Category Archives: Christian Persecution

Eritrea #9 World Watch List

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For many Christians in Eritrea, the threat of arrest and imprisonment is a daily reality. Since January, at least 120 Christians have been arrested in a renewed crackdown by the government. An estimated 1500 Christians are imprisoned in metal shipping containers and military prison camps across the country.

Eritrean believer Yohannes spent a year in one of these prisons after being arrested at Christian wedding he was attending. Here is his story in his own words…

“We were just entertained with our dinner when suddenly some policemen came to the wedding tent. I started asking them, what was the problem? There was no preaching at that time, there was no Christian music, it was only ceremonial things.

“They told me that they were being told to bring us to prison. I was taken from the wedding ceremony to prison. And I was jailed for more than one year.

“In the prison they used to torture Christians. They tie you in a helicopter position. They make you lie with your face down, then they tie both of your legs with your hands upwards. And they used to paint your face with water mixed with sugar, so that the flies can come and torture you sometimes. This kind of torture is really painful. Some of the Christians become disabled because of this torture.

“In prison, we don’t have the Bible. Some people can secretly help you to get a Bible, but you have to read it in a secret way. If you’re found reading the Bible, you’ll be taken to a solitary place, or to a very small cell where you can’t lie down, you have to stay standing the whole time. And sometimes if they find a Bible, they burn it in front of you.

“At times, they just mix you up with other prisoners, and that is an opportunity to preach the gospel. During this bad time for them, they are very eager and hungry to share the love of Christ. And I saw many, many souls accepting Jesus Christ.

“In my country, as a Christian, going to prison is not a strange thing, it’s a daily threat. So, it’s not a question of if I am going to jail or not, but when I am going. And when the day came, I was not surprised. I was ready for that.

“The problem was with my family, more than with what was happening to me. They had to come to the prison twice a day in order to feed me. And in addition to that, I had a baby while I was in prison, but I was not able to hold my baby, so it was really terrible.

“When I was going through this experience of being in prison, I was always considering that God is on my side. And I was always praying so that He can give me favour in front of those who tormented me, and I asked God, ‘Forgive them.’ I don’t have any bitterness or hatred towards these people.

“As to me, the hope for Eritrea is Jesus. I believe that so many people from this small nation will be missionaries to reach out to these Arab nations surrounding us.

“Sometimes you feel that you are totally neglected, totally forgotten. But I believe the body of Christ is praying for Eritrea for the freedom of religion in our country. And I want to say thank you to the Christian community all over the world.”

Eritrea slumA woman named Wehazit Berhane Debesai is the 25th known person to die for Christ in the wretched prisons of Eritrea, where several thousand people are behind bars because of their faith. But the phrase “behind bars” is a misnomer. At the Me’eter Prison in the Eritrean desert, inmates, mostly Christians, are held in large metal storage containers that become ovens by day and freezers by night where dehydrated victims drink their own sweat and urine to stay alive.

The only hope for satisfaction is to change the government. There have been no elections since the country achieved independence May 24, 1991. The nation has a requirement of compulsory military service for 18 months for every citizen. Currently, it is very difficult to arrange discharge from military service, and desertion is a major crime. Prisoners accused of desertion from military duty receive no better treatment than Christians. The nation is independent, but independence has brought only a different tyranical government.


  • For the hundreds of Eritrean Christians who have been imprisoned for their faith
  • That the government would soften its stance on evangelical Christians and give them the freedom to worship Jesus without restrictions
  • That the rise of Islamic extremism will be stifled in 2015


By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at using material from

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Image: Eritrea Slum Source:
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World Watch List #8 Pakistan


Christian mother, Asia Bibi, has spent the last 5 years on death row in Pakistan after being accused and convicted of blasphemy. Her problems began when she offered water to a fellow human being. Asia herself had drunk from the well, but later she was told that Christians were forbidden to use that well.  An argument arose among the women to whom she had offered a drink. They were all Muslim, and they began to make fun of Christians.

In self-defense Asia asked a simple question “Jesus died on the cross for us, what has Mohammed done for you?”

Her Muslim neighbors instantly challenged her comments as blasphemy. The women attacked her and drove her back home. Later, she was brutally beaten and raped. Two of her daughters were also later assaulted.

Due to the culture of Pakistan Christians are considered untouchable. Within the Muslim majority most believe that Christians should be humiliated and shamed. Every Christian who breaks even simple cultural traditions is subject to the charge of blasphemy. Many Christians have been imprisoned on the charge of blasphemy, but most are eventually released. Some have been exonerated, due to evidence that the original charge was made up. Asia Bibi is not the only Christian prisoner in Pakistan, but she is the only one sentenced to death.

Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi must obtain all her food in prison from family and friends. She must prepare it herself, because if Muslims handle her food she is at risk of being poisoned. The risk that any Muslim will feel free to shame or harm any Christian is rampant in the culture.

When natural disasters strike, such as earthquakes and floods, the Muslim majority receive help from the government to recover from the tragedy and to rebuild their homes. Christians are ignored Mr. Khurram Daud Gill, a social activist in Pakistan said, “We witness that Christian flood victims have been treated as untouchables by the government. The rescue, relief and then rehabilitation work was done unfairly. The district government did not provide adequate machines or cranes to lift the mud from the streets and heavy debris of ruined buildings. None of the high scale government officials visited the victims.


  • For Asia Bibi who remains in prison for alleged blasphemy after her appeal was turned down by the Pakistani High Court
  • For the growing number of Christian women and girls who are targets of killings and sexual assault
  • That the Taliban will be driven out of the country by government forces

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at

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Image: Asia Bibi
Used by permission

World Watch List #7 Iran


The challenge in Iran is that Iranian law considers a child’s religion to be automatically the religion of his ancestors. The child of a Muslim is a Muslim. Shariah law declares that a Muslim must never leave Islam, and to change religion makes that person an apostate. Being Muslim is important for the health of the state.

This principle explains why Saeed Abedini is in prison today, convicted of being a security threat. In other words, a Muslim who converts to Christianity is considered to be a traitor to the state.

Iranian law recognizes a right to be a Christian only for Armenians and Assyrians. Their tribal heritage is barely respected, and the use of Farsi, the national language of Iran, is forbidden in worship or study.

Recently President Obama met with Nagmeh Abedini, the wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini who is imprisoned in Iran because he is a Christian. She asked him for help in obtaining the release of her husband. The president said that he asks the Secretary of State John Kerry to mention Pastor Saeed whenever he is meeting with officials in Iran. She described her meeting and concluded this way:

“As the meeting ended, I said, “My son, Jacob, has something to say.  Jacob said, “Mr. President, can you please bring daddy home for my birthday?” President Obama asked, “When is your birthday?” Jacob said March 17th, and the President said he would try very hard.”

The family solicits the prayers of all Christians that her husband may soon be released from prison and returned to his family.

The heritage of Christians in Iran goes back to the day of Pentecost when visitors from this region were in Jerusalem and many received Christ. They went back home and established churches in the region.

Currently, the government recognizes the right of Armenians and Assyrians to be Christians, although their use of the Farsi language is forbidden. Since that is their normal language, it is very difficult for them to sustain worship and other activities of their churches. Even the possession of a Bible in Farsi is forbidden.

All Christians are always at risk of arrest. Muslim background believers are considered traitors. Armenians and Assyrians who meet for Christian worship are at risk of arrest for meeting in an unauthorized location. A pastor can always be arrested on a charge of violating some regulation.

What can we do for Christians in Iran?

Many Christians languish in Iranian prisons; pray that they will be released this year.

Pray that the Iranian leadership might loosen its tight hold on Christian activity.

Pray that many more will come to the Lord through satellite television and distribution of Bibles


By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at



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Two photos of Iranian young people

Courtesy of Open Doors USA

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World Watch List #6 Afghanistan


In Afghanistan, being Muslim is integral to being an Afghan citizen. There are no church buildings for Christian worshipers. To convert to any religion other than Islam is considered a threat to the integrity and security of the nation. Family, friends and anyone else who discovers that a citizen has converted to Christianity will exert considerable pressure, even violence, in an effort to bring the convert back to Islam.

Afghanistan has been a troubled nation for generations. When the British Empire brought its might to bear on this nation in an attempt to subdue it, the Empire failed and retreated in disarray. When the Soviet Union tried to do the same thing, it failed. Aghan society is deeply fractured by tribal loyalties. The geography is daunting for any military force, and no outside force to date has been able to conquer the geography, let alone the tribal culture

In Afghanistan, Christians are regarded as enemies of the state, which means that they are suspect from the minute their religion is known. The people reject anything associated with western culture, and despite the Mideast origin of Christianity, Afghanis regard it as a western intrusion.

Only local people can hope to make any inroads into the culture. Outsiders who want to help the few indigenous Christians must be cautious and be very sure of the people they contact.


Even this seemingly peaceful scene in Afghanistan shows the rubble of warfare that litters the landscape

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at

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Courtesy of All-Flags-World
License: Free to use with attribution

Photo: Scene in Afghanistan on a peaceful day
Courtesy of Open Doors USA

World Watch List #4 Syria

04_Flag of Syrian Arab Republic Med

Ranking fourth on the persecution scale, Syria earned a score of 83 out of a possible 100 points. The score was calculated using answers to questionnaires completed by people who live in Syria, Open Doors representatives who spend time in Syria, and professional sources who know Syria intimately. The resulting list of the 50 most dangerous countries for Christians ranks those countries in order of the scores. When the difference between the scores of two countries is within the standard deviation, the difference in the experience of Christians in the country with the lower score may not even be evident to the casual observer.

According to Islamic law or “shariah,” Jews and Christians living under Muslim rule must pay a tax or “jizya” in return for protection, and become “dhimmis.” Under strong pressure from Islamic leaders in Syria. The tax has begun to be applied against Christians in Syria. Besides the tax, Christians also are forbidden to make renovations to churches or display religious symbols, to own weapons or sell pork or wine to Muslims. Every Christian man must pay a tax of up to 17 grams of gold, a tax that was common during the Middle Ages on Christians.

The Christians who remain need the most basic daily supplies for survival.
Supplies such as blankets, soap, and clothing, the most basic human necessities.

It amazes many people that Syrian Christians share everything they receive with other people in need. Despite the anti-Christian focus of much of the violence, Christians show compassion for many non-Christians who also suffer from the battles. They share, because people need help.

It is important to intercede for Christians and new believers, believing that God can and will continue the advance of his kingdom in the darkest places.


  • For Christians who are displaced within the country or are refugees in camps outside of Syria
  • For Open Doors workers, who partner with churches and other Christian organizations, providing food, shelter and trauma counseling to the refugees
  • That there would be an end to the horrific civil war which has been waged for approximately four years

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at

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