Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
Syria: Open Doors Joins Groups Urging U.N. Action on Bloody Civil War
Open Doors has joined 38 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in a campaign demanding diplomatic action to protect civilians amid Syria’s civil war. The campaign, called With Syria, intends to redouble pressure on United Nations members to live up to promises they made in February. At that time, the U.N. Security Council unanimously endorsed a resolution condemning both sides in the conflict of “besieging civilians as a tactic of war” and demanding that the Syrian government permit humanitarian access to civilians. “Six months later, the country is more chaotic than ever, with more than 1,500 armed groups in operation across the country, and fighting spreading into northern Iraq,” the WithSyria campaign said in a recent press release. The campaign has created an online petition, addressed to world leaders to “use your power to hold the U.N. Security Council to its word.” Kristin Wright, Director of Advocacy for Open Doors USA, states: “Make your voice heard. Ask world leaders to act now to end the violence against Syrian civilians, including many innocent children. In Syria, daily bombings target schools, hospitals and other residential areas. Take a moment to sign the petition and share it with your friends.” Syria ranks No. 3, behind North Korea and Somalia, on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List, which is a ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most severe persecution.
Syria: 450,000 Christians Have Fled Due to Violence
About 25 percent of Syrian Christians have left their country, according to research by Open Doors. This comprises an estimated 450,000 Christians who have fled Syria, many to surrounding countries such as Lebanon and Jordan. Open Doors based the percentage on figures it received from many church leaders in Syria who were asked to give an indication regarding the number of church members who have fled. By the end of August, the number of refugees that had fled from Syria to surrounding countries was over 3 million with more than half of all these refugees under 18 years old. In pre-war Syria, the percentage of Christians in Syria was 8 percent of the overall population of 22 million, or about 1.8 million Christians. The civil war started three and a half years ago. Open Doors continues to support Christians in Syria and the refugees in Lebanon. Working with local churches, Open Doors supports more than 9,000 families with food and other supplies. Open Doors also offers leadership and trauma awareness training to church leaders and youth leaders, and trains church leaders involved in the huge relief operation to the IDPs. To help refugees in the Middle East, go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
Uzbekistan: Security Police Question Pastor over Church Activities
For almost every week during last month, Pastor Ravshan* has been forced to visit the office of the National Security Service Department. He is being required to provide information about key people of his church located in a city in Uzbekistan. Pastor Ravshan has been questioned by security police about the work and activities of his church and possible links with sponsors from abroad. He believes the police are blackmailing him, saying that banned literature as well as Christian CD and DVD discs, have been found at homes of church members. Please pray for Pastor Ravshan and his family as they face intense stress. Uzbekistan is ranked No. 15 on the World Watch List.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575.*Name changed for the safety of the persecuted