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5 years ago
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5 years ago

Oman Man

There are a few countries on the World Watch List that we can’t share stories from. Even if we were to use different names, the Christian population is so small, that the story could easily be traced back to the individual. For their security, we are providing a different way to pray for the country this week.

Here are the top 10 things to know about what life is like for Christians in Oman:

  1. The law prohibits religious discrimination but all religious organizations must register.
  2. All public school curriculums (grades K-12) include instruction in Islam.
  3. Almost the entire Christian population (around 35,000) is made up of expatriates; indigenous Christians number only a few hundred.
  4. Foreign Christians are often tolerated and allowed to worship in private homes or work compounds.
  5. The government records religious affiliation on national identity cards for citizens and on residency cards for non-citizens.
  6. Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) risk persecution from family and society, but the government may intervene on request from the family. In such cases, these believers are often treated as psychiatric patients.
  7. MBBs can lose their family, house, and job and can even be killed.
  8. There are some government limitations on proselytizing and printing religious material. Non-Muslim groups are prohibited from publishing religious material, although non-Muslim religious material printed abroad may be imported after government inspection and approval.
  9. The Protestant Church in Oman (PCO) is the fruit of the active presence of RCA, a branch of the Reformed Church of America (RCA), which started its work in Oman in 1893.
  10. Currently PCO, under the combined leadership of the Reformed Church of America and the Anglican Church, ministers to over 1000 believers from 60 countries.
5 years ago

Dear Donna,

An angry mother stood at the doorway of her house, cursing and shouting accusations against her only son. She had just reported Mustafa* as an infidel to Egypt's state security police. She simply could not accept his choice to believe in Christ and turn his back on Islam, the religion of their family and the overwhelming majority of their neighbors.

The police had just raided the house and were brutally dragging out Mustafa into the parked police detention truck. Her son's wife and his 3-year-old child, Amr*, watched in horror.

Three months later, Mustafa was released from prison and went back to his wife and son in the north of Egypt. He was traumatized by what he had gone through during the first few days of interrogations. Even so, Mustafa came out of jail with a more resilient determination to follow Jesus and raise his family as Christians.

But no one thought about how this had affected little Amr, who as young as he was, deeply feared he might never see his father again.

For his parents, it was now very clear that they would have to live as "secret believers" on a wise, low-key level, since it is illegal for Muslim-born Egyptians to become Christians. Through a local network of ministries coming alongside such new believers, Open Doors helped provide a discipleship and support framework for them. Mustafa was funded to take Bible school training, and then he started discipling others who had believed in Jesus.

That included bringing up his young son in the faith, teaching him to love and walk with Jesus. But when Amr went to school, his mother and father had to advise him carefully, helping him understand the "different" things about his family that he should keep secret as best as he could.

*Identities hidden for security purposes

Learn More and Pray
5 years ago

Dear Donna,

There are a few countries on the World Watch List that we can’t share stories from. Even if we were to use different names, the Christian population is so small, that the story could easily be traced back to the individual. For their security, we are providing a different way to pray for the country this week.
Here are the top 10 things to know about what life is like for Christians in the United Arab Emirates (UAE):

  1. Around 80 percent of the population here are expats
  2. The constitution provides for some religious liberty, but the law denies Muslims the freedom to change religion.
  3. Muslim Background Believers may be pressured to return to Islam, hide their faith or leave the country.
  4. Non-Muslim groups can worship freely in dedicated buildings or private homes, but the government restricts the development of worship facilities for foreign Christians.
  5. Open evangelism is prohibited, but Christians in the country have many opportunities for MuslimChristian dialogue.
  6. Though there are some expat Christians, there are very few indigenous believers.
  7. The constitution and laws are fairly new, as the UAE gained its independence in 1971.
  8. The UAE is often seen as one of the most Westernized and liberal countries in the Middle East, but there are still a great number of restrictions for religious minorities.
  9. Since 2006, the standard weekend has been Friday and Saturday. This was established as a compromise between the Muslim holy day (Friday) and the Western weekend (Saturday and Sunday)
  10. Emirati typically wear a kandura, which is an ankle-length white tunic. Many Emirati women wear an abaya, which is a black over-garment, covering most parts of their body

Learn More and Pray

This post was modified from its original form on 08 Jul, 10:16
5 years ago

Rank: 27
Score: 53/100
Leader: Sultan Hassanal Bolkiahi
Government: Constitutional Sultanate
Main Religion: Islam
Population: 413,000 (41,300 Christians)


Dear Donna,

Brunei Darussalam, what means “Brunei, house of peace”, is a very small country on the Island of Borneo, bordering the much larger Malaysia. It is a young country as well, as it became fully independent from British rule in 1984, though its constitution was agreed on in 1959. Due to large oil and gas findings dating back as far as 1924, it is among the wealthiest nations on earth. In terms of GDP per capita, it ranks fifth worldwide and reportedly is one of only two nations without public debts.

Though Brunei is an ethnically mixed society with a large Chinese minority, approximately 2/3 of the population is Malay. The legislative council meets once a year in a strict advisory capacity, what means that politics are done largely by the Sultan and by the addresses he gives. As head of religion, the Sultan is called to protect the official religion of the country, Islam. All adherents of other religions may practice their faiths in peace and harmony, according to the constitution, but the country discourages practicing other faiths, and promotes Islam in all spheres of life. The recent announcements of the Sultan point to a stricter conservatism, as he introduced obligatory Islamic religious studies for all schools.

Learn More and Pray

Next Week: #28 - Bhutan

This post was modified from its original form on 15 Jul, 10:32
5 years ago

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Week 28


#28 - Bhutan

Rated as - Moderate in Persecution


Rank: 28
Score: 52/100
Leader: King Jigme Wangchuck
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Main Religion: Mahayana Buddhism
Population: 750,000 (20,000 Christians)


Dear Donna,

Karen*is a Christian teenager in Bhutan and has asked us to pray for her parents who are non-Christians. “My mom and dad are still orthodox Hindus,” she said. “Please continue praying for them.”

After finishing high school, Karen took a job at a beverage factory and moved out of her home town. She is staying at a cousin’s place at one of the border areas in southern Bhutan, where Hindu communities thrive. In her new surroundings, Karen’s newfound hope is tested.

“My uncle’s eldest son beat me when he discovered I was a Christian,” Karen says. “Please pray for him too; pray that he discovers the Lord Jesus Christ.” But Karen does not give up her faith. She continues attending the house church in her new village.

Karen’s steadiness in the faith has been evident also at work, and she was promoted as a result. “From the packaging section, I am now assigned to work at the counters. May God continue to grant me favor.” 

Please continue to pray for Karen as she grows in her faith, despite the persecution that she faces.

*Karen’s real name and other details about her are withheld for her security. She is the only Christian in her family.

Learn More and Pray

This post was modified from its original form on 22 Jul, 9:33
5 years ago

29 - Algeria

Rated as - Moderate in Persecution


Rank: 29
Score: 51/100
Leader: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Government: Republic
Main Religion: Islam
Population: 36.5 million (25,000 Christians)


Dear Donna,

Persecution in Algeria takes many forms: verbal and physical abuse, denigration and slander in the media from Islamist parties, forced divorce, and most recently, the loss of family inheritance under a law inspired by the Islamic Sharia. This is the case for Algerian believer named Mecheri Benslama.

Mecheri Benslama is a 55 year old Christian from Laghouat, a town in the north of Algeria. He risks losing the share of his inheritance because of his faith. In January, his Muslim brother brought a court case against him, using the Algerian family law. His brother aimed to deprive Mecheri from all family heritages. The law he used to do that is a law that was adopted in 1984. Article 138 of this law stipulates that an apostate (someone who leaves Islam) cannot inherit from a Muslim. On top of this case, his brother filed another complaint accusing Mecheri of offending the prophet of Islam and the Quran and wanting to convert members of the family, taking advantage of the absence of the Muslim brother filing the complaint.

Mecheri is part of a church that has around hundred members. His pastor Mahmoud is spiritually supporting Mecheri in this difficult time. Mahmoud tells us this isn’t the first time  Mecheri received accusations: &ldquoreviously he was summoned by the police on complaints of apostasy: they asked him to confess Mohammed and Allah, but he refused, telling them that he was a Christian." For Mahmoud, this case is yet another injustice committed against Christians in Algeria: "It is an injustice to disinherit someone because he does not share the same religious beliefs. The situation is due to lead to a family tragedy "says the pastor.

Learn More and Pray

This post was modified from its original form on 30 Jul, 5:27

This post was modified from its original form on 30 Jul, 5:27
5 years ago

#30 - Tunisia

Rated as - Moderate in Persecution


Rank: 30
Score: 50/100
Leader: Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali
Government: Republic
Main Religion: Islam
Population: 10.7 million (24,000 Christians)


Dear Donna,

Things have changed in Tunisia after the Arab Spring first erupted in this North-African country. Dictator Ben Ali is gone and the elections were held with a landslide win for the Islamists. Christians see a greater spiritual openness than ever before in the country, and see discipleship as the principal need at this moment.

The Tunisian Church has already been changing for the last fifteen years. Till the end of last century, there were only house groups of Christians active in this North-African country. Now churches choose to be visible. Last year the church especially grew outside the capital Tunis.

“Coming more to the surface seems to have strengthened the Christians,” explains an Open Doors field worker. Self-awareness grew and the level of fear went down. Now you can see during the Saturday services interested people coming in from the street, attracted by curiosity of what is going on in the churches. We see Church engaging with society. Groups of Christians meet in several smaller cities in Tunisia.” Tunisian Christians see a strong response to the gospel. “I heard of people accepting Christ while escaping teargas,” the field worker. says.

We also spoke with Raatib*, a Christian that doesn’t hide his faith. Raatib is discipling two groups of young Christians in two different cities. He travels a great distance to these places to be able to give the training to the new believers. He is using Open Doors training material. “The church needs discipleship in any way or form, it is by far the most prevalent need for the church,” he says with conviction.

Learn More and Pray

This post was modified from its original form on 05 Aug, 11:49
5 years ago

#31 - India

Rated as - Moderate in Persecution Rank: 31
Score: 50/100
Leader: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Government: Federal Republic
Main Religion: Hinduism
Population: 1.2 billion (71 million Christians)
Christian Persecution in India
*Representative photo used to protect identity.

On March 12 in a southeast India village, the local newspaper published allegations that the Divya Jyoti Church had been built on government land.

The next day, a crowd equipped with a backhoe demolished the small church building, encountering no resistance from the leaders of Guriya Village, in Chhattisgarh state.

Pastor Budhram Baghel said the church building had stood on land belonging to him.

"A temporary shed had been constructed in 2006 on this land, after gaining permission from the authorities and the shed was later replaced by a permanent building," said Rev. Rakesh Dass, a friend of Bahel's.

Three residents of Gadia village, filed a complaint that the building encroached on government land. Their allegations were published in the local newspaper, Dass said.

The crowd arrived the next day, led by Kailash Rathi and Yogendra Kaushik, officers of the local Visva Hindu Parisad, or VHP, a Hindu nationalist organization.

Budhram tried to summon help, but it did not arrive quickly enough to prevent the demolition.

Those who protested were assaulted by members of the crowd, Christian witnesses said. They said several local officials, including the revenue officer, land officer, village head, police chief and a group of police officers, watched the demolition without objection.

5 years ago

There are a few countries on the World Watch List that we can’t share stories from. Even if we were to use different names, the information could be traced back to the Christians mentioned in the stories. For their security, we are providing a different way to pray for this country this week.

Here are the top 10 things to know about what life is like for Christians in Kuwait:

  1. Although Islam is the state religion and the constitution requires the state to safeguard ‘the heritage of Islam,’ it also calls for ‘absolute freedom’ of belief.
  2. Religious tolerance in Kuwait is significantly higher than in most of the region.
  3. In practice, religious minorities experience some discrimination as a result of governmental policies.
  4. Non-Muslims - and those who are not Sunni Muslims - find it difficult or impossible to obtain legal permission to establish new places of worship.
  5. Evangelization of Muslims is prohibited.
  6. The Christian population consists mostly of migrant workers from outside the country. There are only a few hundred indigenous Kuwaiti believers. Most of them are descendants of foreigners who have moved to Kuwait before the establishment of the state.
  7. Christians from other countries are free to gather informally for worship. Four denominations are registered and have compounds where they can gather, but these places are too small for the number of people who meet there.
  8. Converts often face persecution from their families.
  9. Converts also risk harassment, police monitoring of their activities, arbitrary arrest and detention, physical and verbal abuse, legal discrimination and property challenges in court.
  10. In May 2012, the Parliament of Kuwait voted for an amendment to the country’s blasphemy legislation to make insulting Allah and the Prophet Mohammed by Muslims punishable by death. Since then, the Emir has dissolved parliament, and vetoed the amendment, but his veto might be overruled in a later parliamentary vote.
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