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Stand up and be counted for Jesus

Christian leaders from Darlene Zschech to the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney have pledged to work for free on Wednesday, April 17, in support of One With Them, an Easter campaign by Open Doors to support the persecuted church.

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Open Doors is asking Christians across Australia and New Zealand to donate one day’s wages on April 17 and take a public stand in solidarity with the 245 million persecuted Christians across the world by drawing a cross on their wrist (see below) and sharing on social media using the hashtag #onewiththem.

Karl and Jane Faase

First run in 2108, One With Them has this year recorded videos by Christian ambassadors as diverse as Darlene and Mark Zschech, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, media presenter and social commentator Karl Faase and his wife Jane, Rice Movement’s Steve Chong and Hillsong United’s JD.

“We’re asking for one day in 365 for people to say I’m working for free today because of the ongoing advancement of the gospel around the world.” – Mike Gore

“One of the reasons it’s one of our most important campaigns is that it encourages Christians in our country to take their faith from their private life to their public life,” says Open Doors Australia CEO Mike Gore.

“The idea is that a KFC worker and a multi-million-dollar business owner can sacrifice the same proportion of whatever it is they earn, so it’s a universal measurement.

“Similarly, we really believe that anyone who calls themselves a follower of Jesus should be doing something once a year for the persecuted church, so we’re asking for one day in 365 for people to say I’m working for free today because of the ongoing advancement of the gospel around the world.”

“We would say an attack is highly likely on churches in North Africa, the Middle East and through southern Asia over Easter.” – Mike Gore

Gore says the campaign is being run at Easter because that’s when persecution increases as the church gathers to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. In recent years there have been attacks on churches at Easter in Egypt, Pakistan and Kenya.

Egypt Coptic crosses

“In countries that are hostile towards Christianity, they don’t like public celebrations of faith and so we see increased impact on the church at Easter and the money raised can be used where it’s most needed.

“We would say an attack is highly likely on churches in North Africa, the Middle East and through southern Asia over Easter and so we’re able to be as versatile and quickly responding with that money to help.”

In 2018 about 1100 people across Australia and New Zealand pledged one day’s wage to people suffering for their faith in Jesus, such as Hamid*.

“I was removed from my position and given the most junior job.” – Hamid

Hamid, a Christian living in the Middle East, worked as manager of a large company. But everything changed when people in his workplace discovered his faith.

“I was removed from my position and given the most junior job,” he says. “An official letter was issued to all staff stating why I had been removed … no one was allowed to talk to me.”

Hamid’s salary was cut by more than 80 per cent and he was forced to work 12-hour days while everyone else works only for eight. Though he is not certain what the future holds, Hamid is thankful that others are aware of his faith, and holds fast to his hope in Jesus.

“I only know that the Lord is living with me,” he said.

“It’s really important for me to publicly show my faith in my secular workplace.” – Matt

Sydney barista Matt, aged 28, was inspired to support persecuted believers such as Hamid last year and  donated a day’s wages as an expression of his faith.

“It’s really important for me to publicly show my faith in my secular workplace,” Matt says. The persecuted church encourages me to be bold with my faith and to be the light of Jesus in my community. That’s why I donated in 2018 and will continue to take part in One With Them.”

“I knew that my own voice my one act, my own prayer could make a difference.” – Nicole

Nicole, a 50-year-old registered nurse, also donated last year and drew a cross on her wrist to remind her of what she was working for. Since then, she had that cross tattooed on her wrist as a permanent reminder of her persecuted brothers and sisters.

“I knew that my own voice my one act, my own prayer could make a difference,” she said.

JD and Taya Smith

Gore believes that the One With Them campaign is going to challenge the Western church because declaring your faith in Jesus publicly is becoming more and more important in today’s secular society.

“If I look forward 10 to 20 years to the future of the Australian church, we’re going to be moving to what is a much more, I believe, a state-controlled church,” he says.

“You are paving the wide road to hell with generosity and kindness.” – believer in central Asia

“One of the challenges that we face as a church at the moment is that we’re far more likely to fall into insignificance within culture than we are into persecution and that’s partly because we rarely vocalise Jesus.”

He quoted a believer in central Asia, who told Gore: “If you leave Jesus out of your language, you are paving the wide road to hell with generosity and kindness and when I look at the Western church I see you do that all the time.”

“My hope is One With Them over the next decade will leave an indelible mark on the church.” – Mike Gore

“Over the next decade it’s going to become more and more of an issue to say that you’re a Christian where our culture is against the church and what we do is the first thing we leave out of our language is Jesus. Well, you know what? There are a lot of lovely people – Muslim, Buddhist, Hindus, you name it – the only point of difference is Jesus.

“And so my hope is One With Them over the next decade will leave an indelible mark on the church but see Australians actually publicly say ‘I stand for Jesus and this is what Jesus means.’”

“If you leave Jesus out of your language, you’re just doing good deeds.” – Mike Gore

He adds: “The beautiful duality of it is that you’re giving up one day’s wage to help people you’ll never meet but their stories are hopefully encouraging you to be bold in your faith here.

“Too often in the West we equate our expression of faith with doing nice things – now Jesus calls us to do nice things and it’s because of our love for him that we do that but if we don’t vocalise and acknowledge that we’re Christian, if we don’t take it to social media, then we’re just a nice person.

“If you leave Jesus out of your language, you’re just doing good deeds.”

Pledge your support on April 17 at onewiththem.org

*Hamid’s name has been changed for security reasons.

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