In Pictures: Niger – at least 72 churches destroyed during violence

On 16 January, protests erupted in Niger’s second largest city, Zinder.

It was in response to a cartoon of the Muslim prophet Mohammed on the cover of the latest publication of Charlie Hebdo magazine in France. The protests in Zinder quickly turned violent and then spread to surrounding areas and finally the capital Niamey.

At least 10 people died in the ensuing days of violence, including three Christians who were killed while trapped in churches. Open Doors contacts have counted at least 72 churches that have been destroyed, along with several Christian schools, shops and vehicles owned by believers. Over 30 Christian homes have been looted and burnt. The fighting sent 300 of Zinder’s estimated 700 Christians fleeing, many with just the clothes on their backs.

(Warning: Graphic content – pictures show destroyed church buildings/cars)
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Would you risk your life to go to church on Christmas Day?

For almost four years, Syria has been going through a destructive civil war, forcing more than 9.5 million people to leave their homes. Syria’s second largest city, Aleppo, is in the heart of the conflict area. It is also home to Pastor Samuel*, who has stayed to serve his church and support those who are internally displaced, shining the light of the Gospel in one of the darkest places. He tells us what daily life is like, now that it is winter in Aleppo.

“Everyone who asks about life in Aleppo gets the answer quickly: ‘Daily living conditions are very bad,’” explains Pastor Samuel.

For those living in this city in the north of Syria, even day-to-day life is difficult. With almost no electricity and water supply for days at a time, things is hard for those who are left. They are also in the heart of the conflict, trying to survive as the war rages on around them.

“In the midst of all this our main challenge was how to help the families,” Pastor Samuel says of their initial concerns. “Thank God that next to the church there is a well and we did our best to provide the neediest ones with water, after managing to find some fuel to pump water from the well.” Continue reading

World Watch List Map

World Watch List: North Korea, Iraq and Syria among Top 10 hardest places to be a Christian…

One important part of our ministry over many recent years has been the annual Open Doors World Watch List. Since 2003, through research conducted by contacts and leaders in the field, Open Doors have ranked the top 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Although Open Doors and our supporters have been aware of the suffering faced by Christians for many decades, the past 12 months particularly, have seen a wave of persecution directed at Christian communities making international headlines:

  • The Islamic State sweeping across Iraq and the civil war in Syria seeing scores killed and displacing hundreds of thousands of people.
  • The April kidnapping of more than 250 girls from the predominately Christian village of Chibok in Nigeria.
  • The imprisonment of Christian Meriam Ibrahim in Sudan.
  • The brutal November murder of Christian couple Shama Bibi and Shehzad Masih in Pakistan – the list goes on and on.

2015 World Watch List

The Top 10 countries where Christians face the most pressure and violence in 2015 are Continue reading

Looking Back Over 60 Years of Ministry: The Fall of the Berlin Wall

The following includes excerpts taken from the book titled, ‘God’s Call’ (2002) by Brother Andrew, founder of Open Doors.

“The political, social, and spiritual landscape of the earth has shifted dramatically since [Brother Andrew] first visited the communist world in 1955.”

The impact of the Berlin Wall during the years of 1961 – 1989 cannot be underestimated – it separated loved ones, isolated all those inside East Berlin and denied them of hope, even to the point of committing suicide for many.

However, the Berlin Wall also somehow served to strengthen God’s church. Continue reading