SANTA ANA, Calif. (April 2, 2012) – Just before a call to prayer sounded from the local mosque, Perveen (not her real name) made her way through the streets of Shahtootnagr, the inner city of a Pakistani Shia town. She was heading for an evening training session.
While most of Perveen’s neighbors are Christians by ethnicity; they know little about their faith. They have adopted pagan practices to survive economically in an environment of hostility toward non-Muslims.
Perveen and her friends are resisting the decades of degrading, lucrative ways to supplement their family incomes. But their husbands only go from one hangover to the next, filling every night with drinking and drugs to escape from their hopeless existence.
They were not happy when their wives began signing up for literacy classes at the tiny local church. Perveen’s husband abused her for learning to read and write. Perveen is just one of 80,000 illiterate Pakistani Christians who has learned to read through ALIVE, a Bible-based literacy course sponsored by Open Doors in cooperation with local Pakistani church partners. “I can read the Bible now when I need God’s comfort,” Perveen says.
In 2011, Open Doors trained approximately 263,500 people in programs that varied from intense, on-going theological courses to shorter seminars designed to build up and encourage persecuted Christians. Open Doors’ training numbers worldwide increased a phenomenal 65 percent in 2011 from the previous year.
Huge training gains were made in Middle Eastern countries (461 percent increase) such as Algeria, Iraq and Syria and in Africa (154 percent). In Egypt training increased 353 percent. Major increases were also reported in the African countries of Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia. Open Doors increased the training in these areas to help prepare marginalized Christians from the intensity of persecution.
“Our training varies, depending on the country and depending on the need of Christians in that country,” says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller. “For example, in several countries in Africa, we concentrate on building up church leaders, most of whom have little or no previous pastoral training. The training is done for one week each month for 10 months.
‘In countries where training must be absolutely secret, seminars are arranged for several days, and everyone stays in seclusion for the entire time. Again, these training courses and seminars vary according to the country, but we have taught on topics such as “The Faithful Pastor,” “The Kingdom of God,” “Christian Leadership” and “Preaching and Teaching.”
One of Open Doors’ most powerful seminars is “Standing Strong through the Storm.” It seeks to teach Christians living in high-risk areas how to thrive under severe persecution and suffering.
Also in 2011, Open Doors delivered more than 3.1 million Bibles, children’s Bibles, training materials and other Christian materials requested by persecuted Christians in almost 50 countries. In 2010, 3.4 million materials were distributed. Bible and literature distribution increased significantly in 2011 in the Middle East, India, Latin America and Africa, especially Nigeria. China remained the No. 1 recipient of Christian literature with 1.4 million materials delivered, most of them going to marginalized believers in rural areas.
Through Christian Community Development programs, Open Doors and its partners served an estimated 172,000 Christians, an increase of 20 percent from 2010. The 4,900 livelihood programs helped provide a means of living in nations where Christians are often considered second-class citizens and suffer severe economic hardship. Egypt, Syria and Iraq saw a pronounced increase in assistance. Overall, church restoration projects benefited 7,700. Emergency relief aid was rushed to such places as Nigeria, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Also, Open Doors’ prayer and advocacy programs have helped raise awareness in the West of suffering Christians around the globe.
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world’s most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our Website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
(For more information or to set up an interview, contact Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email [email protected])