Middle East (MNN) — Despite the region’s widespread violence against Christians, God is at work in the Middle East. Open Doors USA’s Field Director shares details in a recent interview. For security purposes, the worker’s identity cannot be revealed. Open Doors refers to the man as “Stefan”.
Stefan describes what he and his co-workers are seeing in Egypt, Syria and Iran. Throughout the Middle East, Open Doors supports persecuted believers with Bibles, Christian literature and discipleship training.
In Egypt, believers are conflicted. On one hand, “They are very happy that the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood has come to an end. They are happy that Morsi is no longer the president. They are very happy that the army has taken over,” says Stefan.
“But, at the same time, they fear for the future.”
Egypt is temporarily being controlled by the military, bringing relative peace to Christians. But the process of selecting a new President, Prime Minister and Parliament will begin at the end of May.
Pray that political and economic stability will be restored. Pray the new leaders will provide a measure of protection for Christians.
“Even [though] it’s a climate of uncertainty and it’s a climate of fear, there’s more opportunity to witness about faith in Jesus Christ than there was before,” Stefan shares, adding that the Church is rejoicing.
A similar situation is taking place in Iran.
Many Iranians are coming to Christ, despite continued government oppression. Young college students tell Open Doors that their peers, many from Muslim backgrounds, are now following Christ instead of Islam.
“The present government is very upset about it,” says Stefan. “They do not like this development at all.”
Iran’s current president, Hassan Rouhani, is following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Attacks against Christian communities are on the rise, and the prohibition of house church activities is being enforced more strictly.
“A lot of Christians are being harassed, a lot of converts are being arrested, many of them are being threatened,” explains Stefan.
“Some of them, out of fear or because they have lost their jobs…they are escaping from the country; they are running away.”
Other believers are standing firm.
“It is really remarkable what they are doing inside their country, and how they are a blessing for their people,” Stefan remarks.
Syria holds a steadfast Remnant Church as well.
Over 9 million Syrians are thought to be displaced, both within the country and outside its borders. Nonetheless, “There is still a large Christian minority in Syria; like in Egypt, it’s about 10-percent of the population,” says Stefan.
“Most of the Christians have remained inside Syria…and would like to stay in Syria… but I do not know if they will have any future inside this country.”
In traditionally-Christian towns like Homs, believers are being targeted by rebel forces influenced by Islamic elements.
“In areas where the [jihadists] have taken over control, Christians have been persecuted,” Stefan states.
Earlier this week, a dedicated Christian leader was killed in cold-blood. He, like many other priests and pastors, are committed to staying with their “flocks”, come what may.
“The churches are very, very active; very, very outgoing,” says Stefan. “To us, it’s really a remarkable testimony; what the priests and pastors are doing. We are very happy we can stand alongside them.”
Reports like this one can sometimes leave us feeling helpless. But the best response, Stefan says, is also the easiest.
“We always say that prayer is the fuel for the Church in the Middle East, so if you will join us in prayer, it will be terrific,” he says.
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