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North Korea

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North Korea

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North Korea
North Korea is the most hostile and dangerous country in which to be a Christian. All Christians are hated by the government and considered criminals. If their faith is discovered, they are sent to prison. At least 25 percent of North Korean Christians are believed to be languishing in labor camps… all because of their faith. In spite of the government’s relentless campaign to capture believers, Christianity is growing! Near the China border, family-based networks of underground house churches exist in significant numbers. Partially due to the great famine of recent years, record numbers of North Koreans have risked their lives Population: 20 Million to cross the border into China in (400,000 Christians) search of food. While there, some hear about the “true food” found through salvation in Jesus for the first time. Knowing they may face execution if caught, they willingly choose to return to North Korea so that they can tell others the good news.

North Korea
North Korea is the most hostile and dangerous country in which to be a Christian. All Christians are hated by the government and considered criminals. If their faith is discovered, they are sent to prison. At least 25 percent of North Korean Christians are believed to be languishing in labor camps… all because of their faith. In spite of the government’s relentless campaign to capture believers, Christianity is growing! Near the China border, family-based networks of underground house churches exist in significant numbers. Partially due to the great famine of recent years, record numbers of North Koreans have risked their lives Population: 20 Million to cross the border into China in (400,000 Christians) search of food. While there, some hear about the “true food” found through salvation in Jesus for the first time. Knowing they may face execution if caught, they willingly choose to return to North Korea so that they can tell others the good news.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

A Living Mass Grave Called North Korea
Kim Tae Jin finds it difficult to talk. The contrasts between his life in North Korea and his life now in Seoul are too great. “The most difficult thing for me,” he says quietly, “is making decisions.” In North Korea, freedom of choice is unknown. “The Party told us what to do. As I got older my doubts grew about the propaganda the government fed us.” With those doubts spurring hope for a better life, Kim fled to China. There he heard about Jesus for the first time. After four months, Kim was arrested and repatriated back to North Korea where he was sent to the infamous Yodok labor camp. “I was very afraid. Even though I had not yet accepted Jesus, I prayed. In prison they beat me with sticks.” Hungry and cold, Kim was given only a torn blanket to keep warm and endured the plague of fleas and lice in his cell that he shared with countless others. Spending the days in hard labor, Kim sometimes caught rats, snakes or frogs simply to have something to eat. “I saw people dying of hunger and sickness. Anyone captured trying to escape was publicly executed. Prisoners were treated worse than cattle.” Kim’s last day in Yodok was April 10, 1992. Again he escaped across the border into China where he met a Christian who helped him flee to South Korea. Today Kim uses every opportunity to talk about North Korea, especially the Christians there. “My personal message is this, show an interest in my country. Pray for it. We need your support.” Pray:

A Living Mass Grave Called North Korea
Kim Tae Jin finds it difficult to talk. The contrasts between his life in North Korea and his life now in Seoul are too great. “The most difficult thing for me,” he says quietly, “is making decisions.” In North Korea, freedom of choice is unknown. “The Party told us what to do. As I got older my doubts grew about the propaganda the government fed us.” With those doubts spurring hope for a better life, Kim fled to China. There he heard about Jesus for the first time. After four months, Kim was arrested and repatriated back to North Korea where he was sent to the infamous Yodok labor camp. “I was very afraid. Even though I had not yet accepted Jesus, I prayed. In prison they beat me with sticks.” Hungry and cold, Kim was given only a torn blanket to keep warm and endured the plague of fleas and lice in his cell that he shared with countless others. Spending the days in hard labor, Kim sometimes caught rats, snakes or frogs simply to have something to eat. “I saw people dying of hunger and sickness. Anyone captured trying to escape was publicly executed. Prisoners were treated worse than cattle.” Kim’s last day in Yodok was April 10, 1992. Again he escaped across the border into China where he met a Christian who helped him flee to South Korea. Today Kim uses every opportunity to talk about North Korea, especially the Christians there. “My personal message is this, show an interest in my country. Pray for it. We need your support.” Pray:

• For freedom and justice for the thousands of Christians in “gulag” type prisons. • Give thanks for the aid that Open Doors and other Christian NGOs can offer refugees. • For the safety of North Korean Christians who return to share the gospel.

• For freedom and justice for the thousands of Christians in “gulag” type prisons. • Give thanks for the aid that Open Doors and other Christian NGOs can offer refugees. • For the safety of North Korean Christians who return to share the gospel.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

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Afghanistan

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Afghanistan

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Afghanistan
Throughout its long history, Afghanistan has been at the crossroads of many civilizations. Those who traveled its roads and mountain passes brought to this land-locked nation their beliefs and traditions. Christianity, for one, was once a major influence in Afghan society. Unfortunately, over the years, the presence and memory of Christianity has slowly and systemically been removed from its history. Today, not a single official church building remains. The handful of Christians that still exists in Afghanistan meets secretly in private homes… at great personal risk. Since all Afghan Christians were formerly Muslims, they face intense discrimination and opposition from their family, community, Muslim Population: 32.4 million clergy and local authorities if their (a few thousand Christians) faith in Jesus is discovered. Using any means possible to make them recant their new faith in Jesus, Christians are treated in a hostile manner which include: beatings, death threats, starvation and imprisonment. In February, one Afghan Christian was finally released after spending nearly nine months in prison on charges of apostasy.

Afghanistan
Throughout its long history, Afghanistan has been at the crossroads of many civilizations. Those who traveled its roads and mountain passes brought to this land-locked nation their beliefs and traditions. Christianity, for one, was once a major influence in Afghan society. Unfortunately, over the years, the presence and memory of Christianity has slowly and systemically been removed from its history. Today, not a single official church building remains. The handful of Christians that still exists in Afghanistan meets secretly in private homes… at great personal risk. Since all Afghan Christians were formerly Muslims, they face intense discrimination and opposition from their family, community, Muslim Population: 32.4 million clergy and local authorities if their (a few thousand Christians) faith in Jesus is discovered. Using any means possible to make them recant their new faith in Jesus, Christians are treated in a hostile manner which include: beatings, death threats, starvation and imprisonment. In February, one Afghan Christian was finally released after spending nearly nine months in prison on charges of apostasy.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

“I am Jesus Christ’s Servant.”
Said Musa waited in prison on death row. Charged with the crime of apostasy (leaving Islam), he’d been sentenced under Islamic law to be executed. Beaten and abused Musa prayed and wrote letters. In his final letter dated February 13, 2011, Musa, an amputee and a father of six, said that representatives of embassies in Kabul visited him while in prison and offered him asylum. But after they left, he was taken to another room where Afghani officials tried to convince him to recant his faith. They promised to release him from prison within 24 hours if he would do so. He refused and was sent back to his cell. “I told them I cannot follow Islam,” he wrote in the letter. “I am Jesus Christ’s servant. They pushed me much and much. I refused their demands.” His prayers were answered when, after intense diplomatic pressure, authorities released Musa. He had been imprisoned for nearly nine months simply because of his faith in Jesus. Several months after his release, he was allowed to leave Afghanistan with his wife and children. The family now lives in a small apartment in an undisclosed country. All the children go to school, including one child who attends a school for children with special needs.

“I am Jesus Christ’s Servant.”
Said Musa waited in prison on death row. Charged with the crime of apostasy (leaving Islam), he’d been sentenced under Islamic law to be executed. Beaten and abused Musa prayed and wrote letters. In his final letter dated February 13, 2011, Musa, an amputee and a father of six, said that representatives of embassies in Kabul visited him while in prison and offered him asylum. But after they left, he was taken to another room where Afghani officials tried to convince him to recant his faith. They promised to release him from prison within 24 hours if he would do so. He refused and was sent back to his cell. “I told them I cannot follow Islam,” he wrote in the letter. “I am Jesus Christ’s servant. They pushed me much and much. I refused their demands.” His prayers were answered when, after intense diplomatic pressure, authorities released Musa. He had been imprisoned for nearly nine months simply because of his faith in Jesus. Several months after his release, he was allowed to leave Afghanistan with his wife and children. The family now lives in a small apartment in an undisclosed country. All the children go to school, including one child who attends a school for children with special needs.

Pray:

• For courage and perseverance for Christians who are alone and without fellowship. • For the church to grow despite the difficulties. • For more opportunities to spread the gospel message via satellite TV and other means.

Pray:

• For courage and perseverance for Christians who are alone and without fellowship. • For the church to grow despite the difficulties. • For more opportunities to spread the gospel message via satellite TV and other means.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

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Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia
To be a Saudi is to be a Muslim. There is no freedom of religion. Under the Islamic law-based legal system, converts to any other religion are subject to execution if they do not recant. Non-Muslim public worship is prohibited and, although the national government recognizes the rights of non-Muslims to worship privately, the religious police often do not. Worshippers risk imprisonment, torture and deportation. Most Christians in Saudi Arabia are poorly paid foreign workers. As Christians and foreigners, they have no legal “rights,” making them vulnerable to violence and abuse. However, there has been a recent increase in Saudis responding to Population: 28 million broadcasts on Christian satellite (1.25 million Christians) TV. By sending emails to the shows’ producers, Saudis are able to ask questions about Jesus and Christianity. Some viewers have even commented that they came to Christ after watching the shows. Others have said that they came to faith after God revealed Himself in a vision or a dream.

Saudi Arabia
To be a Saudi is to be a Muslim. There is no freedom of religion. Under the Islamic law-based legal system, converts to any other religion are subject to execution if they do not recant. Non-Muslim public worship is prohibited and, although the national government recognizes the rights of non-Muslims to worship privately, the religious police often do not. Worshippers risk imprisonment, torture and deportation. Most Christians in Saudi Arabia are poorly paid foreign workers. As Christians and foreigners, they have no legal “rights,” making them vulnerable to violence and abuse. However, there has been a recent increase in Saudis responding to Population: 28 million broadcasts on Christian satellite (1.25 million Christians) TV. By sending emails to the shows’ producers, Saudis are able to ask questions about Jesus and Christianity. Some viewers have even commented that they came to Christ after watching the shows. Others have said that they came to faith after God revealed Himself in a vision or a dream.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

“We will kill you if you don’t leave this place.”
Four masked men in a small car cut off the van that Pastor Gebriel was driving. Shouting for him to leave the country, Gebriel felt the icy grip of fear tighten around his heart. This was not the first time he had been threatened by the mutawwa’in (religious police) …but now the threats were escalating and becoming more violent. Church leaders in Saudi Arabia are used to threats from the mutawwa’in. Acting independently from the government, they enforce the kingdom’s Sunni Islamic social codes officially known as the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. The Saudi regime has reportedly tried to restrain these volunteer vigilantes, but the mutawwa’in continues to act as Saudi Arabia’s “moral” police. Yemane Gebriel, a prominent pastor and father of eight, had moved to Saudi Arabia from Eritrea seeking a better life. He and three other pastors started a house church which met regularly on Fridays. More than 150 foreign-born Christians attended the services. The next day after the attacks Gebriel alerted government officials. For his safety and that of his family, it was decided that they all must leave. Traveling separately to throw off the mutawwa’in, Gebriel and his family fled to a neighboring country… hoping soon to be safely reunited.

“We will kill you if you don’t leave this place.”
Four masked men in a small car cut off the van that Pastor Gebriel was driving. Shouting for him to leave the country, Gebriel felt the icy grip of fear tighten around his heart. This was not the first time he had been threatened by the mutawwa’in (religious police) …but now the threats were escalating and becoming more violent. Church leaders in Saudi Arabia are used to threats from the mutawwa’in. Acting independently from the government, they enforce the kingdom’s Sunni Islamic social codes officially known as the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. The Saudi regime has reportedly tried to restrain these volunteer vigilantes, but the mutawwa’in continues to act as Saudi Arabia’s “moral” police. Yemane Gebriel, a prominent pastor and father of eight, had moved to Saudi Arabia from Eritrea seeking a better life. He and three other pastors started a house church which met regularly on Fridays. More than 150 foreign-born Christians attended the services. The next day after the attacks Gebriel alerted government officials. For his safety and that of his family, it was decided that they all must leave. Traveling separately to throw off the mutawwa’in, Gebriel and his family fled to a neighboring country… hoping soon to be safely reunited.

Pray:

• For converts from Muslim backgrounds who risk being killed by their families. • Give thanks for the opportunity to share Jesus through satellite TV. Pray for more programs to become available. • Praise Him that the number of Christian converts from Islam is increasing.

Pray:

• For converts from Muslim backgrounds who risk being killed by their families. • Give thanks for the opportunity to share Jesus through satellite TV. Pray for more programs to become available. • Praise Him that the number of Christian converts from Islam is increasing.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

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Somalia

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Somalia

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Somalia
Islam is the official religion in Somalia. Although the Constitution approved by their president in 1979 provided for religious freedom, there has not been a stable government to back that promise since that time. Instead, Islamic militants have used an extremist interpretation of Islamic law (Sharia) to impose justice. Somalia has no traditional organized church. No one is expected to be a Christian. Christianity does, however, exist. Many believers are Muslim converts. Living as individual secret believers, each only knows a few other Christians. Sometimes, at great risk, they gather secretly in small underground groups. The largest known group is composed Population: 9.6 million of only five believers.

Somalia
Islam is the official religion in Somalia. Although the Constitution approved by their president in 1979 provided for religious freedom, there has not been a stable government to back that promise since that time. Instead, Islamic militants have used an extremist interpretation of Islamic law (Sharia) to impose justice. Somalia has no traditional organized church. No one is expected to be a Christian. Christianity does, however, exist. Many believers are Muslim converts. Living as individual secret believers, each only knows a few other Christians. Sometimes, at great risk, they gather secretly in small underground groups. The largest known group is composed Population: 9.6 million of only five believers.

(few Christians) Most Christians live in fear of being discovered and executed. In 2010, at least eight Christians were sought out and killed. In October 2011, Islamic extremists beheaded a 17-year-old Somali Christian near Mogadishu. Islamic fundamentalism is increasing, and militants from the Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab have vowed to rid Somalia of Christianity.

(few Christians) Most Christians live in fear of being discovered and executed. In 2010, at least eight Christians were sought out and killed. In October 2011, Islamic extremists beheaded a 17-year-old Somali Christian near Mogadishu. Islamic fundamentalism is increasing, and militants from the Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab have vowed to rid Somalia of Christianity.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

“I still belong to Jesus.”
The plate of food remained uneaten. Hassan, a convert from Islam and arrested for allegedly distributing Christian literature, stared at the food. Feeling abandoned and alone Hassan was so hungry. He knew he needed physical strength to endure the months ahead, but his desire for spiritual strength triumphed over the desire for food. Although everyone, including his family, had turned against him… he would not give into their demands. Earlier in his imprisonment, his accusers had agreed that two sheikhs (Islamic teachers) should visit him in jail. In Hassan’s small, cramped cell, they implored him to stop spreading Christianity. Hassan refused. In hopes that a worse situation would convince him to return to Islam, he was relocated to the dreaded Manderea prison located in a remote part of Somalia’s self-declared state of Somaliland. Despite the pressure, Hassan acted boldly and staged a hunger strike. “I still belong to Jesus,” he said. “I know one day I will be released. My physical health is okay, but psychologically I feel very anxious and stressed. Please continue praying for me.” “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” Psalm 25:16.

“I still belong to Jesus.”
The plate of food remained uneaten. Hassan, a convert from Islam and arrested for allegedly distributing Christian literature, stared at the food. Feeling abandoned and alone Hassan was so hungry. He knew he needed physical strength to endure the months ahead, but his desire for spiritual strength triumphed over the desire for food. Although everyone, including his family, had turned against him… he would not give into their demands. Earlier in his imprisonment, his accusers had agreed that two sheikhs (Islamic teachers) should visit him in jail. In Hassan’s small, cramped cell, they implored him to stop spreading Christianity. Hassan refused. In hopes that a worse situation would convince him to return to Islam, he was relocated to the dreaded Manderea prison located in a remote part of Somalia’s self-declared state of Somaliland. Despite the pressure, Hassan acted boldly and staged a hunger strike. “I still belong to Jesus,” he said. “I know one day I will be released. My physical health is okay, but psychologically I feel very anxious and stressed. Please continue praying for me.” “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” Psalm 25:16.

Pray:

• For an end to the political instability and the establishment of a stable and “just” government for all its citizens. • For protection on Christians who risk meeting in secret. • For freedom for believers to worship and grow in their faith.

Pray:

• For an end to the political instability and the establishment of a stable and “just” government for all its citizens. • For protection on Christians who risk meeting in secret. • For freedom for believers to worship and grow in their faith.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

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Iran

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Iran

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Iran
According to the Iranian government, only ethnic Armenians and Assyrians may be Christian. Ethnic Persians are, by definition, Muslim; therefore ethnic Persian Christians are, by definition, apostates. Since this makes almost all Christian activity – especially when it occurs in Persian languages – illegal, most church services are monitored by the secret police. Islam is the official religion in Iran, Population: 74.8 million and all laws must be consistent with the official interpretation (460,000 Christians) of Sharia law. Although ethnic Christians are technically guaranteed religious freedom, they often face imprisonment, physical abuse, harassment and discrimination because of their faith. This year, the government’s campaign against Christians and churches has increased. Several churches were either shut down or forced to stop preaching in Farsi. The regime’s oppressive treatment of Christians has only fueled the flames of church growth. Last October, Iran’s own intelligence minister admitted that his agents had discovered hundreds of underground church groups, including 200 in the Muslim holy city of Mashhad.
www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

Iran
According to the Iranian government, only ethnic Armenians and Assyrians may be Christian. Ethnic Persians are, by definition, Muslim; therefore ethnic Persian Christians are, by definition, apostates. Since this makes almost all Christian activity – especially when it occurs in Persian languages – illegal, most church services are monitored by the secret police. Islam is the official religion in Iran, Population: 74.8 million and all laws must be consistent with the official interpretation (460,000 Christians) of Sharia law. Although ethnic Christians are technically guaranteed religious freedom, they often face imprisonment, physical abuse, harassment and discrimination because of their faith. This year, the government’s campaign against Christians and churches has increased. Several churches were either shut down or forced to stop preaching in Farsi. The regime’s oppressive treatment of Christians has only fueled the flames of church growth. Last October, Iran’s own intelligence minister admitted that his agents had discovered hundreds of underground church groups, including 200 in the Muslim holy city of Mashhad.
www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

“Jesus set me free!”
Frightened, she stood in front of the high judge and was given a choice: recant your faith or go to prison. In a barely audible voice she said, “You can kill me, but I will go straight to Christ.” At the age of 15 she had been forced into marriage. Three years later, her husband blamed her for the death of their two-yearold son. Wondering why Allah would bring such punishment to her, she visited a friend who was looking into Christianity. A verse in the Bible stood out, “All who are weary, come to me and I will give you rest.” (Mat 11:28) She longed for this rest and began to pray. Soon afterward she started telling others about God. In just her family alone sixteen came to Christ! A year, after becoming a Christian, she was arrested for sharing the gospel. Authorities told her she would be kept in prison for eight years and then killed. Prison life was harsh, but clinging to her faith she knew that God was with her and would never abandon her. One day, while outside for her 15-minute allotment of fresh air, the Lord told her to quickly return to her cell and pack her things. While doing so, the guards came to her and said she could leave. Shocked, she excitedly exclaimed, “Jesus set me free!” “He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains.” Psalm 107:14. Pray:
• Thank God that the church is growing. • For strength for Christians who have been harassed, arrested, jailed and beaten. • For justice and the release of Christian prisoners, in particular, Yousef Nadarkhani who received the death penalty when found guilty of leaving Islam.

“Jesus set me free!”
Frightened, she stood in front of the high judge and was given a choice: recant your faith or go to prison. In a barely audible voice she said, “You can kill me, but I will go straight to Christ.” At the age of 15 she had been forced into marriage. Three years later, her husband blamed her for the death of their two-yearold son. Wondering why Allah would bring such punishment to her, she visited a friend who was looking into Christianity. A verse in the Bible stood out, “All who are weary, come to me and I will give you rest.” (Mat 11:28) She longed for this rest and began to pray. Soon afterward she started telling others about God. In just her family alone sixteen came to Christ! A year, after becoming a Christian, she was arrested for sharing the gospel. Authorities told her she would be kept in prison for eight years and then killed. Prison life was harsh, but clinging to her faith she knew that God was with her and would never abandon her. One day, while outside for her 15-minute allotment of fresh air, the Lord told her to quickly return to her cell and pack her things. While doing so, the guards came to her and said she could leave. Shocked, she excitedly exclaimed, “Jesus set me free!” “He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains.” Psalm 107:14. Pray:
• Thank God that the church is growing. • For strength for Christians who have been harassed, arrested, jailed and beaten. • For justice and the release of Christian prisoners, in particular, Yousef Nadarkhani who received the death penalty when found guilty of leaving Islam.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

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Maldives

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Maldives

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Maldives
Remote islands surrounded by turquoise blue water and glistening white sand beaches make for a dream vacation destination. This is the utopian picture that Maldivian authorities present to the outside world. The government’s harsh attitude towards Christianity is less known; a dark shadow marring this visual paradise. The Maldivian government views itself as the protector and defender of Islam, and every Maldivian citizen must be Muslim. Churches are forbidden, evangelism is banned and the importation of Christian literature is prohibited. Last year, a foreign Christian teacher was detained and deported after allegations that he had stored Population: 320,000 Christian material on a school computer (few Christians) The few Muslim converts hide their faith from their families. If discovered, believers face immediate pressure to recant their faith. Expatriate Christian workers are only allowed to practice their faith inside their respective homes. No one, not even foreign Christians, is allowed to gather in a group for prayer or worship.

Maldives
Remote islands surrounded by turquoise blue water and glistening white sand beaches make for a dream vacation destination. This is the utopian picture that Maldivian authorities present to the outside world. The government’s harsh attitude towards Christianity is less known; a dark shadow marring this visual paradise. The Maldivian government views itself as the protector and defender of Islam, and every Maldivian citizen must be Muslim. Churches are forbidden, evangelism is banned and the importation of Christian literature is prohibited. Last year, a foreign Christian teacher was detained and deported after allegations that he had stored Population: 320,000 Christian material on a school computer (few Christians) The few Muslim converts hide their faith from their families. If discovered, believers face immediate pressure to recant their faith. Expatriate Christian workers are only allowed to practice their faith inside their respective homes. No one, not even foreign Christians, is allowed to gather in a group for prayer or worship.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

“Our Prayer Trip Begins Now.”
As the plane neared Male, the capital city of the Maldives, the team gazed out the windows and wondered, “Is this really a mission trip?” The water was even more beautiful than imagined; the white sand beaches almost blinding. With passports in hand, each team member nervously waited alone in the customs line thinking that if one was caught the rest might still be able to escape exposure. Separated from each other, each team member silently prayed. Tom was the first to approach the counter. When the customs official asked him to unfasten the top buttons of his shirt and pull his collar aside a small cross could be seen as it lay flat across his chest. The official requested that he remove it, assuring him that he could claim it when he exited the country. As the team assembled outside the airport they expressed gratitude that they each had safely entered the country although most of the outward reminders of Christianity had been taken from them. “No problem,” the leader said, “our prayer trip begins now! The first thing we can do is to pray for the items that were taken from us; that they will fall into a person’s hand who is seeking Jesus.” They all smiled as they realized their materials did get in! There was no way they were going to claim them upon departure. “Thank you Jesus!” In the desert prepare the way for the Lord. Isaiah 40:3a Pray:

“Our Prayer Trip Begins Now.”
As the plane neared Male, the capital city of the Maldives, the team gazed out the windows and wondered, “Is this really a mission trip?” The water was even more beautiful than imagined; the white sand beaches almost blinding. With passports in hand, each team member nervously waited alone in the customs line thinking that if one was caught the rest might still be able to escape exposure. Separated from each other, each team member silently prayed. Tom was the first to approach the counter. When the customs official asked him to unfasten the top buttons of his shirt and pull his collar aside a small cross could be seen as it lay flat across his chest. The official requested that he remove it, assuring him that he could claim it when he exited the country. As the team assembled outside the airport they expressed gratitude that they each had safely entered the country although most of the outward reminders of Christianity had been taken from them. “No problem,” the leader said, “our prayer trip begins now! The first thing we can do is to pray for the items that were taken from us; that they will fall into a person’s hand who is seeking Jesus.” They all smiled as they realized their materials did get in! There was no way they were going to claim them upon departure. “Thank you Jesus!” In the desert prepare the way for the Lord. Isaiah 40:3a Pray:

• For Christians to remain strong in their faith amidst the secrecy and lack of fellowship. • Many young people seek education outside the islands. Pray that they would have the opportunity to hear the gospel. • For more opportunities for Maldivians to know Jesus.

• For Christians to remain strong in their faith amidst the secrecy and lack of fellowship. • Many young people seek education outside the islands. Pray that they would have the opportunity to hear the gospel. • For more opportunities for Maldivians to know Jesus.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

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Uzbekistan

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Uzbekistan

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Uzbekistan
Strict monitoring of all Christian activities is on the rise in Uzbekistan. All activities of unregistered churches are strictly prohibited, both inside and outside the church walls. Youth activities are forbidden, outreaches are forbidden, seminars and training are forbidden. Although the government officially allows orthodox and “registered” Population: 27.7 million churches to operate openly, only one new church has been (208,500 Christians) granted registration in the last ten years. Even these churches have experienced an increase in the number of raids, church members being fined and harassment by authorities. Private Bible study meetings face the constant threat of being discovered. Officials frequently raid churches, confiscating literature and other materials. Printing or importing Christian literature is prohibited. Since the state controls the media and blocks websites with religious content, it is difficult for believers to obtain Bibles and other materials in any form. If discovered with illegal materials, Christians are fined or given short-term prison sentences. Christians are not guaranteed fair treatment when they are brought to court.
www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

Uzbekistan
Strict monitoring of all Christian activities is on the rise in Uzbekistan. All activities of unregistered churches are strictly prohibited, both inside and outside the church walls. Youth activities are forbidden, outreaches are forbidden, seminars and training are forbidden. Although the government officially allows orthodox and “registered” Population: 27.7 million churches to operate openly, only one new church has been (208,500 Christians) granted registration in the last ten years. Even these churches have experienced an increase in the number of raids, church members being fined and harassment by authorities. Private Bible study meetings face the constant threat of being discovered. Officials frequently raid churches, confiscating literature and other materials. Printing or importing Christian literature is prohibited. Since the state controls the media and blocks websites with religious content, it is difficult for believers to obtain Bibles and other materials in any form. If discovered with illegal materials, Christians are fined or given short-term prison sentences. Christians are not guaranteed fair treatment when they are brought to court.
www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

Bibles Confiscated
“The only options you have are to kill him, then take his Bible, or take him to jail with his Bible. He will not let go of it!” declared the parents of the 40-year-old Taher, a Christian who lives his life bound to a wheelchair. Paralyzed, his main source of strength and hope is in his faith in Jesus. When the police came to their house and tried to confiscate his Bible he refused to give it to them. The police then tried in vain to persuade his parents to make him hand over his Bible. They knew that this request would not be honored by their son. In a separate incident Lazar, an Uzbek church leader, recalls, “Two days ago the police raided my house. The moment they arrived was nervewracking. Suddenly there were ten policemen on my doorstep. I was taken off in handcuffs as if I were a criminal. They took all the Bibles and Christian books that we had.” Raids on churches and homes are a common occurrence in Uzbekistan. Searching for “illegal religious activity,” police will harass, interrogate, impose fines and confiscate anything found to be Christian. Sometimes police will even plant materials in order to arrest suspected Christians. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you. Deut 33:27

Bibles Confiscated
“The only options you have are to kill him, then take his Bible, or take him to jail with his Bible. He will not let go of it!” declared the parents of the 40-year-old Taher, a Christian who lives his life bound to a wheelchair. Paralyzed, his main source of strength and hope is in his faith in Jesus. When the police came to their house and tried to confiscate his Bible he refused to give it to them. The police then tried in vain to persuade his parents to make him hand over his Bible. They knew that this request would not be honored by their son. In a separate incident Lazar, an Uzbek church leader, recalls, “Two days ago the police raided my house. The moment they arrived was nervewracking. Suddenly there were ten policemen on my doorstep. I was taken off in handcuffs as if I were a criminal. They took all the Bibles and Christian books that we had.” Raids on churches and homes are a common occurrence in Uzbekistan. Searching for “illegal religious activity,” police will harass, interrogate, impose fines and confiscate anything found to be Christian. Sometimes police will even plant materials in order to arrest suspected Christians. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you. Deut 33:27

Pray:

• For pastors trying to lead their churches with limited resources. • For courage for Muslim-background believers who experience great pressure from family and society. • For Christians to remain strong amidst the conflict and challenges surrounding them.

Pray:

• For pastors trying to lead their churches with limited resources. • For courage for Muslim-background believers who experience great pressure from family and society. • For Christians to remain strong amidst the conflict and challenges surrounding them.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

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Yemen

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Yemen

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Yemen
Yemen is one of the oldest civilizations on Earth. A pivotal crossroad for trade and travel, Yemen was once home to a mixture of people from all faiths. Today, little of these faiths remain – except Islam. Yemen’s constitution, unlike some other countries in the Arabian Peninsula, officially guarantees freedom of religion. However, the constitution also declares that Islam is the state religion and that Sharia law is the source of all legislation. The four “official” church buildings in the entire country are located in Aden, a seaport city on the Red Sea. These churches are restricted; only Christian expats and foreign refugees are allowed to worship in them. The four “official” church buildings in the entire country are located in Aden, a seaport city on the Red Sea. These churches are restricted; only Christian expats and foreign refugees are allowed to worship in them.

Yemen
Yemen is one of the oldest civilizations on Earth. A pivotal crossroad for trade and travel, Yemen was once home to a mixture of people from all faiths. Today, little of these faiths remain – except Islam. Yemen’s constitution, unlike some other countries in the Arabian Peninsula, officially guarantees freedom of religion. However, the constitution also declares that Islam is the state religion and that Sharia law is the source of all legislation.

Population: 24.8 million (a few thousand Christians)

Population: 24.8 million (a few thousand Christians)

Evangelism is prohibited. Yemenis who leave Islam face persecution from authorities, family members and Islamic extremists who threaten “apostates” with death if they do not return to Islam. There are an estimated five hundred to one thousand Muslim-background believers in Yemen. Hungry for fellowship, some take great risk and meet in secret locations.
www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

Evangelism is prohibited. Yemenis who leave Islam face persecution from authorities, family members and Islamic extremists who threaten “apostates” with death if they do not return to Islam. There are an estimated five hundred to one thousand Muslim-background believers in Yemen. Hungry for fellowship, some take great risk and meet in secret locations.
www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

“Living Here as a Christian is Not Easy.”
John, a foreigner, working in the Arabian Peninsula for some time, realized early on that building friendships and trust with local people was very important. This soon paid off for him. One day, he received a call from someone in another city. The caller asked if he could visit his friend Fayad, who was a secret believer. Although apprehensive, John agreed to the meeting. Sharing a single room with five other Arabs, Fayed told John that he had little privacy. He was dismayed that he had no way to read God’s Word. The men decided to purchase small memory cards for Fayad’s cell phone and fill them with Christian music and books from the Bible. Fayad was thrilled and said, “I can use the memory card and headphones, and if ever I get in a dangerous situation I can just swallow the card.” As John drove home later that night, he began to cry. “I was so touched; I thought of my own church in the west and all the resources that we have and all the wonderful preaching and ministers. Everything is available… in abundance. And then I thought of Fayad, not having a lot of earthly goods, but so eager to listen to God’s Word.“ I have put my hope in your word. Psalm 119:147b

“Living Here as a Christian is Not Easy.”
John, a foreigner, working in the Arabian Peninsula for some time, realized early on that building friendships and trust with local people was very important. This soon paid off for him. One day, he received a call from someone in another city. The caller asked if he could visit his friend Fayad, who was a secret believer. Although apprehensive, John agreed to the meeting. Sharing a single room with five other Arabs, Fayed told John that he had little privacy. He was dismayed that he had no way to read God’s Word. The men decided to purchase small memory cards for Fayad’s cell phone and fill them with Christian music and books from the Bible. Fayad was thrilled and said, “I can use the memory card and headphones, and if ever I get in a dangerous situation I can just swallow the card.” As John drove home later that night, he began to cry. “I was so touched; I thought of my own church in the west and all the resources that we have and all the wonderful preaching and ministers. Everything is available… in abundance. And then I thought of Fayad, not having a lot of earthly goods, but so eager to listen to God’s Word.“ I have put my hope in your word. Psalm 119:147b

Pray:

• Thank God that church buildings exist for foreign Christians. • Pray for an increase in opportunities to spread the gospel via satellite and other means • Almost half of the population lives in poverty. Pray for opportunities for foreign missionaries to be allowed into the country to offer aide and assistance.

Pray:

• Thank God that church buildings exist for foreign Christians. • Pray for an increase in opportunities to spread the gospel via satellite and other means • Almost half of the population lives in poverty. Pray for opportunities for foreign missionaries to be allowed into the country to offer aide and assistance.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

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Iraq

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Iraq

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Iraq
A modern-day exodus of Christians is going on in Iraq. Sectarian violence has caused tens of thousands of Christians to flee since the beginning of the war. An estimated 345,000 Christians live in Iraq today; that is down from about 850,000 in 1991. Those who remain feel that the government has failed to protect them from the recent wave of threats, robbery, rape, kidnapping and church bombings. Northern Iraq, an area commonly called Kurdistan, has long been known as a safe haven for Christians. Even in this region, however, the situation for Christians has deteriorated due to Islamic extremism. Northern Iraq, an area commonly called Kurdistan, has long been known as a safe haven for Christians. Even in this region, however, the situation for Christians has deteriorated due to Islamic extremism.

Iraq
A modern-day exodus of Christians is going on in Iraq. Sectarian violence has caused tens of thousands of Christians to flee since the beginning of the war. An estimated 345,000 Christians live in Iraq today; that is down from about 850,000 in 1991. Those who remain feel that the government has failed to protect them from the recent wave of threats, robbery, rape, kidnapping and church bombings.

Population: 32.6 million (300,000 Christians)

Population: 32.6 million (300,000 Christians)

Iraq’s Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and belief, but there is no article on changing one’s religion. Since Sharia (Islamic), the primary source of law, forbids conversion of Muslims to other religions, it is legally impossible to apply freedom of belief in the cases of converts. In Iraq there is no safe haven for Arab families who convert from Islam.

Iraq’s Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and belief, but there is no article on changing one’s religion. Since Sharia (Islamic), the primary source of law, forbids conversion of Muslims to other religions, it is legally impossible to apply freedom of belief in the cases of converts. In Iraq there is no safe haven for Arab families who convert from Islam.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

“At Any Moment a Terrorist Can Enter Your Church.”
Endless grey concrete walls are everywhere. Encircling neighborhoods, hospitals and churches, Baghdad is wrapped in concrete… but concrete alone is not enough. In a suburb of the city a church’s congregation is meeting for prayer. The church’s entrance is hidden by tall blocks forming a barrier. At the entrance stands Ahmed who, like every Iraqi soldier and policeman, wears a bullet-proof vest over his blue uniform. Loosely holding his automatic rifle, he watches the street. A few months ago the government ordered a wall built around the church. “This is how they want to prevent anything from happening to us,” says the church’s pastor. With irony he adds, “But a rocket can easily fly across this wall!” “We are confused,” he adds. “What should we do; where can we go? At any moment a terrorist can enter the church and start shooting. People ask us what to do. I cannot tell them if they should leave or stay. My witness is that I stay, even if I have the opportunity to go elsewhere. “But in the midst of the uncertainty we see God’s grace. The church is the best and safest place to go. Spiritually it is safe, but not physically. Outside there is chaos, but Jesus and the church are our refuge.” I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Psalm 61:4

“At Any Moment a Terrorist Can Enter Your Church.”
Endless grey concrete walls are everywhere. Encircling neighborhoods, hospitals and churches, Baghdad is wrapped in concrete… but concrete alone is not enough. In a suburb of the city a church’s congregation is meeting for prayer. The church’s entrance is hidden by tall blocks forming a barrier. At the entrance stands Ahmed who, like every Iraqi soldier and policeman, wears a bullet-proof vest over his blue uniform. Loosely holding his automatic rifle, he watches the street. A few months ago the government ordered a wall built around the church. “This is how they want to prevent anything from happening to us,” says the church’s pastor. With irony he adds, “But a rocket can easily fly across this wall!” “We are confused,” he adds. “What should we do; where can we go? At any moment a terrorist can enter the church and start shooting. People ask us what to do. I cannot tell them if they should leave or stay. My witness is that I stay, even if I have the opportunity to go elsewhere. “But in the midst of the uncertainty we see God’s grace. The church is the best and safest place to go. Spiritually it is safe, but not physically. Outside there is chaos, but Jesus and the church are our refuge.” I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Psalm 61:4

Pray:

• For the many Christian refugees who have been displaced from their homes by religious violence. • For wise leadership and government to bring justice and protection from terrorist groups. • Safety for Christians, especially since the American troops left.

Pray:

• For the many Christian refugees who have been displaced from their homes by religious violence. • For wise leadership and government to bring justice and protection from terrorist groups. • Safety for Christians, especially since the American troops left.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

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Pakistan

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Pakistan

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Pakistan
Pakistan is 96% Muslim. Caught between Islamic militant groups that constantly target them and an Islamic culture that discriminates against them, Christians are a beleaguered minority in a country of 176.7 million. Death threats are routine, beatings are common, and damage to church property occurs on a monthly basis. Christians cannot rely on the government or military for protection. They have few allies in their fight to live and thrive in the land of their birth.

Pakistan
Pakistan is 96% Muslim. Caught between Islamic militant groups that constantly target them and an Islamic culture that discriminates against them, Christians are a beleaguered minority in a country of 176.7 million. Death threats are routine, beatings are common, and damage to church property occurs on a monthly basis. Christians cannot rely on the government or military for protection. They have few allies in their fight to live and thrive in the land of their birth.

Population: 177 million Compounding their situation, the March 2011 killing of Christian (5.3 million Christians) Cabinet Minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, was “one of the most demoralizing acts in recent years,” according to a church leader in Karachi. Bhatti was an outspoken advocate for the removal of the notorious blasphemy law.

Population: 177 million Compounding their situation, the March 2011 killing of Christian (5.3 million Christians) Cabinet Minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, was “one of the most demoralizing acts in recent years,” according to a church leader in Karachi. Bhatti was an outspoken advocate for the removal of the notorious blasphemy law.

Pakistan laws do, however, give Christians considerable freedom to run their churches. Reports show that the Christian population is growing, and there is a steady trickle of Muslims joining the churches.

Pakistan laws do, however, give Christians considerable freedom to run their churches. Reports show that the Christian population is growing, and there is a steady trickle of Muslims joining the churches.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

Through the Eyes of a 12-Year-Old
When the new teacher arrived at the remote village, Delilah was reluctant to go to school. Sitting in the back of the room, the 12-yearold girl stared at the teacher with streetwise eyes. At home her mother ran a makeup salon, her father brewed cheap alcohol. Yes, they were poor, but she was bound by more than poverty. The girl’s parents had named her Delilah with the hope that it was suggestive enough for the business she was birthed into - prostitution. Upon learning the plight of the young girls in the village, the teacher was horrified. Delilah easily explained to her, “We never thought this behavior was wrong. We thought the honor was in coming home the next morning with money for the family!” During weeks of adjustment, the teacher realized that God brought her here to restore the honor of His name and His vision of dignity to His children in Pakistan. Today Delilah declares, with a sparkle in her eye, “I am living a new life! The literacy classes have changed me. I want to live a life of worship. I still have worries, but then I remember that Jesus said, ‘Come to Me, all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ I can do anything then!” Be my rock of refuge, in which I can always go. Psalm 71:3a

Through the Eyes of a 12-Year-Old
When the new teacher arrived at the remote village, Delilah was reluctant to go to school. Sitting in the back of the room, the 12-yearold girl stared at the teacher with streetwise eyes. At home her mother ran a makeup salon, her father brewed cheap alcohol. Yes, they were poor, but she was bound by more than poverty. The girl’s parents had named her Delilah with the hope that it was suggestive enough for the business she was birthed into - prostitution. Upon learning the plight of the young girls in the village, the teacher was horrified. Delilah easily explained to her, “We never thought this behavior was wrong. We thought the honor was in coming home the next morning with money for the family!” During weeks of adjustment, the teacher realized that God brought her here to restore the honor of His name and His vision of dignity to His children in Pakistan. Today Delilah declares, with a sparkle in her eye, “I am living a new life! The literacy classes have changed me. I want to live a life of worship. I still have worries, but then I remember that Jesus said, ‘Come to Me, all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ I can do anything then!” Be my rock of refuge, in which I can always go. Psalm 71:3a

Pray:

• Praise God that the Christian population is growing. • Many Christian women are abducted, forced into marriage and converted to Islam. Pray for this to stop and these women to be returned to their Christian families. • For protection and justice for the Pakistani Christian community.

Pray:

• Praise God that the Christian population is growing. • Many Christian women are abducted, forced into marriage and converted to Islam. Pray for this to stop and these women to be returned to their Christian families. • For protection and justice for the Pakistani Christian community.

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

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