5 Of The Biggest Moments From The Persecuted Church in 2016

This article was written by Mike Gore, CEO Open Doors Australia & New Zealand.

2016 was a massive year!

Each year I try to pause and reflect on the biggest events from the last 12 months. I want to remember the moments that shook my world, and the moments when I saw God at work the most. Here are five of the biggest stand out events from 2016.

iraq_2016_0260102931-e1477629551583.jpg

1. Christian Towns Liberated From Islamic State

I remember sitting with a pastor in Northern Iraq in May as bombs exploded in the distance. The battle to regain ground from Islamic State (IS) raged in the distance. I heard story after story of people who had lost everything and lived with the daily stress of “ISIS coming”. To see a pastor in October return to his church, now liberated from IS and passionately ring the church bells for the first time in 2 years was incredible. It was such a powerful picture of hope, courage, and resolve that rang out over the city. Please keep praying as we continue long-term restoration plans for the local church.

Continue reading

Is Passion the most overused, underrated and misunderstood word in our Christian vocabulary?

Pyramids in Egypt

This blog is from Open Doors Australia CEO, Mike Gore. Check out his blog here.

As I walked through the streets of Old Islamic Cairo everywhere I looked I saw passion, devotion and a spiritual discipline that I can’t help but acknowledge… sometimes it’s in the wrong things even the wrong God!

But every now and then as though a light piercing through the darkest of nights I saw it explode into life pointed in the right direction and at the right God and it was one of the most inspirational and contagious things I’ve ever seen.

True Passion causes people to risk everything… life, family, wealth and status all in a radical pursuit of God.

I recently spent time with 2 beautiful girls from Iran Miriam and Marzieyh. They were so desperate to share Christ with their nation they secretly distributed almost 20,000 Bibles in Tehran. Sadly, they were caught distributing these Bibles and placed into the notorious Evin Prison and sentenced to death by hanging. Continue reading

Jesus, Superman or Santa Claus?

Jesus, Superman or Santa Claus

This blog was written by Mike, CEO Open Doors Australia. 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him… – Romans 8:28 (NIV)

2015 has been a tough year, spiritually, physically and emotionally… made even worse by a selfish expectation I have of Jesus… for some strange reason I have conformed Jesus to a mix of Superman and Santa Claus… essentially this unseen vending machine in the sky where I do my best to live a Christian life and in return He provides me with “safe” passage and all the good things I’ve ever wanted…

I’ve spent years thinking (and in some cases being told) that verses like Romans 8:28 tell me that because I am a follower of Jesus my life should be full of good things!

“If” that’s the case then I am not sure why my year has also contained the following; 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).

Women, poverty and the persecuted church…

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress. – James 1:27

Recently I have been researching and reflecting on the circumstances of women around the world. Here are some astonishing statistics from the Poverty is Sexist report from One.org to get you thinking: 

  • Only about 20% of poor rural girls in Africa complete primary education.
  • In many countries women in paid work earn 10–30% less than men.
  • 39,000 girls under the age of 18 become child brides every day.
  • A woman in Sierra Leone is 183 times more likely to die giving birth than a woman in Switzerland.

Some of you might be thinking, “Okay sure, women are more deeply affected by poverty – but what has that got to do with persecuted Christian women?” Well – a lot! Continue reading

Bless Those Who Persecute You? (Part 2)

Bless Those Who Persecute You

Bless Those Who Persecute You

“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them: pray that God will bless them” – Romans 12:14

I was recently in Canberra, getting ready to speak about the persecuted church to about 300 people, who had gathered in the Great Hall of Parliament House for the annual Christian Schools Australia conference. As I was at the hotel preparing for the night, I received a phone call from a friend who had recently committed to taking the One With Them Challenge and wearing a wristband. He asked me the following question;

Mike, what does it really look like to bless those who persecute you? Continue reading

Bless Those Who Persecute You? (Part 1)

Bless Those Who Persecute You

Bless Those Who Persecute You (Image by Leonard Sweet)

“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them: pray that God will bless them”– Romans 12:14

I often find it really difficult to know how to pray for the Persecuted Church, especially when I read Paul’s words in Romans 12 and even more so when I think about what an incredibly challenging start to the year it’s been as we see the need for our ministry only increase which means that conditions for Christians all over the world are deteriorating.

I am sure you’ll remember on the Easter weekend in April this year 147 students were killed in Kenya with many of them being asked if they were Christian or Muslim before being shot, it was this tragedy that turned my prayer life on its head and I’d love to tell you why. As I processed what had happened in Kenya I saw fear, hatred, selfishness, a lack of grace, compassion and love and what’s crazy is I saw all of these emotions in me! It’s the moment in time I realized that I might pray everyday for the suffering church but unless I am courageous enough to pray for those committing these crimes… well, I’m just not living an authentic faith or being an authentic leader of this ministry. Continue reading