This Christmas, persecuted children like twins Ezana and Fasil long for just one gift – and you can help provide it…
Ezana and Fasil’s* eyes shine as they anticipate Christmas. The games, the food, the songs they’ll sing, the bustle at home as people come and hear about Jesus… It’s a joy shared by so many children at this time of year.
But the excitement of these small boys from rural Ethiopia hides a deep desire. One wish, common to children of the persecuted church: All they want this Christmas is the gift of a safe childhood.
In the southern Ethiopian village where the twins live, evangelical Christians are relentlessly targeted. When someone converts to Christianity, they can expect a note on their front door with a deadly threat: If you don’t denounce this God, we will slaughter you. Stones have been thrown at the church as believers pray inside. And in one horrific incident, Muslim radicals attacked a group of Christian women who were out evangelising, they dragged them to the ground and urinated on them.
Pastor Yohannes*, who leads the local church, summarises the persecution in one chilling sentence: “From the extremists’ point of view, an evangelical Christian is as good as a dead and rotting person.”
In such a frightening, volatile context, it takes real courage to follow Jesus. But when your faith puts your own children at risk, it’s harder than ever.
Denied proper education
Ezana and Fasil with their parents
Ezana and Fasil’s parents are dedicated to serving the Lord. Dad, Ermias*, has faced life-long persecution – but he has a kind and humble heart. It fills him with sorrow to see his boys suffer because of the family’s Christian faith.
“Even if our children were among the smartest in school, the teachers refused to give them the grades they deserved. Their test scores would be lowered, but we could not afford to send them to another school,” said Ermias.
Without an education, the twins have little hope for the future. With no security, they’re in danger. For parents who love God and love their children, it’s easy to see why persecution threatens faith.
The sad truth is, children like Ezana and Fasil are among the most vulnerable believers in the world. Bullying, physical attacks, isolation and denying children an education are common tactics of persecutors in many countries. It leaves even the youngest children feeling alone, forgotten and unsafe – and puts the future of the church in peril in the most difficult places to follow Jesus.
A school for all
But you can make a difference this Christmas.
Thanks to Open Doors, Ezana and Fasil’s church opened a ‘bridge school’ in its compound. The twins joined and now are thriving in class, academically, spiritually and emotionally. “I get an education from my teachers and I really like learning,” says Ezana with a broad smile.
The bridge school accepts children of all faiths for free
Not only does the school provide a safe place for Christian children, it accepts pupils of other faiths. This act of generosity has changed perceptions. “People like the fact we offer free education for the poor,” said Pastor Yohannes. “The families who used to throw stones at the church have now started sending their children to this school.
“Even if they hate us, we love them.”
“Loving our enemies is biblical, and it’s the truth,” says Pastor Yohannes. “We will be the first people to be there in their time of need: even if they hate us, we love them. Doing good to the community that is persecuting us – that’s the only way we can change the community.”
But Ezana and Fasil are about to graduate, and their father fears what will come next. “They would transfer to another school with risks,” said Ermias. “I worry about the future. I wish my children could continue studying in this school.”
Pastor Yohannes sitting outside the bridge school
Your Christmas gift for brighter future
This Christmas, you can give these young twins – and other persecuted children – the one thing they long for: a safer childhood.
Your gift and prayers will ensure children persecuted for their faith are protected, provided for and given an education. With your support, children like Ezana and Fasil will have a bright future – and they’ll grow to be strong, resilient and courageous witnesses for Christ.
“Because they are the next generation for the gospel,” Ermias, the twins’ father, reminds us. “They are the ones to continue the works of God. They are the hope for the church.”
*Names changed to protect their identities
For God’s protection over Ezana and Fasil as they grow in faith, love and wisdom.
That Christians parents like Ermias will trust God and nurture faith in their children.
That Open Doors partners will reach the most vulnerable persecuted children, to help those who need it most.
Please will you give the gift of a safer childhood to a persecuted child this Christmas?
Every HK$310 could provide trauma counselling to a persecuted child, bringing hope and healing.
Every HK$460 could provide vital emergency food to three families affected by violent persecution.
Every HK$650 could give a year’s education to a persecuted child, helping them have a brighter future.