How many Christians are there in Yemen?
From a population of 30.9 million, there are only a few thousand Christians in Yemen.
How are Christians persecuted in Yemen?
Yemeni culture is very tribal – so if you leave the tribal faith and become a Christian, you are isolated and at risk. The punishment might be banishment or even death. And, in the past year, violence has become even worse.
Yemeni Christians are mostly converts from Islam who must live out their faith in secret because conversion from Islam to Christianity is forbidden both in Islam and in Yemeni law. Christian converts are pressured by both the government and from their communities to recant their faith in Jesus. They might be arrested or interrogated for their faith, and face threats from both family and Islamic extremists who threaten apostates with death.
In a typical scenario, a girl or woman who converts will lose her phone and other means of communication. Next, she might be isolated in the home (under house arrest), physically and mentally abused, raped or even killed to ‘restore the honour’ of the tribe or family.
All of Yemen is suffering from one of the greatest humanitarian crises in the world – but Yemeni Christians are even more vulnerable, because emergency relief is distributed largely by local Muslim leaders, who often deliberately neglect anybody suspected of not being a devout Muslim.
“We carry hope that helps us with the certainty that tomorrow will be better!” Naser, a Yemeni believer
What’s life like for Christians in Yemen?
Life is dangerous for all Christians in Yemen. But some believers in certain areas are at particular risk, such as Christians living in the south, where there is a strong al-Qaeda presence. Converts from Islam to Christianity have also indicated that there is more pressure in the Shiite Muslim-controlled areas in the west than in areas under control of the Sunni government.
The Shiite-controlled areas (which comprise approximately one-third of Yemen's territory) are heavily policed: any dissenting opinion is rigorously repressed and likely to lead to imprisonment, torture and possibly worse.
The persecution against Christians in Yemen has continued to be extreme for years, and the presence of Islamic extremist groups and the continuing destabilisation of the pandemic and the civil war has made daily life a struggle for most of Yemen's Christians.
But these courageous believers still carry God’s hope. A Christian who goes by the pseudonym Naser says, “We, the believers, carry hope that helps us with the certainty that tomorrow will be better and that by the will of our Lord, we will pass through this and all the anxieties and fears surrounding us.”
Is it getting harder to be a Christian in Yemen?
Yes - Yemen has risen two places on the World Watch List, and the increase in score is largely due to a higher number of reported incidents of violence against Christians.
How can I help Christians in the Arabian Peninsula?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Yemen. Your prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors supports the church on the Arabian Peninsula by organising prayer, distributing Scripture resources, and training believers and pastors.
Heavenly Father, we pray for our sisters and brothers in Yemen, secretly living for You in one of the most dangerous countries on earth. We pray for Your protection, for an outpouring of Your love and for the hope that only You can give. We pray for peace in Yemen, that leaders of different groups would seek reconciliation and be given a powerful sense of Your love. We ask for secret church leaders and for all efforts around the Arabian Peninsula to strengthen the secret church. We ask these things in Jesus' name, Amen.