From a population of 30 million, there are only a few thousand Christians in Yemen.
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.
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.
“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.”Nasser
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.
Open Doors supports the body of Christ on the Arabian Peninsula through organizing prayer, distributing Scripture resources and training believers and pastors.
Lord God, we pray for Your protection over Your children in Yemen. We ask that You would show them that their true identity is not in their tribe, community or nationality but, first and foremost, in Jesus. Please bring peace and stability to the country, and ensure Your children can survive the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Build a resilient church, we pray.