Deaf School Expected to Survive Legal Challenge

2014 World Watch List
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We strive to raise awareness of global persecution, mobilising prayer, support and action among the Christians around the world. Every year, we publish our World Watch List which ranks countries by the severity of persecution. Learn more about World Watch List and how Open Doors ranks countries of persecution.

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Christian Persecution
About Christian Persecution
About Christian Persecution
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Theology of Persecution
Where Persecution is Worst
About Christian Persecution
"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." Article 18, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Christian Persecution

WHAT IS CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION?

Christian Persecution is any hostility, experienced from the world, as a result of one's identification with Christ. From verbal harassment to hostile feelings, attitudes and actions, believers in areas with severe religious restrictions pay a heavy price for their faith. Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and in employment, and even death are just few examples they experience on the daily basis.

According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world's population live in areas with severe religious restrictions. Many of these people are Christians. Also, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in the person of Jesus Christ.

WHERE IT OCCURS?

Map of countries, where Christian Persecution is the worst.

In the United States, it's easy for believers to take for granted the rights they so regularly enjoy. From praying and worshiping in public to attending Sunday worship services, practice of one's faith is generally accepted in America.

But this isn't the case in many nations such as North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Mali, Syria, etc. in which religion, itself, is banned or where one faith system is permitted and touted, with all others being continually denigrated. The persecution is so severe in many localities, Christians are systematically targeted and mistreated because of their religious beliefs. According to The Pew Research Center, The Economist, Christians today are the most persecuted religious group in the world.

WHERE CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION IS WORST

Every year, we release our annual "World Watch List," a ranking of 50 countries that exposes the places Christians are most persecuted across the globe. World Watch List includes individuals in all Christian denominations within an entire nation.

INDEX OF CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION IN THE MOST UNFRIENDLY COUNTRIES

Index of Christian Persecution in the most unfriendly countries.

According to this graph, the statistic shows the index of the persecution of Christians in the top unfriendly countries around the world 2013. North Korea is the country with the strongest suppression of Christians with an index value of 87.The survey for the World Watch List included various aspects of religious freedom: the legal and official status of Christians, the actual situation of Christians living in the country, regulations from the state as well as factors that can undermine the freedom of religion in a country.

WHY IT OCCURS?

The cross (still standing) after the church in Cirebeum (Indonesia) was bulldozed by authorities.

AUTHORITARIAN GOVERNMENTS SEEK TO CONTROL ALL RELIGIOUS THOUGHT AND EXPRESSION

There are variety of reasons why Christians are persecuted. One of the reason it occurs, is when severe abuse of Christians takes place under the authoritarian government. In the case of North Korea and other Communist countries, authoritarian governments seek to control all religious thought and expression as part of a more comprehensive determination to control all aspects of political and civic life. These governments regard some religious groups as enemies of the state because they hold religious beliefs that may challenge loyalty to the rulers.

HOSTILITY TOWARDS NONTRADITIONAL AND MINORITY RELIGIOUS GROUPS

Another reason why Christians are persecuted is hostility towards nontraditional and minority religious groups. For example, in Niger more than 98 percent of the population are Muslims and hostility comes more from society than from the government. Historically, Islam in West Africa has been moderate, but in the last 20 years dozens of Islamic associations have emerged, like the Izala movement which aims to restrict the freedom of 'deviant Muslims' and minority religious groups like Christians.

THE LACK OF BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS

The lack of basic human rights is another significant part of persecution in some countries. For instance, in Eritrea violations such as lack of freedom of expression, assembly, religious belief and movement; extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, extended incommunicado detention, torture and indefinite national service cause many Eritreans to flee the country.

Freedom of religion, like all freedoms of thought and expression, are inherent. Our beliefs help define who we are and serve as a foundation for what we contribute to our societies. However, today many people liver under governments that abuse or restrict freedom of religion. Christians in such areas suffer deeply, and are denied basic freedoms that humans should be entitled to.

In 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration came as a result of the treatment of the Jews in Nazi Germany. The document states that every person is entitled to basic human rights. This reaffirmed the dignity and worth of all human beings no matter what a person's race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.

In 1966, the United Nations developed the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights in addtion to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights focuses on four elements of religious freedom:

Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions

The Bible calls us to be advocates of human rights. Psalm 82:3 says "Stand up for those who are weak and for those whose fathers have died. See to it that those who are poor and those who are beaten down are treated fairly." As Christians we need to see that all people are entitled to basic human rights.

WHY WE SERVE PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS?

As Christians in the free world, we are to take stand for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a simple matter of compassion and justice to speak up for the suffering (Zechariah 7:9, Luke 11:42, Matthew 25:35-36). In following Christ's example, we are to show mercy to those who are suffering, especially those in the household of faith (I Corinthians 12:26-27).

Pray Alongside the Women of Laos
Posted on January 24, 2014 by Janelle in Countries, Stories
Laos*Representative photo used to protect identity.

Although marginalized and looked down upon in some countries, women often have a surprisingly important voice within their families. They're the ones instilling values into their children, and husbands often take their wives opinions into consideration. When a wife and mother places her faith in Jesus, it can be a catalyst for the entire family. Getting the gospel to women is such an important task around the world. In spite of gender discrimination in countries like Laos, God is truly working mightily in this area. Let's take a closer look:

Women in Laos have always been considered inferior to men. Most of them work without rest, on top of fulfilling domestic demands, only to constantly prove their worth. In fact, as Buddhists, they believe the only way for a woman to enter ultimate enlightenment is for her to be reborn as a man.

For Christian women living away from big cities, life is much harder. Because the government champions Buddhism, these women practice their faith in the shadows. Once their faith is exposed, however, they are stripped of their properties, disowned by their parents, and even beaten by their husbands.

These are the stories of real women, whose names have been changed for their protection.

Onaona loves her husband, Kahoku. She desires for him to know Jesus, but he laughs at the idea of accepting Him in his life. Whenever Onaona tries to share the gospel with him, they just end up fighting. Kahoku despises Onaona's faith so much, that he reports her to the police whenever a pastor visits their home. Pray that God strengthens Onaona and opens Kahoku's heart to believe in the Lord Jesus.

Kina, Laina, and Iwalani try to keep their families together. They invite their husbands to church, and succeed at some point, but their husbands go back to their old ways. They have become stricter, prohibiting them from attending church activities without permission. Worse, they torture Kina, Laina, and Iwalani who have declared their faith in Christ. Pray for God's comfort for Kina, Laina, and Iwalani. Pray that their testimonies will reveal God to their families, especially to their husbands.

Dea wants to attend church services, but her husband Mong, who's addicted to alcohol and drugs, pushes her to work on Sundays. Dea cuts grass and harvests from the fields while Mong gets further intoxicated. Ask the Lord to give her strength to fulfil her duties as a homemaker while learning more about God. Pray that Mong would encounter Jesus and be freed from the bondage of his addictions.

One of the reasons why Kena can't bring her family to church is poverty. Her husband and children keep on convincing her that church is a waste of resources, and that they are hungry enough as it is. Kena's salary as a school principal has been delayed for four months. Pray for provision for Kena and her family.

Jeanitha is new to the Christian faith. She finds it difficult to fully let go of the rituals she has grown up with. Sometimes, she still invokes spirits and seeks advice from fortune tellers. When she loses objects, or when animals in her care are missing, she consults shamans, or witchdoctors. Some of her fellow Christians offer meals to spirits when their loved ones die. Lift Jeanitha and those who share her struggles to the Lord. Pray for God to give them courage and boldness to trust in Him alone, that they may be redeemed from their old ways and be renewed in Christ day by day.


Let Your Light Shine, Egypt!

Egypt

On fire. Bold. Young. These are words that describe the current church in Egypt. They are in love with Jesus, and desire to make His name known. With its strategic geographical location in the Middle East, Egyptian believers have the potential to be world changers in this unstable time. An Egyptian Christian and father shares about his experience in his local church, and how they specifically are changing Egypt with the gospel:

On December 31st, my family and I walked down a busy street in our over-populated neighborhood to church. The atmosphere was festive as many clearly identified Christians made their own ways cheerfully to their churches. Everybody seemed happy and hopeful for a better year that was about to start shortly.

Of all the church services of the year, this New Year's Eve service is usually the year's most attended service by Egypt's large Christian community. Unusual security procedures had been taken by the police and army forces, however, to protect the gatherings of Christians during and after the New Year's Eve services. This was prompted after rumors that radical Muslims were planning to attack churches and Christians that night, in revenge for supporting the army leadership in the ousting of former president Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood regime.

Yet, the joy of the Lord and the cheerful atmosphere of the night did not manage to completely eliminate my human weakness and inner hidden concerns as a father and a husband. I wondered in my heart: "Is it really safe to take my family to church tonight? What if a bomb goes off outside our church? What if a crazy terrorist sneaks into our church?"

The theme of the service that night was taken from Mathew 5:13-16. This passage was announced to be the motto for our church in 2014: "You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…Let your light shine!"

Half an hour before midnight, Pastor Gamil* gave his last sermon of the year. Pastor Gamil explained how needed our live testimony is nowadays to reach out to our neighbors and colleagues who are increasingly wondering, "Who is the real God?" He also gave some simple applications on how everyone can live as salt and light in everyday life situations on an individual basis, and also as a congregation.

Pastor then surprised all of us with an initiative. He said: "Last week, I visited our local police station to request a special permission for our church to go out to the main road, set up a small stage and perform a Christmas service."

"We will sing Christmas songs, including some Bible readings about the truth of Jesus, to proclaim the truth of God's love openly in our neighborhood," he added. My heart rejoiced with the fact that my local church is going to creatively reach out to our troubled community with the love of God, and that we will openly reveal our identity as a church that cares for the lost.

I was then awakened from my deep thoughts by the pastor's voice explaining a special symbolic activity that was to wrap up the special service. Small candles were handed out to everyone. The church's lights were turned off, and the elders slowly lit the first candles, as we all shared our light with the remaining unlit candles.

"Shine on me and my family, Jesus," I prayed. It was a wonderful spirit of unity and love that gathered all of us together, seeking God's face to lead us into the New Year, giving us the perseverance to live as faithful witnesses, even if we have to continue to suffer to keep our faith.

*Name changed to protect his identity.

God, we thank You for the boldness You have gifted this church with. We pray that they focus on You and Your purposes during this new year, and not what their flesh cries out to tell them. We know, Jesus, that whenever anyone steps out boldly for you, the Enemy attacks them even greater. We ask for You to protect and guide this church as they engage their community. We praise you for the work that has already been done here, but we know there are greater things to be done in Egypt. We pray all this in Jesus' holy name, Amen.


Alimjan Yimiti Physically Unwell
Posted on January 21, 2014 by Daniel in Stories

012114-china-odusaAlimjan Yimiti, a Uyghur Christian imprisoned in China, is reportedly ill, though his exact medical condition is unknown. The former house church leader was sentenced in 2009 to 15 years in prison for allegedly "instigating separatism and revealing state secrets." Those close to the case maintain that he was imprisoned because of his Christian faith and witness among the Uyghur people. They assert that there was never any proof of wrongdoing, and that Yimiti, an agricultural worker, would not have had access to state secrets.

Minority Christians in the autonomous region of Xinjiang, where the Uyghur people reside, continue to face ongoing persecution in contrast to some easing for Christians in other parts of China. A Turkic tribe divided into many clans, the vast majority of Uyghurs are Muslim, and each clan strives to preserve its Islamic identity. According to a July 29, 2012 Open Doors (OD) report, prepared by the program coordinator for minorities, says that Christians from ethnic minority groups in China are caught between a rock and a hard place. "There is persecution from one's environment," he explained, "especially family members, but the government plays a part, too. What may happen is that minority leaders complain to [the majority] Han officials, and because they do not want any civil unrest, they may act against the convert."

"Christians have to meet in small groups and in secret," shares the OD program coordinator. "The government wants to uncover anything that is being done in secret. For instance, they call on people to let them know when they see people pulling their window shades during the day. These measures target opposition groups, but also house churches. The government wants to prevent any activity that may cause social unrest."

Prison life has held many challenges for Alimjan, though he reportedly generally does well considering the conditions. He is allowed to see only one visitor for 20 minutes per month, as is customary in Chinese prisons. Usually his wife, Gulnur, or his mother visits him. Gulnur and the children have also faced numerous difficulties during Alimjan's time in prison. Family members blamed Gulnur for Alimjan's imprisonment, and she suffered from depression for a time, but fortunately it has lifted. As the family's sole breadwinner now, she runs a small business. Recent problems with a business partner have caused her a lot of additional stress. Please continue to pray for Alimjan and Gulnur.

Father, as Alimjan suffers in prison, innocent of the crimes for which he is accused, we pray Your hand of healing and protection to rest upon him. Grant him opportunities to share the gospel with other inmates and to minister the Word to other believers that this time might not be in vain. Strengthen his wife, Gulnur, as she provides for her family, and grant her wisdom in these current conflicts with a business partner. Wash over them both with Your peace that is greater than all of their troubles. In the name of Jesus, in whom we place all our trust, Amen.


Central African Republic: Conditions at Refugee Camps "Shocking"
Posted on January 21, 2014 by Daniel in Stories
012114-car-odusaChristians gathered for worship on Jan 12, in the refugee camp at CAR's Bangui Airport. An Open Doors (OD) co-worker reported joining them for worship and communion in the midst of appalling conditions. He witnessed firsthand the desperate circumstances that aid agencies, including the UN humanitarian agency, have been reporting from CAR. The UN humanitarian agency reported increasing food and clean water shortages, and fears that tougher times are ahead as many people have lost their livelihoods and don't have seed for the next planting season. "People live like real animals. There is no latrine. People are living in over-crowded conditions," reported the co-worker.

Aid agencies estimate that at least 1 million people, about a fifth of the population, have been displaced by the violence in CAR. OD visited two of the camps scattered around Bangui from Jan 11-12. "There are 57 refugee sites in the city of Bangui. At the airport, there are at least 100,000 people. I went there this morning to worship and pray with the Christians who gathered there after victimization by ex-Seleka forces," wrote the OD co-worker.

He noted that tension permeated the atmosphere in the camps.
"The airport site inspires fear. Among the refugees there are members of anti-Balaka groups and also Muslims who disguise themselves as people of peace and then throw grenades among Christians."

Following the Jan 10 resignation of the interim president and the prime minister, the newly appointed interim president Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet issued a stern statement, saying, "The chaos is over; the pillaging is over, the revenge attacks are over."

Though violence continued over the weekend, by Jan 13, the atmosphere had reportedly calmed down some. The countless refugees across the country welcome the indications of the political will to end the crisis. However, bringing peace to CAR will be no easy task. Open Doors, in partnership with the local church, continues to call on the United Nations Security Council to approve the launch of a full-scale peacekeeping operation in CAR, which appeared this year on the World Watch List for the first time, ranking 16.

Considering the tremendously difficult circumstances Christians are facing, it is praiseworthy that the OD co-worker found them gathered for worship in the two refugee camps he visited. Though encouraged by their faithfulness, this OD worker, unnamed for his security, remains overwhelmed by the immense needs of those he met. "I have met many pastors who have been victimized who are in dire need of assistance. Our discreet assistance to others previously has made a big difference and I hope that we can make the same difference for these pastors I recently met."

Father, as we lift up yet one more nation on the continent of Africa caught up in conflict, we pray for Christians in the Central African Republic as they face this wave of persecution. We pray Your protection over the thousands who are living in horrific conditions at the refugee camps. Provide for their temporal needs and protect them from those who would destroy them. Pour out Your blessing upon them as they worship You even in the midst of fear and trauma. Strengthen the pastors who are in need of assistance that Open Doors workers might find safe ways to help. Soften the hearts of the nation's leaders and accomplish a work of reconciliation among them. In the name of Jesus, who is our strength when we are weak, Amen.


South Sudan in Turmoil
Posted on January 21, 2014 by Daniel in Stories

012114-sudan-odusaLess than three years after South Sudan voted for independence, a power struggle is rocking the world's youngest nation, resulting in extensive fighting since Dec 15. According to Al-Jazeera, the conflict between forces loyal to South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, and a coalition of army defectors and ethnic militia loyal to Riek Machar, has already left at least 1,000 dead and 400,000 displaced. Most of the fighting has been concentrated around the oil-rich border areas. The rebels took the cities of Bentiu and Bor, but the government took back Bentiu earlier this month while continuing a campaign for Bor. Fighting remains fierce throughout the region.

Meanwhile, peace talks in Addis Ababa seem to be stalling, though efforts to arrange a cease-fire agreement by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) regional bloc are continuing. Donald Booth, US special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, reportedly met with Riek Machar over the Jan 11-12 weekend and with Salva Kiir the following Monday.

So far Open Door's Emmanuel Christian College in Goli has not been directly touched by the violence. However, we expect that many of the students from northern affected areas will be unable to make it for the start of the new term. The local team is doing all they can to arrange for the students' safe passage to the center.

Father, we lift up this new nation, the Republic of South Sudan, who as a people set out to make their nation one that brings honor to You. As they now face internal conflict among the political forces, we pray for the negotiation process that soon there will be peace and reconciliation. As we consider these people who not so long ago suffered unthinkable atrocities from their countrymen to the north, we pray Your grace to be a soothing balm to heal the trauma of this new conflict. Protect innocent lives caught in the crossfire. We thank You for the many Christians who serve You there, and pray Your protection over them. Grant wisdom and discernment to church leaders as they guide Your people through this trying time. We pray for the students enrolled in Emmanuel Christian College, that You might provide safe travels for those who are still on the road. As they are trained up, use them, Lord to be ministers of reconciliation among the variety of ethnic groups they represent. In the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, Amen.


Bomb Scare for Congregation in Mali
Posted on January 21, 2014 by Daniel in Stories

012114-mali-odusaDisaster was narrowly averted for a local congregation in Gao, Mali, on Jan 12, when military personnel patrolling the area that Sunday morning discovered explosives behind one of the doors of their meeting place. After police ushered frightened parishioners to safety, French army personnel were able to safely diffuse the devices.

In 2012, Mali seemed to be another state on the verge of succumbing to an Islamic takeover. But in January 2013, the French military intervened and helped to stabilize the situation, at least temporarily. Sadly, for the Christian community, the infrastructure of Christianity in the north has been largely destroyed. Believers who are slowly trickling back to the north are forced to meet in school classrooms because churches have been either looted or destroyed. An Open Doors representative in the area comments, "Building up a Christian presence again will be difficult, and the Christians who fled the north are afraid to return."

Even though most Malian Christians, who make up less than 5% of the population, live in the southern region, they still feel threatened by Islamists in the north and fear a new uprising.

This month's bomb threat has left church members shaken, but thankful for God's protection. Please pray for this small community of believers.

We thank You, Father, for protecting this Christian community that has suffered so greatly in recent years. Continue to protect them not only as they suffer for their faith in Christ, but also as they live in fear of bandits who continue to be a threat in Gao. We pray for Your sustaining grace to these believers as they seek to live lives that honor You, and demonstrate the presence of Christ in them in the midst of these difficulties. Give them opportunities to share the gospel of Christ with their Muslim neighbors. In the name of Jesus, our sustainer and provider, Amen.


World Watch List Challenge- 2 Somalia
Posted on January 20, 2014 by Janelle in Countries, Stories
Somalia

After many years of anarchy, elections last September paved the way for greater stability and growth in Somalia. The decreased violence, coupled with increased successes in the internationally supported fight to drive out al Shabaab Islamist insurgents, greatly improved the atmosphere in Somalia. This did not necessarily bring freedom for the church, but it did bring some welcomed consistency, and created "space" for increased discipleship – albeit still under great secrecy.

However, the atmosphere is changing rapidly.

The newly installed Somali government is increasingly challenged in its efforts to maintain stability. It was expected that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud would stamp out notorious clan politics, corruption and the "stubborn Islamist insurgency" of al Shabaab. But observers say his inexperienced government lacks funds and also the authority to get the job done. Additionally, in the absence of clear instruction from the provisional constitution, the government is battling to find a way to divide power between the center and the regions.

Al Shabaab, in what they called their "Ramadan Offensive", went to great lengths to warn the government of President Mohamud not to underestimate the insurgents' power and influence. The month of fasting saw several attacks in Mogadishu.

The Somali constitution continues to see Islam as the sole religion in the country, and the Quran and the Sunnah as the main source of the law within the country.
Kevin McMahan
• 6 days ago

Heavenly Father, thank You for the Somali people and for Your promise that we will be worshiping alongside them in Heaven. You know the plight of the people there far better than I do; just seems like a never-ending state of conflict that uproots people's lives and that kills and injures. Father, I draw comfort this morning from knowing that no one loves the Somali people more than You do. That somehow, some way, You will glorify Yourself in Somalia, and that You will make good out of the evil that is perpetrated on Your children there. Thank You, Father, for Your promises. May Your Holy Spirit bring those promises to the forefront of the mind of those who are suffering for Your Son. May they hear Your still small voice guiding their next steps. Father, I pray that You turn this country that has vaulted to 2 on the WWL into a shining light and beacon of Your great love and that through Somalia, many are drawn to the Kingdom. I ask these things in the Name above all names, the King above all kings, The Lord above all lords, Your Precious Son, My Savior, and Savior of the world, Jesus. Amen.


Literacy Draws Woman to Christ
Posted on January 17, 2014 by Janelle in Countries, Stories
0310007491

Ever wonder about the real lives and people that are being affected through Open Doors' literacy programs? Here we meet Zohra*, a woman from Bangladesh whose life was forever changed by the opportunity to learn to read, and ultimately, read about the One who created her.

My name is Zohra, and I am 30 years old. I'm married to Mateen, a laborer, and we have a ten year old daughter, Anamika. I was born in a Muslim family in Bangladesh. Our society expects women to stay at home. Though the government strives to educate young girls, family tradition and economic limitations force them to drop out. Eventually, when they reach their teens, they are set up for marriage.

Because my family forced me to stop schooling when I was very young, I thought my dream of becoming a valuable part of society would never be fulfilled. I always knew about the importance of education, and I really wanted to get a diploma. But, true to tradition, my family married me off to Mateen when I was 15. Mateen didn't go to school either.

That was before I met Sharinah, a literacy teacher. Sharinah and I became good friends, and we shared our lives with one another. Some tears and laughter and many stories later, Sharinah sat down with me and shared the most important story of all – the story of Jesus Christ.

I didn't know how to read, so Sharinah would read the Bible to me. She would read about miracles, healings, suffering and joy. She would read about Jesus's love and sacrifice, about how He came into the world to save us from sin and death. I would listen and imagine, and cling to her every word.

Sharinah's stories were wonderful. Because of them, I surrendered my life to Christ. With that decision came the desire to proclaim my faith, and I was baptized not long after. I wanted Mateen to know Christ too, but I couldn't read the Bible to him. I prayed, and God answered. In January 2013, Sharinah started literacy classes near my home.

In class, we would always start and end with a prayer. Sharinah, now my teacher, would show us pictures as she presented Bible stories. We would learn the alphabet, try to pronounce, spell and discover meanings behind unfamiliar words.

I can read the Bible now. God truly answers prayers. I'm still a bit slow, but it is my great joy to finally be able to read all those stories about Jesus to my husband. We can manage our home better, because I've also learned how to add and subtract. Now, we can be more conscious of our family expenses.

Spiritually, I have never been better. I praise God for how He has allowed me to savor His Word. With it, He continually teaches me to be patient and forgiving. Now, I don't easily get upset. Peace has come into my household, because we no longer fight over petty things.

My neighbors have also noticed the change in me and my family. Other women now come to me to seek advice about family matters. I try to be a good example to them and I advise them to be patient, too, just as how the Lord has taught me.

*Names have been changed to protect the believers in this testimony.

Prayer Points:

Pray that Zohra and her family continue to grow in their faith in Jesus.
Praise God for Sharinah's life and ministry. Continue to pray for Christian workers like her; that they will be diligent and encouraged in their vocation, and that more people would know Christ through their example.
Zohra hopes that her husband and neighbors will also benefit from the literacy classes. Please pray that more programs like this will open near her home, and for the Lord to provide for them.


World Watch List Challenge 1 North Korea
Posted on January 13, 2014 by Janelle in Countries, Stories
North Korea

There is no other country in the world where Christians are so fiercely persecuted because of their faith. Like other North Koreans, Christians live under one of the most oppressive regimes in recent history. They have to deal with corrupt officials, horrific policies, natural disasters, diseases, and starvation. On top of all this, they must hide their decision to follow Christ.

The regime is anti-Christian for two main reasons:

All other religions are seen as harmful to North Korea's Juche ideology, which stresses the importance of man's self-reliance. Because the people are forced to worship their leaders, there is simply no room for other gods.
Christianity is the religion of North Korea's enemies. Christians are seen as spies of the "imperialist Americans" and the "treacherous South Koreans." North Koreans are told that Christians use religion to poison their "glorious nation." As a result of this, the church has been completely pushed underground. It consists of 200,000 – 400,000 believers. Of these, between 50,000 – 70,000 are held in Nazi-like concentration camps and prisons.

"Christians have to teach their children the principles of the gospel without using words such as God, Jesus or the Bible," shares Chin Ho, a Christian from North Korea. "They make up stories with Christian values. Once the children are old enough to keep their faith secret, the parents explain to them the full gospel. This usually happens when the children are between ten and fifteen years old."

Despite being the most difficult place to be a Christian, the underground church in North Korea continues to grow- even in the prison camps.

*Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes