Following Jesus in Yemen continues to be extremely dangerous. Yemeni society is strongly Islamic, conservative and tribal, and the tribal punishment for denouncing Islam can be death or banishment.
Most believers are Yemeni and come from Muslim backgrounds. As conversion from Islam is forbidden by Islamic and state law, Christians must keep their faith secret, or risk severe repercussions from their families, the authorities or radical Islamic groups. This can include divorce, loss of custody of children, arrest, interrogation and even death.
The humanitarian crisis caused by Yemen's 10-year civil war has also exacerbated the pressure on believers. While some relief aid is available, this is mostly distributed through local Muslim groups and mosques, which are alleged to be discriminating against anyone not considered a devout Muslim.
Christians across Yemen face dangers for their faith. Even in comparatively liberal areas, such as large cities, displaying a Christian symbol can have serious consequences.
Pressure is particularly strong on converts living in the northern areas controlled by Houthis (an armed rebel movement). These areas are more heavily policed and, given the poverty that people live in, spying is commonly used to court favor with the local authorities, who are relied upon for aid. The Houthi's internal security forces even operate an intelligence unit that roots out apostates.
Christians in southern rural areas are also particularly at risk due to the aggressive expansion of al-Qaeda in the region.
“If we sit at home and do nothing, we would be safe. But what kind of Christians would we be if weren’t risking our life for others to know Life?"Saleh, a Yemeni Christian who started a house church network in the country.
Although Yemen has dropped two places on the World Watch List, this is due to the fact that levels of persecution in Libya and Eritrea have increased. The situation for Christians in Yemen is unchanged. Following Jesus continues to be extremely dangerous.
Open Doors supports the body of Christ in Yemen by raising prayer, distributing relief aid, training believers and pastors, and offering shelter, protection and livelihood support to persecuted believers and their relatives.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the courageous faith of our brothers and sisters in Yemen. Strengthen and protect them from evil, meet their every need, and provide more opportunities for believers to gather and learn about You. Give Christians discernment and courage as they follow You despite such the dangers, and may their transformed lives capture the hearts of those around them and draw them to You. Bring peace to this troubled nation and may Your people one day be free to worship you. Amen.