#WeAreN – the church in Australia united in prayer

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

On 10 June 2014, members of Islamic State (then known as ISIS), seized Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. An estimated 500,000 residents joined a mass exodus out of the city.

Christians were later given an ultimatum from Islamic State – convert to Islam, pay special taxes for non-Muslims as a ‘protection fee’ or leave. The statement from Islamic State concluded, “…if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.” Houses belonging to believers were sprayed with the Arabic letter ن – ‘N’, standing for Nazarene, or Christian. 

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Syria: God at work inside the war zone

At the end of last year, Open Doors had a brief opportunity to enter Aleppo, Syria. We met with a 22 year old Christian living in the city, Badr*. Living inside a warzone, Badr told us what life is like and how he is seeing God at work amidst the horrors of war.

“The people need us,” is the defiant answer he gives when asked why he had not fled like so many others. “We help the people with food, but we also comfort them, listen to their stories. It is so important that someone listens.”

In Aleppo, combat zones between government troops and opposition forces are changing daily. They are marked only by street signs and soldiers. He is one of the few young Syrian Christians who decided to stay in the city, despite the situation. Continue reading

Iraq: The church that stayed…

You’ve probably heard the story behind the symbol used to mark Christians by IS (self procalimed Islamic State).
What you probably don’t know is the story behind the city on this shirt.

#WeAreN shirt

#WeAreN shirt

It’s called Alqosh.
It’s a Christian majority town in Northern Iraq.
It is also now the only Christian town in the Nineveh Plain not taken by IS.

Most cities like Mosul are now virtually empty of Christians, with no churches holding Christian services for the first time in almost 2 millennium.
Churches have been claimed by IS as prisons and distribution centres, with crosses being torn down and replaced with the IS flag.

Alqosh has Christians who have remained, despite IS coming very close to the town. These are places where the history and stories of the Bible were formed, and have had a Christian presence since the early church for over 1500 years. And they are now on the brink of destruction.

75% of the church in Iraq have left since the 1990s.

75% of the church in Iraq have left since the 1990s.

Over 75% of the church have left Iraq since the early 1990’s.
Could you imagine if three quarters of the church disappeared from Australia and the spiritual impact that would have on this country?

Sometimes I imagine what it would be like if this happened in Australia, if my family were threatened and forced out of their homes for their faith.
Then I remember, they are my family in Christ.

We will pray as one body and one family.
We will strengthen what remains and not let the church fade away.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18

This blog post was written by James, who leads Open Doors Australia’s Youth’s Ministry.

Open Doors Youth is a movement responding the the cry of the persecuted church. A voice that tells their story, unashamedly standing up for those who suffer persecution. 

Want to get involved? For more information on how to do this please visit www.opendoorsyouth.org.au or find us on Facebook.

This shirt is still available to purchase (limited sizes).

Carlos' Middle East Marathon

The impact of visiting persecuted Christians in the Middle East

Carlos recently went on a unique Open Doors trip. Not only did he meet persecuted Christians and visit local sights, he got to do so in the birthplace of Christianity – the Middle East –running a marathon for the persecuted church.

We interviewed Carlos before and after his trip to find out more about his experience and the impact it has had.

Carlos’ marathon was part of the Muskathlon – run by the 4th Muskateers and Open Doors. The trip was nine days, but they managed to do a lot!

Travelling to three different countries; Israel, Palestine and Jordan, they visited many cities including; Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Aman.

Along the way they visited many of the places where events from the bible transpired. They visited the Sea of Galilee, Golgotha (‘the place of the skull’ where it is believed Jesus was crucified), the Garden Tomb (the place where it is believed Jesus was buried), the Shepherd’s Field (the place where the angels visited the shepherds and told them to follow the star), and the Church of the Nativity (the birthplace of Jesus). Continue reading

My Daughter Christine

My Daughter Christine – Taken by Islamic State

Update September 2016: Open Doors have heard from the family that Christine is living with a Christian ladiy who was kidnapped by Islamic State (IS). The lady was forced into marriage with an IS-fighter and managed to take Christine under her care. The family urge us to pray for her return.

Open Doors met with Adya and her husband Khader in their cramped porta-cabin, a typical living situation for the thousands of Iraqi families displaced by the violence. They are currently living here with their daughter Basma and son Chris. When we spoke with Ayda she spoke with a distinct sadness, blankly staring forward. Khader is blind and for the most part remained quiet during our visit. Continue reading