‘… and an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ Matthew 2:13
Today I want to share with you the story of Tareq* a Christian convert and schoolteacher from Afghanistan.
Tareq and his wife, Aisha* gave their lives to Jesus a few years ago and they kept holding on to their faith, living in secret in their village. So many Afghan Christians cannot share their faith at all, but they turned to Christ through reaching out to local underground church workers.
In Afghanistan and in many countries where it is illegal to be a Christian, new believers like Tareq and Aisha often risk being reported to the authorities, facing imprisonment or being killed, especially if they are found out by their families.
But things took a terrifying turn for the worse last year in 2021 when the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan, two decades after being removed from power by a US-led coalition.
Soon the Taliban police began knocking on doors to investigate rumours of Christians being in hiding, like Tareq and his family, looking for suspected believers and ransacking their homes. It has been reported that some Christians were put to death in these raids and that some are imprisoned, although this is hard to confirm.
The dreadful news is that Tareq, Aisha, along with their one-year-old baby girl Leeda*, had to flee to save their lives. They left their home in the middle of the night. Without saying any goodbyes.
They were driven to the border by volunteers from our partner ministry that help believers whose lives are in grave danger. We are unable to share exactly where, for security reasons.
On a cold, dark night, Tareq hid in the back of a volunteer’s car covered in blankets while his wife Aisha and their baby hid in the boot of the car.
During every moment of that dangerous journey Aisha and Tareq kept praying. And praise God, Tareq and his family crossed the border safely.
And now Christians in flight, like Tareq and his family, need our help.
Thanks to you, they can have enough money to rent a house in a safe place. Just enough money for food, for visas, travel documents and more.
Release International is partnering with a local ministry and with the Presbyterian Church in Brazil, which has welcomed and helped Afghan Christians like Tareq, to rebuild their lives in that country.
Please understand that this is all I can share right now about these kinds of extremely sensitive projects. Disclosing any more detailed information could endanger the lives of our partners and those they serve.
But I want you to know that your generosity, kindness, and prayers will be filling many persecuted believers’ hearts with joy and will be covering them with God’s shield of protection this Christmas.
You can make a gift securely online by clicking the Donate Now! button.
As you get ready to celebrate the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, I invite you to remember that the Christmas story is also the story of persecuted Christians in flight.
Thousands of Christians around the world in many countries, including Iran, Iraq and China, are forced to leave their homes and re-start their lives in distant places, just like Mary and Joseph did.
Luke tells us in his gospel (Luke 2:1-7) that Jesus’ first home was a manger because there was no room for His family in the inn. In Matthew (2: 13-15) an angel warns Joseph in a dream that Herod was intent on killing their beloved child Jesus. So, the holy family fled into Egypt to save their lives.
The Apostle Paul’s followers rescued him from a plot to kill him as we are told in Acts 9.23-34.
Paul’s life was filled with gospel ministry, and he spread the gospel far and wide throughout his life.
If you want to see what today’s flight to Egypt looks like, you needn’t look far: many real-life stories of persecuted Christians in flight begin with leaving in the middle of the night in an attempt to escape the immediate horror of persecution. We seek to encourage Christian believers in local churches to deepen their love of Christ.
Right now, there is much at stake for believers in flight like Tareq and Aisha – they risk being caught by the authorities, being imprisoned, and even killed.
But you and our ministry partners serving persecuted Christians in dangerous places like in Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Kenya and Syria can help them. You can help our local church partners provide essential sanctuary, love and support in countries, such as Brazil.
Your gift, whether large or small can show a Christian in flight that God provides for their needs through caring and compassionate friends like you. You can make a gift securely online by clicking the Donate Now! button.
Thank you so much for your passion and commitment to serve persecuted Christians worldwide.
Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed Christmas,
Grace and peace be with you always,
CEO, Release International
* Names have been changed and photos taken from a photo library, for security reasons.
PS Tareq and his family are now safe in Brazil, and the family went to their first ever Christmas party in December 2021 hosted by their new local church. Tareq said, ‘Thank you, thank you so much to God’s people who have helped us, we can’t thank you enough. God Bless you all. Every day we praise God.’ You too can help Tareq, and more Christians like him, find refuge with churches overseas who can and do help them. We need more vital funds to provide schooling and rented homes for Christians in flight. To provide language classes and support with employment. Our partners in Brazil provide local support for two years after arrival, to ensure that Christian families can and do find a new home to flourish in and to deepen their faith.
Donating through Release International is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from.
Lord, we lift to You all our brothers and sisters who have been forced to flee, simply because they love You.
Father, continue to uphold all of the displaced believers who have left their homes, their work, their friends and their land through fear of those who seek to kill them because they call You their Lord and Master.
In so many countries our family is in flight. The list of countries seems to grow each day and we pray for our brothers and sisters in Syria, in Iran, in Iraq, in Lebanon, in North Korea, in Nigeria and for our partners who seek to help them adjust to living in a new place when they arrive without so many of the bare essentials which we take for granted.
Lord, continue to prepare the ground in other countries, like Brazil, who are willing to accept these migrants and give them new homes and new opportunities to worship you in peace. Bless the local churches who help these new families to settle and become part of the church family in their new country.
Father, give us open hearts to accept these brothers and sisters if they move into our neighbourhood.
Lord, help us to help them. As they trust in You – so do we, and we ask now that our gifts will be used wisely and to great effect by those who receive them; that none of us will lose our faith in You; and that Your kingdom will continue to grow on Earth despite the opposition it faces in so many places around the world.
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