Thoughts From Our Founder: 5 Essential Questions About The World Watch List
In 1955, a young man responded to God with obedience to help those being persecuted in the world. 60 years later, our founder Brother Andrew (85) still has that contagious yearning to be right alongside our brothers and sisters experiencing on-going persecution worldwide. Brother Andrew cannot help but be concerned about what is going on in the world. For the Open Doors Magazine, he shares his perspective of the new World Watch List. What does the new World Watch List show you? Persecution is not decreasing, but in 2/3 of the countries on the World Watch List, it is only increasing. In this respect, the World Watch List worries me, even though it is a good means of gaining ideas for prayer. Do you then pray for all the countries that are on the list? I focus on the countries with which I am still closely involved: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Syria has joined these. I find it very worrying that a country like Syria, with a Christian background, is being destroyed like this. We must be present in these countries, as witnesses to Christ, in the same way that we must make the Word of God heard in all the places where we are in the world. In the Netherlands and Belgium, we can certainly do this by making the news of the list heard: these things are happening to our brothers and sisters around the world. Looking back on the year 2013, which event made the greatest impression on you? That I was able to pray with leaders of terrorist movements in the Middle East. They know full well that I do not agree with them, and still I am welcome there. I prayed for various leaders. They allowed this, and I can tell that they are seeking. I recall that I prayed with one and clearly mentioned the name of the Lord Jesus. When I said “Amen”, he also confirmed the prayer with a sincere “Amen”. Which development on the World Watch List worries you? That countries where previously there was previously no persecution are now suddenly shooting up. I am referring specifically to countries in Africa, such as the Central African Republic. This increase mainly has to do with the growing influence of Islam. No one will be able to do anything about this as long as we keep calling Muslims ‘terrorists’ and ‘the enemy’. Anything you oppress and reject is actually going to grow. You see this happening with the persecuted Church, which is growing despite oppression, but you also see it happening with radical Islam. How can we bring about a change in this? We must bring about a change in our thinking. As long as we make out all radical Muslim groups to be terrorists and condemn people in advance, tension will continue to exist between Christianity and Islam. I have difficulty with putting groups into boxes. On a political level, it is so quickly decided who the enemy is and whom we must support. But who is it about? Everyone falls under the great commission in Matthew 28:19, ‘Go and make disciples of all men, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have taught you.’ I keep to this and feel called to sincerely to love people because God loves them. Even if you are treated discourteously, remember your own attitude: show yourself to be a Christian. Do what Jesus did. Being a man devoted to prayer and involvement, Brother Andrew sets the tone for Open Doors. He understands the importance of being one with those being persecuted worldwide, and the importance of loving their persecutors. Through his example, we can learn so much. Join us in prayer for not only our own eyes to be opened to the role we must individually play, but also for these brothers and sisters to stand strong amongst their intense circumstances. Check out our World Watch List to find out how you can be praying specifically for each nation.