As you read your Bible – both Old and New Testaments – you will be very much aware of how many people have been persecuted, tortured and abused, for their religious beliefs.
Jesus, of course, made the ultimate sacrifice when he died on the cross at Calvary to save our sins.
From an early age, Jesus knew that one day he would be called upon to give up His life – for all mankind.
But it didn’t stop there.
Even after Jesus was crucified, His Apostles and Disciples, following Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon them and they began to speak in many tongues, faced great persecution as they travelled through many countries spreading the powerful teachings and messages which Jesus had shared with them before His death.
And today, in the 21st Century, many Christians throughout the world are facing great persecution, albeit, perhaps, in a slightly different format to when the Apostles and Disciples were preaching Jesus’ Gospel.
On July 15th 1955, a young man called Andrew stepped off the train in Warsaw’s Central Station, carrying a suitcase containing a change of clothes and hundreds of booklets entitled ‘The Way of Salvation’.
That trip changed Andrew’s life. There, behind the Iron Curtain, he first met Christians who were persecuted for their faith.
Ever since that day he has dedicated himself to the task of supporting and strengthening persecuted Christians, first in the Communist countries of Europe, and then further afield.
This was the beginning of Open Doors.
Since 1955 Open Doors has developed as an international ministry serving persecuted Christians and churches throughout the world.
Open Doors supplies Bibles, leadership training, literacy programmes, livelihood support and advocacy services.
As Syria’s civil war grinds on after four long years, the news in the media appears relentlessly negative. But there is also something much more positive happening: Muslims are finding Jesus.
An Open Doors contact send in this report after visiting a church in Lebanon.
“Early in the morning, buses stop in front of the building. Groups of Syrian refugees jump out and walk into the church. The pastor had to start a second service on Sunday mornings to have enough place for refugees and his own church members.
“One hardly can believe what happens. Veiled women singing praises to God. Later, their children singing with all their heart two moving songs, filling the building with joy and painting many smiles on their parents’ faces.
“In Lebanon, a miracle has happened. Where many Lebanese Christians hated the Syrians because of the things Syrians did during the occupation of Lebanon less than a decade ago, they now embrace them. The love of Christ makes them love the 1.5 million refugees that now are everywhere in the small country.
“But not only in Lebanon the churches see many (ex) Muslims enter the church buildings. Also in Syria this is what pastors and priests report. Recently a young Christian woman from Syria even said: ‘Thank God that we have gone through this crisis, we as a church became stronger because of it’.
“Could we ever dream of Sunni Muslims coming to our church?” a Lebanese pastor asks. “Of course not, we prayed for a long time for this to happen. Now is the time. The Church of the future will have an Islamic flavour. This is an amazing time that we are living.”
Let us give thanks that God/the Holy Spirit is building His church in Syria!
And let us pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to help the church to shine brightly in the midst of all the darkness.
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Open Doors needs all your love and support in helping them to make the lives of as many persecuted Christians as possible more durable.
With many peaceful blessings