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.
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
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
Christian persecution in Africa is on the rise. As part of this global family, we need to ask the question – how can we help? But first, what does persecution look like in Africa?
What’s it like to be a Christian in Ethiopia?
In some regions of Ethiopia, radical Islam is growing and Christians are becoming more and more vulnerable. Some Muslims harass Christians and deny them access to public resources. Some tribes also pose a threat to Christianity, they demand loyalty from members and see faith as a denial of tribal identity.
What’s it like to be a Christian in Nigeria?
The Islamic militant group Boko Haram have destroyed many churches and left Christians traumatised. Thousands have been kidnapped, including the 200 Chibok girls. Christian communities are also often denied basic living needs like clean water, health clinics or new roads.
READ: Mother’s Day for over 200 Mothers of the Kidnapped Chibok Girls 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
Business Training course
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