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.
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.
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
We asked our CEO, Mike, to tell us what has challenged or encouraged him in his faith this year. These were his answers…
1. Indonesia: ‘We will not stop hunting Christians’
‘We will not stop hunting Christians’ – these have to be some of the most chilling words I heard from last year, words used by extremists after they had burnt this church down. This image really brings to life the reality of persecution in Indonesia. It’s an image that for me really conveys stress, anxiety, pressure and fear.
2. Egypt: 21 Christians killed, Believers respond with love Continue reading
In Africa, there are Christian communities that are denied access to daily essentials, such as safe drinking water, healthcare, education and work. For seven years, Open Doors has been running ‘Walk to Water’, an event aimed at raising awareness and funds to strengthen the church in Africa. We do this by providing necessities such as safe drinking water, infrastructure, healthcare, education, vocational training, and micro-loans.
Walk to Water and support Christians in Africa
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Christians also face the threat of extremist groups, such as Boko Haram and al-Shabaab. Continue reading
WARNING: Content may distress some readers
Recently Isaac*, an Open Doors worker in Nigeria, travelled to meet some of the women freed from Boko Haram. Taking with him a local pastor from the area, Isaac was initially denied access to the camp as security was on high alert. Returning on the second day however, the Lord used a prominent government official to gain access, enabling Isaac and the pastor to step into the world of the escapees.
Nigeria – Women freed from Boko Haram
Nigeria – Women freed from Boko Haram
One year ago today, the world was shocked by the brutality of Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, after they kidnapped 252 girls from the town of Chibok in Northern Nigeria. One year later, 232 of the girls are still missing.
At 10pm on April 14, Boko Haram attacked the Government Secondary School of Chibok. Many girls from the community were staying at the school with exams scheduled for the morning. Seven vehicles, loaded with armed men, entered the school compound. Some of the men set fire to buildings while others overpowered the security guards, stormed the dormitories, and forced 275 students into the vehicles at gunpoint. The attackers then sped away, disappearing into the Sambisa Forest.
Early news reports stated 100 girls had been kidnapped, then later 200, over the next few days the tally continued to grow until the grim figure was complete with 252 confirmed missing. About 20 eventually escaped, but the remaining 232 haven’t been heard from since, according to Open Doors sources. Most of the girls were Christian and some were Muslim. Continue reading