The 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) section 18 protects the rights of individuals who have faith/follow a belief system. Section 18:1 states:
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching (1).
However, despite this, on a global scale, Christians face persecution, harassment, torture and abuse, simply for their faith. 215 million Christians faced persecution for their faith, which is set to rise to 245 million in 2019, and there is currently a genocide against Christians in Nigeria (2).
The International Ministry and Charity, Open Doors, operates in over 60 countries reaching out to the persecuted church. They provide Bibles to people who face persecution, train church leaders, support Christians, provide advocacy and missionary work.
The World Watch List has referenced 50 countries where Christians face persecution, including North Korea, Afghanistan and Somalia. See the info from the World Watch List, and interactive map in reference list(3).
On May 4th and 5th, myself and the Sisters, Sister Angela and Sister Eleanor, from my Catholic church, Holy Souls, based in Acocks Green, Birmingham, have teamed up with support of the priests, to reach those who face persecution. At the end of each Mass on both dates, we met with the parish at the back of church and encouraged them to write a card which was delivered to Open Doors, and sent to Christians. Open Doors had information on different Christians in various countries, and their stories and testimonies were printed and displayed on the table, so people could have a read, and decide who to write to.
We had 100 cards, designed with Bible quotes (5 quotes and 20 cards for each) and encouraged the parish to write a prayerful comment and sign it (card designs pictured below). We delivered each of the signed cards to Open Doors, where they will be sent abroad and distributed to the Christians on their list (4).
The names of the Christians the Christians that the Parishioners could choose to write to were:
Eldos and Nurhzan, Kyrgyzstan (5)
Information for the church newsletter and bulletin was produced, and the event was announced at the end of each service over the weekend. Fr Tomas and Fr Jonathan encouraged the parish to write and sign a card, and show their support for Christians who face persecution for their faith.
These are the cards that were designed and printed (slide show)
At the end of each Mass, (and for 10 minutes prior to each of them starting) people came to the table where myself, Sister Angela, and a few others spoke with parishioners about writing and signing a card. People demonstrated great interest and enthusiasm (one lady even wrote multiple cards to every Christian on the list of names!)
The event was so well recieved, that we even ran out of cards, so people made prayerful and encouraging messages on some paper (which covered 2 sides of A4!) People were very keen to talk to me and Sister Angela, and write their supportive messages down ❤
The support shown by my church, priests and parish has been simply incredible! I am eternally grateful for the help and support I have been given. The work that Open Doors does to help those who face persecution for their faith is simple amazing, and the support that Holy Souls Catholic Church has provided in allowing me and Sr Angela to run this project, will make an enormous difference in the lives of those we are writing to.
(1) International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights; Article 18:1 Available online at: http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/edumat/stu’Wdyguides/religion.html Accessed on 16/03/19
(2) Stoyan Zaimof ‘The Christian Post’: ‘Pure Genocide’: Over 6,000 Nigerian Christians Slaughtered, Mostly Women and Children. Available online at: https://www.christianpost.com/news/pure-genocide-over-6000-nigerian-christians-slaughtered-mostly-women-children.html?fbclid=IwAR0Ys-MMnloeIPTKHXsqUBKyOwqJ1x-NrQ1kz7qI0mwqz5huZDwzQ7KGkIQ Accessed on 19/03/19
(3)World Watch List (Interactive Map): https://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/countries/ Accessed on 15/03/19
(4) Open Doors ‘Writing a Letter of Encouragement’ Available online at: https://www.opendoorsuk.org/act/letter/ Accessed on 19/03/2019