What does persecution look like in Yemen? What is life like for Christians?
Christians in Yemen usually keep their faith secret, because if they are discovered then they could face the death penalty. Leaving Islam is forbidden, and all Yemenis are considered Muslims by the state.
It’s not just the authorities who persecute Christians. Islamic militant groups threaten Christians from a Muslim background with death, and tribes may kill or banish anybody converting to Christianity.
The ongoing war, humanitarian crisis and COVID-19 pandemic in Yemen are impacting all citizens, but Christians are additionally vulnerable because emergency relief is mostly distributed through organizations that use local Islamic leaders and local mosques to give aid. These are believed to discriminate against anybody who is not considered to be a devout Muslim. There are accounts of Yemeni Christians being refused treatment at under-resourced hospitals.
“We, the believers, carry hope that helps us with the certainty that tomorrow will be better and that by the will of our Lord, we will pass through this and all the anxieties and fears surrounding us.”
What has changed in Yemen?
Persecution remains extreme in almost all areas of life. There are relatively few reports of violence against Christians in Yemen, though this has worsened slightly in the past year. However, it is nearly impossible to research and verify violent attacks because of the ongoing war, the secrecy Christians must maintain and the challenge of communication with underground believers. It is very likely that there is more violence that goes unreported.
Who is most vulnerable to persecution?
Christians from a Muslim background are most vulnerable to persecution—and these now make up most of the Christian population of Yemen, since the ongoing war has led many expatriate and migrant Christians to leave the country. The south of the country, where there is a strong Al Qaeda presence, is particularly dangerous.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in the Arabian Peninsula?
Open Doors supports the body of Christ on the Arabian Peninsula through organizing prayer, distributing Scripture resources and training believers and pastors.
Population statistic: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed February 2020).
Number of Christians statistic is an Open Doors estimate
Pray for Yemen
Pray for the Yemeni people after a year in which the war continues alongside floods, locusts and COVID-19. Pray that peace will come to the country and that people can start rebuilding their lives.
Pray for secret believers and secret house churches, that they would have wisdom and discernment as they support believers.
Pray for those taking great risks to provide seekers and new believers with discipleship support. Pray for safety as they travel through conflict areas, and that God will use them to raise up new and gifted leaders in every part of the country.
Stories from Yemen
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