Open Doors at 65: 'Christian persecution should concern governments, not just Christians'

A Myanmar pastor praises God.(Photo: Open Doors UK and Ireland)

With Open Doors celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, the UK CEO of the charity says it's time that the persecution of Christians was something that concerned everyone, including governments, and not just churchgoers.

Henrietta Blyth said: "For too long it has been assumed that standing up for persecuted Christian minorities was something for churches to concern them with, not secular civil society."

However, she explains, the violent persecution of millions of Christians around the world needs to be more than a 'niche concern' for Christians: "Again and again a minority Christian population within a nation is a force for good – caring not just for themselves, but others around them.

Brother Andrew, founder of Open Doors

"By supporting these Christian minorities, I believe we are supporting a more civil and less troubled future for the nations themselves – and that benefits everyone."

She made her comments following promises from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that a new programme of targeted sanctions will be used to support religious minorities.

The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said: "Our new global human rights regime will allow the UK to protect people of all religions... against serious human rights violations and abuses, and ensure the perpetrators are sent a clear message that the UK will not tolerate their atrocious actions."

The comments mark 65 years since the birth of Open Doors' ministry. In July 1955, Brother Andrew made his first trip across the Iron Curtain, to Poland. While there he received his calling to "strengthen what remains" of the persecuted church around the world. After being told by one pastor on the trip, "When you come again, please bring Bibles with you," he began his work of Bible smuggling, the story of which is immortalised in the book God's Smuggler.

Today Open Doors operates in over 60 nations, offering support to persecuted Christian communities as well as advocating on their behalf to western governments.