You know how sometimes you can’t get something out of your mind? Maybe it is a special moment, a Bible verse, a song or a person. That’s how I feel about an Eritrean Christian couple called Dawit* and Fatemah*. Their story of faith and sacrifice has really impacted me.
And I hope that by sharing their story with you today you too will be inspired to pray for, and help persecuted Christians like them who are forced to flee their country because of their faith.
In the summer of 2006 Dawit and Fatemah were rejoicing at the birth of their second child. At that time Dawit was serving as a pastor in Eritrea while Fatemah was actively involved in a compassion ministry of their church, helping poor families in practical ways.
Just a few months later their lives were turned upside down by suffering and persecution.
In October 2006 Dawit was arrested and sent to prison for sharing the gospel. Fatemah was arrested too, in 2010, and their young and scared children were left in the care of relatives.
The couple endured beatings and interrogations, but they did not renounce their faith. And, although Fatemah was released six months later, Dawit remained in prison, for 11 more years.
In Eritrea when Christians are released from prison, they are likely to be arrested again. That is why many of them are forced to leave the country. This is what Fatemah had to do.
In 2016 she made the painful and dangerous decision to flee to Uganda. And, although it broke her heart, she had to leave her children behind because they would be safer with her family.
Your gifts to Release have enabled our partner in Eritrea to help Fatemah’s family. She worked hard as a maid and cleaner in exile, praying that Dawit would be released, and her children safe. And she sent money back to them whenever she could.
Dawit was released in 2017 and has spent the last four years trying to reunite his broken family. Recently they received the fantastic news that they can resettle in a new country and restart their lives as a family. The children will finally be reunited with their mother and father at long last.
Refusing to abandon their strong Christian faith and sharing the gospel cost Dawit and Fatemah all they held dear, but they do not regret their decision to follow Jesus.
This Christmas will you help Christians in flight like Dawit and Fatemah to rebuild their lives in a new country by giving £25 or more to Release International?
Yes, I will help Christian families in flight
Thankfully, many of the Christian refugees managed to escape from the camps in Tigray when the fighting started – although some were taken captive by the Eritrean army.
The situation of persecuted Christians in flight is worsening in other parts of the world too.
For example, Christian refugees from Syria living in Lebanon are facing a severe economic crisis – worsened by last year’s devastating port explosion – and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Also, many Christian refugees living in Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, need help too, including families who have managed to return to their homes and are seeking to re-build their lives.
Our Release International partners are doing all they can, but they need your help more than ever to help more families to survive this winter and to find new hope and in Christ.
This Christmas will you stand with Christians in flight like Dawit and Fatemah and help them re-build their lives?
Distributing aid to Christians in Nigeria with our partner.
Here are some of the things your generosity can make possible:
A gift of £25 could help provide food parcels for vulnerable families.
A gift of £50 could ensure that Christians in flight receive pastoral care and support to stand strong in their faith.
A gift of £100 could help provide vocational training to help believers start small businesses.
A gift of £250 could cover three months’ rent for a Christian family in flight in Pakistan putting shelter over their heads.
Right now, the timing is still critical to send emergency food kits, to provide pastoral care and offer financial support to Christians in flight in Eritrea, Lebanon, Pakistan, India, Nigeria and elsewhere.
He encourages us to show love, mercy and compassion to those who are suffering. Today we can serve Him and our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ by helping them in their hour of need.
Together we can brighten their Christmas and show them that they are not alone.
Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed Christmas season,
CEO, Release International
* Names have been changed for security reasons.
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Loving Father, thank you that You are with us wherever we go. When we are at rest and when we are travelling – You watch over us. Thank you for this assurance when we are safe and especially so when we are in danger.
Thank you that this truth supports our persecuted family when they are forced to flee from their homes and, in so many countries, become refugees with no safe place to go.
Lord, be with them as they face the fear of the open road, of dangerous surroundings and of heart-churning worry of surviving on a road of chaos.
Father, give them Your peace which is beyond our understanding as they travel to new places where people hate them for who they are, just ordinary people of faith who have lost everything except their love of You. Lord, what faith!
Lord, help me to understand their plight and to remember that if I lived where they did it would be me in flight and me who had lost everything.
Father, please melt any ice that might exist within my heart against refugees and give me a heart of warm, living water to help my brothers and sisters in flight with prayers and any other support that You call on me to give them as they travel so many miles in fear.
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