SOUTH EAST ASIA — In Pastor Yohannes’* community, Christian children can face discrimination at school, like Ermias’ twin boys, Fasil and Ezana. But thanks to your prayers and support, they now attend a bridge school, run by Open Doors partners – and it’s helping to unite a divided community.
This area is an area where there is much persecution and oppression. When a person converts from another religion to Jesus Christ, there are threats, intimidation and death threats. They write down on a piece of paper, “If you don’t denounce this God in three or four days, we will slaughter you.” And they leave the paper outside their doors.
In Pastor Yohannes’* community in Ethiopia, Christians who gather to celebrate Christmas face opposition and danger.
During our Sunday services, people who follow a different religion would throw stones at the church. As we gathered to celebrate the birth of Christ, they were deliberately sent to disrupt our programme. They started throwing stones at the church roof. If it wasn’t for God’s protection, the children who were playing outside could have been seriously injured or could have died if the flying stones had struck them.
Christian children in the area also experience discrimination at school, as church member Ermias explains.
Because of the persecution, we were in a difficult situation. In the schools our children used to go to, there were pressures. When we sent them to those other schools, even if our children were amongst the smart children they would refuse to give them the marks they deserved. They would lower their test scores.
But with the support of Open Doors, the church established a good school that is open to children of any faith. Many Muslim parents were happy to send their children to this school because of the quality of the education. And so it has become a bridge between the church and the community.
I can now educate my children for free without a problem and I am very happy.
If the school project wasn’t in the area, the hatred would have continued. The families who used to throw stones at the church have now started sending their children to this school. They feel a sense of belonging. This school has changed the thoughts of the community. The people who used to give us the side-eye as we were walking by now greet us on the streets and that makes me happy. The hurt we felt before is evaporating from us. I’m really happy that the people who once hated us are now coming into our compound.
Because the school is in the church’s compound, there is something they see in us. They see love, they see Christ. Though we don’t utter the words “Jesus saves” in the school, it has created a platform for us to show that Jesus is a saviour. So we are happy.
*Please note: all names have been changed for security reasons.
About Open Doors UK
For over 60 years, Open Doors UK has worked in the world’s most oppressive countries, empowering Christians who are persecuted for their beliefs. Open Doors equips persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries through programs like Bible & Gospel Development, Women & Children Advancement, and Christian Community Restoration.
Open Doors Prayer News 299 (November-December 2023)