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.
Meet Rafael*, a 21-year-old doing everything he can to share hope with the ‘war kids’ of Syria.
Rafael*, 21-year-old Christian from Syria.
“Children should play, they should have fun, and they should participate in celebrating Christmas and Easter.” This conviction is what motivates Rafael* to remain in his country.
Last year Christmas was anything but peaceful in Rafael’s village. “On the day of Christmas 2015, rockets were fired at our village. This happened while the children were already waiting to enter the place of our Christmas celebration. What should we do as youth responsible for the event? We didn’t really have time to talk about this. We decided to open the doors and to celebrate Christmas, despite the rockets that fell on the village. Continue reading
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
Christians in Aleppo, Syria asked Christians around the world to join them in prayer on Sunday 8 May. See below for specific prayer requests and quotes from believers about the recent conflict.
Thank you for joining believers in Aleppo to pray for their city on Sunday. These photos are from prayer gatherings in Aleppo.
Syrian Christians gather for prayer on Sunday 8 May
Will the church be destroyed by extremists?
‘Islamic extremism’ was the main source of persecution in 70% of the countries on the World Watch List 2016 (WWL). We take a closer look at these countries and how local Christians are responding. Continue reading
North Korea ranked number one
North Korea – Watch tower as seen from the Yalu river
North Korea ranks number one for the 14th consecutive year in the Open Doors World Watch List, ranking the top 50 countries that persecute Christians. The Hermit Kingdom has ranked number one again as leader Kim Jong Un continues to try and stamp out organised religion in what he views as a challenge to his power. Continue reading
Although the war in Syria changed his life completely and has separated him from his family, Seif* (18) feels he is closer to God than ever before. And what hasn’t changed is that he still loves his country; he cannot wait to return and start rebuilding.
“Living in Syria is like being in the middle of a dangerous forest,” says Seif. When he starts sharing about how his life feels, at first it seems like he is telling a children’s story; like many in the Middle East he is a compelling storyteller. But this particular tale turns sour quickly, “There is danger everywhere; predators might be crawling up on you from every side, but it is dark, you can’t see clearly, and it’s difficult to get out. No one there has your growth and development in mind.” Continue reading