With Islam the state religion of Saudi Arabia, and the legal system being based on Sharia law, courts in this country regularly impose severe physical punishments, including the death penalty, for apostasy, and non-Muslim places of worship are prohibited.
According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Saudi Arabia “remains uniquely repressive in the extent to which it restricts the public expression of any religion other than Islam”.
The government prosecutes, imprisons and flogs individuals for dissent, apostasy, blasphemy and sorcery, and imposes “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom”.
There are, however, around 1.4 million Christians living in the country and in a recent study, 4.4% of Saudi Arabia’s population identifies as being Christian – up from less than 0.1%, or just 50 people, in 1910.
The majority of these Christians are expatriates or migrant workers, but according to persecution charity Open Doors, Saudi natives are also turning to Christianity.
Open Doors supports a secret believer, Mohammed (name changed), who converted after learning about Christianity through an online discipleship course. He made contact with Christians in another Middle Eastern country, and then spent a week there, going to church for the first time and attending Bible studies.
After a few days he was asked who Jesus was. “He is my Saviour, my God”, was Mohammed’s reply, and he was baptised. He later returned to Saudi Arabia with a Bible.
He knows no other Christians in his home country, but receives continued support online.
- Give thanks for Mohammed and for other believers in Saudi Arabia, who risk their lives but hold fast to their faith and what they know to be true. Give thanks for the support, encouragement and teaching they receive from other Christians via online Christian networks.
- Pray for believers in Saudi Arabia, for protection for them, and for the Saudi Church to continue to grow, despite all the opposition and laws against it.
- Pray for the many expat and migrant workers who are Christians, for opportunities to share their faith with their co workers, and for the seeds of the Gospel that are sown to reap a harvest of righteousness in many lives across this nation.
- Pray for the Saudi government, for a softening of attitudes and laws in this nation that will allow freedom of religion and worship for all, and for Christians to meet together without fear.
Matthew 13 vs 23: “But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.“