Ministering to persecuted Christians all over the globe
From smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain in the 1950s to giving legal assistance to Christians who are falsely charged with converting Hindus by force, Open Doors has been supporting persecuted Christians for more than 70 years, reports Megan Titley
The story of the charity Open Doors began with a young Christian Dutchman who followed God’s call to go behind the Iron Curtain to Communist Poland in 1955. In Anne van der Bijl’s suitcase was his Bible, a change of clothes and hundreds of tracts entitled ‘The Way of Salvation’, which he intended to give away.
When he got to Warsaw, he discovered churches in a desperate state. Christians there felt isolated and alone. They thought the rest of the world had forgotten them. Few of them owned bibles, which had been outlawed. At the end of his visit, watching thousands of delegates of the Communist Youth Congress marching in a parade, Anne van der Bijl, who became known as Brother Andrew asked God what he should to do. Opening his Bible, he found the passage which became his mission: 'Wake Up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die.' Revelation 3:2. Brother Andrew saw it as a calling to tend to his struggling fellow Christians across the Iron Curtain.
Between 1955 and 1967, Brother Andrew carefully hid Bibles inside his blue Volkswagen Beetle, smuggling them to persecuted Christians throughout Eastern Europe.
When the tales of his escapades were published in God’s Smuggler in 1967, an entire generation caught the vision of supporting the persecuted church.
Although Open Doors was set up to support the mission to smuggle Bibles to persecuted Christians, today the charity does much more, ministering to persecuted Christians all over the globe.
Working through local churches, the charity helps with trauma care for Nigerian women who have been raped by Boko Haram insurgents, for example.
In India, Open Doors partners give legal assistance to Christians who are falsely charged with converting Hindus by force. It provides safe houses in several countries for converts, who flee their own families once the families discover their newfound Christian faith.
Open Doors provides business training and financial help for people to start small businesses in post-war countries such as Syria and Iraq.
And here in the UK the charity works to raise awareness of persecuted Christians, lobbying members of the UK parliament on a raft of issues which affect persecuted Christians. Each year Open Doors publishes The World Watch List (WWL); an annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution, launching it in the House of Commons.
Open Doors is now a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians for over 60 years and works in over 60 countries. All this is made possible by the support from UK churches and Christians. In the UK, supporters helped to raise £16 million in 2020, to help their persecuted family.
Stephen Walker Williams, Pastor at Goldhill Baptist Church in Chalfont St Peter outside London, said: “Though Open Doors we are trying to raise awareness of our brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted. We support them financially and through prayer, but we also want to be inspired and challenged by their stories of following Jesus, despite the horrendous challenge and risk. In addition to the resources that act as inspiration and guides for prayer and testimonies, the connection with the church team at Open Doors has been incredibly helpful. It feels like partnership, we’re working together for the same goal.”
Use your voice
Open Doors is currently campaigning to highlight the horrific violence Christians in India – particularly that low caste communities - are facing at the hands of radical Hindu mobs. ‘Destructive Lies: Disinformation, speed that incites violence and discrimination against religious minorities in India’ is a new report commissioned by Open Doors and independently conducted by researchers from the London School of Economics (LSE). Director of Advocacy for Open Doors UK & Ireland, Dr David Landrum, is calling on the charity’s supporters to send the report to the Minister for Asia, Nigel Adams asking him to act.
“The international community can no longer ignore what is happening in India. They cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities,” said Dr Landrum. “We are calling for a full international investigation of the brutal and systematic persecution of religious minorities in India.”
How you can get involved
Why not plug into Standing Strong Live, an evening of worship, prayer and stories of courageous faith and hope. Join the event which takes place online this year, in September. There is also a special Standing Strong event for young people.
Pray for persecuted Christians who live and work where faith costs the most. Sign up for a quarterly prayer diary.
Join one of our fundraising campaigns. Walk With Them India is a sponsored hike, to bring urgent Covid relief aid to Christians in India. Or join 50,000 other runners in the virtual Virgin Money London Marathon which returns this year in October.
Join the Open Doors volunteer team. Open Doors is always looking for activists, advocacy reps, church reps, volunteer speakers and more, to help raise awareness and action for persecuted Christians.
Open Doors has a wealth of resources for churches, young people and children to learn about the persecuted church. From the ‘Dangerous Faith’ discussion guide for churches and small groups, to the children’s booklet, ‘Secret Smuggler’, there are lots of opportunities to learn about faith from the perspective of persecuted Christians.
To learn more about Open Doors UK & Ireland, pay a visit to their website. You can also order a free copy of the classic story of Brother Andrew’s work, God’s Smuggler.
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