Aleppo – Pastor Alim* On The Frontline

Aleppo was Syria’s largest city before the civil war. Today East Aleppo is bombed almost daily by Syrian and Russian air forces; its west is frequently shelled by the rebels from the east. Only a small number of the more than 200,000 ‘pre-war’ Christians remain in the city: some church leaders say it’s only 20,000 to 40,000.  

Give Now To The Open Doors Syria Relief Appeal.

Pastor Alim (*name changed for security reasons) works in Aleppo. His congregation is helping up to 2,000 needy families each month – Muslims and Christians – through a team of motivated people.

“The situation in Aleppo has been unstable for a long time now. Ceasefires only last for a short time. As soon as the people catch breath, the fighting starts again.”

His city is divided; he is in the part controlled by the government. “People get really depressed; they feel there is no hope”

“Many women and children from the other part have come to our area. Our church is able to help a total of 2,000 families; I think half of them are Muslims.” Continue reading

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.

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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.

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Why I Do ‘Blackout’

This blog was written by Angelica, an Open Doors Australia worker.

Blackout is a fundraiser for the persecuted church. Could you stay silent for 48hrs to raise awareness and funds for those who suffer persecution for simply following Jesus? Scroll down for the video!

I’m tired of a mediocre faith. I’m tired of being silent about my faith and my hope in Jesus. I’m tired of making excuses to not give to God’s cause. I’m tired… of being absorbed by feeds, statuses, pics, memes and vines… of neglecting the word of God… of a weak prayer life…

I’m tired of living for the world instead of seeking first the Kingdom of God. Continue reading

Revival In China – “You Pray, We Will Pray. God Will Make It Happen”

When Open Doors’ founder, Brother Andrew, returned from his first trip to China in 1965, he felt extremely discouraged. It was a miracle that he had even received a visa and could take along a stack of Bibles. On his first trip, he didn’t meet one dedicated Christian.

Today, over 50 years later, Open Doors has delivered millions of Bibles and Christian literature into China and trained hundreds of thousands of Christians in the Bible.

In 1966, a year after Andrew’s first visit, Chairman Mao Zedong began his brutal Cultural Revolution. House churches became illegal and were fiercely persecuted. Many Christians suffered in jails and labor camps, facing torture and even murder.

When Chairman Mao died in 1976, other Communist leaders were arrested and China’s extreme persecution of Christians eased. Finally, the door to China began to open.

In 1979 a Chinese Christian, Mama Kwang, approached Open Doors with a daunting request. “We need 35,000 New Testaments. Can you bring them to us?” The Open Doors team didn’t think it was possible. “You pray and we will pray,” Mama Kwang told them. “God will make it happen.”

Mama Kwang with Brother Andrew.

Mama Kwang with Brother Andrew.

A team of 30 volunteers managed to get 30,000 pocket-sized New Testaments into 60 suitcases. “We called it Project Rainbow, but our volunteers dubbed it Project Hernia,” joked the project manager. “A few volunteers were caught at the border over the ten days, but nobody was arrested and the New Testaments were retrieved with a volunteer taking them to China.”

God’s providence boosted the confidence of the Chinese Christians. Mama Kwang returned and this time asked for a million Bibles. “Impossible,” was the response. The forceful Chinese lady folded her hands. “You pray and we will pray. God will make it happen.”

In 1981, the million Bibles were successfully delivered. You might have heard of this project, Project Pearl, but you might not have heard that it started with one Chinese woman and prayer.

A house church in China in the late 1980s.

A house church in China in the late 1980s.

Pastor Zhang describes the state of the church during the Cultural Revolution, “Not even pastors had Bibles, only top leaders possessed a Bible. Some pastors hand-copied the Bible. Most leaders preached by singing hymns. This changed in the early 80’s when overseas Christians on behalf of Open Doors started to bring us large quantities of printed Bibles. We carried the Bibles on our back and distributed them from town to town.”

Pastor Zhang was imprisoned several times for his faith, but he did not lose faith. In fact, he kept evangelising in prison. Pastor Zhang is grateful to Open Doors and the thousands of foreign brothers and sisters who supported the Chinese church. “You helped to lay a solid foundation for a large and strong church today in China. Thank you so much for what you have done.”

Chinese believers worshipping.

Not long after Project Pearl, China started its own Bible printing press. In the past 30 years around 80 million Bibles have been printed.

“China has changed considerably since my first visit in 1965,” Brother Andrew observed. “The country was as closed as an oyster. Now the doors are wide open for the Gospel. God has used our work to fuel one of the greatest revivals in human history. Searching for the most persecuted and helping them is not easy. There will be resistance. But you pray in China and we will pray in our countries. God will make it happen.”

Persecution In 2016 

In 2016, the government has a new attack to stop the rapid increase of Christianity. The Communist Party has  recently created much tougher laws that criminalise Christians if they do not pledge loyalty to the state.

The new laws give the Communist Party the ability to employ and fire church leaders at will. It will also give them the power to control religious doctrine to make it more ‘Chinese’.

According to an interview with ABC News, one church pastor says, “Jesus Christ is my only belief, my only loyalty is to Jesus Christ. God says you should love your enemies, if they are hungry give them food to eat, if they are thirsty give them water to drink, so we will pray for the non-believers.”

Over 1,500 crosses have been removed from churches in China over the last year. Some have been burnt or demolished. (Image:ABC news, Wayne Mcallister)

Over 1,500 crosses have been removed from churches in China over the last year. Some have been burnt or demolished. (Image: ABC news, Wayne Mcallister)

The government has torn down over 1,500 crosses from church buildings over the last year. Our Open Doors’ Asia analyst calls it, “The most blatant attack on the Church since the Cultural Revolution – under the guise of enforcing building-code regulations.”

Despite attack on official church buildings, there are still millions of believers still meeting house churches.

Some estimates say that by 2030, China will have the world’s largest Christian population.

The Communist Party has tried to destroy the church before and failed. In the past, persecution has brought church growth. We will continue to pray for revival in China.

This story is featured in Frontline Faith Magazine – Revival Edition.

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Mosul Liberation: Why It’s Significant To Christians

Mosul was Iraq’s second largest city before the Islamic State conquered it in June 2014. Right now the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces are embarking on an operation to liberate the city.

“For the first time in 1,600 years, there has been no Mass said in Mosul today.” – Archbishop of Erbil, June 2014.

Mosul’s Significance To Christians

Mosul was home to one of the largest Christian communities in Iraq before the 2003 invasion by US and coalition forces. Prior to the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq had a Christian population of 1.5 million. By 2003 this had dropped 850,000 and now we estimate this to be around 250,000.

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4 Surprisingly Good News Stories From The Persecuted Church

On Thursday 13 October 2016, 21 of the kidnapped Chibok girls were released. For two-and-a-half years we have been praying with the parents for the release of these girls. 

It feels like it’s not often we hear good news like this. But today, we’re thankful to share this and 3 other good news stories from the persecuted church in Pakistan, Iraq and Burkina Faso! Continue reading

21 Chibok Girls Released: Everything You Need To Know

Boko Haram has released 21 of the girls kidnapped from Chibok over two years ago. The girls were released into care of the Nigerian Army in Maidugiri, capital of Borno state where the Islamist group has been it’s strongest.

In the middle of the night on 14 April 2014, 275 schoolgirls were kidnapped from their dormitories in the village of Chibok, Nigeria. While over 50 managed to escape straight away, before today only 2 other girls had been found.

An Open Doors contact in close contact with parents of the Chibok girls says, “When I first spoke to the parents after the news broke, they told me they had not heard about it. Later they called to confirm the report, but at that time had not been contacted by the government yet. They are eagerly awaiting word from them.”

Here is what we know so far. Continue reading