The global network now known as Open Doors has its origins in one man and one journey. In 1955, a young Dutchman went to Warsaw and discovered the existence of a church that was oppressed, isolated and apparently forgotten.
He became known as Brother Andrew. And from 1955 to 1967 he travelled throughout Eastern Europe, delivering Bibles, encouraging those he met, and recruiting others to help him.
The publication of God’s Smuggler in 1967 catapulted his work to worldwide renown. An entire generation caught the vision of supporting Christians who faced persecution and discrimination for their faith.
That vision soon pushed the work beyond the Soviet Union. Open Doors grew in the 1970s as Andrew travelled the world to recruit many others to expand the work among Christians in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
In 1975 one conference in particular brought the issue of Christian persecution in China to a much larger audience – Love China. And it was in China where one of Open Doors best known projects came to fruition – Project Pearl, where one million Bibles were delivered in a single night in June 1981.
In 1982, Open Doors launched a seven-year campaign of prayer for the Communist Bloc. Seven years later, in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and the world changed.
Nevertheless, Christians continued to suffer in other Communist lands, such as China, North Korea, Vietnam, and several African states.
At the same time, Open Doors had been aware of growing persecution in the Muslim world. Brother Andrew visited Saudi Arabia as early as 1973 and throughout the 1980s warned of the need to make the church under Islam a greater priority. Increasingly, Open Doors has turned towards the church in the Muslim world.
Supporting the church means more than delivering Bibles. In 1978, Open Doors produced the first training manual on how to resist and endure persecution. This was developed for Christian leaders in Asia.
In the 1990s a training institute was established for church leaders in sub-Saharan Africa. Open Doors went on to develop a global training programme for pastors in churches facing persecution. This became Standing Strong Through The Storm, first published in 2001, which continues to be used around the world today.
Meanwhile, Open Doors was delivering Socio-Economic Development programmes to support persecuted Christians in other vital ways. Literacy projects were launched to help Christians read and study the Bible. In 1998, Open Doors launched its first major relief project, Operation Daily Bread, to fly in food and supplies to remote areas of war-torn southern Sudan.
Today Open Doors provides relief aid, livelihood support and community development projects to hundreds of thousands of Christians around the world.
In the six decades since Brother Andrew’s first journey, Open Doors has continued to seek out and strengthen those who suffer violent persecution and discrimination for their Christian faith. And the organisation increasingly speaks out for freedom of
religion or belief – as a cornerstone of human rights. .
As growing numbers of Christians are targeted for their faith, today, more than ever, they need to be heard, understood and supported on their journey.
With the aid of the international community, Open Doors is serving persecuted Christians in more than 70 countries, working with churches and local partners to provide Bibles, Christian materials, training, livelihood skills and advocacy.
Our aim is to encourage and raise up people in every nation to pray, support and speak up for Christians around the world who suffer for their faith.
“Open Doors has shown the true signs of the presence of the spirit of God in that it has been faithful to its vision and foundation, but adaptable as the world around it has changed. And, today, it is one of the most credible, powerful, authentic and determined advocates of the protection of Christians but also generally of religious liberty.”The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury