“We feel forgotten, we feel alone”: young Christians in Middle East speak out

Publication Date: 27/6/2023

Source: Open Doors

Across North Africa and the Middle East, church leaders are seeing young Christians feeling hopeless. Many want to leave the region, because of economic decline and limited job opportunities, on top of discrimination and persecution.

“My big dream is that the youth will stay,” says Bishop Daniel in Iraq. “If we don’t help them today, we will not have any future for the church. That’s why we are trying very, very hard to give them better opportunities here.”

Gathering a group of young believers
In September 2022, Open Doors gathered young believers from six countries across the region. In their own words, they put together an appeal – a form of manifesto – to their worldwide family: “Faith helps us endure and find hope. But the present circumstances and ongoing crises weaken our endurance. We feel forgotten by the world at large, while being isolated and alone in a hostile environment.
“We, as young citizens, strongly believe that the presence of Christians in the Middle East keeps the region from reaching the bottom of the abyss. We are the blood that the Middle East is bleeding right now. If nothing is done, it leads to its death.

“As Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, we want to contribute to Christianity and churches globally. Will you help us do that?”

Centres of Hope are ‘oases in times of hardship’
Centres of Hope in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria, are offering many forms of hope to Christians – and it’s often the only lifeline that young believers see. “Your gift can help local churches to be Centres of Hope – the oases we, as young Christians, turn to and find shelter in times of hardship,” explain the group of young people. “Many of us are traumatised and we need direct and indirect psychosocial care and support. This is just one way Centres of Hope are vital.”
As these young Christians detail, there are many other ways in which Centres of Hope respond to the hardships and difficulties faced by persecuted believers: “Social, religious, educational, medical, humanitarian, psycho-social, housing, agriculture, livelihoods, Christian witness.” They ask: “Multiply the concept of the church as Centres of Hope.”

They are also places of community and fellowship for Christian youth in the region: “Many of us suffer from loneliness in our early years. We are discriminated against, bullied and overlooked in school and university. We are violated verbally during childhood, bullied throughout the school years and subjected to peer pressure. Come to our help to create the space for us to enjoy and experience a better education in a safe environment.”

“Do make hope last”
“We are asking you to give us the right means to hold on and live through the crisis, despair and hopelessness around us. Can we count on your long-term commitment for long-term projects? Please support the church to continue to be a safe place in the midst of hostility. Do ‘make hope last’!”

Thomas*, the regional director, was shocked by what he heard. “It motivated us to work harder to make hope last for the young generation. The forum was just a start.”

Link: https://www.opendoorsuk.org/news/latest-news/middle-east-youth-manifesto/

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