How You’re Standing with Persecuted Christians
When you were worshiping at church last Sunday, did you wonder if the police would come and arrest you for your faith?
Have you ever needed to hide in a closet so the raging mob outside your house didn’t see you through your window?
Have any of your friends or family members mysteriously disappeared after they accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior?
Christians throughout the world are risking their freedom—and even their lives—for their faith in Jesus. But they’re not alone. They have you.
The Christian Reformed Church in North America is linking arms with these Christians.Through your support of global mission through ministry shares and personal donations, you’re sending missionaries, airing Christian radio broadcasts, and training Christian leaders.
And despite the pressure and persecution Christians are facing, the church is growing. These Christians can’t share their names. Many can’t share their locations. But they can share their testimonies.
Two Solutions in Burkina Faso
One summer morning, Rev. Marc Nabie glanced at his phone to read a new message: “I want to give my life to Jesus after listening to your broadcast this morning!”
While Nabie’s office and the surrounding studio is just a small building in Burkina Faso’s bustling capital city of Ouagadougou, the office often fills with people such as XXXXXX* —people who have heard Back to God Ministries International’s French broadcasts and want to know more.
It’s not always safe to ask questions about Christianity. Tensions between Christians and Muslims are mounting in parts of West Africa. If you’re a Christian in Burkina Faso, you might be putting your life on the line. It depends where you live.
“The entire country, but especially the northeastern area, is experiencing an increasing level of violence against Christian churches,” said Nabie, BTGMI’s French ministry coordinator. “Some people have been forced to flee their homes for safer areas, and as many as 41 people were killed in one month.”
XXXXXX lives near the capital and was able to visit Nabie’s office after hearing the broadcast. “She told us that she had been listening to our radio program for the last three months,” said Nabie. “She was living with her sister, but none of her family members are Christians.”
Nabie prayed with XXXXXX and referred her to a church in her community not far from the offices, where she could attend discreetly since her family did not know about her faith.
About one week later, Nabie received another text: “Thank you, pastor, for showing me the way. I'm so happy, I went to church last Sunday, I was so happy!”
While XXXXXX’s experience of connecting with a church community is ideal, it’s not always safe in Burkina Faso. For some BTGMI listeners, their radio is their church.
XXXXXX, lives in XXXXXX, a city in northeastern Burkina Faso. Similar to many Christians in Burkina Faso, she can’t physically attend Bible studies or church services, and faces the challenge of keeping and growing her faith.
“She believes strongly in Christ,” said Nabie. “The radio is her faithful partner. To feed her faith she has to listen to the radio, and our broadcast is her favorite.”
Nabie said XXXXXX’s thirst for God’s Word is amazing. In addition to listening to sermons and encouragement daily, she also sends text messages to BTGMI’s volunteers in her area. Usually, her texts are filled with gratitude as she updates our ministry team on her life and faith.
The relational encouragement XXXXXX receives from the broadcasts and text conversations the CRC provides through BTGMI staff has helped her continue to grow in her relationship with God in spite of the many obstacles that surround her life.
186 Teachers in XXXXXX Equipped to Share the Gospel
Christian educators gathered in a small room in XXXXXX, XXXXXX. It’s not easy being a Christian in XXXXXX. You might be the target of discrimination, insults and threats, or even violence—especially if you converted to Christianity from Islam. Relationships between Christians and Muslims in this part of the Middle East can be tense, and Christians can feel powerless.
But God is empowering Christian educators to spread the gospel in their classrooms through Educational Care training.
EC is a program of Raise Up Global Ministries, which serves the global church through developing leaders by providing accessible, biblically based materials and training. EC helps Christian educators, especially in under-resourced areas such as XXXXXX, develop a biblical worldview and integrate faith into every aspect of their teaching.
God provided an opportunity for 186 teachers in XXXXXX to attend at least one EC training session.
In an atmosphere that can be discouraging, XXXXXX and other Christian teachers were encouraged by EC. “The idea we learned in EC—that God created each student in his image—has changed the way I think about my students,” said XXXXXX. “I see now that school is a place of service and a place to provide hope to others.”
Instead of seeing closed doors, XXXXXX now has vision: “I learned from EC that teaching is not just a job, it is a calling, a mission to be influential in the future of the student’s life. To think that God has to use my students in the future means that I must be very careful in how I treat them.”
XXXXXX spoke about concrete plans, small changes, and daily witness to propel the Christian schools forward. “EC material is different,” she said. “It gets into the small details of real life and ideas that make change possible, measurable, and applicable. The material shows how to live out our Christian life.”
Through this training, 38 teachers have also been certified to train and equip more teachers. Eager to train, many have already led sessions. By God’s hand, the number of Christian leaders is multiplying in schools throughout the country. The gospel is still spreading in XXXXXX. As teachers participate in EC training, they’re educating children and raising them up as image bearers, children of God, and future servants.
10 Baptisms in XXXXXX
You can be a Christian in XXXXXX—but only if you don’t make the government, your employer, or your family too nervous.
Christianity’s gospel of truth seems to make the government anxious. In some areas, officials keep a close eye on religious activity and continue to add new rules about what types of activities churches can hold. If they hear or see something they don’t like, they close the church.
Pastors are being removed from the pulpit and placed in jail. Employees might be passed over for a promotion because of their faith. Parents get nervous if their child takes an interest in Christianity. If you’re a Christian, you have to be careful about what you say and how you say it.
But God is still working in XXXXXX, and the CRC is standing alongside believers by sending Resonate workers to the country.
Resonate staff member XXXXXX mentors and disciples Christian leaders such as XXXXXX. XXXXXX became the pastor of her church two years ago, but she hasn’t been to seminary and isn’t ordained. Opportunities for pastors to train in XXXXXX are scarce and hard to find. That’s why the CRC sends Resonate staff to the country instead.
Each week, XXXXXX talks with XXXXXX. They read books together, pray together, and discuss the challenges of ministry together.
“Despite challenges, the church body is still growing,” said XXXXXX.
Leaders such as XXXXXX are working hard, and God is opening doors for believers to share the hope of the gospel. XXXXXX’s church, for example, has started leading worship services at a nursing home.
“Nursing homes can be lonely places,” said XXXXXX. “Most of the people who live in them either have significant health issues their children can’t care for, or their children live far away … some people started attending the services because it was something to do and offered some connection with the outside world.”
With XXXXXX’s support and guidance, XXXXXX and her church have invested a lot of time in the worship service at the nursing home. Many of the nursing home residents and staff have no knowledge of Jesus—but as XXXXXX and her church returned week after week, the nursing home residents and staff heard the truth of the gospel and experienced the love of Christ.
More than ten people have accepted Christ and have been baptized.
“This is why I live in XXXXXX,” said Resonate’s XXXXXX. “This is why I navigate the culture-stress days and complexities of serving here. This is what I’m excited to see God doing—encouraging stretched-thin leaders as they serve in their local context.”
She said this ministry wouldn’t be possible without the support of the CRC. “Thank you for the ways you’ve contributed to 10 people being baptized in a nursing home on the other side of the globe!”
*names of participants, missionaries, towns, and even some countries have been redacted to protect those involved.