04 08 Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
‘Secret Church’ to Honor Open Doors Founder Brother Andrew
Brother Andrew, founder of Open Doors and author of the best-selling autobiography God’s Smuggler, will be honored on Good Friday, April 18, during a simulcast hosted by the “Secret Church.”
The simulcast, called “The Cross and Everyday Life,” will be held from 6 p.m. to midnight CST.
The event will be led by pastor David Platt, author of the best-selling book Radical and senior pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala. Registration for the simulcast is available at www.radical.net. Individuals can check the website for simulcast hosts in their area. Tickets to the live event are sold out.
Open Doors is partnering with Secret Church, a program of The Church at Brook Hills, to promote the event.
In 1955, Brother Andrew traveled on a group tour to Poland. It was there he discovered a vacuum in the body of Christ behind the Iron Curtain – Christians were in desperate need of Bibles, prayer and support. Later Andrew distributed his first suitcase full of Christian literature in his blue Volkswagen; marking the beginning of Open Doors with Brother Andrew.
Brother Andrew’s work through Open Doors has led the organization into places where most Christians from the West are unwilling to go. Open Doors’ underground network of indigenous Christians has aided in the secret distribution of millions of Bibles each year. In addition to the distribution of Bibles and biblical materials, Open Doors – which serves and strengthens Christians with direct field outreach in 60 of the world’s most dangerous countries – trains thousands of pastors and lay leaders, facilitates community development projects, encourages and engages in prayer and presence ministry and advocates on behalf of persecuted Christians. Open Doors has over 650 employees worldwide.
It is estimated Brother Andrew has visited 125 countries in his travels to preach to and befriend those in need. During his trips, he said he never had a Bible confiscated and has only been arrested three times. He often quotes Revelation 3:2 as the text for his messages delivered around the globe: “Wake Up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die.”
Brother Andrew, 85, who lives in the Netherlands, will address the simulcast audience through a pre-recorded video.
Secret Church is a simulated “house church” that seeks to inform and teach Christians in the West what persecution really looks like for millions of believers around the world. Secret Church desires to mirror the dedication of believers in persecuted areas such as North Korea, Nigeria and Syria with intense Bible study and prayer.
The Church at Brook Hills will host the live Secret Church event and stream the program through the simulcast. Secret Church is targeted for individuals who want to know God deeper through His Word and know His global church more fully. Secret Church’s simulcast also seeks to highlight the great need for Christians in the West to pray for persecuted believers around the world. The hope is to take what is learned from the event out to the world, and make disciples of Christ, both locally and globally. More information is available on the Secret Church website at www.SecretChurch.org.
Syria: Well-Known Jesuit Priest Killed in Homs
A Jesuit Priest, Frans van der Lugt, was killed in Homs on Monday morning. One or two armed men entered the monastery where he lived and took father Frans. Dutch broadcaster NOS reports that he was beaten while being inside, but once outside, he was shot with two bullets to the head.
The originally Dutch priest, 75, known among his people in Homs as Abouna Fancis, became known because of his taking care for elderly and disabled people in the old city of Homs in the midst of the civil war. Throughout the war, he stayed with his people in the besieged old city, no matter what or how close the fighting was.
In January 2014 his heart cry was heard in a YouTube video message when he called for help for the people inside the city: “We want to live. We do not want to die from hunger and pain.”
In early February hundreds of Syrians were allowed to leave the besieged city. Father Frans was one of those who was allowed to leave. But the Jesuit chose to stay. “Even if all Christians will leave, then yet I will stay. I am here for Syria. I want to serve all Syrians and I want to serve the country of Syria….the country I love.”
As a psychotherapist, Van der Lugt left the Netherlands in 1966 as an idealist to build bridges between Christians and Muslims. He first studied in Lebanon and after that he lived for over 40 years in Syria, most of that time in Homs.
Over the past years images of Father Frans were shown in international media while riding his bike through the city of Homs. He was determined to help and lived just like any other Syrian in the old city trying to get enough food for that day. “It is important that I don’t become desperate, but remain hopeful. Only then I can serve other people, everyone,” he said.
A Dutch Jesuit, Jan Stuyt, spoke on the phone with Father Frans last week: “His voice was powerful and full of hope. He was looking forward to the ending of the siege. He already was making plans for after the ending and said ‘I won’t be coming back to the Netherlands in the first place; first I want to make sure to renew my residency permit, which I can do best while being here,'”
According to Stuyt, he was called “father” by most of the people. Not only because of his title, but because he filled this fatherly role to the people of his neighborhood, which he supported with food, medication and by just being there with them.
An Open Doors spokesman adds: “Father Frans wanted to build bridges between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East. I’m now thinking of the approximately 28 needy people – the elderly and disabled – that are still there. And the brave little team of other workers in the monastery. Let’s pray that this siege will be over in two weeks, just as Father Frans hoped for.”
(For more information or to set up interviews, call Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email [email protected] The Open Doors USA website is www.OpenDoorsUSA.org)