There are about 367,000 Christians in Qatar, about 13 per cent of a population of almost 2.8 million. Many of these believers are migrant workers.
Life for Christians in Qatar can look very different depending on what type of Christian you are. There are two general categories: Christian foreigners, most of whom are migrant workers; and Christians who have converted from Islam.
Foreign workers who are Christians are much freer to worship. For instance, the government has allowed large worship events. Even for these followers of Jesus, however, any evangelism to Muslims is strictly forbidden, and can lead to deportation.
Qatari Christians from a Muslim background face much more significant persecution, particularly from their families. Both indigenous and migrant converts risk discrimination, harassment and police monitoring. Moreover, conversion from Islam to another faith is not officially recognised and is likely to lead to legal problems in personal status and property matters.
Violence against Christians is very rare in Qatar, probably because the number of converts is low and they keep their faith secret.
“In this Muslim country, we are limited in evangelising too openly. But nobody can stop us from talking to our fellow workers and witnessing to them in our everyday lives.” Pastor Samuel
Pastor Samuel (not his real name) is a migrant worker in Qatar. He can worship as a Christian – but he is not allowed to spend his evenings doing what he does: telling Qataris about Jesus. He also holds informal, off-the-radar meetings with other Christian workers, encouraging them to reach out to their fellow labourers.
One evening, one of the seven men he’s discipling says that he is fearful of sharing the gospel – understandably. Pastor Samuel responds: “Fear is always reminding me of the strength there is in the Word of God. Real courage is to totally depend on Him.”
Pastor Samuel recognises that Christians can have a hard time witnessing in Qatar. “In this Muslim country, we are limited in evangelising too openly. But nobody can stop us from talking to our fellow workers and witnessing to them in our everyday lives. Every day God gives us opportunities to show His love to others.
“Many of those we’ve encountered in Qatar testified that they came to the country for the opportunity to earn more, but God had a greater plan. They encountered the King of kings and the Lord of the lords, who does not only provide them with a ‘better life’ but with life everlasting.”
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Qatar. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors support the body of Christ on the Arabian Peninsula through organising prayer, distributing Scripture resources, and training believers and pastors.
Dear Lord, we pray for our brothers and sisters in Qatar. We particularly lift up those who have found the truth of Christ and converted from Islam. Protect them and fill them with peace and hope. We also lift up Christians who are migrant workers – spare them from workplace abuse, racism and xenophobic attacks. Amen.
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Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.