Open Doors trained over 1,050,500 Christians and church leaders facing persecution or discrimination last year. Courses included theological training, dealing with persecution, and trauma counselling.

From Africa and Asia to the Middle East, a core part of our work is to provide training that equips Christians to face persecution, whether training for church leaders, discipleship for Christians, or trauma awareness training to help churches deal sensitively with those who’ve suffered.

Through local partners in Iraq, Open Doors has supported the training of youth leader Martin, who fled his home in Karamles two years ago with the rest of his church when so-called Islamic State (IS) extremists took over their village near Mosul. Now he is serving his church in camp in Erbil.

"The displacement causes a type of stress that we haven't experienced before," says Martin, thinking especially about the young people in his group. "You have to realise that IS didn't only take their house,…(they) also seized…their future."

Open Doors is standing alongside the camp and equipping church leaders Thabet and Martin to support their community. Martin is able to continue with his training to be a church leader, with an online pastoral course.

Martin prays for the
young people of Iraq to
‘have hope again’

Church leader Thabet says that a church was the first thing many Christians asked for. “Without a church we are all spread around, but we need to be united."

A portacabin church is being used for Bible study, prayer, and children's activities. "We need to proclaim the Word of God in this portacabin every day," he says. "By reading the Bible, we know how to be Christian in this situation. We don't have any other weapons."

Martin, Pastor Thabet’s assistant, says, "This continuing situation has just solidified my calling. I am needed here at this moment to feed my people with charity and with hope." And the young people appreciate that. A girl sitting in the front row says,

"This stress makes it hard to focus on Jesus, but Martin is helping us. He is a good teacher."