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1 stand up with PRAY FOR Youth THE PERSECUTED Study CHURCH A four-part series on persecution in the bible and the world. opendoors.org.au opendoors.org.nz

2 hello Open Doors Youth shares stories from the Persecuted Church to inspire and shape the passion and faith of youth and young adults. Their stories of persecution, tragedy and triumph break the chains of complacency so we can truly realise the value of faith in our God. We respond to the cry of the persecuted church by standing up for our faith and standing with our brothers and sisters. Open Doors started with one man Brother Andrew, smuggling Bibles in his VW beetle. Over 60 years later we are an international organisation supporting thousands of believers worldwide Booking & Partnership Information If you would like to know more about our events, book a speaker, or contact us about prayer and bible study resources, you can visit our website or us at 2 1

3 Study One What Is Persecution? Study Two Why Do Christians Endure Persecution? Study Three Where Is God In Persecution? Study Four What Is Our Response To Persecution? Risk Taking Christianity Fatima in Saudi Arabia Thankfulness Helen Berhane in Eritrea Radical Faith Hea Woo in North Korea Prayer That Brings Revival The Story of China Would you go to church if you knew it could be attacked mid-service? Would you own a Bible if being caught with it could send you to prison? Would you be ready to give your life up for your faith? Millions of believers around the world face these decisions every day. They worship the same God as us, follow the same Saviour, and His Name is the cause of their suffering. Why is it so dangerous in some countries to be a Christian? How do we support people who face death daily to stand up for their faith? Does God leave his people to suffer? Is this what Christianity really looks like? This series will help you stand up for your faith, and stand with our persecuted family. We want to look at the causes and effects of persecution. How sometimes the most heartbreaking times bring the biggest growth. How we can stand in love despite being hated. We have a Saviour who is greater than death, bigger than any barriers, greater than kings and absolutely passionate to see His people saved. 2 3

4 Read Acts 6:8-14, 7: Why was Stephen killed? Why were the Jews against Jesus? What Is Persecution? What was Stephen s response to persecution? Persecution In The World Discussion How would you define persecution? Watch Video Fatima in Saudi Arabia Risk Taking Christianity Persecution In The Bible Read John 15:18-27 What does Jesus say about persecution? In what ways have you experienced persecution? How has your response been different to Stephen s? Have a look at the World Watch List Map (on next page) Do some of the countries on this list surprise you? Do you know much about persecution in any of these countries? Pray What should our attitude be towards persecution? Fatima was from Saudi Arabia, number 14 on the World Watch List. It s a full-on place to be a Christian in. Here are some facts about it. Saudi Arabia WWL #12 What examples of persecution can you think of from the New Testament? Converting to Christianity is punishable by death There are 1.4 million Christians in a population of 32.7 million Christians converted from Islam face the worst persecution, especially from their families It is illegal to evangelise to Muslims No church buildings are allowed 4 5

5 WORLD WORLD WORLD WORLDWATCH WATCH WATCH WATCHLIST LIST LIST LIST Top Top Top Top Most Most Most MostDangerous Dangerous Dangerous DangerousCountries Countries Countries CountriesTo To To ToFollow Follow Follow FollowJesus Jesus Jesus Jesus North North North NorthKorea Korea Korea Korea Afghanistan Afghanistan Afghanistan Afghanistan Somalia Somalia Somalia Somalia Sudan Sudan Sudan Sudan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Eritrea Eritrea Eritrea Eritrea Libya Libya Libya Libya Iraq Iraq Iraq Iraq Yemen Yemen Yemen Yemen Iran Iran Iran Iran India India India India Saudi Saudi Saudi SaudiArabia Arabia Arabia Arabia Maldives Maldives Maldives Maldives Nigeria Nigeria Nigeria Nigeria Syria Syria Syria Syria Uzbekistan Uzbekistan Uzbekistan Uzbekistan Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Vietnam Vietnam Vietnam Vietnam Turkmenistan Turkmenistan Turkmenistan Turkmenistan Laos Laos Laos Laos Jordan Jordan Jordan Jordan Tajikistan Tajikistan Tajikistan Tajikistan Malaysia Malaysia Malaysia Malaysia Myanmar Myanmar Myanmar Myanmar Nepal Nepal Nepal Nepal Brunei Brunei Brunei Brunei Qatar Qatar Qatar Qatar Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Ethiopia Ethiopia Ethiopia Ethiopia Tunisia Tunisia Tunisia Tunisia Turkey Turkey Turkey Turkey Kenya Kenya Kenya Kenya Bhutan Bhutan Bhutan Bhutan Kuwait Kuwait Kuwait Kuwait CAR CAR CAR CAR Palestinian Palestinian Palestinian PalestinianTerritories Territories Territories Territories Mali Mali Mali Mali Indonesia Indonesia Indonesia Indonesia Mexico Mexico Mexico Mexico UAE UAE UAE UAE Bangladesh Bangladesh Bangladesh Bangladesh Algeria Algeria Algeria Algeria China China China China Sri Sri Sri SriLanka Lanka Lanka Lanka Azerbaijan Azerbaijan Azerbaijan Azerbaijan Oman Oman Oman Oman Mauritania Mauritania Mauritania Mauritania Bahrain Bahrain Bahrain Bahrain Colombia Colombia Colombia Colombia Djibouti Djibouti Djibouti Djibouti

6 The Effects of Persecution Read Acts 8:1-8. What effect did persecution have on the church? Why Do Christians Endure Persecution? In what ways can we see God working through persecution in the early church? Growth brings persecution, and persecution brings growth. What do you think of this statement? Discussion Why do Christians remain in dangerous countries? Video Hea Woo in North Korea Radical Faith Read Psalm 27. Read v3-5 again. Even though David faces death, he is not afraid. Why is that? Should We Avoid It? Read Matthew 28: What does Jesus command the disciples to do? Why would Jesus say this, knowing that following him means persecution? Do you think it s fair for Jesus to ask this of his disciples in the face of persecution? Pray Hea Woo was from North Korea but has since escaped again and libing safely in another country. She continues to spread the gospel faithfully. North Korea WWL #1 North Korea is at the top of the World Watch List for the dixteenth year in a row. There are 300,000 Christians in a population 25.4 million. 50,000-70,000 Christians are imprisoned in labour camps with no escape. Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea is worshipped like a god. There are extreme consequences for believers who share their faith with their family members. Children have even had their parents imprisoned by reporting heir parent s faith. 8 9

7 Is God Worth It All? John, Peter and Paul were three Christians imprisoned for their faith in Eritrea a few years ago. Peter was arrested when authorities stormed their secret Christian meeting. For almost six years he was held without charges and frequently moved to different prisons. He met John and Paul at the last prison. We were asked many times to recant (their Christian faith). But we refused. And when we refused, we were punished. Sometimes we were not given food or water and made to work in the hot sun hungry. Sometimes we got tied up in the helicopter position and left in the sun for many hours. That was very painful. The police threatened to arrest our other family members also if we refused to recant and sign the document. But all times, we refused because we do not want to leave Jesus. Once, Peter was transferred to a prison where he was locked in a cell so narrow that he could only lie down. For five months I stayed there. I could not move because the space was too small. I could not see because it was dark there was very little light. They kept me like that, lying down all the time until I was almost paralysed! Then they took me out. I could not stand or see very well. They moved me to an underground cell where it was completely dark! For six more months I was in darkness. When they took me out of there, I could barely walk and was almost blind! But I thank God because my eyes slowly cleared. Again the police asked him to sign the document recanting his faith. The document read in part, from now onwards, I will not preach, I will not meet other Christians. I will not talk about Jesus. Peter refused to sign, telling them that he would not deny his faith because if he did, it would mean he had wasted those seven years and suffered in prison for nothing! They locked him up again. The prisons are very dirty. There is no washing, no cleaning. And the food is very little - just bread many times, sometimes even no food. This makes many prisoners sick. They did not allow us to see a doctor. Many people died. It is very sad. I think some also died because they lost hope. Their hearts just gave up! I saw some die like this. It is very sad, Peter says. They encouraged each other not to give up, especially at the last prison, which is one of the worst in the country. It was here that the three had been held for another two years before they resolved to escape. They made the decision after much secret prayer. Finally, one evening they broke out of the line and jumped over the fence surrounding the prison. The fence was made up of plants with big thorns. We jumped over them and ran. When the prison guards started shooting, we went in different directions. We heard bullets flying over our heads but none hit us. Peter told us how he ran until he could not hear the guards or gunshots. But even then, he could not dare to rest in case they recaptured him. That first night he alternated between running and walking. He did not know if the others survived or had been gunned down. They were split up, but all headed for a safe refugee camp. My feet were swollen badly and my soles were covered in blisters. It was very painful. I walked but was very weak. I prayed very hard, because I did not want to go back to prison. If they had found me they would have hurt me very much. So I pray very hard! By his calculations, he had covered over 200km to reach the refugee camp, walking day and night. The three were miraculously reunited at the refugee camp. However, they could not stay at that refugee camp as they were informed that they could still be arrested. And through the help that God provided using Christian brethren, they moved on to a safer place where they are awaiting God s opening of doors to resettle at a more secure place. Peter says When I reached here, I looked back, and saw that I had lost my freedom. But I also see now that I had lost time. I could not continue with school, I could not get skills training. I do not know how to do office work. I can t even see myself marrying and having my own family. I am almost 40 years now and I have to start from nothing. Then he smiled and concluded, But I still have Jesus. And He is worth it all

8 Your Eternity Is Secure Read John 10: What does Jesus promise to those he saves? Read Romans 8: What is Paul convinced of? How is this a comfort? Where Is God In Persecution? God Is With Christians Through Persecution Read Psalm 56. What s David s problem? Where does David find comfort? Discussion What do you think of Helen s response to persecution? How can a loving God allow his people to be persecuted? Video Helen in Eritrea Thankfulness There are three main comforts the Bible gives in the face of persecution and suffering. God Can Use Persecution For Good Read Romans 5:1-5. Why does Paul rejoice in suffering? Read v13. What is the significance of the past tense? You don t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have. Timothy Keller What do you think of this quote? Pray After 2.5 years in a shipping container, Helen escaped the country and is now living safely in another country while boldy telling people about her story and her country. Many other are still imprisoned in Eritrea. Can you think of a time in your life when suffering has drawn you closer to God and made you more like Him? Eritrea / WWL #16 There are 2.7 million Christians in a population of 5.4 million The government has increased its crackdown on Christians Lots of young Christians are leaving Eritrea, leading to the expansion of Islam 12 13

9 One Body Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 What does it mean for Christians to be all part of the same body? Read Verse 26. What does that mean for us and the persecuted church? What Is Our Response To Persecution? If their goal is not always to escape their country, what is their goal? Read Hebrews 13:1-3 what can we do to help remember them? Get practical! Discussion Should we rescue Christians from persecuted countries? Video China Prayer that brings revival How are you going to change your life so that you are serving the rest of the body? Pray What if we prayed for revival in our country? What if we prayed for revival in other countries? China had one of the biggest revivals in history, but before that it was one of the most persecuted countries for decades. Christianity started in the Middle East, which is now one of the most heavily persecuted regions for Christians. What if we prayed for God s love and truth to work miracles in this area? We can pray for big things because we have a big God. Use the prayer cards on the next page to spend some time praying like the believers in China for the persecuted church in the Middle East

10 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26 Syria WWL #15 Pray for peace in Syria. Pray for God to protect the Christians who have chosen to stay and reach out to their friends and neighbours. Pray for more people to discover Jesus as the church works as His hands and feet. Iran WWL #10 Pray for imprisoned Christians to show love towards prison guards and their inmates. Pray the law will allow freedom of religion for all. Thank God that the Iranian church is the fastest growing in the world! Pray that many more Muslims would come to know Christ. Iraq WWL #8 Pray for peace and stability. Pray that children s hearts and minds will be protected as they live in this warzone. Pray for God to help returning Christians rebuild the church. Yemen WWL #9 Pray for Yemen s 1000 Christians, that despite their small number, they would be a bold witness for Christ. Pray that the love of Christ would change the hearts of Islamic extremists. Pray God provides for Christians who don t receive relief aid because of their faith

11 Notes 18 19

12 2019 World Watch List The 50 Most Dangerous Countries To Follow Jesus. New Country Rankings Released 16 January opendoors.org.au opendoors.org.nz SERVING PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS WORLDWIDE Open Doors Australia (02) (03) (07) opendoors.org.au Open Doors New Zealand (04) opendoors.org.nz

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