By Open Doors SA
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many countries around the world into lockdown in an attempt to try and stop the virus from spreading rapidly.
This might be uncomfortable or inconvenient for many people, but for persecuted believers, it’s a matter of life and death. Unfortunately, to make matters worse Ramadan is underway, making Christians in Muslim-majority countries even more vulnerable.
The current pandemic and Ramadan have made Christians doubly vulnerable to persecution and starvation during this unprecedented time.
So, what does all of this mean for Christians?
Christians face increased persecution during Ramadan
The holy month of Ramadan is very important to Muslims as they believe that the Quran was given as a revelation to Muhammad during this month. During this month, refraining from food and water is mandatory for Muslims.
Unfortunately, in Muslim majority countries, non-Muslims, including Christians, are also prohibited from eating and drinking in public. This makes Christians even more at risk of persecution as those caught not fasting may face imprisonment. What makes matters even worse this year is that many Christians are already suffering as a result of the pandemic and may suffer even more now with Ramadan underway.
Persecuted Christians at risk of starvation
Many poor Christians rely on their local church for food and basic necessities, while some of our brothers and sisters rely on the income they receive from their small businesses or work as day labourers. But due to some countries being on lockdown, Christians may not be able to receive this aid from their local churches or earn an income to provide for their families during the lockdown.
Thankfully, donor support has enabled Open Doors through its local partners to reach some of these believers with much-needed care packages and food during the pandemic. Sadly, there are still many more in need of help. If they don’t receive aid, they’ll not be able to eat and may face starvation.
Christians nurses and doctors denied protective gear
In places like the Gulf region, Christians are experiencing another form of persecution during the pandemic. Christian nurses and doctors are being sent to the frontlines of this pandemic to help treat infected patients as Muslim healthcare workers are fearful of assisting them.
However, these Christian healthcare workers are doing this without protective gear. Thankfully, Open Doors’ local partners have been able to find a safe and legal way to provide them with protective clothing as they care for these patients.
One nurse said of this help: “Thank you for coming to us. It has been the loneliest experience. Isolation is one thing, [but] alienation from your own people quite another thing. You’ve shown us who we belong to by coming in Christ’s name. We’ve no one but Him”.
An unprecedented time
Ramadan in itself is a very dangerous time for non-Muslims, including Christians, especially in countries where Islam is the state religion. Muslim extremist groups are also known to increase violence against infidels (non-Muslims) during the month of Ramadan as a way to show gratitude to “Allah” and strike the necks of invaders by destroying their might.
Factor in the pandemic and it means increased persecution and vulnerability for persecuted Christians. In places where organisations are assisting with aid, Christians are often bypassed as recipients of this aid. This truly is an unprecedented time for our world and our organisation. Many are filled with despair and hopelessness.
One of our local partners in Asia, Hana, says: “I’ve heard people cry before, but this is something else, much deeper”. Thankfully, through the support of our generous partners, we’re able to offer some light at the end of the tunnel, as we work with local partners in various countries to help meet the needs of our brothers and sisters during this time.
What can you do?
Pray, pray and pray. Download your 30-day prayer guide here and pray for believers across the world during this pandemic and Ramadan – that the Lord will continue to provide for, strengthen and protect our brothers and sisters. Pray for Open Doors workers worldwide that the Lord will make a way for us to continue distributing much-needed resources to them during this time.
Pray for wisdom and guidance in getting these resources to believers who are in areas where it’s even more difficult to reach them during this pandemic. You can also stand with believers in the Muslim World by partnering with Open Doors this month financially, to help our brothers and sisters during this pandemic and Ramadan.
Click here for more information on how you can support Open Doors and assist persecuted believers.