A young man, a street beggar from North Korea, came to say, “Thank you.” During his escape from the totalitarian country – where worshipping Jesus is an act of treason – he hid in a Christian Freedom International shelter. “Because of the help I received at the shelter – it was very comfortable and the people treated me very well – I thank you so much,” he said. Undernourished, injured from frostbite and infections, hunted like criminals, defectors desperately need safe houses and supplies strategically placed along the way.
Our shelters are stocked with food, clothes, medicines and Bibles. (One dangerous mission is smuggling more Bibles into this region to replenish the ones given to escapees.) They can stay for days or weeks to recover before continuing to freedom.
When this young man reached freedom, he was baptized. Then he looked for the people who provided the shelter to express his gratitude. “Every day, persecution against Christians is worsening,” our co-worker told us. He risks his life daily to get food and Bibles to North Korea and rescue people out. “The food and Bibles we send are a witness to North Koreans that God is alive and He is helping. He has not forgotten them.”
It is humbling to play a part in helping our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. This year working together we reached more people in more places.
Here are some examples:
Bangladesh: A Muslim teen was caught reading a Bible. His parents beat him and burned the Bible. Now he sneaks out to CFI’s shelter for a safe place to read a Bible.
We opened the shelter this year for new converts. Leaving Islam for Christ can be life-threatening. Converts are beaten and homes burned. Terrorists hunt them down to kill.
On Easter – the day of the horrific church bombings in Sri Lanka – our coworker texted:
“When Islamists bombed and killed hundreds of Christians in Sri Lanka, a young Muslim in Bangladesh was learning about Christ and Easter from a CFI worker. He has lost all faith in Islam because of seeing the brutality and inhumane acts of Islam. He is seeking a better God to serve. Please pray for him. He is staying in CFI’s shelter.”
We also opened a new Center for the Blind and Disabled. It is filled with sewing machines and equipment to make items to sell. New believers gather for Bible studies.
Muslim Country: An imam threatened a pastor who had converted from Islam. The pastor refused to deny Christ. Weeks later, he was arrested for “defaming Islam”.
Christian Freedom International hired an attorney who announced to the police that he represented an international human rights organization. This rattled the police, who did not expect international attention. The charge was changed to ‘robbery,’ then ‘murder’. Finally, the pastor was released and charges dropped!
The pastor was shaken (being accused of blasphemy is akin to a death sentence) and grateful. He is alive and free because we stood together with him.
Iraq: Last Christmas CFI got an urgent request: Christians who survived ISIS needed food. The villagers live near an ancient monastery, about 70 miles from the region currently under attack near the Turkish border.
Thanks to our generous supporters, we acted quickly. Hundreds of bags of food were delivered to villagers at the mountaintop monastery in time for Christmas. A priest said:
“You made these families happy because they are in the most desperate needs nowadays. We thank you specially for helping people with special medical needs, now that they have no money or jobs to pay for their needs. We had no help from any organizations because ISIS was so close to us and other organizations are afraid to visit us and lend us help.”
North Korea: Under the cultish dictator, everyone must worship the “Supreme Leader”. Those caught praying, singing to Jesus, or reading a Bible are sent to prison camps, tortured, starved and killed. How can we help them, including secret Christians?
Twice a month, Christian Freedom International’s co-workers – many who escaped North Korea and remember those left behind – fill plastic bottles with rice, medicines, radios and Bibles. They carry hundreds of rice bottles up a trail and throw them in a river. The river’s current sweeps the rice and Bibles onto the shores of North Korea.
“Rice is important. But Bibles are even more important,” one defector said.
The smuggled radios can tune into a subversive radio station that broadcasts the Bible, Christian programs and worship songs. It is run by North Koreans who escaped.
Each day they tell listeners that the programs only happen with the support of Christians in the U.S., so listeners will know “American Christians are praying and supporting their fight to achieve freedom to worship God freely against the evil dictatorship.”
“We are getting more and more responses from North Korea,” the station president said. “We would like to give Christian Freedom International special thanks. Every day we pray to the LORD that His will be done through our lives.”
Burma/Thailand: Christian refugees arrive at Victory Bible Academy with wrenching stories of escaping Burma’s brutal military, losing their families, and growing up in wretched refugee camps. They come for a two-year training to become missionaries.
This year the students quickly got hands-on experience when a monster monsoon destroyed villages. They packed up emergency aid, hiked and canoed into regions of Burma where others would not go, delivered food and water, repaired homes, taught children’s classes, and went door-to-door offering prayer.
Burma’s peace process is in shambles. Some students had to take a break from school to rescue younger siblings out of Burma. They are also helping refugees caught in sex trafficking. Please pray for these young Christians to be strong in God’s might.
Nigeria: Boko Haram is a jihadist terrorist group that brutally attacks Christian villages. Men, women and children are slaughtered or kidnapped. Some Christians escape.
Survivors of one village made their way to a safer area in Nigeria. They bought land to start a new village. Before building homes they will plant crops to sell and make a living.
“Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.” Proverbs 24:27 Christian Freedom International is providing seeds for their new crops.
Pakistan/Thailand: Christians flee Islamist-ridden Pakistan hoping to gain asylum. Years later, many families are stuck in Bangkok, under constant threat of being arrested.
CFI is equipping Christian refugee families with monthly aid, a church, and a school.
The school curriculum is salted with lessons on virtue, selflessness and hard work—with deep dives into the Bible.
One family said CFI’s co-worker “visits us at our homes and provides us spiritual diet. We have learnt a lot from him and it encourages us to stay firm in the tough times. Sometimes during the raids we can only stay inside. My whole family is thankful to you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Sri Lanka: Islamists bombed three churches packed with Christians celebrating Easter. Shockingly, government officials were warned beforehand but did nothing.
As I traveled around Sri Lanka, pastors described Buddhist monks invading services, beating pastors and burning churches. They pled for CCTV cameras to prevent attacks and provide evidence when justice is needed.
Within short order, CFI installed CCTV cameras in seven churches. More are needed. Police are warning churches that they still face threats and telling them to get cameras.
Pakistan/Egypt: Christians suffer merciless discrimination. Violent attacks go unpunished, young women are abducted and forcibly married to Muslim men, children work as breadwinners for their families.
Each month, generous Christians sponsor and pray for these Christian children and families. One child called this act of mercy a “refreshing breeze”.
India: Violence against Christians is spiking as Hindu nationalists gain power. CFI provided support for Christian widows whose husbands were martyred.
And that’s not all. Your donations accomplished far more. One of our coworkers said it well: “God will know and appreciate all you have done.”
We need your help to continue – and do more – for persecuted Christians. “For as you did it for the least of these my brothers, you did it for Me,” Jesus said.
P.S. Would you consider a Christmas gift and end-of-year donation for persecuted Christians? Your gift will help in emergencies and with daily needs for Christians who suffer for believing in Jesus.