By Open Doors 1 December 2021 2 MIN


What does Christmas look like for children of the persecuted church?

For many, Christmas is a special time to gather with family and friends to honour the birth of Jesus. But for some persecuted Christians, there will be empty seats at the table, meant to be filled by loved ones. Christmas is a reminder of the price they pay to follow Jesus.

The Day That Changed It All

When 11-year-old Rafif’s dad went out to the shops near their local university in Mosul, Iraq, she had no idea this journey would be his last. As he went, he spotted something strange – explosives ready to detonate near the arrival place of a bus carrying Christian students.

“When he saw the bomb, he ran towards the bus and shouted and waved at them,” Rafif said. “He told them, ‘Don’t move or we will all be dead.’”

The bus came to a stop just as the bomb exploded. Because of his heroic actions, just one student on the bus died. But Rafif’s father paid with his life.

“I miss my dad,” Rafif said. “Especially when I hear my friends talk and say, ‘My dad did this with me, my dad brought me that’.

“I have asked God, ‘Why did you take my father away? Why did you do this?’”

“God Is Always There For Me”

Rafif decorating a Christmas tree.

Rafif now attends weekly Christian education classes at a Centre of Hope run by Open Doors’ local partners. Even though she’s still grieving growing up without her father, the classes are helping her grow in her relationship with the Lord.

“There are stories in the Bible where people save the lives of other people. When I hear those stories I think, ‘Hey, that’s my dad! He also died to save the lives of others, just like the special people in the Bible.’

“Whenever I feel like I am not in the right place, I read the Bible. That gives me confidence.”

“Every one of those kids should have a Christian education class like I do…”

Rafif's Christian education class.

Rafif knows that Iraq isn’t the only place where children are persecuted for their faith. All over the world, there are millions of children just like her missing their parents this Christmas.

“Every one of those kids should have a Christian education class like I do,” she said. “They need to know their roots and they need to know what the truth is, what the reason is they suffer.

“The most important thing I have learned in Christian education class is that God is always there for me. He never leaves me.”

Your gift can help children this Christmas – by giving the gift of Christian education, you can restore hope to children of the persecuted children and help them follow Jesus, no matter the cost.