, but it's not! It is making a huge difference in places like this"
- Lydia, Open Doors representative visiting Erbil, Iraq
 
  • India: Nine-year-old who was raped and murdered was targeted for her faith

    14 August 2018 -

    Please note this story contains content of a sensitive and upsetting nature. 

    It is with great sadness that we tell you of our sister, Anjali Masih, who was reportedly gang-raped and killed on 5 August in Gurdaspur, Punjab, India. She was just nine years old. 

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  • Planting a church in the toilet of a North Korean prison camp - Hea Woo's story of faith and courage

    09 August 2018 -

    Open Doors estimates that there are between 50,000 and 70,000 Christians being held in horrific labour camps, simply for daring to believe in a higher authority than the rulers of North Korea – Jesus. Hea Woo is a Christian who was imprisoned in North Korea. When she arrived at the prison camp where she was held, there was a sign saying ‘Do not try to escape, you shall be killed’. And yet, even in these labour camps that are like hell on earth, God is at work. Hea Woo says, “God helped me to survive. Even more: He gave me a desire to evangelise among the other prisoners!

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  • Five Somali believers to pray for in the Horn of Africa

    07 August 2018 -

    For these Somali believers in the Horn of Africa, a region which includes Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Eritrea, choosing to follow Jesus is a huge risk. Most Somali Christians keep their faith completely secret. Islam is an important part of Somali identity, and for a Somali person to decide to leave Islam and follow Jesus is seen as a huge betrayal – and one that could lead to immediate execution by extremists.

    Our courageous Somali brothers and sisters believe that following Jesus is worth the risk – but that doesn’t make it easy. These five secret believers all attend Muktar’s secret church in the Horn of Africa – please pray for protection, strength and encouragement for them today.

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  • Photo story: Wasihun and his family find 'hope to live again'

    03 August 2018 -

    Wasihun and his family live in a remote part of Ethiopia. They used to be the only Christian family in their village, and they constantly faced insults and threats for refusing to return to their traditional religion. Eventually, Wasihun's father, Matuma, was killed in front of his family for not taking part in traditional rituals. Your support and prayers have enabled Open Doors to support Wasihun and his family ever since this terrible tragedy took place, providing practical support and trauma care. Wasihun is now 12 -  he loves football, and helps his mother, Buze, care for their cattle.

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  • Jesus calls eight-year-old Farah to follow Him in the Horn of Africa

    03 August 2018 -

    He started following Jesus as a young boy, and despite rejection from his family, death threats and imprisonment, his faith has stood firm. The support and prayers of his global church family have helped him to keep going.

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  • More than 8,000 churches closed by the government in Rwanda

    02 August 2018 -

    It should have been a day of celebration. But the wedding in the village church in Rwanda came to an abrupt end, when, in the middle of the celebrations, local government representatives marched in and stopped the service. The couple and all the guests were ordered to leave. The government had decided that the church was to be closed.

    This is just one story among thousands – over 8,000 in fact. According to a report by Rwanda’s pro-government KT Press, more than 8,000 churches have now been closed, and the number is growing every day.

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  • Sudan: Defiant pastors will not 'pray according to government decisions'

    31 July 2018 -

    How do you close down a church? If you’re the Sudanese government sometimes you send the heavy mob in: police-backed armed mobs to occupy church property, bulldozers to tear down the church on spurious legal grounds. But for the past two years, the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Sudan has also been trying a different approach: finding ways to remove the leadership of a church and to hand its property over the a rival, government-controlled group.

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  • Q&A with Fady, a student from Egypt, on discrimination, sexuality and faith

    27 July 2018 -

    Fady is a student in Egypt. In a short interview about his life and faith, he reveals the challenges that face him as a Christian, saying: “The culture of the Muslim society affected my life and took me away from God.”

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  • 'Ominous future' under Imran Khan for Christians in Pakistan

    27 July 2018 -

    Former cricket star Imran Khan has claimed victory in the 2018 Pakistan elections. What does that mean for our church family in Pakistan? Imran Khan is the chairman of the newly emerged Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf. It’s a centrist party which, according to the party, aims to create a welfare state, where the state is responsible for education, health and employability of citizens. However, Khan has not positioned himself as a champion for minority groups and religious freedom. In fact, he seems keen to ensure that Pakistan remains a strongly Islamic republic. 

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  • As Pakistan goes to the polls, Christians ask 'Does anybody care for us?'

    25 July 2018 -

    This week, Pakistan goes to the polls. Thousands of candidates will contest hundreds of provincial and national constituencies across the country. And barely a handful of these thousands of candidates will be a Christian. Minorities account for about 5 per cent of Pakistan’s 210-million-strong population, but they remain almost completely absent from mainstream politics.

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  • Update: Andrew Brunson moved from prison to house arrest in Turkey

    25 July 2018 -

    American pastor Andrew Brunson has been moved from prison to house arrest, a week after a judge refused to acquit Andrew or grant him conditional release at his third hearing.

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  • Iran: Arrests aimed at intimidating courageous Christians

    24 July 2018 -

    An influential Pastor has been arrested in Iran, in a manner apparently designed to intimidate fellow Christians. Despite offering no resistance, Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was arrested by ten Iranian police officers who reportedly used unnecessary force on Yousef and his son.

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  • Mali: Please pray for the upcoming elections

    24 July 2018 -

    Mali’s presidential elections will take place on Jul 29 and the situation is fragile; please join us in praying for our Malian brothers and sisters during this time of tension and change.

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  • Update: American Pastor Andrew Brunson remains in prison in Turkey

    20 July 2018 -

    The next time Andrew Brunson appears in court, on 12 October, he will have been in prison in Turkey for two years – without having been convicted of a crime. Andrew is an American pastor who has led a small church in the Turkish city of Izmir since 1993. He was arrested in October 2016, accused of having links with supporters of the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who is blamed for the failed 2016 coup against President Erdogan, and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Andrew denies all the charges. His lawyer, Ismail Cem Halavurt, says there is ‘evidence that shows Brunson was arrested due to his faith’. 

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  • From seven students to 800: The school in Ethiopia building bridges between Christians and Muslims

    18 July 2018 -

    “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2 Schools are places of learning, which help to bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood. But, thanks to Open Doors supporters, one church-run school in Ethiopia is helping to heal wounds and religious tensions between Christians and Muslims by creating a platform for interaction and engagement for children from both religious backgrounds.

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  • Secrets, spies and standing firm: Five things to know about life in North Korea

    17 July 2018 -

    North Korea is a secretive state, ruled by a dictator from a family of dictators, where every aspect of life is controlled by the state. It sounds like a made-up place – somewhere from a fantasy film, or a nightmare. But this is just daily life for the people of North Korea.

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  • Iraq: Noeh's going home!

    16 July 2018 -

    Proudly, Noeh opens the door to his bedroom. What a difference! This time last year, everything was blackened by smoke, it was full of ashes, and the contents had been destroyed by the heat of the fire. Now, the walls are freshly painted, there are new tiles on the floor, and the windows have been replaced. Noeh smiles from ear to ear. What a contrast with that day, one year ago, when he sat on his burned bed with a bunch of marbles in his hand. 

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  • American pastor could face 35 years in prison in Turkey

    16 July 2018 -

    35 years is a long time. It’s around half a life time for the average person in the UK. It took just a year longer to build St Paul’s Cathedral in London. And it’s how long Andrew Brunson, an American pastor, could spend in prison in Turkey. Why? Because his work leading a church in the Turkish city of Izmir, which he has done for 25 years, is seen as ‘aiding terror organisations’. “There is evidence that shows Brunson was arrested due to his faith,” Andrew’s lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt has said.

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  • As big as North Korea and South Korea declaring peace? Eritrea and Ethiopia agree peace deal

    11 July 2018 -

    While there had been no recent battles, the two countries had never signed a peace deal – and some considered them to still be at war. No one expected the two leaders to meet. But suddenly, there they were, shaking hands, and declaring that war between their nations was over.I’m not talking about North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in. I’m talking about another historic meeting that took place this week - between Ethiopia’s recently elected Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afewerki.

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  • 'I will serve Jesus Christ ‘til death' - courageous faith in Eritrea

    11 July 2018 -

    ‘Til death us do part – when a couple say this to each other as part of their wedding vows, they usually expect that day to be many years down the line.But when Eyal* decided to propose, he wanted his fiancé to understand that day might come soon, because of his faith in Jesus. In Eritrea, where they live, only a few church denominations are officially allowed to operate, and every Christian who practices their faith outside of these government-approved denominations faces arrest, torture, and possible death.

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  • The church steps in to care for thousands fleeing violence in Nigeria

    10 July 2018 -

    “Life has become a living hell for them. They have lost loved ones, houses and all they worked for in the twinkling of an eye. The agony they are going through is hard to describe.” These are the words of Kerrie*, an Open Doors worker in Nigeria. For thousands of our brothers and sisters in Plateau state in central Nigeria, this is what life has become. When a group of Fulani herdsmen went on a murderous rampage at the end of June, they killed an estimated 200 people, and forced thousands of others to run for their lives. Who can help these desperate families? Aid agencies have left due to the insecurity – but church leaders have stayed, and their churches are providing fleeing families with shelter, even as church buildings in other parts of the state have been reduced to piles of ash by Fulani extremists.

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  • Iran: Christian released from prison by 'courageous' judge

    10 July 2018 -

    In an amazing turn of events, an Iranian Christian has been released from prison after being arrested in April for ‘propaganda against the [Iranian] establishment’.

    Mohammad Ali Yassaghi, 52, a convert to Christianity and a member of the Church of Iran, was arrested on 10 April and kept in Babol Prison in the capital of Mazandaran Province in northern Iran. On 25 June, in a rare occurrence, the judge at the 102 Revolutionary Court of Babol ‘courageously’ rejected the charges against him and ordered his release, MEC said.

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  • Letter-writing campaign update: Imprisoned Alimjan 'in a peaceful and stable state'

    09 July 2018 -

    Some of you may remember taking part in a letter-writing campaign for Alimjan Yimiti, the Uyghur church leader imprisoned in China since 2008. 

    While he continues to serve his sentence, we have had an update. A local source has shared that Alimjan is allowed to call his family once a month and it is ‘his happiest moment to talk with his family members’. His oldest son has recently completed the college entrance exam and it went very well. Alimjan is very excited for his son to start a new chapter in his life. 

    He is in a peaceful and stable state physically and spiritually. Though he is still in prison, he doesn’t have to go to re-education camp. The condition of life in prison is actually better than in a re-education camp.

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  • Thank you message from North Korea: 'I appreciate your love and concern'

    06 July 2018 -

    Hae-Seok* from North Korea has sent a thank you message to Open Doors local partners after he was able to attend Bible training run by Open Doors. 

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  • Syria doesn’t have the NHS - but it does have the church

    04 July 2018 -

    As the UK celebrates 70 years of the NHS this week, it can be easy to take it for granted that medical care will be readily available and affordable. But for those who remain in Syria, this often isn’t the case. Many of those who remain in Syria are still there precisely because they need medical care – they are too old or unwell to travel elsewhere and escape the war. But Open Doors local partners are running pharmacies and medical centres and paying for medical care for thousands of families, thanks to your prayers and support.

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"God has called me to stay here and be his witness. I cannot leave the other Christians behind."
- Eun Hee, Christian martyr from North Korea