International (MNN) – Christians in certain parts of the world are enduring severe persecution. They’re oppressed, displaced, and even killed because they follow Jesus. Most recently, two gunmen stormed a church just south of Cairo, Egypt last Friday and killed nine people.
In these situations, the ones who often suffer the most are kids.
(Photo courtesy of Open Doors USA)
David Curry with Open Doors USA says, “We have the ability as adults to sort of contextualize things, even in the most difficult situation. But imagine a child in that circumstance.”
Additionally, adults often have greater ability to locate resources and garner assistance when they suffer persecution. But for kids, the struggle is greater and they are often left without a voice, especially if they have been orphaned or separated from their family.
Open Doors works with many persecuted Christians, including kids, and is sharing their stories.
“Just within the last week, I was with a young man named Noah from Iraq. His experience was like so many others. In the middle of the night, he was awakened by his parents and told, ‘ISIS is coming to attack us because we are Christians.’ So he had to leave everything in his house, even his most precious toys, everything. And when he came back, it was all destroyed.”
Curry explains, “The next generation of Christians in the Middle East, in Asia, in Central Asia, in places like Iraq and Syria, places like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and Afghanistan — these young Christians have been through trauma no human being should ever have to see. And we have to find a way to be the answer to prayer. How can something good come from this? We’re going to help reach out, rebuild, and give some deeper context for these kids, give them assistance, give them the care they need so we can have a strong and healthy Body of Christ.”
Any Christian kid growing up is often in the process of making their faith their own as they grow in the Lord. But for kids who witness trauma and suffer persecution, that experience has a significant impact on their faith journey.
“Sometimes kids begin to understand the importance of their faith and it personalizes it for them. They have to ask the questions in a way that maybe some of us here in the West don’t with all the comforts that we have. Oftentimes, we see kids, like I was speaking with just last week, these young people from Iraq, their personal faith is so deep because they’ve had to decide, ‘Am I willing to die for this?’” explains Curry.
“On the other hand, you have the traumas of that and so they feel separated from their friends in their community. In Egypt, where I’ve visited many times, you talk with young Christian kids who are ostracized in their schools where they are not allowed to speak to their neighborhood friends because they’re Christians, because they’re not of the majority faith in that Islamic culture.
(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)
“You’re being singled out, not because of a physical trait, but because you believe in Jesus and you are different from everybody else. That’s hard for a young child in any case, but especially hard when you have these surrounding crisis situations.”
Open Doors is trying to raise awareness for this issue and get people thinking how they can help the youngest generation of the persecuted Church.
“Maybe the most strategic way we can help is to focus on those young people to help give them trauma support, help them in many ways regain their childhood and have a sense of understanding — in their limited way in some cases because of their youth — that God loves them, that they have not been forgotten, that it’s a wonderful thing to be a follower of Jesus, and to help them build a life of meaning and impact in the wider world and in the name of Jesus.”
The ministry of Open Doors is supporting these kids with aid, trauma care, and spiritual encouragement. But it’s going to take the involvement of the greater Body of Christ to make a difference.
Go to opendoorsusa.org and check out their Children of the Persecuted Church Project to learn more about how you can be a support and encouragement to kids suffering for their faith.
(Header photo courtesy of Open Doors USA)