How Your Advocacy Efforts Made a Difference in 2014
by Kristin Wright, Director of Advocacy at Open Doors USA
As 2014 draws to a close we want to take a moment to reflect on a few of the advocacy initiatives of the past year. Here at Open Doors, we are honored to partner with you in speaking out for our brothers and sisters who suffer for their faith throughout the world – and today I want to thank you for being a voice for those who are persecuted. Your efforts are making a difference! Here are just a few of the ways in which your voice has been heard over this past year.
Meriam Ibrahim – The ordeal of Christian Sudanese mother Meriam Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death for apostasy, captured international attention thanks to the advocacy efforts of Open Doors supporters as well as many other individuals and organizations. Throughout Meriam’s imprisonment, Open Doors supporters contacted their representatives in Congress to urge passage of legislation condemning Meriam’s death sentence. We joined with several like-minded organizations to arrange a series of advocacy meetings and awareness events in Washington DC to speak out on Meriam’s behalf. Today, Meriam is free, and now resides in the United States with her husband and children. Her powerful story is a testimony to the impact of prayer and advocacy.
Syrian and Iraqi Refugees – This year the onslaught of ISIS worsened a refugee crisis of vast proportions as Iraqi Christians, among other religious minorities, were forced to flee their homes. At the same time, the crisis for refugees displaced by the conflict in Syria reached an overwhelming magnitude. In September, Advocacy Director Kristin Wright traveled to Lebanon to meet with Syrian refugee families in order to document their stories and the work of Open Doors in this region. Kristin was able to share about her experiences in a series of interviews with Religion News Service and FOX News, among other media outlets.
Congressional Briefing – In October, Open Doors co-hosted a Congressional briefing in coordination with the International Religious Freedom Congressional Caucus. Advocacy Director Kristin Wright spoke in a panel discussion titled, “The Ongoing Threat to Vulnerable Communities in Iraq and Syria – Challenges & Solutions,” where she shared about her experiences meeting with Syrian refugees. The event drew 90 Congressional staffers, illustrating an increasing interest in Congress on religious freedom issues.
USCIRF Reauthorization – HR 5816, the bill to extend authorization of USCIRF through Sept. 2015 has passed the Senate without amendment and has been cleared for the president to sign. USCIRF reauthorization has been a major focus for our advocacy efforts this year on Capitol Hill, and we are grateful that this governmental commission will be able to continue its crucial work for another year.
Thank you for your continued advocacy on behalf of our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world. Your efforts are making a difference!