Persecution Around the World: Stories from Mexico, Kazakhstan and Syria
Mexico: Open Doors, Supporters Celebrate Release of Christian Prisoner
In 2014, Open Doors celebrated the release of Lorenzo Ruiz Vasqueq in Mexico, who walked out of prison after 17 years. He, along with other Christians, was unjustly imprisoned after the massacre of 45 Tzotzil indigenous people in the village of Acteal located in the area of Chiapas. He did not forsake God despite the false charges which almost destroyed his life. His wife Loida was in tears when she thanked the Open Doors supporters all around the world: “My special thanks go to the local Open Doors worker who drove me to prison every two weeks for six months.” Since then, all the Christian prisoners have been released with the help of Open Doors.
Kazakhstan: Pastor Spreads the Gospel while in Prison
Pastor Bahytzhan Karimovich Kashkumbaev, 67, from Kazakhstan, spent nine months in a prison cell, an experience he describes as, “attending a spiritual university. God taught me how to love my enemy,” he said. “I discovered that I never actually loved my enemies before, but being in jail – surrounded by ‘enemies’, I realized what it means to love your enemy. When I started sharing the gospel, I noticed the thirst of my fellow inmates and their desire to listen to stories about God. The prison guards helped me in my efforts. For some reason, they moved me from one cell to another, which left a trail of the gospel in this prison facility. I learned why God sent me to this prison: to show Christ to the prisoners. They were not convinced to surrender to Him by my words. They needed to see the Lord in action.”
Syria: Beautiful Baby Arwa Tragic Victim of Civil War
The civil war in Syria continued to take a terrible toll in 2014 with thousands dead and displaced. But the gruesome statistics didn’t necessarily pierce our souls. The “small” stories did. Open Doors received an e-mail from a Syrian father who wrote about his daughter who never officially existed. “If you had met my beautiful Arwa, you would have certainly loved her. I do not have a picture of her, and she was not registered. “Alexa” (the name of the storm that ravaged Lebanon and the refugee camps) loved her more than we did and took her. She was four months old. We tried to save her. I begged for a cover to protect her from the heavy showers and a small blanket to prevent the cold from seeping into her body. No one cared. On the third day, I rushed her to the nearest hospital. After examining her, they told me her lungs had collapsed because of the cold. Half an hour later, she stopped breathing.” Despite Open Doors’ best efforts to help thousands of Syrian refugees, its workers were unable to save baby girl Arwa. Pray for her parents who mourn her loss.