Seven-year-old Roshan* remembers the day his family was told to leave their home. After they decided to follow Jesus, Roshan, his brother Aarush* and his mother Devi* were all shunned by their wider Hindu family, followed by their village. Following Jesus meant that Devi lost her financial security and her livelihood, leaving Roshan and Aarush without food, the shelter of a safe home and the opportunity to attend school.
“I hear mean words, not just about me but also about my family,” says 12-year-old Jenny, a Christian in a Muslim community in Southern Philippines. She is often discriminated against in school.
Because 14-year-old David’s Christian family lives in an area of Colombia where they are continuously persecuted for their faith, his parents sent him to live in Open Door’s Children’s Center. This Christmas, he asks: “Pray that God may bring peace so we can live as a family without wars.”
When we think about the 360+ million Christians in the world who face high levels of persecution and discrimination for their decision to follow Jesus, we may tend to think about the men and women who risk so much. But persecution is far-reaching. It doesn’t stop at the heads of the family. And it’s no respecter of age. Throughout the world, children of Christian families also pay a high cost, especially if they or their parents left the community or tribal religion to convert to Christianity.
As Ermias, father to twin boys in Ethiopia, says, “Children are the next generation for the gospel … They are the hope for the Church.” This Christmas, will you pray with us for the youngest voices of persecution? Here are 20 prayers you can pray for children like Roshan, Jenny, David and Ronny whose main Christmas wish is for safety and peace in their homes and communities.
1. Praise God that Roshan and his family are now accepted in a Christian community. Pray for financial provision, and their ongoing assurance that following Jesus is worth it. Pray that Christmas will bring peace and joy in his heart and across his community.
2. Pray for Jenny's spiritual growth and her desire to become a youth leader in the house church her family attends. Ask for God's wisdom and guidance as she seeks to serve others and help them grow in their faith.
3. Ask God to comfort David as he lives away from his family in the Children’s Center and assure him that he will one day see them again. Pray with him for peace and no wars. And pray that God would protect young kids from often forced recruitment into the ranks of armed groups.
Pray that God would protect young kids from often forced recruitment into the ranks of armed groups
4. Pray that the Children’s Center in Colombia would be able to expand to accept more children. Ask God to open the eyes of Christians worldwide to the work of the Center; and that they would be moved to support this vital ministry.
5. Some Muslim parents have taught their children to hate Christians from a young age. Pray for those children who grew up hating Christians … that they would experience the love of Jesus through the very people they are taught to hate.
6. Pray for Adi*, a 6-year-old Christian boy in India who is mocked by children in his housing complex. Ask God to form courage and resolute faith in him. Pray that he will not be ashamed of being a Christian but will grow in his love for Jesus.
7. In any environment where persecution exists, it’s challenging to raise children of faith. Despite the risks, Ermias has raised his twins, Fasil and Ezana, as Christians. Praise God that these brothers know Jesus, thanks to the courage of their parents and church leaders. Pray they will grow in faith and in the knowledge of Christ. Ask that they will continue to be a light in their community in Ethiopia.
8. Open Doors’ partners work closely with children of the persecuted church. Among other activities, they provide trauma counseling and healing camps during school holidays. Pray for the healing power of the Spirit to be at work through these sessions.
9. Pray for Treasure Ayuba, the last of the 121 students kidnapped in July 2021 from the Bethel Baptist School in Nigeria’s Kaduna State. He returned home but is severely traumatized. Pray that Treasure and his family will know how wide and long and high and deep the love and grace of Christ is and that he will receive the necessary trauma care.
10. Pray for Elnura, part of a deaf community in Central Asia. She and other girls often feel ignored where they live. Pray that she and other girls would continue to see themselves as children of Christ who are valued beyond measure.
11. Pray for the remaining four children of Pastor Zachariah. They lost their mother and brother in an attack by Fulani militants on their village of Mangu in Nigeria. Pray Zachariah’s prayer for his four children with him: “Pray for God to encourage them to hold on to Him and to never turn back.”
12. Pray for the five Nigerian children of Rhoda Jatua. Their mother is facing imprisonment for blasphemy. LORD, we come to you heartbroken over this injustice, and we cry out to you now for our sister Rhoda and her children. Please work miracles and continue to shower this family with Your peace and strength. In your Son’s name, Amen.
13. Jahangir*, a 4-year-old boy in Bangladesh has already been persecuted for his family’s decision to leave Islam and follow Jesus. His teacher turned him away from school: “The Muslim boys will not want to sit on the same bench with a Christian boy during classes,” she told Jahangir’s parents. Pray for schooling that doesn’t discriminate and accepts Christians. Pray that Jahangir and his family would hold tight to their faith and this costly decision.
14. Pray for the young children of Dieu. She continues to receive threats in her Vietnamese village for her decision to follow Jesus. Now, the family has no access to the village well because their mother’s life is still in danger. During the night, the children must fetch water from the spring during the night. Pray for their protection and that God will open a safe way to get water.
Pray with Sako and so many other children wishing for safety and peace this Christmas.
15. “Safety” probably isn’t on most kids’ Christmas wish lists. But 12-year-old Sako lives in Latakia, Syria, where civil war has destroyed buildings and lives. We recently met him in his Sunday school class. The church he attends is one of the Centers of Hope supported by Open Doors where our local partners minister to children, teens and adults. Pray with Sako and so many other children wishing for safety and peace this Christmas: “I wish that we stay in peace, safety and joy this Christmas.
16. In Pakistan, Christian girls are vulnerable to sexual abuse, forced marriage and missing out on school. Pray for God’s protection and His hand over their lives. Pray that they know they have a Father who cares about every detail of their lives.
17. Pray for the Christian boys in sub-Saharan Africa who are growing up without a father due to extremist attacks. Often, the boys must take up financial and parental responsibilities at a young age. Pray that they will be supported by faithful men in the church. Pray for them to know their Father who is always with them.
18. Pray for Christian youth in Iran. The country is now mandating 30 minutes of Islamic prayer time in the daily schedule of all schools, regardless of students' religion. Pray these students will remain strong in their faith as they navigate these kinds of challenges in an Islamic society. And pray against bullying and attacks because of their faith.
19. Pray for North Korean Christian children who are indoctrinated almost out of the womb. From an early age in school, they are taught to fear Christians and to look at their country rulers as their “saviors.” Pray that God would protect their minds and hearts.
20. In Malaysia, our partners’ Hostel Program equips Christian students with biblical teaching to navigate everyday challenges and strengthen their identity in Christ through workshops, discussions, and mentorship. Pray that this program impacts many more young people in Malaysia.
21. In Brunei, Christian youth bring fellow believers together through sports, which has helped them to connect and bond with each other. Praise God for their initiative, which has brought a sense of unity, fellowship and the love of Jesus.
22. Pray that Ermias’ twins, Fasil and Enzana, will grow in knowledge, as Jesus grew with wisdom and knowledge. “My children want to do much in the area they were born in, so I want you to pray for them to reach to the places they want to reach,” Ermias says.
23. Pray for children of parents who are in prison for their faith. Christmas is especially difficult for them. Pray that they would feel God holding them … telling them then that they aren’t alone. Ask God to place people and experiences in their lives as faithful reminders of His love for them.
24. Pray for the seven children of Abdullah* in Eritrea. After he met Jesus, he relentlessly shared the gospel and was imprisoned for it. After two years in prison, Abdullah tragically died of an illness he got while in prison. Pray that God would strengthen this family as they grieve their father and give them a future they could never imagine.
Open Doors is uniquely placed to identify and support children living with persecution in the most dangerous parts of the world to be a Christian. Please pray and if you’re led, give to support the work of our teams and partners who continue to stand with our persecuted family.