SANTA ANA, CA – Open Doors urges Christians to remember our brothers and sisters in pain from torturing and imprisonment for their faith in Jesus Christ during the time of Christmas season as the ministry the end of year 2003. The ministry also reflects upon the triumph they gained from mission around the world.
Open Doors reports that in 2003 there was an increase in persecution of Christians in such countries as North Korea, Indonesia and India, to name just a few. The estimated 400,000 Christians in North Korea faced daily persecution, including torture in prison camps. That is one of the reasons North Korea topped Open Doors’ 2003 World Watch List of countries where persecution is most severe. In Indonesia, many Christians were killed and churches burned. Pastors and Christian leaders were imprisoned, including Rev. Rinaldy Damanik who remained in prison on false charges. In India, more states adopted anti-conversion laws in attempts to stop the spread of Christianity.
But hostility against Christians is hardly a surprise as there is more persecution of Christians now than at any time in history – an estimated 200 million Christians are being persecuted and another 200 to 400 million are facing discrimination and alienation.
Among the Christian martyrs in 2003 was Kurdish taxi driver Ziwar Mohamad Ismaeel, a Muslim convert to Christianity who was assassinated for sharing his faith with members of his community. Right before his death, Ismaeel said: “Jesus is on my side. I have nothing to fear. Even when they kill me, I will never deny Christ.”
There was also good news heard in the support of our brothers and sisters and in the provision of our Lord.
Colonel David de Vinatea, who was unjustly convicted of a drug trafficking charge, was released from a Peruvian prison after serving eight years in a prison. Upon his release, he said: “…it was in prison, mostly in maximum security for 11 months, that I found the true Lord and Master of my life, the Lord Jesus Christ. I gave myself to the Lord in a new way with all of my heart.”
Open Doors was also actively engaged in distributing the Bibles to many countries such as China where house church is, thirsty for the Word. There are about 60-80 million Christians in China but only an estimated 40 percent of them have a Bible. This year marked the distribution of one millionth Bible to children.
Open Doors trained thousands of pastors through its “Standing Strong Through the Storm” seminars. One seminar participant in India said: “This seminar has been such a blessing. I learned how to respond to persecution biblically and how to fight the battle not in my own strength but by the weapons God has already given me.”
“As we look back over the past year, we rejoice at all the Lord has done through Open Doors and its ministry to the Persecuted Church around the world,” says Open Doors USA President Dr. Carl Moeller. “But there is more work that needs to be done. We need to partner together even more in 2004 to support and encourage our brothers and sisters in faith.”
Here is the list of Open Doors’ prayer request for persecuted countries around the world:
· Sudan – For an impending peace deal to be completed which could end fighting that has killed two million people since 1983, many of them Christians living in the south.
· Peru – Thanks for the release of David de Vinatea from a Peruvian prison.
· Indonesia – For the release of Rinaldy Damanik who is being held in prison and an end to the genocide of Christians, especially in Central Sulawesi.
· China – Thanks that the Lord has allowed Open Doors to distribute its one millionth children’s Bible in China and train thousands of pastors in house churches.
· North Korea – For Christians to stand strong while under intense pressure to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ, including an estimated 100,000 Christians in concentration camps.